I noticed a figure in the travel news lately which struck me as powerful. It didn’t receive an awful lot of attention, but since I reflexively think about the longer-term implications of things, I got hung up on it.
European low-cost airline Ryanair posted a €341 million net profit in their last fiscal year, which closed at the end of March. They were down €180 million a year ago. That kind of comeback is quite the story!
Given that Ryanair has been notoriously vocal in its dismissal of social media as a way to advance its brand and customer interaction, it seems they have reaped success the old-fashioned way–by moving mojo numbers of passengers, and doing so profitably.
Its detractors are myriad and loud. They decry Ryanair’s terse staff, maddening á la carte charges, and seemingly adversarial attitude to passengers. But the silent majority–equaling 67 million passengers last year–got where they were going (presumably) and didn’t pay for a high-end passenger experience. And the scary part is, those fliers will likely do so again.
Obviously, what companies like Ryanair and Fung Wah have figured out is this is what a tremendous segment of traveling people want. They want to get from one place to the next as cheaply as possible–the rest is just details. The industry at large would be wise to be better prepared to deal with more passengers who don’t mind being packed in like cargo if it means getting the lowest price.
But if the trends are being read effectively, they will care about seeing people and places at the lowest price, not about how far their seat reclines.
Road Warrior • Miami • Madrid • www.amadeus.com • Twitter: @tentofortysix