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Column: The Ryanair and Google Partnership – what’s in it for us?

The surprise announcement that airline Ryanair and internet giant Google are to form a partnership has led to much speculation. Here, Eugene O’Loughlin takes a look at what it may mean for the travelling public.

Dr Eugene O’Loughlin

THE RECENT SURPRISE announcement that low fares airline Ryanair and internet giant Google are to form a partnership that would blow other companies and partnerships “out of the water” and change the way we buy tickets, has led to much speculation about what it actually means for both companies and – of course – for the travelling public.

Combined with Ryanair’s recent efforts at a softer image, such as creating an easier-to-use website, allowing seat reservation and group bookings, it is a good question to ask about this partnership: “What’s in it for us?”

First, what’s in it for Google?

Google already has a dedicated flight search capability (see www.google.com/flights), you can even book Ryanair flights and compare fares with other airlines. When you select a Ryanair flight, Google directs you to Ryanair’s booking page for that flight. So what’s new? Ryanair has declared that it is not spending any of its €3 billion cash pile on this partnership, so there will be no referral fees or commissions.

Google makes money from advertisements, so expect a lot more targeted ads when you go to book your holidays or next business trip. Another thing is that, if you are logged on to Google, you will be adding more information to allow Google to profile you with greater accuracy, and in turn create even more targeted ads. Say you want to book a flight from Dublin to Paris with Ryanair? Go to Ryanair.com and most of us will search for cheaper flights at different times and dates before finally booking, as well as checking out other options such as baggage allowance and car hire. When doing this we leave a trail of data and information behind, which Ryanair has, and Google wants.

Ryanair has data – lots of it, and now wants to share this with Google. While both Google and Ryanair are tight-lipped about exactly what the partnership will entail, at the heart of the deal is bound to be so-called “Big Data”. Ryanair’s data, combined with some of the world’s most advanced analytics tools powered by Google, will give Google the ability to create better searches and in turn earn more from advertising. In the near future, you will go to Google to search for the cheapest flight, and not have to search each airline in turn.

Secondly, what’s in it for Ryanair?

Partnering with Google should be a good move for Ryanair. If they really have the cheapest fare, or a flight that suits your needs exactly, Google will find it and send you directly to Ryanair’s web page for that flight. Ryanair reported that they carried just over 81 million passengers in 2013, but they want more – up to 30 million more. They will get this by both growing the business with extra flights and new destinations, and also by taking passengers from other airlines, including Aer Lingus.

For Ryanair, much of this partnership is about driving traffic to Ryanair.com. At the time of writing, a Google flight search for a trip from Dublin to Paris shows 109 flights with 11 different airlines. Guess who has the cheapest flights according to this Google flight search? Right first time – Ryanair.

Google will make searching for flights to suit your needs a lot easier and, of course, Ryanair hope that this will lead to them picking up more business. Google is now often considered an important part of our everyday lives, so if Google takes the work out of searching for flights, Ryanair will benefit – and at little or no cost.

Finally, what’s in it for us?

Searching for the best value flight, at a time and date that suits, to an airport that’s near your destination, using several different airline websites, can be a lot of work. Anything that will reduce this work and make life easier is bound to be popular with passengers.

The acid test will be if it gives us cheaper flights. Only time will tell if this happens, but a Google/Ryanair partnership should be good for us all – if Ryanair get extra passengers from this deal at little or no cost, then they keep the pressure on to reduce overall costs resulting in cheaper fares.

There is also the mobile revolution to consider. More and more of us have smartphones in our pockets with which we will soon be able to pay for nearly everything, including flights, direct from our mobiles. Both Ryanair and Google are predicting that more of us will use our mobiles for purchases, and they don’t want to miss take off on this.

Dr Eugene O’Loughlin is a Lecturer in Computing at the National College of Ireland where he specialises in business analysis, project management, and data analytics. He is author of the book “Introduction to Business Systems Analysis”, and also runs a popular YouTube Channel – Learn with Dr Eugene O’Loughlin. Follow him on Twitter @eoloughlin, or read his blog at www.eugeneoloughlin.com where he writes about education, technology, and riding big motorcycles.

The Business Analysts Association of Ireland (BAAI) was founded to establish the business analyst role within organisations, and to improve the quality and contribution of business analysts through continuous professional development, competency building and networking. The BAAI hosts regular training and networking events  and has developed the Certificate in Business Analysis and Consultancy with the National College of Ireland. Details of this course can be found here.

Read: Ryanair tight-lipped on what Google partnership will look like

Read: Here are the best questions and answers from this afternoon’s #askryanair session

Read: Ryanair deny “mutinous” passengers raided food trolley on delayed flight

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