Responsive airline sites rapidly gaining traction in 2015

Airlines are rapidly adopting responsive booking sites, with 25% of carriers having a responsive airline site in place as of August 2015. This growth is mostly driven by smaller carriers. 13% of airlines still do not have any mobile web presence.

While passengers are always on the move, airlines have been slow to fully embrace mobile. Just 18 months ago, none of the leading airlines used responsive web design. According to the same study, nearly a quarter (22%) of airlines did not have a mobile web site all. Yet, as mobile traffic continues to grow, and Google uses mobile support as a ranking signal, airline mobile web projects are finally getting off the ground.
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data2day: Big Data Conference in Karlsruhe (2015)

Meet us at the data2day conference!

The data2day conference, organised by Heise and dpunkt publishing companies, will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany from 29 September to 1 October. Hinnerk will be presenting a session there on how to use GNU R and the Google Analytics API to optimise AdWords bids – and show to conduct big data analysis without requiring big IT projects and do a case study on brand keyword bidding.

In the session, I will be looking at

  • when standard analytics reports can be misleading and how controlled experiments help
  • review a study (PDF) by a team of economists from eBay Research
  • and show how to implement these methods using GNU R and the Google Analytics API

Case Study: Brand Keyword Bidding

These methods are especially important for sites that combine organic search and paid search acquisition channels. In this case, it is important to know how many sales are truly gained by a paid campaign – and where paid clicks potentially substitute organic traffic. A great example for this is bidding on your own brand keyword – typically, the brand will be the first paid result and the first organic result.

But often, others are also bidding on the brand keyword; in the case of travel, this may be OTAs and their affiliates. Finding out precisely how brand keyword bidding, by oneself and others, influences sales – and not just clicks – is possible with a controlled experiment approach. More on that at the conference!

If you are German-speaking and interested in big data technology, this promises to be an exciting event. Early bird discounts are available until Friday this week.

Image Credit: The cover image is based on https://flic.kr/p/w7fE3h, published under a Creative Commons share-alike licence.

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Rynair mobile web usability

Ryanair website usability: testing the new mobile site

This post initially appeared as a guest post on tnooz, entitled Reflections on Ryanair’s mobile website

Ryanair quietly launched their first mobile booking website last month. This follows CEO Michael O’Leary’s announcement in his most recent 2014 annual report that the carrier will no longer “allow” competitors to “develop better websites and mobile platforms than those at Ryanair”. The ambitious plan is backed by a “serious” investment in Ryanair Labs – a “tech startup within the airline”, according to the Irish Independent. Clearly, the Irish LCC wants to put an end to the days when Ryanair scored last in website usability reviews.

Are these investments in Ryanair website usability paying off on mobile? We ran a brief live user test to find out what potential customers think about the site.

We recruited a random internet user through the UserTesting cloud, who accessed the Ryanair mobile booking site through an Android smartphone over the 3G network. We asked him to surf around the site for a few minutes and report on his impressions – all the time, the smartphone display was recorded on video. Feel free to watch the 9 minute video, before jumping into the analysis:

His conclusion: “I like the clean design”, but he ran into serious difficulty booking a flight – clearly, “the site needs a lot of work”. He raises many issues affecting the industry broadly, such as poor site performance and inability to discover the best route. In addition, the tester’s patience is tested by many usability glitches.

Let’s dive in to the mobile usability review:

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online-visits-drive-airline-passengers

Digital Airlines: Online traffic predicts 75% of passenger volume

From fashion to aviation, brands are longing to increase their direct to consumer (D2C) sales. Back in 2012, airlines paid more in fees to the global distribution systems (GDS) than the total profit in their industry – and the IATA predicted that the future of airline distribution is increasing direct sales, through the carrier’s own booking site. With Lufthansa introducing a surcharge for GDS bookings, airlines are undoubtedly serious about driving consumers to buy directly from them.

But how far has the industry come along? Do eyeballs on the carrier’s web site translate to people in the plane? And what are the secrets of the most successful digital airlines?

To find this out, we have created a dataset of 40 leading airlines – including the top 10 in the world and most European LCCs – and collected their online traffic data from SimilarWeb. We then run this data through a linear regression model to get some insight on the industry trends.

We could hardly imagine what we would learn from this model:
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flexponsive launches blog!

Launching the flexponsive blog

Today we are delighted to be launching the flexponsive blog. In this blog, we will be looking it at the strategies that airlines are taking in their quest to succeed online – and dig into the data to find out what works, how airlines can best acquire traffic online and where online advertising can be improved.

Travel technology is in an exciting time – mobile traffic will soon overtake desktop traffic for key booking queries, expectations what big data will bring to the travel industry are, quite literally, sky high and improved personalization may change the face of travel.

Airlines face unique challenges in keeping up with these innovations, let alone leading them: their direct sales channel needs to integrate with a legacy booking system, vendor relationships can be complex, and the large amount of revenue flowing through existing sites can make changes appear risky while trying to reign in costs. These challenges also leave their mark on the user experience – airlines can sometimes make it surprisingly difficult for their prospective consumers to buy from them.
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