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Ryanair: The Amazon of Travel

26 February 2018

The Future of Travel Technology

Advantage Austria attended the Dublin Chamber event The Future of Travel Technology that took place on 30th Jan 2018.  Here we have summarised some of the key takeaways from that event.

The travel industry is changing rapidly and Ryanair is changing with it. Ryanair is looking at evolving from just being a cheap airline to becoming a travel sales portal or as they call it “The Amazon of travel.” The industry has already evolved from the state where you used to book everything through a travel agent to where airlines are selling you flights online but also hotels, cars and insurance on their website. Ryanair looks to go past this stage were you do not look at adding other products to a cheap flight but that you think of Ryanair no matter what you need when it comes to travel – be it travel insurance, a car, a hotel room or even flights with other airlines.

“Ryanair Rooms” is one such example where you could go to their website to book a room only, even if you do not book a flight with Ryanair. The reason why they think that this is a good idea, and why they believe it will work, is that they will give customers ‘cash back’ that will be available for Ryanair bookings. They collaborate with established companies like hotels.com to get their customers the same prices you would get elsewhere but hoping to convert the loyalty from those other sites to Ryanair. For example, Hotels.com already has its own loyalty programme where you need to collect 10 nights stay in hotels (where this is available) and then you can only spend that free night in a participating hotel – thereby limiting your options. With Ryanair however, you will be able to use the cash as you would a gift voucher in your next flight booking which they believe makes it immediately more appealing.

Through this strategy, they also aim to compete with the likes of SkyScanner and Expedia. At this stage, they already have EUR 1.8 Billion in revenue from ancillary (non-flight bookings) services that include fast-track security and seat allocation. They aim that flights will comprise of less than 50% of their revenue within the near future.

‘Desktop free’ is the way forward and Ryanair are already planning for customers who never use the website at all and who do everything on their mobile devices. They also see major tech companies becoming significant competitors with the likes of Alibaba, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. potentially entering the travel booking space soon.

The event sponsor, CarTrawler, is the world's leading B2B travel technology platform. Ryanair also uses their services extensively. They look at, amongst other innovations, things like Alexa integration and developing AI. They believe that the key to developing good AI is the database and unfortunately, most airlines have not been retaining their data over the past 30 years. This means that it will take some time until the AI reaches a satisfactory level. At this stage, a robot answers about 40% of incoming emails, which is quite a staggering number when you think about it.

Speakers were: Kenny Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer of Ryanair and Bobby Healy, Chief Technology Officer of CarTrawler.

Thank you to Dublin Chamber for organising such an interesting and informative event.

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