Published on Friday, December 2, 2011

Ryanair put on the spot over its battle with online agents

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?

A. We have not installed reCaptcha to block all screen-scrapers – we have developed it to protect our passengers from the increased fares and hidden charges imposed by unauthorised screen-scrapers who sell our fares in breach of our terms of use. Screen-scrapers who are interested in genuine ‘price comparison only’ services can apply for a licence to scrape our site. This pro-consumer action is worth every cent.

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?

A. No

Q. Doesn't the introduction of reCaptcha technology ultimately slow down the booking process for your customers?

A. No

** What do you think of Stephen McNamara's answers? Please share your views by clicking on ADD A COMMENT below.

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  • Ryanair needs agents

    Ryanair is the only airline that is stupid enough to claim they don't need agents,but the facts are clear and loud. 9% plus of all Ryanair business is via the trade. We have electronic evidence that more than 6m bookings are facilitated via agents, which is over 9% of ryanair business. Let's think, we handle 15 ota's so calculating the remaining stents, 30% or more are booked vi agenciies. So,if we cull Ryanair data from our systems, that's a 6m drop or cross sell, or 9% of Ryanair business. O'leary needs to come out of the closet

    By Mobile User, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • only 1% from agents ?

    Ryanair claim that only 1% of bookings are via agents. Well, I can state for a fact that is utter rubbish. Most OTA's use the client's credit/debit card to faciliate the booking, use the clients email, address, etc, therefore ryanair's claim that only 1% come from the trade does not add up when, for example, just 15 European OTA's account for more than 6m ryanair pax per year (that's already 9% of ryanair business). Now take into account the 'smaller' agents, doing say 50-100 pax per day, add the total up and I reckon 20%+ of ryanair's business comes via the travel trade. If O'Leary and his crew claim it's only 1% let's make him a deal. Give us the list of the biggest shareholders & let's prove to the shareholders the actual figures that the trade book & ask the shareholders would they like a 25% drop in business by agent's cross selling Ryanair to alternative carriers? Come on O'Leary, put up or shut up ! Ryanair need to pull their heads out of the sand and admit that agent's do account for a reasonable amount of their bottom line.

    By Mobile User, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • hidden charges

    if Ryanair are so concerned about hidden charges and protecting the consumer why do they have so many hidden charges themselves? also why do they try to force insurance and products on to you. why is their cabin baggage size limit slightly smaller than every major airline?

    By Neil MacRae, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • More Free PR

    If you read Pprune (Professional Pilots Rumour Network), you will see a fair few comments on people now using other airlines as they simply find the logging in etc too much like hard work. Ultimately it is about protecting ancillary revenues - all airlines wouldn't be adding hotels etc onto their websites if it wasn't. It is clear from airlines end of year statements, the ancillary activities are profitable. So, let the charade continue. Slan a chaire. Tom Britton. Marble City Travel

    By Tom Britton, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • Change The Record Ryanair

    Dare I say it but Ryanair really are begining to sound like a broken record and to be frank, its boring and untrue... Anything for a free bit of publicity eh?

    By Gregg Walker, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • Watch out Dara O'Briain!

    The thought of Ryanair taking action for "customer and brand protection" will keep me chuckling all day. It seems Dara O'Briain might have competition for the title of greatest living Irish comedian!

    By Paul Sawbridge, Friday, December 2, 2011

  • You have to love them......

    I cannot be the only one who reads this stuff with an Irish accent in my head!? I find the Ryanair attitude fabulously entertaining, hugely admirable and slightly bemusing in equal measure. Mr O'Leary is one of my personal business heroes. He, more than anyone, has blown the European airfares market wide open, and we've all benefited along the way. I just wish he'd see the value in us Travel Agents, who can help his company to sell more stuff! The customer knows that Ryanair will be cheaper when booked direct, but it's not always about cheapest. We have to use other airlines where Ryanair would be a better fit, but we're prevented from using them.

    By chris bailey, Friday, December 2, 2011

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