Airline ancillary revenues are at an all-time high, up by 21% last year to almost $40bn according to the latest CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue press release. With some analysts hoping for US$130bn in additional ancillary by 2020 clearly hopes for sustained airline profitability rest with ancillary sales as fare competition will remain fierce. However, when only 25% of bookings through metamediaries result in ancillary purchase other channels need to be used to reach the expectations. In this post, we look at how airlines digital performance can help ancillary sales.
One innovation that low-cost carriers brought to the airline industry is a staunch focus on direct online sales, at a time when the established full-service carriers still relied largely on the GDS. But strategy differences are narrowing, with Lufthansa looking to slap a surcharge on indirect bookings, and Ryanair opening up their seat inventory for sales partners.
What does this strategy shift mean for airline online engagement? Do LCCs have a towering lead in online visits, or did the legacy carriers catch up with their direct brand traffic?
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: