Flybe reveals strongest marketing performer

Regional airline FlyBe has said that its affiliate programme delivers the “most effective return on investment” of its various online marketing activities.

Earlier this week the airline announced underlying pre-tax profits of £35.4m for the year to end-March08. It carried around seven millions passengers in the period.

Director of marketing Simon Lilley told Travolution that “between 77% and 80%” of bookings are taken direct, with the balance shifted through the trade. He added that 5-7% of the web bookings come from online agents and screen-scrapers.

“Unlike other Irish airlines, we are comfortable  with the business we do with agents and web scrapers,” he said. “We have a dedicated sales team working with third parties and while we don’t expect there to be big growth, it is an important, additional revenue stream.”

The marketing mix is still favouring offline, with “60-70%” of Lilley’s marketing budget earmarked for offline. “One will drive the other,” he said. “Online gives decent returns on investment and can be measured and tracked very accurately, but offline is more effective not only to build the brand but also to drive  high volume sales.”

The airline has invested heavily in “the total package”  which includes best practices of both low-cost and legacy carrier with whom it competes. Lilley said that FlyBe  was the first airline to recognise ancillary revenues as important.

“Our profits were underpinned by ancillary revenues,” he said, adding that it made £8 per passenger in the 07/8 financial year, with £10 per passenger expected for the current year.

However, “the revenues from partnerships on the web site is quite small,” he said.

Other  low-cost carriers have kept away from frequent flyer programmes. FlyBe’s “Rewards4All” programme has nearly 800,000 members. Around 40% of FlyBe’s passengers are travelling on business, and Lilley said its FFP “was helping to attract market share from legacy carriers”.

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