Under Brexit cloud, travel leaders share experiences of Asia – WIT

The timing of the first WIT Europe in London held last week could not have happened at a more poignant time in the city’s history and travel industry leaders, while grappling with uncertainty, agreed there couldn’t be a better time than now to seize the Asia opportunity.

Every speaker expressed their dismay at the UK decision to leave the EU, with the consensus that the implications will be felt globally, including Asia.

Kenny-Jacobs-photo-websiteKenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer of Ryanair, who had to cancel his appearance at the event citing “having to deal with the fallout of Brexit”, sent this message, “Ryanair, as with all airlines, are disappointed with the referendum result. For the next few months it’s business as usual as Europe and Britain will go on their holidays. After the summer we could be facing a long period of uncertainty as UK politics is in turmoil and the new UK government will have to negotiate the exit with the EU, the single biggest issue for the entire travel business will be maintaining the single market. “If the UK stays in the single market then things should continue as normal and the UK will stay part of open skies, if the UK leaves the single market then we have a lot of complications”.

“We are hopeful and we expect both sides will find a way to maintain the free movement of people. But while the is uncertainty and currency fluctuations businesses including ourselves will be slow to make additional investments in the UK. We have 50 new aircraft joining our fleet next year and we now don’t expect to deploy any of these in the UK market at this stage, instead we will focus on markets that are part of the single market like Italy, Spain and Germany.

“This is not the end of the world but it is a period of unprecedented uncertainty. The UK will be in recession and the UK consumer will travel less and spend less, that is a certainty. On the flip side, a weaker pound will mean Europeans travel to the UK more as their euro goes further and they may want to say goodbye to a wonderful country and fantastic people before Boris and Nigel pull up the drawbridge”.

Hugo Burge

Hugo Burge: “Our mission remains to open our world.”

Hugo Burge, CEO of Momondo Group, said there were too many uncertainties currently to predict the future but called on the industry to be positive and work together to ensure travel’s interests were heard by those in power. Short-term, because of the devaluing of the pound, companies like his are gaining but it is clear they are more concerned with long-term impact and what this could mean for the European Tech Alliance of which it is part.

He said that Momondo’s DNA Journey Youtube video, which has gained more than 120 million views and released in June, could also not have happened at a more poignant time. “Our mission remains to open our world,” he said.

He said, as a geographer, he was blown away by the sheer size and scope of Asia’s potential and that the group would be expanding the cheapflights brand in the region. “It’s a name that works,” he said. “While Europe remains our main focus, the group is now ready to expand beyond and grow in Asia.”

Bobby Healy, CTO of Dublin-based the CarTrawler, while saying Brexit meant opportunities for Dublin – which is positioned as a tech hub and already there are talks by companies in London to move there – said it wasn’t good for travel in general.

Speaking about CarTrawler’s experiences in Asia, he said its focus has been on China, where it’s seeing 180% growth and the mainland is now among its top 14 markets. He admits China is tough to penetrate and private equity-run companies are disadvantaged in that it cannot make the necessary investments necessary to make a dent.

Bobby Healy:

Bobby Healy: “We should have got product and market first before we entered Asia.”

“Create a start-up and get the cash to run,” he advised the audience of close to 100 who turned up to learn about the Asia growth story at the Tate Modern.

To enter China, CarTrawler bought Finland-based Cabforce in 2015 to acquire the necessary technology for the market.

On hindsight, he said of CarTrawler’s Asia strategy, “We should have got product and the market right first before we entered Asia. Our other mistake is not investing enough.”

On Skyscanner’s part, Andy Sleigh, who ran the APAC region out of Singapore for two years before returning to Edinburgh, said between 2013 and 2015, Skyscanner saw rapid growth in average APAC Unique Monthly Visitors and is projecting £30m revenues by 2016.

It’s been hair-raising ride and Asia today is a total turf war, with Sleigh likening it to the TV series, Game of Thrones. He advised companies against spending money on marketing when you do not have the right product and user trust.

Andy Sleigh:

Andy Sleigh: “It’s a commitment that pays you back in spades.”

Japan is one market it’s had good success. Said Sleigh, “Japan is the third largest travel market in the world, with 2015 bookings estimated to rise to $71 billion. The establishment of Skyscanner Japan provides both partners in the joint venture (with Yahoo Japan) an opportunity to accelerate their growth in this important market and offers millions of consumers comprehensive travel options for free. Visitors to Skyscanner’s Japanese site grew 40% in 2014,” said Sleigh.

