23 - 24 June, 2020
ETC County Hall
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Ryanair is Looking for Global Innovators to Become the Amazon of Air Travel
Many companies aspire to be the Amazon of their industry, and Ryanair is opening innovation labs all over the world in efforts to achieve this in the airline business.
Ryanair is famous (and occasionally infamous) for its cheap, no frills, single class, service. Today, it’s one of the most recognised airline brands in the UK. The company employs over 11,000 people and has a market cap of $19.6 billion, placing it at #144 on Forbes’ list of Top Multinational Performers.
Ryanair has had some bad press recently, as an error with pilot holiday scheduling led to hundreds of flights being cancelled with little or no warning to customers. However, the airline is determined to get back on the horse, and one way it’s doing this is with Ryanair Labs– the company’s innovation lab program.
Ryanair has already opened no fewer than three innovation labs across the globe. With locations in the company’s native Dublin, Ireland as well as Wroclaw in Poland, and the most recent addition in Madrid, Spain, Ryanair is clearly not interested in any kind of homogenisation when it comes to innovation.
Speaking about the opening of the Madrid office, Ryanair’s Chief Technology Officer, John Hurley, said, “Labs continue to deliver the core digital improvements under Ryanair’s ‘Always Getting Better’ programme. With Ryanair.com now the world’s largest airline website, our mobile app having over 25 million downloads and more than 30 million customers signing up for the My Ryanair customer registration service, we continue on our journey to becoming the Amazon of travel. We are keen to hear from new talent and to welcome even more tech stars on board Travel Labs Spain.”
While Ryanair’s innovation lab programme very much has a “no idea is off the table” policy, its remit falls into four broad categories – data analytics, software development, quality assurance, and UX and design.
The data side of the business is all about taking the huge volumes of information Ryanair gathers and using it to develop new and first-class customer experiences. Whether that’s personalised digital content or efficiencies in flight scheduling, data can be used to offer Ryanair customers a more enjoyable travel experience. Predictive analytics, machine learning, and other intelligent business tools are all at the disposal of the innovation lab.
Software development is used to improve and update the proprietary software which Ryanair staff and customers use every day. People have certain expectations when it comes to using software – it should be easy to understand, intuitive, and free from jargon. The Ryanair software development team is keen to exceed expectations.
The quality assurance team use innovative web platforms to offer Ryanair customers exciting new automated products and technology to further enhance their travel experiences. On top of this, they are constantly evaluating procedures and policies to see if they can be streamlined to the benefit of Ryanair customers.
Finally, the UX and Design team are focussed on gaining a more complete understanding of the wants and needs of Ryanair customers, and then working to address them. Ryanair has believed since its inception that air travel should be simple and personal, and it's the job of the UX and Design team to fulfil this ethos.
Whether Ryanair can become the Amazon of airlines remains to be seen, but with its innovation lab programme, it’s clear the company is looking to leave its mistakes in the past and set a course towards a brighter horizon.
The final word goes to Colin O’Brien, Head of Quality Assurance and Change Control at Ryanair Labs: “There is a large, ambitious programme of work that we are undertaking here in Ryanair labs, servicing all of the functions of innovation. Probably the most recognisable would be the mobile apps and the website. But we do service some of the other functions as well, from the commercial side to the organisational side, including finance, HR, inflight, ground ops, operations and more… The ambition is ultimately to become a technology company with an airline attached.”