WTM 2012: Vayant adds dynamic live fare emails to intelligent air shopping suite

by Lee Hayhurst
by Lee Hayhurst
November 9, 2012 02:28 PM GMT

Air fare shopping technology specialist Vayant has unveiled a new dynamic email marketing capability having celebrated signing up to notable airlines.

The Bulgaria-based firm was set up five years ago and it touted as a rival to ITA Software that was bought by Google in 2010 for $700 million.

Unlike ITA it works in the business to business environment, but is developing capabilities similar to those already rolled out by Google in its ITA-power Flight Search product in the US.

The latest addition to its portfolio, which has been built on top of its core OneSearch pricing and shopping engine and FastSearch inspirational sub-second search technology, is Live Fare Emails.

This was revealed at World Travel Market last week and allows airlines and OTAs to send email campaigns including fares that automatically update so they are accurate as the time of viewing.

Vayant believes this will help increase the conversion rate of email campaigns and boost margins and take them beyond being just a marketing exercise.

Eric Dumas, Vayant chief executive, said: “Talking to the industry, we know traditional marketing emails often deliver frustration, when the recipient clicks on a great fare and finds they can no longer book it.

“They can be seen as a necessary evil more about boosting brand and less about an effective sales tool.

“Live Fare Emails turns this perception on its head and puts sales at the forefront. They are about inspiration; enabling airlines and OTAs to entice their customer with relevant offers that are always up to date.”

Vayant’s sub-second FastSearch product was first unveiled in February and this year it has signed up Hotelplan in Austria and Switzerland.  In the past year, Vayant has also signed up Austrian Airlines and AirBaltic, who are using a version of its OneSearch product.

Both the airlines are hosted by Amadeus and Austrian is in the Star Alliance. Brannon Winn, chief commercial officer, said the two airline client wins were significant.

“We have proved we can add value on top of what Amadeus offers as a day-to-day hosting solution and we have clearly shown there is something missing in their portfolio and we can handles the volumes such as Star Alliance,” he said.

Vayant is the latest entrant into a market with a small number of players including the three global GDSs, Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus and ITA.

It claims its technology complements the GDSs because in an environment in which some airlines are looking to bypass the GDSs altogether it will help them drive down the costs of distribution.

And with ITA now part of Google, Vayant believes its business to business approach and its global reach positions it as a powerful non-partisan alternative to the US technology firm.

Winn said: “Airlines focus on either driving up revenue or reducing costs. What we effectively do is help them become more efficient at what they are doing by lowering their costs of search.

“A major cost for airlines is search and how many times the inventory is being queried. For instance you host system has to calculate the tax but because we do that off the airline host we eliminate them having to make those transactions each time and thus help them reduce their costs.

“The GDS model is based on bookings. The more bookings the more money they make. Because Vayant takes the burden of transactions off the GDS host but the booking still goes to the same place we are effectively making them more profitable. We take a GDS friendly approach – we have connections with them.”

Spiralling look to book ratios in travel meaning the number of queries have risen while actual booking numbers haven’t, have made the existing system increasingly costly.

Vayant’s technology can perform similar unconventional air fare searches to Google’s Flight Search including a map-based search that shows the user how far they can travel for a pre-defined price.

It can also allow customers travelling long distances and wanting to avoid the UK’s long-haul APD to combine an easyJet flight to the continent with a departure to their destination in one search.

The system has been developed with input from experience travel agents and it allows ‘fare buckets’ meaning systems can be set up to search for the most relevant fares rather than just the cheapest.

Winn said: “Air fare search going forward is not going to be about how many but how relevant the results are.

"I would rather come back with 50 results which are just what the person was looking for than thousands they have to curate themselves.”

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