Ryanair firms up marketplace plans

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Ryanair has “big ambitions” for ryanair.com to become “one of the world’s biggest travel sites”, selling third party flights and other travel products, even cruises.

Its chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs talked through its plans when launching the fourth year of its Always Getting Better initiative at a conference streamed on Facebook Live today.

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The airline has talked previously about becoming “the Amazon of travel” (while also being “Aldi in the air”) with Jacobs saying he wants ryanair.com to become a “marketplace” and take advantage of the 600 million annual visits its website gets.

He talked about listing other airlines’ inventory on the site and within the app, suggesting that carriers would be attracted by cheaper customer acquisition costs.

“If you’re a small airline, listing  your flights on Ryanair is like a small retailer selling on Amazon…Over time we can see ourselves listing other travel products such as cruise because we are already the world’s most visited airline site and we have big ambitions to become one of the world’s biggest travel sites.”

Its recently relaunched Ryanair Holidays was also referenced, in terms of it being rolled out to all markets during the current financial year. MyRyanair, which currently has 20 million members, is being upgraded and the data it holds on customers will be used to offer personalised offers.

Its personalisation approach is also feeding into its content, with Jacobs suggesting that it will know if a booking is for “five guys playing golf in the Algarve or a family going to Lanzarote” allowing Ryanair to deliver content specific to that booking within the app for download.

As an aside, Jacobs said that in-flight wifi on short-haul was “the most overhyped thing in the airline industry”.

Not forgetting that Ryanair is an airline, Jacobs talked up “connecting flights” as a big part of its plans outside the digital sphere, “a bit of IT integration” aside. The connections cover not only its previously discussed feeder airline partnership with long-haul partners, but also connecting its own flights.

The latter means that customers will be able to transfer between Ryanair flights in a single booking. Flights out of Rome Fiumicino will be the first to offer this connectivity, starting at the end of April.

Norwegian and Aer Lingus are confirmed as the partner airlines for its long-haul feeder service, with Jacobs optimistic that “a raft of other legacy airlines” will join it, allowing them to concentrate “on what they make the money on, which is long-haul.”

And again, he noted that legacy carriers using Ryanair as a feeder airline will benefit from a cheaper rate of customer acquisition.

In theory, Ryanair as a travel marketplace makes sense, but as ever the devil is in the detail.

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