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Image: Nok Air

Patee Sarasin
Chief Executive Officer
Nok Air

Patee has been the CEO of Nok Airlines since 2004. Prior to that, he served as CEO of Bates Advertising Thailand and as general manager of Multi Media Orbit, among many other roles. He has a masters degree in mass communication film and video from American University, Washington, DC, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration and computer science from Clark University, Massachusetts.

Fast Facts
Location: BKK
Now Watching: CNN
Favorite Airport: DXB
Favorite Aircraft: B787
Seatback or PED? PED

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
The airline industry chose me. I did not plan to be in the airline business at all; it never crossed my mind. It actually chose me: My friend asked me to do it! So, I’ve been doing it for 12 years. 

In your opinion, what do you think is the most overlooked aspect of the passenger experience?
There’s a lot you can do on an airplane, but there’s not enough in terms of movement. Passengers are stuck in their seats for so long. I’m not sure we can change that too much, but I think certain airlines are trying to provide personal space so passengers can walk around a little bit more, especially on long flights.

“People will spend less time on TV and more time on social media, especially in Asia. It’s happening now. It’s the best way to communicate to customers.”

What is the future of in-flight entertainment?
In the future, passengers will bring their own stuff on the plane, because all the planes will have Wi-Fi on board. Passengers will bring the content that they actually choose to interact with, rather than just interact with what’s been given.

A lot of airline CEOs are not active on social media, but you are. Why is it important to maintain a presence online?
The market is really shifting toward social media. In the future, people will spend less time on TV and more time on social media, especially in Asia. It’s happening now. It’s the best way to communicate to customers.

Why is it important for Nok Air to be a part of the Value Alliance?
The key part of joining the Value Alliance is that we can spread ourselves across the region very quickly. Therefore, the Value Alliance becomes a big network. Rather than having to buy 200 or 300 aircraft, we have immediate access to partner aircraft.

You’re taking Nok Air to China. What’s the plan?
Going to China is a strategic move: Thailand is one of the top destinations for Chinese travelers. We’re also doing it to differentiate our airline, but it’s difficult: In China, each city is like a whole country in terms of population. How do we become a brand that they will select? It’s going to be a challenge, but we want to be number one, in terms of carriers bringing passengers to Thailand.

How important is personalization of the passenger experience to Nok Air?
Personalizing for our large passenger base is actually not that easy. We use segmentation to bring us as close to personalization as possible. When we interact with individuals, we use the data we collect, we try to personalize as much as we can for each customer. Obviously, we can’t do everything 100 percent.

Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
People outside the industry think it’s really cool to work for an airline, but on the inside, it’s really quite tough. The cool factor is that I fly around a lot and it’s really fun. That’s the cool factor; that I actually enjoy what I’m trying to do. But yes, it’s very challenging work.