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Leveraging Shopping Data and SEO Insights for Enhanced Customer Acquisition

This session will explore ways airlines can increase their revenue by using their own shopping and SEO data to drive customer acquisition and revenue growth. We'll share how 100+ airlines use this data to enhance load factor, increase search volume and improve look-to-book rate. By capitalizing on demand in organic search, airlines can see substantial website traffic and revenue growth (in the millions!).

Full Transcript

Katharina Warzel: Okay, welcome everyone. Today we are diving into an exciting topic that sits at the intersection of revenue management and marketing: Unlocking revenue potential by leveraging shopping data and SEO insights.

Katharina Warzel: My name is Katharina and I'm the senior manager of data analytics. And today I'm co-presenting with our expert of SEO and Data Insights, Enmanuel, who is sitting over there. And I just want to tell you a little story. Like when I started working on offer marketing more than a decade ago, it was very difficult to get access to updated route lists and promotional activities, even though we think it probably shouldn't be that difficult. So that's when we started working on a path towards sharing data between revenue management and marketing because we realized that by centralizing the data, we could drive more informed decision making across a lot of different channels, and we would have more positive business outcomes such as very basic like filling incremental seats, filling empty seats, which would drive incremental revenue.

Katharina Warzel: And then we can focus on actually maximizing the revenue per seat by looking at fare elasticity and demand and figuring out the right price. And then after that, we can focus on expanding the customer base by converting new customers, but also making sure that our existing customers stay with the airline.

Katharina Warzel: So a commercial command center in short, CCC is a place where usually like important operations and data are controlled and monitored and it really helps to improve efficiency, communication and decision making. And our objective is to build some kind of CCC for our customers where all stakeholders are monitoring and analyzing the same data. So the data suite, which consists of historical real time and predictive data to improve our RM marketing performance consists of dashboards, where we track a variety of metrics and for example, we have this demand and bookings by date and route dashboard where in this example we aggregated the data across all of our customers and to see what is the demand by departure date for certain destinations. And I was hoping to see an increase in demand around the dates for this conference. But as you can see, it's very consistent for Orlando because it seems like we cannot compete with Mickey and his Magic Kingdom.

Katharina Warzel: But we also have, we have a lot of data, right? So I'm just showing some examples, but here we are looking at an aggregated look to book rate for customers who are willing to share with us the confirmation page data which in Q1 was 5.3% compared to the last year, 4.28%. And what you can do is now look at your own data and compare it with the industry and see where you are. Or more interestingly, you could actually look at the look to book rate on a route level compared to your average and then see if like some routes, if you need to analyze some routes further. And then what you can also do is like look at actually look to book rates by fare bucket. And for example, RM may want to look at like if they're like higher fare buckets that are converting more so that they can maybe like close or adjust like lower fare buckets a little bit more upwards without affecting conversion rates too much or marketing may want to just focus on marketing some fare buckets, that are not converting as much.

Katharina Warzel: We have a lot, a lot of more dashboards that are available to you. We also have actionable insights which are alerts and action items based on the data. And then sometimes we know that our customers just want to have access to the raw data that we have so that they can integrate it with their own tools and processes. And for that we have customer analytics data feeds. And then our objective is really to make all of this data available in the offer optimization product suite right where the RM analysts and the marketer are working so that they have the data at hand to take decisions.

Katharina Warzel: We have playbooks that focus on data analysis to uncover opportunities for enhancing load factor, search volume, look to book rates and capitalizing on demand. So coming very soon, I'm very excited about this, users will be able to go to the data insights tab in airTRFX control, which is, our main product control to configure airTRFX. And you can click on the start guide and we have like questions that we want, that our customers may want to answer such as, are you implementing marketing best practices to capture existing demand for a specific route?

Katharina Warzel: And so when the user clicks on that guide, it'll open a side panel that guides the user through how would they go about answering this question, right? And as they like read through the instructions, they can collapse and command, can collapse and expand the side panel. But to answer this question, you would first want to like, look if there's more demand for the remaining seats of a specific route and if there are less searches than needed to sell the remaining seats, then the next step is to check if the route page already exists in airTRFX so that you do have some real estate where you can send traffic towards to and if not we do recommend our customers to create that route page.