For China, it bought Youbibi and its founder Steven Pang now runs Skyscanner’s China operations. “Getting the right people is key,” he said, with Healy agreeing. Healy said he had been advised to hire only Chinese women and “you cannot run a business in China by hiring people who look like me”.

Sleigh advised against “seagull management” – “where you fly in, s… on everyone and fly out”.

Skyscanner ran “Immersion” programmes where visiting executives from head office would be given truly immersive experiences in Asia markets.

Leading a team in Asia is all in. “It’s a huge commitment that pays you back in spades. It’s personal hypergrowth, long hours, huge amount of travel. But you make great friends and have unbeatable experiences.

“The Asia travel tech community is incredibly friendly, we need more European businesses to take the plunge.” 

Source: Under Brexit cloud, travel leaders share experiences of Asia – WIT

Aer Lingus, AirAsia, Ryanair, and Spirit use email to sell after booking

The need for ancillary revenue requires airlines to venture beyond the booking confirmation email.  The latest report from IdeaWorksCompany follows that path to learn how airlines gain more sales after a booking is made.  IdeaWorksCompany assessed the full set of emails sent by six top ancillary revenue airlines to learn how they encourage customers to buy more.

During December 2015, IdeaWorksCompany made flight bookings on the following airlines:  Aer Lingus, AirAsia, easyJet, Ryanair, Spirit, and Vueling.  This list of airlines might look familiar to those acquainted with the annual CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue by IdeaWorksCompany.  These airlines are top ancillary revenue producers and a review of their methods should provide lessons for how to boost a la carte sales:

  • Aer Lingus and easyJet were aggressive marketers with emails sent, on average, every three days.
  • AirAsia was very succinct in its email communications; the airline sent just three post-booking emails and limited the entire content to just over 800 words.
  • Ryanair was a moderate marketer among the six airlines in terms of email frequency and had the lowest average word count at 222 words per email.
  • Spirit, with 2014 baggage revenue of $22.25 per passenger, focused its emails on the task of encouraging travellers to pre-pay bag fees.

In addition to the above, hotel and car hire bookings, checked bags, and assigned seating were the most frequently promoted items in post-booking emails sent by the airlines.

“Never Say Goodbye; Savvy Airlines Use Email to Sell After Booking” was released today as a free 15-page report available at the IdeaWorksCompany website.  The 2016 Ancillary Revenue Report series is sponsored by CarTrawler.  Click here to access the full report:  www.ideaworkscompany.com/category/current-reports

State of Wi-Fi Report Shows Rapid Expansion of In-Flight Internet Service – Skift

An annual report from Routehappy reveals that in-flight Internet is a rapidly growing commodity among global airlines and that across adoption, American carriers are leading the way.

60 carriers around the world now offer in flight Internet, up from 52 last year.  As a result, passengers can expect to find connectivity on about 36% of miles flown around the globe.

Higher quality internet connections are also on the rise according to Jason Rabinowitz, Routehappy’s data manager.

Last year, connections capable of streaming video only accounted for 1% of all miles flown while this year that percentage jumped to 6%. Medium and slow speed connections in this year’s study accounted for 53% and 41% of miles flown respectively where flights had internet. A medium connection defined in this report is capable of full web browsing and some media streaming while a slow connection can only handle basic web-based tasks like email.

That adoption of higher speed internet should further improve though 2016 as a new batch communication technology reaches the market. Gogo’s 2KU service, launched last year, provides transfer speeds of up to 70 Mb/s and is currently being installed across numerous aircraft and carriers. Inmarsat, a largely European solution, is also now coming online.

In terms of general Wi-Fi adoption, the report also found that American carriers seem to be leading the rest of the world, no doubt driven by the ultra-connected user base. Delta, United, and American Airlines (in that order) lead the world in airline seat miles with Wi-Fi capable aircraft, while carriers like Virgin America have their entire fleets outfitted with internet capability.

For passengers flying long haul routes, however, the legacy U.S. carriers aren’t necessarily the best bet. Emirates, which outfits many of its long haul routes on Wi-Fi equipped jumbo jets operates nearly double the number of miles that the next carrier does, while Lufthansa has 100% of its long haul fleet equipped with service. The best legacy carrier for inflight Wi-Fi was measured to be United Airlines.

