Did Ryanair just do a Webjet?
Webjet and Ryanair are loved by travel agents. Not. What they have in common is they openly attack agents and their place in the industry.
Although it was hard for many in the industry to forget, click here to remember the joys of the Webjet campaign at the start of 2016.
So what is the same about these two campaigns?
Both groups have had a direct crack at travel agents, either questioning their value or directly stating they are trying to bypass them.
Webjet were more cheeky as a competitor, taking the mickey out of a cheeky ATAS ad from a couple of years ago where Ryanair are upping the ante on new technology, products and services.
So what is Ryanair doing exactly?
They have created new packages and dedicated websites for groups with a direct message of luring customers away from travel agents. They are aiming for the “well-heeled leisure traveler” which is code for those who have traveler a bit and think they can book better themselves.
They are also making it easier to buy services such as car hire, upgrades, and airport parking for travelers on the move.
Finally is the built in customer feedback to which gives customers the impression that they can make a difference.
Should agents be worried
It might be easy to say Ryanair are one of the most complained about airlines in the world and to ignore them. But they are also likely to be the U.K.’s biggest airline at some stage in 2016 because they are good at what they do. But there are two main elements that should concern agents.
The first is this packaging and customised offering approach, online, to bypass agents, is the entire aim of the NDC which will start making an impact on the industry sometime in 2016/2017. The “big data” analytics approach of travelers will be aggregated across every airline. The success of online advertising is not just the volume but how specific it can be by knowing what travelers “need” based on their combined history, post code, demographics and preferences.
Airlines would much rather the money all be spent through them. That way there is no kickback to agents, they get a cut on every transaction and of increasing importance, they gather data on the traveling pax. The data in some instances is as important as the revenue from booking.
One of the effects of NDC will be to facilitate higher quality data sharing across the airlines and an improved service offering which tries to bypass agents by making it a web app. It will be good.
Secondly, airlines around the world will be looking on with great interest on the success of this campaign. If Ryanair does indeed increase growth it will certainly spur other airlines to be more aggressive in the market and mimic this approach. We have already seen Webjet’s approach as a direct competitor, but Ryanair are a supplier saying they want agents out of the loop.
So what should agents do?
An important element remains the need for positive dialogue. But we also need a stronger industry presence. Not cheesy fightback advertisements but strong messages from our industry leaders that build a case for the place of the agent in building the dream.