Katharina Warzel: Now the third step would be to check if there's enough demand... If there's enough traffic being sent from the main channels to the page which we consider organic search, paid search, email, social and display. And if not, then there's an opportunity to create channel specific campaigns.

Katharina Warzel: And if you need to get an idea of like what should be the target cost of sale on driving that demand to those pages, we do have also a suggested target cost of sale in the dashboard that the user has been guided towards. And a final check should really include also looking if there are enough fares on that specific page. And so that customers can then enrich the page with either feature price modules or consider integrating with FastSearch so that users have something or can get into that transactional mindset when they land on the page.

Katharina Warzel: So this is the playbooks that I just talked about, right? It's a way where you like do a little bit your own analysis to like get to the answer but actually we are also processing the data in a way that you have the answers to these questions already available in the recommendations that you can find also in airTRFX control. So for example one of the recommendations is to create a Dynamic Pricing Module for loyalty fares because we know that we are collecting that data, but we don't see any user interactions with redemption units in the airModules.

Katharina Warzel: So what I mentioned before is sometimes customers just want to have access to the underlying data sets. And for that we have different data sets. So the first one is the shopping and booking data set which is just like user behavior data that we collect via Farenet from the flight results and the confirmation page. The second one is the air index and target cost of sale data.

Katharina Warzel: So air index is our proprietary KPI which like goes from zero to one and it just is an indicator of the likelihood that the sale of a seat is going to be incremental. And if we focus on selling incremental seats, then also probably our cost of sale targets will change a little bit. It won't be like the cheapest click.

Katharina Warzel: And in this feed you get the data like which routes for which departure dates are the most incremental and associated target cost of sale. Then the load factor data set, it's really just raw data that goes into the previous one that I talked about. But it provides insights into how well the capacity of an airline is being used. And then organic search data is coming soon, but it does include airTRFX page ranking data that can be used to strategically enhance SEM bidding to improve search engine visibility, budget allocation, digital and then overall the digital marketing effectiveness.

Katharina Warzel: Okay. So we also started integrating Offer Marketing shopping data with RM and this milestone marks a significant step forward in bridging the gap between pricing on consumer purchasing behavior allowing for more precise pricing strategies and optimized RM tactics.

Katharina Warzel: And the way it works is we take the Farenet shopping data and we then generate ratios, output demand influencers and load those into the RM system. Then we are bringing more Offer Marketing insights to the RM team through the Digital Marketing Intensity Score in short DMIS. So that score just measures how much effort is being put into marketing a specific route. So that's why the word intensity is in the name.

Katharina Warzel: And then we have this other score, it's called the Digital Marketing Performance Score. And that one measures the performance of the digital marketing campaigns for the same route across all the channels. So the difference is the effort versus the performance, right? And that data provides RM insights into how the marketing campaigns are working. And I want to mention that the score ranges also on a scale from zero to one where zero for the Digital Marketing Intensity Score means that marketing is basically doing the best efforts to market the route. And then for the Digital Marketing Performance Score, it means that it is being done as effectively as possible. And that just helps also RM when they have to decide which routes that they want marketing to focus on more with regards to budget allocation and maybe where they need to do pricing changes because marketing is already doing everything that they can to capture the route. But there's maybe not enough demand or there may also be an issue with just network planning.

Katharina Warzel: Okay, this one I'm very excited about too. So our performance marketing team is currently working on centralizing a lot of this data that I've been talking about into a single dashboard to optimize how organic search and paid search are working together. And this dashboard shows Farenet data, which is like shopping and booking data, and answers the question if people are searching for this route in the booking path. It also includes paid search performance data from Google ads and answers the question at what cost of sale people coming from SEM are converting. It includes organic search ranking data from Advanced Web Rankings, in short AWR, to answer the question what the ranking for each of these routes is and organic search results. And then it also includes Google Travel Center data, in short TC data, to provide insights into what the appetite for this route is in Google. And last but not least also our RM data to answer the question how full the plane is.

