Ryanair is struggling to find the staff it needs to make its big data vision of the future of airline flights a reality, according to its chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs.
The Ryanair website is one of Europe’s biggest e-commerce platforms, handling about €5bn in transactions every year. But Mr Jacobs said it is unable to attract the talent needed to transform the online marketing and sale of tickets in the airline sector.
“I’m finding it hard to recruit the people we need to transform the airline. We are looking for tech marketers, DRM specialists, and data scientists. We are getting responses and we are offering competitive packages but we are in competition with the tech brands,” he said.
Mr Jacobs said he can’t understand why people would choose to be the back-end for some West Coast tech firm when they could be designing the cutting edge processes that will change the airline industry.
The hiring of up to 200 IT specialists is part of Ryanair’s plan to change its image and improve the customer experience.
Mr Jacobs said the Ryanair website is visited by 1bn people a year, and claimed it has barely begun to scratch the surface of the data it can get from a customer’s clicks and purchases. The aim is to develop a customised site whereby a family booking a flight to Lanzarote, for example, would meet a different front page to a businessman flying to Luton.
“We haven’t started using the data in this way yet. I have seen the way that it can be done in my experience with development of Tesco Clubcards,” said Mr Jacobs.
Already, he claims that Ryanair is seeing the benefit of a more cuddly image. Following two profit warnings last year, Mr Jacobs said the company has seen strong forward booking for this summer.
“It was soft all across Europe, but yes it was due to low fares and the fuel price,” Mr Jacobs said, adding that Ryanair has enjoyed a “very strong first half of the year”.
Mr Jacobs said the changes to the airline were not made in response to the growth of EasyJet as the two airlines were not direct competitors. But he admitted that the British airline had taken a lead online.
“They had gotten ahead of us with their apps and website. We have caught up and we will get ahead of them,” Mr Jacobs said.
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