Ryanair urges Google to enforce greater transparency following customer complaints

Irish low fares airline Ryanair has urged Google to enforce greater transparency on its online advertising following extensive complaints from Ryanair customers who have been misled into booking Ryanair flights on non-Ryanair websites, purposely designed to mislead customers.

According to the airline, screenscraper websites such as eDreams have been paying for Google advertising to have their websites rank above the official Ryanair website on Google searches, which Ryanair claims is misleading Ryanair customers into visiting the eDreams website, masquerading as Ryanair.com, and booking with eDreams.

Ryanair also urged customers to book directly on Ryanair.com and called on Google to enforce greater transparency on its advertising rules, to prevent European customers being misled and overcharged.

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said: ‘As Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair has received numerous complaints from our customers who have inadvertently purchased Ryanair flights on the eDreams website, as a direct result of the misleading advertising provided by Google. EDreams has been unlawfully selling Ryanair flights, by masquerading as Ryanair.com, and then offering customers a substandard service, with additional fees, or by often selling fares that don’t even exist. While we have no issue with Google advertising in general, it is unfair that it is used as a mechanism to mislead customers.

Customers end up paying more for their flights, thinking they’ve bought Ryanair flights with Ryanair, and often their contact details aren’t passed on, meaning they can’t be contacted if their flight changes, and they also have trouble checking-in online. This is a particular problem for customers in the UK and Ireland.

Ryanair will continue to pursue screenscraper websites such as eDreams to prevent Europe’s consumers from being misled over price and booking conditions. We would again urge customers to book directly on the Ryanair.com website to guarantee the lowest fares and best customer service. In the meantime, we call on Google to enforce greater transparency of its advertising to prevent any more customers from being misled and overcharged.’

Ryanair has been engaged in several legal cases against screenscraper websites across Europe to prevent its customers from being subjected to additional, hidden charges and to ensure Ryanair has appropriate contact details to communicate with its customers. The Court of Hamburg recently ruled that eDreams has been using an unlawful subdomain and was misleading customers into thinking that it had an official partnership with Ryanair, the airline said.

Virgin Atlantic set to commence Google Glass pilot scheme

As part of its efforts to improve customer service, Virgin Atlantic is set to launch a Google Glass and wearable technology pilot among its Upper Class staff, according to a report by The Telegraph.

In an industry first, concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing, which serves business class passengers, will be using Google Glass and other wearable technology to start the check-in process. The pilot scheme is expected to run for six weeks.

Google Glass is intended to help staff to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination, and translate any foreign language information. The new technology is also intended to advise airline staff of their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences in the future.

Dave Bulman, director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers.

‘By being the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve customer experience, we are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.’

The company will also test iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow. This is a new, low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that will update iOS users with regard to nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules.

Virgin Atlantic has previously introduced a number of technological innovations, becoming the first airline to allow mobile connectivity and SMS texting on board in 2011. 3G is now available on all 10 of Virgin Atlantic’s A330 aircraft, and Wi-Fi is currently being trialled on three of these. All 16 of Virgin Atlantic’s 787s will have the latest 4G technology available on board, the report noted.

The company was also among first airlines to offer individual TVs to its business class passengers in the late 1980s.

Ryanair-Google plan to change how customers buy airline tickets

Internet giant, Google, is working on a plan with Ireland-based low-cost carrier, Ryanair, to completely transform how consumers search for, select and buy airline tickets.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary, said that the partnership with Google would change the way people buy tickets forever.

O’Leary said: ‘There are some very exciting developments with Google, where we have been working with them on sharing the pricing.’

He added: ‘Well be sharing the Ryanair pricing through all of the Google outlets, so when you go in, there’ll be route selections, cheapest prices and so on. Google are developing a price-comparison thing themselves. They want to launch with us and we’re working with them on that kind of product.

They don’t want to have a limited or biased search. They want to be able to say they’ve screened all of these airlines on all of the routes. They need to find who has got the lowest airfare on these routes… and that’s us’

O’Leary said he expected the project to go live by the end of March.

Looking into the future, O’Leary said: ‘We’ll be doing more individual marketing, with the launch of My Ryanair. We’ll build individual profiles for each passenger. We’ll know how often you fly, where you fly, who you fly with and we’ll design individual packages for you.

‘For example, if you fly business 12 times a year, we’ll say something like, ‘If you fly 13 times, here’s a free ticket for your wife.’

O’Leary also said that Ryanair’s new website would include a slick ‘Farefinder’ feature, where customers can review graphs on each route, showing the days with the cheapest flights over the coming 60 days.

He added that Ryanair’s recent move to introduce customer service improvements was part of a strategy to capture new passengers.

London Gatwick deploys Google’s mapping services

Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world, has said that Google Indoor Maps and Indoor Streetview will now be available for all public areas across both its North and South Terminals.

With over 2,000 stitched images, Google’s Indoor Streetview of Gatwick will help passengers to take a virtual tour through its check-in areas, departure and arrivals halls, shops and restaurants, familiarising themselves with the premises even before they enter the airport. The maps are intended to help Gatwick’s 34 million passengers to make more effective use of their time at the airport, with location-aware navigation and route planning.

The largest implementation in Europe, Google’s interactive indoor maps of the Gatwick Terminal floor plans identify key areas of interest, including information hubs, charging points, play areas and toilets, to facilitate smoother and speedier journeys. Once inside the airport, passengers should be able to instantly identify where they are and then navigate their way around.

The services can be accessed using desktop browsers, android phones, IOS and tablets by logging onto the Google Maps website, the Google Maps App, or via the newly redesigned Gatwick website.

Michael Ibbitson, chief information officer at Gatwick Airport, says: ‘We’ve worked closely with Google to make these new mapping services as comprehensive and detailed as possible. As part of Gatwick’s £1.2 billion investment programme we’re continually looking to innovate and improve the passenger experience and this latest technological development will make it easier than ever for passengers to make a speedier trip or the most of their time at the airport.’

OnHolidayGroup’s ‘Google Bypass’ Could Change Travel Advertising

British travel firm On Holiday Group (OHG) plans to bypass Google’s expensive advertising plans through a new social media promotion scheme. The company will offer commissions to Facebook and Twitter users in exchange for action-driven purchases – whenever a user’s contact purchases a flight, hotel room, or holiday package through a coded link, they’ll be given a £25 commission.

It’s one of the travel industry’s first consumer-driven affiliate schemes, and it has the potential to forever change the way similar companies operate. The vast majority of travel agencies offer their services using Google’s proprietary Adwords advertising network – a two-part search and content advertising service that charges advertisers based on how many clicks their creatives generate.

The current scheme is quite profitable, both for Google and its myriad advertisers. But with almost seventy percent of each sale commission being eaten up in advertising costs, it’s one that a growing number of travel agents wish to do away with. The Google Bypass Scheme – as it’s been dubbed by OHG – aims to allow users to market holiday products that they are interested in independently.

If the scheme is a success, it could result in a prompt shift in travel industry advertising methods. A total of almost sixty British travel firms have bit the dust in the last twelve months, leading many to believe that the industry’s current marketing methods simply aren’t effective. Google’s current plan is simply too expensive for travel firms, with many facing multi-dollar bids for small commissions.

For those involved in social media, the system could also represent a turning point for an industry that’s long been thought of as fairly worthless for direct sales. OHG are bracing themselves for a major success, and we wish them well. With revenues declining and a number of major firms out of business, it’s this kind of innovation that could potentially save the travel industry.