Routehappy’s full dataset can be found over on its site.

Below is an infographic with the highlights.

Source: State of Wi-Fi Report Shows Rapid Expansion of In-Flight Internet Service – Skift

www.flyvia.com : get there for less


The Travel Marketing Store has started a new project to assist destinations to more effectively market stopovers.  For leisure or even business travellers significant savings can be made by flying indirectly to a destination and if planned well can create an additional vacation or business opportunity.

flyvia.com brings together three leading affiliate marketing programmes with Dohop, the flight meta search engine, Booking.com and GetYourGuide for destination activities.

On one site and with partner links you can plan and book cost effective stop over trips.

Cathay Pacific and CNN explore life changing travel moments | Marketing Interactive

Cathay Pacific and CNN have teamed up for a series of on-air segments called The Trip That Changed My Life, which will run across CNN’s TV and digital networks.

The campaign marks a big shift for Cathay Pacific, which is exploring new ways of engaging audiences through content initiatives and social media channels.  The centre-piece of this campaign is the sponsorship of a series of six on-air segments called ‘The Trip That Changed My Life’, with high-profile personalities sharing stories of how travel has changed them.TCP, CNN International’s in-house creative agency, produced the campaign that runs across both TV and digital.

The narrative follows architect and designer Usman Haque as he travels from Hong to Kong to London with Cathay Pacific. A 30 second Cathay Pacific advertising spot will also run on CNN International completing the package.  Sunita Rajan, vice president of CNN International Advertising Sales Asia Pacific, said Cathay Pacific has been a valuable partner of CNN for almost two decades.  She said this campaign is the perfect example of combining high quality content to engage an up-scale global mobile audience.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with Cathay Pacific to deliver this holistic, integrated advertising solution that covers all the key touch points of TV, digital, branded content and social.”

Julian Lyden, general manager of marketing, loyalty programmes & CRM at Cathay Pacific, added that travelling well is vital to living well.“We hope this series will inspire the audience and travellers alike to get more out of their lives and from their travel.”

Source: Cathay Pacific and CNN explore life changing travel moments | Marketing Interactive

2014 Airline Ancillary Revenue Activity Surpasses $38 Billion, Up Nearly 21 Percent

CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue by IdeaWorksCompany  compiles disclosures from 63 airlines worldwide

The 2015 CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue by IdeaWorksCompany, now available free online, provides the most detailed global assessment of a bottom-line-booster that can represent 38.7% of a carrier’s revenue, as it does for Spirit Airlines in the US, or $56.28 per passenger for Jet2.com in the UK, and $5.86 billion for global behemoth United Airlines.  

This excellent full 98-page report examines 63 airlines that disclosed revenue in financial filings during 2014 from sources such as frequent flier miles sold to partners, fees for checked bags, and commissions from car rentals.

Click the links below to read the 6-page press release or to view the entire 98-page yearbook.  

6-page press release:  www.ideaworkscompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Press-Release-100-Ancillary-Revenue-Yearbook.pdf

2015 CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue by IdeaWorksCompany:  www.ideaworkscompany.com/category/current-reports



Amadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement – MarketWatch

amadeus new logo on blueAmadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement

Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry and Southwest Airlines announced today a new milestone in their partnership. Under a new multi-year agreement, Amadeus’ corporate travel booking tool users around the world will gain access to Southwest’s fares and inventory.

“Providing seamless functionality and booking ease to our corporate customers worldwide is a focus we share with Amadeus,” said Kevin Krone, Vice President Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Southwest Airlines. “This new global agreement marks another milestone in our continued partnership, offering a new dimension in distribution to deliver world-class access to our entire available inventory of seats to more than 90 destinations.”

With the direct implementation of Southwest’s content, users of Amadeus’ e-Travel Management and i:FAO’s cytric corporate booking tools will gain benefits such as:

  • Greater functionalities including live availability and last seat inventory delivered via an integrated display
  • Functionality supporting all pricing rules, fare rules and return of ticket number
  • Fare searches returning the lowest fares available
  • Booking and ticketing capabilities for the carrier’s loyalty program/Rapid Rewards members
  • Additional functionality related to deferred ticketing, retrieving and canceling reservations, and exchange funds toward new itineraries

via Amadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement – MarketWatch.

