Ryanair says it is “nice enough” to customers but that having the lowest prices is still paramount in the air travel market.
“We’re nice but only nice enough. Having the lowest costs wins. What has benefited us is we are re-adding things rather than taking them away,” says Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer at Ryanair, referring to British Airways recently cutting legroom on its flights.
Jacobs says it is much more difficult to take something good away than it is to start off simple but add more benefits along the way.
A greater focus on content
However, despite its primary focus on cost, Ryanair is looking to push a more content-led, personalised marketing strategy as it rolls out its Always Getting Better (AGB) programme for its fourth year.
This will include phase two of its MyRyanair loyalty service from September, whereby customers will be given cashback, travel credits and personalised offers and incentives based on their profiles.
Content is the glue, it’s the magic. I think it will help the search process and is a nice extra from Ryanair.
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair
The programme has already led to 20 million sign-ups and 18 million app installations, after Ryanair made loyalty scheme membership automatic for passengers. The airline says it will use the data from these members to make sure it has more targeted giveaways.
However, going back to the airline’s notion of only being “nice enough”, the scheme is not based purely on the customer – it urges users to take specific actions rather than giving them points to decide on the promotion they want to take up.
“It will be better than traditional airline loyalty schemes. This will be us encouraging customers to take the action we want, not coming back for points that can only be redeemed later,” Jacobs says.
Users of MyRyanair will be able to set up dual profiles to separate personal and business travel, and a new focus on bespoke content and videos in five languages will be available on the app and on flights.
The content will be based on the individual traveller, where they are going and the type of holiday they will have. For example, the content a group of golfers heading to the Algarve will receive will be different to a family heading to Lanzarote.
“Content is the glue, it’s the magic. I think it will help the search process and is a nice extra from Ryanair,” Jacobs explains. “Improving the travel and digital experience is really where the focus is.”
The extension of the AGB programme will also include lower airfares and will ensure that travellers can make connecting flights both on Ryanair and other airlines. Ryanair holidays will be rolled out across all markets by the end of 2017 and Ryanair Rooms now includes partnerships with Hostelsclub and a selection of B&Bs, to offer more choice.
Ryanair says it will continue to push itself as the Amazon of travel improvements with advanced search functions including a ‘feeling lucky’ fare finder, which is part of its acknowledgement that some of its customers are open to different travel options and may want some help deciding.
It will also use on-screen notifications in its MyRyanair accounts, similar to Amazon, so customers have a more seamless experience and are aware of any updates to their booking.
Brexit and staycations
Ryanair has warned that Brexit may result in a two-year pause to growth of UK services and the possibility of UK flights to the EU being halted completely for a few months in 2019, if a bilateral deal on international aviation is not sealed early on.
Jacobs says the airline would have felt better if Theresa May had referenced the open skies agreement, which allows any EU airline to take off and land in Europe, when invoking Article 50 last week to begin Britain’s exit from the union. He says Brexit should remain at the forefront of people’s minds and that the news could mean more “staycations” for Brits.
“From a travel and business perspective around Europe, we believe Brexit should be at the forefront of minds. You may have to sort staycations soon, as travelling in Europe might not be an option for a few months.”