Katharina Warzel: And then with all of this data we translate it into optimal budget and bidding optimization. So a lot of data, right? and it's being processed which is really great. Shared and centralized data is the key to aligning revenue management and marketing to unlock maximum revenue across all of the channels. And you can start by using the dashboards that are already available to you or the recommendations in airTRFX control. And currently in development, we also have a optimizer 2.0 which is our algorithm that leverages AI to process all of the centralized data for best-in-class marketing campaign management. So, please don't hesitate to reach out also to your customer success managers to get more guidance on how you can share your data, centralize the data. And if you do have any questions about any of the points that I presented, please feel free to look for me after the presentation so we can discuss it. And I would like to hand over now to Enmanuel, who's going to talk about the value that airTRFX brings in terms of SEO. Thank you.


Enmanuel Tirado: Hello everyone. Thank you, Kat, for the introduction. Allow me to reintroduce myself. So I'm Enmanuel. I'm the head of SEO and Digital Insights here at PROS. My job, our job, is essentially to make our customers rank on the first page of Google when people search for flights. And that's it. Easy peasy, right? So we are... Wait. This is the other way around. We are also, my team is also called the performance marketing team. We're called webmaster, we're called technical SEOs, Googlers, and the funny thing is that we are none of that, but we do a little bit of all of that. So we optimize performance, we optimize websites, we do a lot of statistical analysis, and we also Google a lot. So my goal here today is to convince you that SEO is important for you, that if you invest in SEO as an airline, you might get in one year $2 million.

Enmanuel Tirado: Let's talk about it. So how do we get there? Now I have like roughly 10 minutes to do that, to convince you, right? So let's go over today's conversation. We'll talk about what SEO is, why it's important for airlines. I will briefly show you some success cases and then we'll look at the data, right? So, what is SEO? SEO is basically everything that you can do to make a website rank higher on Google. That's it.

Enmanuel Tirado: The three scopes of SEO are technical SEO, meaning meta robots tags, Azure Flan, interlinking, XML sitemaps, pretty boring stuff. Then we have the content optimization scope of SEO, which is basically how the content should look like, what is better to Google's eyes. And finally, we have the link building scope of SEO, which is basically acquiring backlinks or links from external websites.

Enmanuel Tirado: Now, airTRFX, which is one of our products deals mainly with technical SEO. They're pretty boring stuff, which is great, right? So you don't have to deal with that. Why is SEO important though? It's just for the fact of just having all these flight pages there, is that even important? Well, if you have flight pages, it's likely that, especially if the flight pages are airTRFX pages, it's likely that your rankings on Google will go up. And that will lead to increased revenue and increased traffic.

Enmanuel Tirado: The good thing about or the better news about SEO for airlines are, it is very cost effective. It will not stop the moment you stop paying Google for ads. There is no dependency there. It's there for you forever if you do things correctly. Now if you're not convinced, let me show you an example of an airline, a major airline that didn't even rank for branded fly searches. So what is a branded fly search is when it's basically like airline X, let's call it airline X flights to Miami, is when you append the airline name to the keyword on Google. So this airline didn't even rank for branded terms. There was Travelocity was there ranking for almost everything. And the thing is that as an airline, you need to understand that OTAs like Travelocity, they want to brand jack your airline. They don't want you to rank, which is why they created all these beautiful, amazing landing pages branded with the airlines names targeting people who are searching for branded terms.

Enmanuel Tirado: So the only way to win this battle is to create even better pages, and that's the goal of airTRFX. So why is that is so difficult for an airline to have these better landing pages? Well, it requires a ton of technical work, heavy development work, many resources, PR integration is pretty complex. I will just give you some example of it. First of all, airlines, they don't have the capacity to dynamically generate thousands of landing pages in dozens of markets because it's just too difficult. So airTRFX can do that. Another thing is that, that fare modules are not usually present on these flight pages that they have. For some reason, the URL structure is also very messy. The XML sitemaps break every day. There are a ton of technical problems.

Enmanuel Tirado: I will just show you, four, three examples I think, of how airTRFX will solve this issue. So number one, when it comes to the inability of creating dynamic landing pages for thousands of routes across multiple markets, well, airTRFX can do that pretty quickly. It's not even a challenge. And also airTRFX comes with fare modules. And you need to understand this because sometimes we have airlines that say, oh, I have so this pretty beautiful, amazing destination pages and talk about how, what to do in Miami and all that, the thing is that you need to understand that a flight page is a transactional page for Google. So when people are searching for flights to city, they are searching a page where they can book a fly. They don't even really care about what is there to do in this destination, not at this point.