Ctrip acquires majority stake in Travelfusion

ctrip logoThe China-based travel service provider, Ctrip.com International has announced that it has completed an investment transaction in Travelfusion by purchasing a majority stake in the company.

Travelfusion is a UK-based leading online low cost carrier (LCC) travel content aggregator and innovator of direct connect global distribution solutions. Aggregating 200+ LCCs, full service carriers (FSCs), rail operators and 30+ leading hotel consolidators.

Ctrip chairman and chief executive officer James Liang noted: “Travelfusion has built a great GDS system for LCCs globally. The strategic relationship we built with Travelfusion will further extend our leadership in China’s international travel market, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our IT system by leveraging Travelfusion’s advanced technology. We are excited to work with Travelfusion’s team to create greater value for our customers.”

travelfusion logoTravelfusion chief executive officer Moshe Rafiah added: “China is expected to be the largest travel market in the world, and Ctrip is the clear leader in the online and mobile travel industry in China. After 15 years of building Travelfusion to be an industry leader, we are thrilled to take further steps to realize and fulfil our potential in such a great market with such a powerful industry leader.”

via ArabianTravelNews.com | Operators | Ctrip acquires majority stake in Travelfusion.

How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 12/29/2014

How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 by Jan Rezab, Media Post December 29

social-media21Social media has transformed the way customers speak with brands. Among its many benefits, social media has created a place for customers and clients to reach brands easily and quickly at any time of the day. With this great power in communication comes great responsibility for travel companies. That mass of people — which can turn into millions during a crisis — expects a response to each individual issue and question. But social isn’t, and shouldn’t be viewed as, a burden. It should be looked at as an almost-limitless end of possibilities.

Good companies continually show their customers they value them, and social media is a great place to do this. As customer care increasingly moves to public venues, it is blurring the lines between marketing, communications, and customer service. Digital marketers can use social to greatly improve the customer experience and build loyalty with fans like never before. Here are a few simple ways travel marketers need to be thinking about social customer care in 2015…

Actively Encourage Feedback

Social media gives you the ability to listen into a wide array of people — from your die-hard fans to your rarely vocal customers. In a way, it’s sort of like a giant focus group that you can access anytime.

Make it easy for your customers to talk to you. Most social customer care happens on Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, travel brands are making many mistakes when it comes to optimizing their profiles on these platforms to encourage conversation.

On Facebook, it’s imperative that travel brands open their walls in order for people to post on their timelines. This year, our data suggested that 30% of airlines globally still have closed walls on Facebook. A closed wall automatically makes it difficult for customers to voice their feedback and means a lot of missed opportunities for your brand.

On Twitter, we encourage travel brands to provide customer support from their main Twitter profile, instead of making a separate customer support profile. This allows consumers to easily direct their questions to the right place. Still, this can be difficult for many companies to do for a number of reasons, so if a company must create two handles, it’s important to list out the customer care profile on the main profile page. Turkish Airlines is a good example of a brand that does this by linking to their support handle, @TK_HelpDesk, on their main handle, @TurkishAirlines.

Be Prompt

For travelers, time is of the essence. Think of customers traveling by plane; a good chunk of their questions are going to be about their flight that’s coming up shortly. That means they’ll need quick help and a quick response from their airline should they post or tweet a question.

Unfortunately, not all companies are punctual in providing service on social. In fact, we found that the average brand takes 33 hours to respond to customer inquiries, if they respond at all. That’s a huge amount of time for customers who don’t have the luxury of waiting around for an answer.

Travel brands need to make sure they’re equipped to provide quick service. One easy way to prepare for this is to do an analysis of the type of questions your company is receiving on social media. Many times, companies will find that the bulk of questions are about the same recurring topics. Companies can then set up procedures on how to deal with these main topics, which makes responding to them easier.

For example, when we took a look at a sample of questions directed at U.S. airline brands, we found that one of the most-used keywords was “delayed.” This tells us that many inquiries were about flight delays, which means an airline company would probably benefit from having a quick procedure to deal with questions about delays.

Show Up and Respond

It’s important that your customers know you’re dependable. This means taking the first step to show up and respond. Leaving questions unacknowledged is a big problem for both customers and brands.

Some brands hold themselves accountable to a certain standard in customer care. For example, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) provides an estimated wait time for responses on their Twitter profile. This gives customers a sense of when they can expect a response, and it holds KLM to their promise to provide that response as soon as they can.

