Start-Ups Interview flyiin
flyiin, a start-up from Berlin, wants to reface the common booking process for flights. What is the difference between flyiin and all existing travel search engines?
flyiin is not another another metasearch engine like Skyscanner or Kayak nor another online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Opodo. We call our product an online marketplace for air travel because it enables travellers to search and buy flights – and any related services – directly with airlines, in one single digital environment.
As such, flyiin addresses the frustrations, which many travellers experience today when using these sites to search and buy their flights. flyiin makes it easy for travellers to view and compare different flight options and fares inclusive of the services that are important to them (bags to be checked in, preferred seating, changeable tickets, lounge access etc.) AND to buy those directly with the airlines.
How does your service work?
It’s very simple. All you have to do is to select the services that you wish to have associated to your flights. flyiin will then query airlines for their flight options, their fares and the costs of any services available with each flight option. flyiin will then determine and display the cheapest fares inclusive of your desired services (number of bags for check-in, preferred seating, flexibility of the ticket etc.) for each option - while highlighting other relevant, optional services for that option.
In the future, you will also be able to browse through photos, videos and detailed descriptions for each option, allowing you to determine which airline will deliver the most attractive experience for the proposed fares.
When you’re ready to book your flights, you will purchase the flight option that best meets your requirements in terms of fare, schedule AND service directly with the chosen airline, without being re-directed to the airline’s site or app.
Your product requires further cooperation than other travel search engines. How do cooperation’s between you and airlines look like?
Our collaboration with airlines is based on a two-phase approach: first, we are offering them the opportunity to participate in the 18 month beta phase of our marketplace. By commercializing their flights, fares and services through flyiin early on, airlines will be able to witness first hand how travellers will respond to their product, in a service-focusing online marketplace for air travel, and the yield they can expect from our marketplace. They will also have the option to collaborate in the definition of the business model that will be effective when we go out of beta.
In the second phase, these airlines - and others - will enter into longer term partnerships with the goal of helping us make our marketplace their sales channel of choice to reach travellers in Europe, and beyond.
And what is the advantage for airlines to cooperate with you?
With OTAs and metasearch engines, airlines have no control over the “offers” that are being presented to whom, and when. These players rely on systems developed by the GDS more than 25 years ago, which doesn’t enable airlines to market the entirety of their offering through these channels, in particular their fare families and growing range of ancillary services, nor the richness and uniqueness of their respective products.
With flyiin, airlines can finally determine which offer is to be presented to which travellers, based on their history with each traveller. They can also sell any of their fare families and ancillary servicesm and present their product and experience using their media assets. And finally, they’re responsible for all subsequent booking, payment and servicing transactions, allowing them to get much closer to their customers throughout the entire purchasing process. And all of this, at a much lower cost than currently through OTAs and metasearch.
What is the advantage for customers to use flyiin instead of one of the existing services?
Because our marketplace allows for service-based, personalised flight search and comparison and booking and self-servicing directly with airlines, travellers will save significant amounts of time in planning and purchasing their flights. Searching for the right flight with the right airline at the right fare will decrease from hours or even days to just a few minutes. This is possible because travellers will be able to view, compare and get the cheapest, and available, fares directly from the airlines, for their desired level of service.
For the first time, they will be able to make informed decisions about the airlines, the travel classes, services and fares that best match their requirements, across an extensive range of airlines.
And since flyiin will let them associate their frequent flyer memberships to their profile, travellers will enjoy personalised deals from multiple airlines, as they increase their loyalty status with all of them, through one marketplace.
And what is your business model?
Today, airlines pay $7 billion to GDS for the distribution of their (incomplete) product to travel agencies (including OTAs), 40-60% of which goes to travel agencies as incentive payments. Our marketplace model provides airlines with a unique opportunity to implement with us a more balanced, results-based business model for their distribution through flyiin.
During our beta phase, flyiin will work with its pilot airlines to define the right business model that will reward the ability of our marketplace channel to trigger higher yield ticket sales. We will define this business model based on the sales data we will acquire during our 18 months beta phase.
On your website you consider GDS as obsolete. Why do you think so?
GDS are based on a technology and most importantly, distribution “dynamics” that are more than 25 years old and no longer aligned to the way airlines wishes to market their product. As a result, they are not able to distribute the entirety and the richness of each airline’s service offering, which explains why OTAs and metasearch do such a poor job in commercializing flights. Meanwhile for airlines, the cost of distribution through GDS-powered channels keeps rising,
As a result, since not all airline products are available in OTAs and metasearch, travellers increasingly rely on the airlines’ websites to plan and buy their flights. And as airlines are making their product richer and more complex, travellers are spending an unacceptable amount of time to understand, compare and finally buy flights.
The first airlines already signed contracts with flyiin. Could you tell us which airlines will be bookable in flyiin?
We have recently communicated publicly our partnerships with the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines) and Air Berlin. These airlines will be the first available for purchase through the beta version of our marketplace. As we speak, we are also in advanced discussions with a large number of airlines and expect to have by the launch of our beta phase a minimum of fifteen airlines bookable, all of which will be highly relevant for German - and European - travellers.
When will customers be able to book the first flights with flyiin?
We’re currently in pre-beta mode and plan to deploy a private beta version of our online marketplace between July and September. This version will be open to those of you who have already signed up as private beta user through flyiin.com, and those who will do between now and September at the latest. Within the following two months, we will then open our beta to anyone who is seeking a simpler and more transparent experience for planning and purchasing their flights.
Avipeo is the first social network for Aviation People. How important are networks and relationships to people with aviation background for you?
We wouldn’t be where we are today if we haven’t had the network and the relationships we have built during many years. For a new venture like flyiin, this aspect is essential. Therefore, we can only welcome the existence of an online network focusing exclusively on the aviation sector.