Alex Mans, Flyr Labs
"Airlines need to invest a lot more in extracting revenue or optimizing total revenue from a customer regardless of whether they came from Google, their own website or a GDS."
Quote from Alex Mans, CEO of Flyr Labs, in a Q&A on PhocusWire this week.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
There are many rules that exist in aviation - for good reason.
There are regulations that ensure aircraft remain in the sky, safely (although the recent Netflix documentary on the behavior of Boeing over the last decade or so might challenge a viewer's trust in that regard).
And there are countless others that are in place to protect passengers and crews from a security perspective.
When it comes to distribution of air fares and marketing to customers, airlines have to abide from "rules" around ticketing and advertising standards (depending on the country or region).
But the choices that carriers make, as to where they place those tickets to be sold, are obviously theirs to make freely.
Some airlines have found themselves in the same position that many hotels still do with online travel agencies - how to manage their marketing strategy when it comes to pushing tickets (rather than room bookings) via intermediaries.
Qualified clicks from a meatsearch brand (in this regard) such as Google are welcome. This is no different, in many respects, bar the cost element, to the commission rates required from selling a ticket via an online travel agency or global distribution system-hosted offline travel agency.
The balance required when pushing fares via different channels will not go away, unless airlines adopt the low-cost carrier strategy deployed by the likes of Ryanair for many years (it later accepted that to attract business travelers it needed at least some tickets going via travel management companies on the GDS) to only take bookings via its own website.
Airlines don't have the time, energy or resources (especially at the moment, as they attempt to claw back their business operations to a level that they enjoyed pre-global pandemic) to throw their lot in with a direct, web-only strategy.
So juggle they must, with the irritations and benefits that come with each strategy as it shifts up and down in terms of success.
There is no obvious end to a conundrum that has, let's face it, existed for decades. Perhaps the only thing that airlines can do is work and optimize within the parameters that they have and hope that they can turn their first-time bookers into long-term passengers who appreciate that going direct in the future might give them the savings and services that they can't get elsewhere.
* An earlier version of this article incorrectly noted that airlines pay for their clicks on leads via Google.
PhocusWire's editorials examine a trend or development highlighted in an article during the week.