Like industries everywhere today, the aviation world faces a fierce online shopping reality: as a webpage’s load time increases from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability that shoppers will leave nearly doubles. To respond to this new breed of traveler, Etihad Airways is becoming a digitally savvy retailer.
“We want to give the best choices for our guests, from a local traveler who wants to have a luxury product to a backpacker who wants to travel in economy,” says Goutham Komirishetty, senior manager of solutions and innovations for Etihad Airways.
To provide that fast and personalized online shopping experience, the airline needed more control over its content and how offers reach travelers. This meant cutting through a complex airline distribution landscape, embracing metasearch as an extended digital distribution channel and frequent touchpoint in the shopping journey, and making plans for IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC).
To fuel its eCommerce strategy and provide a shopping experience that was accurate, fast and scalable across multiple distribution channels, the airline needed to address its current distribution capabilities.
Three different vendor solutions were powering shopping data to metasearch engines, which led to inconsistent prices and offers from one metasearch engine to the next. Making customers wait for information that isn’t always up to date quickly ensures they shop elsewhere. To solve this issue, the airline wanted one service provider that could support offer management across all its channels.
“We were looking for a scalable offer distribution solution across channels to meet various demands but also meet the business requirements for consistency, accuracy and efficiency to optimize distribution cost,” Komirishetty says.
The airline chose PROS shopping capabilities, part of PROS Dynamic Offers solution. The real-time, high-performance shopping and pricing engine met all the airline’s distribution requirements and could support offers to metasearch, NDC and other channels in the future.
Before this new solution, metasearch engines used global distribution systems (GDS) or passenger service systems (PSS) to fulfil shopping and availability requests, which resulted in an excessive distribution cost for the airline. In addition, the solutions in place were cache-based, which significantly impacted the quality of shopping data and led to low accuracy, weaker conversion and limitations on bandwidth.
Now that the airline connects directly to PROS, it can ensure its offer content is consistent and accurate across metasearch while controlling the distribution based on performance and shopping volumes.
Because PROS is both GDS- and PSS-agnostic, it provides freedom of choice without dependencies. “PROS can work with any service provider or GDS that hosts our data, which was an important factor,” Komirishetty says.
In addition, new metasearch onboarding can now be done in a matter of weeks, enabling the airline to easily expand its partner network.
PROS Dynamic Offers provides Etihad with a single source of truth for its shopping and pricing, which significantly improves response times and accuracy. Now, shoppers instantly see the latest personalized bookable offers regardless of distribution channel.
“With PROS, our average response time has improved by more than 50 percent,” Komirishetty says. “We have also seen improved conversion rates on our metasearch engines.”
When every second counts in online shopping, this significant increase in speed and accuracy enables the airline to attract customers and build loyalty in the highly competitive world of airline travel. And because the PROS solution enables Etihad to detach the entire offer creation and distribution outside the GDS and the PSS, control is shifted into the hands of the airline, improving efficiency and significantly optimizing distribution costs.
With greater control over how its offers are designed and distributed, Etihad is poised for success for years to come. It now has the flexible search capabilities it needs to provide a seamless digital shopping experience for travelers. The airlines can efficiently power and scale real-time distribution of airfare offers across its direct, metasearch and NDC channels.
To learn more about PROS Dynamic Offers solution, click here.