Airlines risk being dominated by Google is they continue to underinvest in their mobile platforms, the Aviation Festival in London heard yesterday.
Bobby Healey, chief technology officer at Irish car hire aggregator CarTrawler, told delegates that within the next two to three years nearly all air bookings will come from mobile.
And yet he said that many airline apps continue to drop customers off onto slow desk top booking engines to complete the transaction.
“Fifty percent of customer who transact on desktop actually make the decision on mobile,” he claimed.
Healey said airlines were driven by last click attribution which means they fail to see the impact of mobile and customer are continually driven back into the Google cookie world.
“The biggest threat [ to airlines] is Google,” he added. “Their products have evolved and they are now the best way to search for flights in the universe. Customers are flocking to Google in droves.
“What does that mean for airlines? It means they are going to spend between £0 and £60 for a booking because they lose the digital relationship with customers because of a lack of investment in their mobile stack.”
Healy said CarTrawler has frozen desk top development and built its own conversational Artificial Intelligence technology called Arthur to exploit the emergence of voice-enabled devices.
He said the evolution of conversational commerce provides the answer for airlines wanting to extricate themselves from the Google search monopoly online.
CarTrawler is using Arthur to automate its customer support and today 40% of those interactions are dealt with by a machine which deals with email, text and WhatsApp enquiries.
“It’s very easy to do,” Healey said. “We should do better [than 40%] but we would not have the accuracy.
“The heavy lifting of supporting customers is done by a robot and more importantly the consumer experience is far better.”
Healy said the firm receives hundreds of emails praising its agent Arthur from customers who have no idea they weren’t dealing with a real human being.