The facilitated booking model is becoming commonly adopted within the metasearch space. This is a positive start, but we believe there is more that can be done. The implementation of the model, and the degree to which it can offer a positive direct solution to airlines, is dependent on the airline brand being given the space to truly thrive in this marketplace.
Many online sales scenarios create a form of two-sided marketplace involving both travellers and suppliers - this is certainly the case for metasearch. The two-sided marketplace is common across the internet economy. The reason it exists is the same reason the offline marketplaces exists: a place where buyers and sellers congregate, interact and transact. We believe that a marketplace which allows for a more direct connection between the customer and the airline will be beneficial to both parties, and that by allowing airlines to have greater control over their brand within our marketplace, we will facilitate a closer connection between customer and brand.
The future, and what Skyscanner will aim to pioneer, leading the metasearch field, is more than the simple facilitation of the booking. It will offer airlines the opportunity to brand their experience more fully within the search and booking funnel, allowing for strong ancillary upsell and control over brand messaging – a store-front of sorts.
At Skyscanner we believe this is where the future lies. It's our aim to offer a booking service that is as close to the direct experience as possible. We believe embracing this approach will reap benefits not just to airlines, but also for travellers.
Airlines should take this option seriously and must plan for their products to stand out in the next generation of distribution, particularly as travellers migrate towards smaller screen sizes and shorter purchasing journeys. After all, people can’t buy what they can’t see.
But our vision for the future is collaborating with airlines in delivering our version of the supplier managed marketplace to travellers worldwide. We want to bring airline products on our site as close to the direct experience as possible, with carriers controlling their products and brand while benefitting from our traffic, and audience, across that range of devices.
This means offering a form of airline store-front. For travellers the experience on Skyscanner is then virtually indistinguishable from the experience on airline.com.