May 30, 2017
Over the last couple of years, Ryanair has pledged a number of times to become the ‘Amazon of travel’. CEO Michael O’Leary said he wanted the airline to offer hotel bookings and Trip-Advisor style reviews and last year the company launched ‘Ryanair Rooms’, ‘Ryanair Holidays’, and a car-hire service. I had the opportunity to meet Michael at a conference in Dublin last year. What a great character!
All of these measures aim to incentivise customers to book package holidays directly from Ryanair. But the airline wants to go further. Last month CMO Kenny Jacobs announced that it plans to sell partner airlines’ flights, stating ‘It’ll be like putting your products on Amazon’.
When you think about Amazon, it is truly a marketplace. Part of its success is down to delivering exceptional customer experience (CX) based on a seamless buying experience. Consumers have hundreds of thousands of suppliers and products all in one place. And Amazon’s merchants have access to a seamless, one-click easy payment process. Everyone’s a winner.
While Ryanair has begun building up content on its website, it’s still a long way off from being a marketplace. Allowing different airlines to advertise on its website is a step towards this. But it’s getting the backend processes such as payments right that will allow it to offer a seamless CX.
One of the biggest challenges with effectively supplying passengers to other airlines is the question over who ‘owns’ the customers. Airlines won’t necessarily want to bring customers onto the Ryanair marketplace, with the possibility of losing overall customer loyalty.
It remains to be seen whether Ryanair can indeed become the Amazon of travel. But I welcome the effort to bring together a fragmented travel industry.
Even with online market places such as Skyscanner, consumers don’t have a seamless booking process because they still need to jump to the travel operator’s site to pay. When consumers are creating their own holidays, searching with different suppliers, this makes the process more cumbersome. It also increases the risk of fraud and the complexity in terms of financial processes, currency exchange and supplier management.
Skyscanner and Ryanair should consider integrating different payment methods to help streamline the experience. Perhaps they could partner with a payments specialist like eNett ;) to bundle different payment methods into a wallet – acting as a translator for universal acceptance. Travel buyers would get choice and travel suppliers would get guaranteed settlement.
When dealing with different suppliers and multiple currencies, operators need a fast, easy and safe way to transact. You can have the most amazing front-end website possible, but without the payments processes to back it up, there’s no way you can deliver a seamless customer experience.
Get this right – and provided other airlines and other travel suppliers are happy to get on-board – then perhaps Ryanair can realise its dream of becoming the Amazon of the travel industry. I for one will be watching with interest to see what transpires.
To find out more on how payments can power experience click here.