19 Mar 2017

Metasearch: The Next Differentiation Opportunity for Airlines

Expedia just reported a stellar 65% revenue increase vs. same quarter last year for their hotel metasearch Trivago, just after a wave of metasearch acquisitions by Ctrip (Skyscanner) and Priceline (Momondo). With a similar model Google Flights gets more airline content, more traction, and is now the default display when you ‘google’ for flights. Skyscanner is adding more airlines in their ‘instant booking’, making the booking experience so much better compared to ‘deep linking‘ into the airline website which remains predominant with most metasearch.

Metasearch promise what a traveler needs: one stop-shop for choice, user experience and what they heavily promote: ‘the best deal’.

Should I dare to make a projection for 2022? Why not! I foresee that by this time global metasearch companies would have taken over the lion share of the global online flight business: with consumers massively adopting mobile and voice assistants like Siri/Alexa/Google for flight booking, what will happen? Convenience or laziness, but shoppers will use only one app to search and purchase flights, not squeeze a dozen of airline apps on their mobile. No wonder airlines like British Airways, Lufthansa and others announce that metasearch distribution is a priority in their NDC program. An opportunity that all airlines should embrace if they want to balance their dependency on GDS channels.

But how to meet the challenge for brand differentiation if ‘price’ is the only criteria shown in a metasearch? ‘Best deals’ attract shoppers but do not reflect the value and differentiation an airline brand delivers in products and services… and, by the way, it does not provide much profit either to sell only a ticket at the lowest price. Enabling brand differentiation and maximizing upsell on the metasearch is the next frontier in airline distribution.

The vision at Vayant is that consumers should benefit from the same choice of branded fares and optional services on metasearch vs. the airline website.

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Source : Vayant Travel Technologies, Inc.

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