As the fight between Ryanair and online agents rages on, TravelMole put some questions to Ryanair’s head of communications Stephen McNamara about the thorny issue of screen-scraping. This is what he had to say:
Q. How much business do you estimate Ryanair is losing because of screen-scraping? Presumably this is mainly through the loss of potential ancillary sales?
A. The travel industry are fantasists when it comes to their importance – all of our customer surveys suggest that just 1% of bookings come via travel agents and unauthorised screen-scrapers. This action is about customer and brand protection, not about revenues.
Q. How much did Ryanair spend on the installation of the reCaptca technology in order to block out screen-scrapers?
Q. How much has Ryanair spent on other measures (eg legal costs) in its fight so far against screen-scrapers?
A. Very little – but again, every cent we have invested will protect our consumers against the increased fares and hidden charge imposed by unauthorised screen-scrappers.
Q. How far will you go to block screen-scrapers?
A. We will continue to take explore every avenue to protect our passengers against the increased fares and hidden charges imposed by unauthorised screen-scrapers
Q. How much financial benefit does Ryanair expect to see if it manages to completely block out screen-scrapers?
A. Very little, but we can then be sure that our passengers are paying our lowest fares, without hidden charges imposed by unauthorised middle men, and we can also be sure that we can contact passengers directly. This is a very important issue as during the ash crisis and snow disruptions of January and December 2011 we identified a direct link between passengers who claimed they had not received information or refunds from Ryanair and those who had booked with unauthorised ‘agents’. The information or refunds were of course sent to the email or credit card provided at the time of the booking, which in these cases turned out to be unauthorised travel agents and screenscrapers , who then failed to pass information to our passengers. They lose interest in our passengers after they have taken received their money.
Q. Will this outweigh the expense of blocking them?
A. See above
Q. Wouldn't this money be better spent on improving the speed of your website so that customers can access it easily and speedily and enjoy better 'response times', despite the impact of screen-scraping?
Q. Doesn't the introduction of reCaptcha technology ultimately slow down the booking process for your customers?
** What do you think of Stephen McNamara's answers? Please share your views by clicking on ADD A COMMENT below.
Friday, December 2, 2011