WestJet has partnered with travel commerce company Switchfly to launch a fully branded, responsive destination catalogue.
The Switchfly integration will allow the Canadian airline to present customers with personalized offers for a broad selection of third-party inventory of travel related products, including access to over 400,000 verified hotel properties.
Ed Sims, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Commercial explains:
“Switchfly will enable WestJet to offer our guests the freedom to create their own unique travel experiences through access to a global selection of hotels and travel products seamlessly bundled into an easy to book trip.
“Switchfly complements our strategy of becoming a global carrier, serving the needs of today’s traveler and increasing our ancillary revenue opportunities.”
Responding to whether Switchfly would replace the airline’s current packaged holidays, WestJet Vacations, Sims says:
“It’s unlikely in the early stages. There is s significant market for traditional package holidays in Canada. We see this as complementary.”
Sims says the same customers who may want packaged holidays when traveling with their children on school vacations may want to personalize their travel for couples holidays, for example.
While the flexibility of Switchfly’s customizable offerings may appeal to Millennials, Sims points out that having a responsive system in place to help ease the search, encouraging conversions, is just as important to older generations.
“We have to be incredibly sensitive to the growth among both Millennial passengers, who have always grown up in a technical world, and the Baby Boomer generation who has more leisure time, and who are spending more time in broad research.
“Baby Boomber decision makers are migrating to more sophisticated technology and higher-end itineraries, utilizing indirect booking channels..with ground content we need to be sure that we fully harness all types of bookings..from mobile through to desktop.”
Sims adds: “people go through different stages with different phases.”
One of the advantages to WestJet of the Switchfly platform is that it is broadly set up for easy integration and fully customizable.
Sims says that the level of personalization afforded by the Switchfly platform supports the customer-centric approach which is integral to the WestJet brand.
Switchfly CEO Daniel Farrar explains that the personalization is governed through specific business rules that partners establish to meet their brand objectives.
“They will have complete control over that..We ensure that we are connected to their key systems and CRM data capture to structure offers on a personalized basis.”
Beyond using airline data to personalize offers, Switchfly also shares bookings performance data with its customers which allows them to fine-tune and improve conversions.
WestJet expects a continuous review process to follow to optimize the ancillary revenue potential.
“It’s a new relationship and we’ve had a number of meetings on how we can best make it effective, within the demand that we can generate, to tailor both the product requirements and the platform.”
While WestJet has a potential market of millions of unique passengers which book their travel with the airline each year, one way in which the airline will capitalize on the Switchfly platform’s personalization features is through a tie-in with its WestJet Rewards loyalty offerings.
WestJet Rewards members will earn WestJet dollars on customized trips which they can later use towards flights or they can apply their accrued WestJet dollars, in full or in part, to pay for flights and vacations packages with no blackout periods.
Switchfly’s platform will process payments for bookings in cash or WestJet dollars, or any combination of the two. The Switchfly platform is also adapted to accept various forms of mobile payments, Farrar says.