To address the challenge of creating a seamless booking experience for travellers, flight metasearch engines have begun to move towards “facilitated booking”. However, the opportunities in this space are yet to be fully exploited within the travel industry.
Other industries, such as e-commerce, have given supplier brands the space and control to display their products, offering a store-front of sorts, with abundant up-sell purchasing options baked in. This model has been particularly well-executed in markets like China, where shopping sites like Tmall offer suppliers “flag-ship stores” to brand their products in a way that is almost identical to their own sites.
If we apply this to metasearch, the winners in this space – both among airlines and intermediaries – will be those that can see the value in bringing a rich and differentiated shopping experience to travellers, across the greatest span of platforms and devices. As a step towards this, travel metasearch engines have sought to streamline the process of searching and booking by moving to facilitate the booking stage of the process, giving travellers a more seamless experience. The implementation of this facilitated booking 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.
The future, and what Skyscanner will aim to pioneer, 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.