Google is rolling out a new tool that provides airline partners with search data that carriers are using to help decide which routes to restart and when.
Unlike existing data from Google for airlines about their own performance across Google products, the newly provided data provides a market-wide view of consumer intent based on flight searches regardless of airline.
Lufthansa and Air France were two partners willing to go on the record about their use of the tool, which is a supplement to performance information already existing in the Google Flights Reporting Center, and airlines’ own data resources.
“Flight Demand Explorer has been a tremendous addition to our internal data to get a clear picture of the current flights market,” said Maximilian Vietmeier, manager of online strategy at Lufthansa Group. “Understanding demand across the globe at route-level allows us to make informed decisions about which routes we will restart first.”
Air France has used Demand Explorer to supplement its own data across departments such as revenue management, sales, and network planning.
“Demand Explorer information is key for us to follow the travel industry demand trend,” said Julien Mallard, e-acquisition director at Air France. “It allowed us to anticipate market recovery and to focus our actions. It was also broadly used by the different commercial entities (revenue management, sales and network planning), and enables us to have an aligned view on the market situation.”
COMPLEX ROUTE DECISIONS
The tool enables partners to filter Google search data by origin based on signals such as IP addresses to determine which potential routes are generating increased demand. Airlines can search by city pair or country to country. Unlike Google’s current data-sharing with partners about their own performance across Google products, including Google Flights, Google Ads, and when Google powers flight-shopping on airlines’ own websites, the new tool offers them anonymized and aggregated Google search data covering flight searches regardless of airline.
To be sure, network planning is highly complex, and Demand Explorer is merely 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,” Brian Sumers, Skift senior aviation business editor, wrote in 2017. “They examine as much information, from census data to migration patterns, as they can. They also look at how many passengers already fly between two cities, perhaps with a connection on another airline. And they might even look at road data to determine whether they can coax some travelers to fly rather than drive.”
ITA SOFTWARE LEGACY
Marostica is the former chief commercial officer of ITA Software, which Google acquired for $700 million in 2011. One legacy of that transaction is that Google still powers flight-shopping on about a dozen airline websites, including Air Canada, Delta, American, United, Iberia, Latam, Turkish, China Southern, and China Eastern. Other Google flight-shopping partners include companies such as Northrop Grumman, Sabre’s GetThere corporate booking tool, and StudentUniverse.
Airlines selling tickets have tons of booking data, which figure into route decisions. In contrast, Google’s new tool provides data that are “super upper-funnel” concerning travelers inclinations when they are in the initial stages of planning a trip, Marostica said.
While Demand Explorer pertains to consumer intent about flights, Google could possibly expand or develop another tool based on hotel queries in Google search, Marostica said.
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