Thursday, May 28, 2009

AirAsia bidding for hotel words in Google - Low Cost Carrier embracing quasi-OTA status

Back in December I re-posted a story from 2007 (and one of my original tips from the t-list posts) that contained my three recommendations for airlines that were winning with supplier direct online on how they can improve their online offering.

One of the recommendations was to " invest in being a true online hotel (land) business". We has seen strides from the low cost carriers in this first (for example Easyjet's seamless packaging integration). Now I have seen another next step from a low cost carrier - reports have come in of KL based AirAsia have been bidding on hotel based keywords on Google. In effect competing head to head with online travel agents, hotel only intermediaries and hotel suppliers on hotel sales rather than waiting for air cross sell to provide ancillary revenue.

This has been hard for me to replicate in a screenshot to show you as it looks like they are currently targeting certain Asian IP addresses (ie customers) and not yet targeting Australia. John Fearon of Asiarooms sent me through this shot from an Alexa search he was doing. You can clearly see AirAsia targeting Bangkok hotels along side and others. It is the second time Fearon has spotted AirAisa actively promoting hotels.

I applaud this move by AirAsia. It is consistent with there "we do want we want and love to break the rules" brand message and it embraces my rules for growing airline online share. That said as an online hotel player is gives me the willies. Anyone else seen more examples of AirAsia or other airlines bidding for hotel words to support their ancillary business.?

thanks for the tip John.


samdaams said...

Not a low cost carrier, but Cathay Pacific has been going after keywords like 'Amsterdam travel guide' etc. Can't really say when it started, but first noticed it about a month or so ago. Would be interesting to learn if those keywords give them any return at all though!

Tim Hughes said...

@Sam - interesting. I wonder if they are just trying out words from a branding perspective (ie any traffic is good traffic from a brand point of view). Or do they have a direct marketing spend plan? My guess is that PPC spend has now officially crossed over into an area of brand spend

Carl Jackson said...

Hi Tim,
I also couldn't get the ads to show but agree it's a great idea for AirAsia.

After all, if I know the AirAsia brand stands for low cost and see a list of ads for hotels in a destination I'm going to I think I'd be quite likely to click it.

Nice cross promo ad text too - giving a benefits to flying with AirAsia in a hotel contextual search.

Tim Hughes said...

@Carl - You are right - very good text. Do you think they are using an agency?

John said...

I think if you look at the geographies that AirAsia flies out of Thailand and Malaysia are important source markets. This may be why they are geo targeting these regions.