Google. Nearly everyone on the planet has heard of this search engine and uses it on a daily basis. Over 40,000 search queries are answered on average every second, and annually, that adds up to over 3.5 billion searches every single day (Internet Live Stats, 2015). Imagine how many of these queries are related to booking a flight, finding the best travel deals, and searching for a traveler’s next destination.
Since inception in 1998, Google has been growing rapidly, with more use than any other search engine in the market, including Bing and Yahoo. It has even developed its own form of social media, Google Plus, which is a growing platform for business and personal use. With Gmail and its internet browser, Google Chrome, Google can track what kind and automatically save information one is discussing, or searching for, even in unsaved draft emails (US News And World Report, 2015). Users can access this website on their mobile smart phones, on laptops, personal computers, and at work, allowing for a unique, personalized experience with each use.
When looking at Google’s influence on the aviation industry, it is fair to say that it could easily take over the majority of online bookings in the future. For example, Google Flights Search has become a main competitor with third party websites such as Expedia, and even with company branded sites, such as EasyJet.com or RyanAir.com. Currently, a user can book a round trip, a multi-city trip, or a one way flight with different preferences, such as business, economy, and premium, with a comprehensive look at all major competitors. Google Flights Search even highlights the best flights in regards to time travelled and price point. Depending on the user’s location, the interface will also showcase nearby popular destinations with visual photographs and inexpensive flight rates. If a user has booked a fight with another company, the website will save this information and have the ability to remind the user about the flight number as well as time, date, and location of arrival and departure. With a few clicks, a user could search “when is my flight?” and this information will be readily available, pending that Google’s software has the user’s IP address on file.
With expert analytical data software available, Google can track users through numerous segmentation and tracking information, such as path analyses, flow visualizations, navigation flow reports, and goal flow reports to provide insight to a business’ conversions paths (Analytics Talk, 2011). In recent years, Google Glasses were utilized in a professional working environment with Virgin Airlines and several airports, like Edinburgh Airport. The company is re-working on this product and did call for a temporary recall, though these hands free devices gave duty managers the opportunity to use less paper, give great customer service, and have access to digital files (SITA, 2014). Google Maps also allows a user to view an airport’s location with a digital version of a map, and with Google Earth for a real world look at what a user can expect while there.
Other airline companies will need to keep up with Google by having up to date customer engagement software, easy to use websites, interactive social media accounts to meet the consumers’ needs, and at the very least, the ability to track a customer’s personal information, IP address, and exchanges with the company throughout the entire customer to business relationship. Many airline companies, such as Transavia, ask the consumer for basic personal information, birth date, reason for travelling, and offers the ability to sign up for newsletter updates. This is the first stage of keeping a customer in part with the Customer Lifetime Pyramid. By segmenting consumers through simple criteria (geographical, demographic, socioeconomic characteristics), and profiling these users with various personas as previously discussed, airline companies can market the right information to the market that needs it most. Furthermore, using a Path Analysis will be beneficial to learn more about how, when, and where the user has been before, during, and after booking with the website’s interface. With a reactive approach, if the user did not book a flight, follow up measures can be taken to ensure that the consumer has a stress-free and enjoyable experience as well as bringing in revenue into the company.
In an interview with a hotel franchise owner in Kamloops, British Columbia, Tim Rodgers predicted that within a few years, a user will source Google as a go-to booking agent for hotel rooms across the globe. In all aspects of customer engagement, he said that it could be possible to view inside rooms, read reviews, and book online rather than using a third party website or booking through the hotel’s staff or call centre. This is already a reality with airline companies, and with the rapid growth rate of modern technology, the future could hold infinite the future (Tim Rodgers, 2014). Ben Baldanza, the CEO of Spirit Airlines said, that within one hundred years, “Google’s “put me there” technology [will be] implemented into its maps software, rendering all airlines obsolete” (USA Today, 2014).
All in all, current technological advances are keeping the customer engagement industry in a fast paced, ever evolving market. Google has proven to be able to keep up with the knowledge industry, and has the ability to potentially control the majority of airline sales, while allowing consumers to have a care-free experience with the best price in mind.
Analytics Talk. (2011). Path Analysis in Google Analytics with Flow Visualization. Retrieved from Analytics Talk: Digital Analytics For Business: http://cutroni.com/blog/2011/10/19/path-analysis-in-google-analytics-with-flow-visualization/
Internet Live Stats. (2015). Google Search Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/
Rodgers, T. (2014, October 28). General Manager, Best Western Plus. (H. Mikal, Interviewer)
SITA. (2014, June 18). Google Glass At Copenhagen Airport. Retrieved from News Releases: http://www.sita.aero/pressroom/news-releases/google-glass-at-copenhagen-airport—service-with-a-smile
US News and World Report. (2015). Google’s Gotcha. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/05/10/15-ways-google-monitors-you?page=2
USA Today. (2014). Future of Aviation Airline CEOs Predictions. Retrieved from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2014/01/01/future-of-aviation-airline-ceos-predictions/4267643/