Lufthansa and Air France were two partners who wanted to report on their use of the tool, which complements the performance information already available in the Google Flights reporting center, and the airlines’ own data resources.
Dozens of airlines and online travel agencies, and most recently hotels and car rental companies in all regions of the world are using the new data tool, Demand Explorer, according to Gianni Marostica, chief development officer Google’s commercial for travel. He spoke exclusively with Skift on Thursday about the new tool, which was rolled out in mid-March.
“Flight Demand Explorer was a great addition to our internal data to get a clear picture of the current flight market,” said Maximilian Vietmeier, head of online strategy for the Lufthansa group. “Understanding demand around the world at the route level allows us to make informed decisions about which routes we will restart first.”
The German-based airline said a few weeks ago that it plans to offer flights to 70% of its intercontinental destinations by September and 90% of its continental destinations.
Air France used Demand Explorer to supplement its own data in various services such as revenue management, sales and network planning.
“Information from Demand Explorer is essential to keep up with demand trends in the travel industry,” said Julien Mallard, director of e-acquisitions at Air France. “This allowed us to anticipate the recovery of the market and to focus our actions. It has also been widely used by different business entities (revenue management, sales and network planning), and allows us to have a coherent view of the market situation. ”
Air France-KLM predicted a slow ramp-up of flights this summer in early May, but volumes could still be 80% lower in the third quarter, which ends on September 30, according to the Associated Press.
Complex route decisions
The tool allows partners to filter Google search data by origin based on signals such as IP addresses to determine potential routes generating increased demand. Airlines can search by city pair or by country. Unlike Google’s current data sharing with partners on their own performance on Google products, including Google Flights, Google Ads, and when Google enables flight purchases on airline websites, the new tool offers them anonymized and aggregated Google search data covering flight searches. regardless of the airline.
To be sure, network planning is very complex, and Demand Explorer is just another tool in the arsenal, said Google’s Marostica.
“Planners take new routes seriously, often studying them for months or even years before recommending them,” wrote Brian Sumers, senior editor of Skift Aviation Aviation, in 2017. “They’re looking at as many information, from census data to migration patterns, as they can. They also look at the number of passengers already flying between two cities, possibly with a connection on another airline. And they could even check the traffic data to determine if they can cause some travelers to fly rather than drive. ”
Network planning decisions are “super complex” for airlines at all times, but when you “throw away what happened recently” with travel restrictions and travelers hate boarding planes, generating another layer of demand pattern data can be valuable, said Marostica.
Google has long provided partner airlines with data on their own performance on Google Flights, Google Ads, and Flight-Shopping when it populates their websites. But the coronavirus crisis sped up Google’s development efforts and prompted Google to introduce the new tool in mid-March.
ITA Software Legacy
Marostica is the former commercial director of ITA Software, which Google acquired for $ 700 million in 2011. A legacy from this transaction is that Google still powers flight purchases on a dozen airline websites, including Air Canada, Delta, American, United, Iberia, Latam, Turkish, China Southern and China Eastern. Other Google partners for purchasing flights include companies such as Northrop Grumman, Saber’s GetThere business booking tool, and StudentUniverse.
Airlines selling tickets have tons of booking data, which go into route decisions. In contrast, Google’s new tool provides data that is “super-funnel superior” regarding the inclinations of travelers when they are in the early stages of planning a trip, said Marostica.
Google is not the benchmark merchant for flight reservations, but there is still quite a bit of data on travel intentions that partners can use, he added.
Online travel agencies, meanwhile, are using the new tool for marketing purposes, said Marostica.
Google intended to introduce the new tool later this year, but Covid-19 has accelerated this schedule.
Although Demand Explorer relates to consumers’ intentions regarding flights, Google could possibly expand or develop another tool based on hotel queries in Google search, said Marostica.
Photo credit: a Lufthansa cockpit in 2017. Lufthansa is one of the airlines that recently used new consumer data from Google to help make network planning decisions. Lufthansa