Enmanuel Tirado: They already know that. So the beauty of airTRFX is that the fare modules will give that intent to a flight page and that's pretty difficult to achieve for regular, normal flight page of an airline. Another thing is that it is pretty easy for development teams to overuse client-side JavaScript, pretty easy. Because I'll give you an example. So this header menu is all loaded with client-side JavaScript. When you disable client inside JavaScript, there is no menu, meaning there are no links, at least not for Google. And that's what matters. So this is a huge problem for SEO. airTRFX, everything is server-side JavaScript. You will never see content, you will never see links that Google cannot render or index.

Enmanuel Tirado: Another thing is about the interlinking structure. Interlinking is critical for SEO, because it will allow Google to discover new pages. You also past page rank, super important stuff. So now we have what is called a dynamic interlinking module. So you can deploy relevant interlinking across thousands of pages, thousands of markets with a button. That's it.

Enmanuel Tirado: Let's talk about the couple of success stories. First of all, how do we measure success? There is something that we call non-branded keywords, which are keyword patterns that people use on Google to find flights. An example of that is flights to Miami in the category or the keywords pattern that... We call that keywords pattern, flights to city. Same with flights from Miami to Chicago. We call that flights from city to city, right? So we basically upload and transform the airline route network into keywords into these keywords patterns and then we track them. And now that's how we measure success. So how is your airline ranking now for your network, for your route network? This is the case of Azul which in, I think it was like what one year, was able to hit 90% in the main market of visibility.

Enmanuel Tirado: So, what is visibility? This is just one metric than the tool that we use created to basically assess or monitor performance when it comes to SEO. And yeah, so now Azul is kind of the king in a year. Then we have another airline in Europe that also, in a matter of few years, also now is leading the pack in their home country. After adopting airTRFX. Just keep in mind that all this data is before and after airTRFX. This is an example from an airline in Asia, which is almost there, but significantly increased to 85% of visibility from, I think it was like 40%. And finally, a major North American airline that is now dominating the market.

Enmanuel Tirado: And you can see the huge increase in visibility after adopting airTRFX. How is this data looking in the aggregate? So basically, we measured this by the number of keywords in first place, top 5 and top 10. And this is how it looks like three years after adopting airTRFX. So by year three, the number of keywords on first place, this is not the top 10. This is not the first page of Google. This is first place. Number one link increased by more than 7,000%. But even in year one, you can see a significant increase by more than 300%. This is pretty unusual. It is remarkable. If everyone knows SEO here, probably knows that this is like big deal, right? But when you rank better for keyword, does it mean that you get more money? Maybe not.

Enmanuel Tirado: So let's see what the data looks like. So we basically took organic data from Google Analytics across the board for many customers. And this is how the aggregate looks like. Focus on the purple bar, which is the median. It means that across our customers, the median increase in organic revenue was 1.9 million. 1.9 million. And this is only considering when airTRFX is the first touch point in Google search results. It doesn't include when airTRFX was the second page that the user visited. Only when airTRFX was the first page that the user visited from Google search results. That's year one. What happened by year three? It more than doubled, right? This is remarkable. This is amazing.

Enmanuel Tirado: Now, what if you already have flight pages? What if you already have all these beautiful amazing destination pages? Why do you care? Should you have airTRFX? Well, the data shows that for the elements that migrated their flight pages to airTRFX, they saw a 61% increase in the number of keywords on first place. First place.

Enmanuel Tirado: What about the conversion rate? So now, a year after migrating to airTRFX, the conversion rate improved by 60% from 1.4 to 1.66%. The last question that I have just to close this presentation is whether Google SEO is dead for airlines. There's a lot of talk these days about HGE and AI and how AI is going to kill SEO and Google and stuff like that. And I think that these key takeaways will answer the question.

Enmanuel Tirado: Number one, the median incremental traffic offered... Incremental revenue offered traffic in year one was 1.9 million. Number two, the number of non-branded keywords ranking in position one increased by more than 300% in year one. And number three, once you migrate, once the airlines migrate their legacy flight pages to airTRFX, the incremental number of keywords on first placing was 61%. So I would say that not quite yet. Not dead. Not quite yet. So let's see next year when we have updated data if this is something that we will be discussing again. That's it. Do we have time for questions, we don't, right? Yeah.