How Do I Improve My Content Performance?

August 29, 2023

Selling flights is, on the face of it, a simple business. You provide options to a traveller for their desired destinations, on their desired dates, and they book. Of course, you might provide a traveller with some additional choices, such as cabin class, traveller type, or loyalty card, but nothing too exotic or different from what we've all come to expect. This is because flights content, by and large, is all the same - it has been standardized and commoditized so that it is broadly interchangeable between providers and consumers.

If it's all the same, then how does one improve the performance of their content? Simply put, how does one provide better flights for travellers? There are two ways to approach this obstacle.

The first approach would be to improve the content you have. Sounds easy enough, but what does that mean? Generally this would either require engaging with the content provider and negotiating better terms (which could be an entire discussion in its own right) or augmenting the content (by adding rich content through information providers like RouteHappy).

It is worth mentioning that the continued expansion of NDC content will bring about options to improve both the breadth and richness of content simultaneously. Though this will certainly introduce some complexity in matching rich content to traveller preferences, with strong technology this complexity can be leveraged as the content diversity and flexibility needed to stand out.

The second approach would be to use your existing content in more efficient or profitable ways. At Trip Ninja, we refer to this as "configuration". Simply improving your search technology to configure smarter itineraries can improve the performance of your flight content without the need to renegotiate terms with your providers or integrate additional rich content.

Travel agents (and savvy travellers) have been employing configuration tricks for decades. A tried-and-true example is "split ticketing", a trick long employed by veteran travel agents when constructing multi-destination itineraries. For example, for a trip from New York to London, Paris, and Berlin, if you sent a single-PNR query to a GDS, your results would be severely limited, as all of the flights would be picked from a limited pool of options within singular airline alliances. Instead, if you "split ticketed" and broke the trip up by leg, you could build an itinerary out of multiple (significantly cheaper) one-way and open-jaw tickets.

While able to surface notable improvements, the obvious challenge with split ticketing and other configuration tricks is implementation. If you do not have the technical capabilities in-house, we recommend piloting API products like FareStructure, to open up this functionality without drawing your attention away from other core operations.

Ultimately, the battle for improving content performance isn't an either/or decision between content and configuration - the two build off of and reinforce the other. There are some products, like Virtual Interlining, that can actually require a minimum diversity of content to be employed effectively. The key takeaway is that investments into content should not proceed without investments into the technologies required to effectively use this content.

Trip Ninja is focused on developing configuration technologies to help ensure that air content is yielding the best results it can. We specialize in complex routing and matching algorithms that build complex itineraries faster and cheaper than what is usually possible with out-of-the-box connections to GDSs and aggregators.

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