Recently, I explored the key benefits of detaching offer distribution from legacy GDS providers – lower distribution cost, optimized channel strategy, better content control, and a step forward to bringing your optimized offers to life (click this link in case you missed the article).
In this blog post you’ll learn how to optimize offers on metasearch engines (MSEs), as you are deploying a direct offer distribution strategy for this important channel of sale (whether it is via NDC or not).
To learn from industry front runners in NDC about Offer Optimization strategies via metasearch, check out this discussion between Air Canada, the Lufthansa Group, Skyscanner, and PROS.
Added Value Distribution Partners
Metasearch engines have evolved from customer acquisition rivals to invaluable distribution partners for airlines. Thanks to their irreplaceable role to aggregate travel offers and provide a seamless digital shopping experience to customers, today MSEs are the go-to-place for travel inspiration and comparison shopping, helping airlines get their offers in front of more eyeballs and expand their market reach and brand presence.
As NDC opens new retail horizons, airlines are presented with exciting new opportunities to optimize offers on metasearch and grow the value of this distribution channel. Here are 4 tips to help your airline with offer optimization via MSEs.
- Consider shopping speed
Metasearch engines, like Skyscanner, are doing a great job at winning shoppers’ trust. Every time a customer searches, a comprehensive list of travel offers is displayed in a couple of seconds, providing them with flexible ways to compare and filter out their best match.
What this means for your airline is that you should be considering the speed of your shopping responses. Are you able to deliver offers in seconds to milliseconds? Do you struggle responding timely to more complex requests and itineraries? Do you ever fail to deliver and get cut by your metasearch partners?
Speed is your immediate guarantee that your offer will make it to the first couple of pages of flight search results. So, consider powerful shopping and pricing technology capable of supporting offer delivery at the speed of digital.
- Don’t sacrifice offer accuracy and content quality
To guarantee speed many airlines are sacrificing the quality of the offers they push to metasearch engines, relying on cached data or non-customizeable one-size-fits-all solutions from legacy providers . Yes, this helps your airline be among the first to respond, box checked. But as you deliver offers that are either inaccurate or no longer available, it comes at the expense of eroding your brand image and abusing your shoppers’ trust, leaving them victims of a very poor shopping experience with your airline.
So, if speed is the enemy of accuracy, how do you ensure quick offers without sacrificing bookability and the choice your customers demand?
Seek a high-performant offer creation and distribution solution that will allow you to manage offers at scale, no PSS or GDS strings attached. Standalone offer engines are designed to match the rising shopping volumes of any digital distribution channel. Today, at PROS we handle over 200 billion transactions per year at 99.5% offer accuracy, so airlines can go big with their NDC strategies and have their peace of mind.
Check out how the Lufthansa Group is distributing optimized offers to MSEs today using continuous pricing:
- Ensure optimal balance between choice and extras
More than 40% of travelers opt for a higher option than the lowest fare. This doesn’t mean you should be overwhelming customers on metasearch with all-there-is up to your first-class cabin plus all the available ancillaries. MSEs, like Skyscanner, are smartly applying what they call “progressive disclosure” to offer shoppers more choice gradually. Having invested heavily in your branded fares across cabins, ancillary products and services, this is great way to upsell step-by-step and escape the commodity of offering just your “best deal”. And it’s a win-win for both airlines and travelers, as the latter get more choice and a better customer experience with your brand, which drives loyalty in the long run.
The implication for your airline is to be able to define its channel content strategy for all directly connected metasearch partners and balance out this choice based on the partner’s ROI. Offer control down to the level of each individual seller is key, so your airline can define an optimal strategy for its distribution goals.
- Discard look-to-book as your enemy
Airlines would often get charged excessive fees for distribution to high look-to-book channels by legacy providers. This directly impacts your airline’s strategy in regard to the MSE channel and a common practice to keep distribution costs low is for airlines to compromise the quality of content provided. But, if you want to grow ROI for MSEs, you should not settle with content limitations and trade-offs to keep your distribution bill manageable. At PROS, we are not seeing look-to-book go down anytime soon. As the industry moves closer to Offers & Orders and airlines deploy offer optimization strategies to fuel continuous prices and more, look-to-book is only expected to grow. And that’s OK.
Don’t let it be your enemy when steering your distribution strategy. Invest in offer technology that will scale as your airline distribution needs grow, so you can focus on the ROI, the value and meeting the demands of modern airline retailing.