Skyscanner has launched a white paper setting out its vision for the future of airline distribution and the changing role of metasearch within this.
The paper, authored by the metasearch engine’s chief executive Gareth Williams, sets out Skyscanner’s intention to transition towards becoming a marketplace in which travellers can shop for a rich array of air fares with a seamless process from start to finish across any device.
Williams argues that the evolving technology landscape, with the increasing consumer preference for mobile, and evolving click-tap platforms such as chat bots, has blurred the lines between what can be considered a ‘direct’ air ticket purchase.
In this evolving environment, the former line between direct and third party intermediaries has blurred while the need for a frictionless shopping experience and for rich and dynamic airline products to stand out has increased.
Skyscanner hopes to lead the field when it comes to distributing carriers’ products by creating an airline marketplace offering carrier ‘store-fronts’ which are virtually indistinguishable from airlines’ own booking sites.
This marketplace would give greater branding control to suppliers while allowing them to tap into Skyscanner’s wide audience of travellers across a range of devices – from apps through to chat bots.
Many airlines still have limited mobile booking options on their own sites, while the vast majority of carriers have yet to embrace newer emerging technologies such as bots.
Williams stated: “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 a 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 – yet has the advantage of being available on desktop, app or any device.
“Airlines must have the opportunity to stand out in the next generation of distribution, particularly as travellers increasingly expect to be able to transact on smaller screen sizes with shorter purchasing journeys which offer a seamless booking process.”