In Q3 2014, we found that 10% of brands received 65% of all questions asked of brands on Facebook and Twitter. Customers start asking brands more questions and interacting with them more when they know that those brands will respond. The more companies respond, they more interaction and dialogue they’ll spark with their fans.

As the holiday rush slows down, the first weeks of 2015 provide a great opportunity for travel brands to look at what worked and what didn’t over the hectic holiday season and start the new year off on the right foot. Coming into the new year, it’s time for travel marketers to really get serious about providing optimal customer care on social media. The more activity marketers encourage with their customers, the more dependable the brand becomes for them. And in the competitive landscape of the travel industry, those that show their customers they care and build brand loyalty will win out.

via How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 12/29/2014.

Boston Consulting Group – Facebook Report – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Facebook logoTravel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Early Movers Can Cement Significant Advantage by Personalizing the Travel Journey

According to a New Report by BCG and Facebook BOSTON, June 19, 2014—

Although it was one of the first industries to be disrupted by digital commerce, travel and tourism has been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by mobile technology, according to Travel Goes Mobile, a new report by The Boston Consulting Group and Facebook. This reticence has left the playing field wide open for early movers. Those that miss the shift will find catching up increasingly difficult once consumers patterns of behavior and relationships with mobile apps and the companies behind them solidify.

BCG Logo“Early movers in travel, especially those companies that design successful mobile apps, have the opportunity to establish lasting advantage,” said Jason Guggenheim a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. “For many travel suppliers, this means an opportunity to strengthen or reestablish customer relationships that have been eroded by online intermediaries. For intermediaries, it means rethinking their offerings to protect the positions they have established on the PC. Winners will need to understand their customers’ mobile-usage trends, tailor their marketing, and even adapt their operating models accordingly.”

Estimates of the number of apps installed on the average smartphone vary, depending on who is doing the counting, but they range from about 25 to about 40. So far, only a few travel-company apps are used regularly by a significant share of consumers. Most travel companies have converted fewer than 20 percent of their PC customers to mobile-app usage, and no travel app has established itself as the go-to resource on more than 2 percent of smartphones.

The report argues that the biggest opportunity for travel companies is to cement relationships with customers—especially a company’s best, high-value customers—by offering them truly personalized service and experience. Mobile apps generate information related to usage, searching, time of use, location of use, spending, preferences, friends and followers, and countless other kinds of data. The more a travel company engages customers through mobile devices, the more information it can synthesize to personalize messages and the in-app customer experience. This information can also be used to segment the company’s best customers on the basis of frequency of use and expenditure, among other criteria, including their current location, time of day, and status.

“The tools and capabilities available to travel companies continue to expand as digital and mobile technologies improve,” Lee McCabe, global head of travel strategy at Facebook and a report coauthor, said. “This paper reveals the extraordinary role mobile technology can and will continue to play in travel and the tremendous value it can add to travel companies and travelers’ experiences. Sophisticated apps, combined with rich data and targeting capabilities, allow for personalized marketing at scale. The ability to perfectly time and tailor messages on the basis of rich data is very powerful from a business standpoint—for both brand- and direct-response-related objectives.”

The single log-in functionality offered by Facebook, for example, enables seamless movement among apps, eliminating the need to log in for each visit. Innovations such as app install ads, conversion ads, and deep links further simplify moving among multiple apps, which is great for the user and generates tremendous data for marketers.

The report points out that mobile “gatekeepers” have the power and sophistication to vastly augment travel companies’ own data-collection and analysis efforts with the vast amount of consumer information they manage. The biggest gatekeepers today are the device manufacturers and the companies behind the main mobile-operating systems and app stores, app-to-app marketers, and social networks and messaging app operators. The top three—Facebook, Google, and Apple—currently account for half of total app usage.

The report argues that, in terms of apps, travel companies want their customers to do three things: discover and download their apps, engage with them at multiple stages of the travel journey, and find the experience so simple, satisfying, and useful that they want to come back and use the apps again—to the exclusion of other available travel apps.

This means that travel companies need to design apps with functionality that customers—especially high-value customers—prize and that other travel companies cannot match, market the app effectively for both ease of installation and engagement, experiment and bring out new functionality quickly to keep the app fresh and make it more useful, and make the experience more personal over time.

To download a copy of the report, please go to www.bcgperspectives.com.

via BCG – Press Release – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity.