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What sets Alternative Airlines apart is that, at our core, we are a travel tech innovator, with an in-house tech team of designers and developers focused on driving our flight search and booking site forward in our mission to better serve the customer. In recognition of this, Alternative Airlines was even awarded a place on the 2019 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 list of fastest growing tech companies in the U.K.
So, when 2020 caused world-wide disruption to travel as a result of the global Coronavirus pandemic, we were perfectly positioned to quickly adapt and overcome.
We’ve put together a list of Alternative Airlines top latest integrations, to celebrate how our team has been able to overcome new challenges and continue to expand our reach, increase conversion, and acquire new customers — as well as set the site up to benefit from new opportunities as global air travel begins to recover.
Alternative Airlines partnered with Duffel at the beginning of 2020, and the success of the alliance highlights the growing significance of New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology — especially in light of COVID-19.
Duffel is leading the way in NDC technology, which allows airlines to release content directly to agents, including the best fares and ancillary products, with greater mix-and-matching capability. Through Duffel, our team can seamlessly plug into the live reservation systems of 20+ airlines, including American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Lufthansa.
“As travel for leisure begins to resume following the Coronavirus pandemic, the need to access richer and more informative airline content will be more pronounced than ever. Through Duffel, we’re able to offer more choice, thanks to enriched ancillary information and better deals — including advance seat selection, in-flight meals and extra luggage,” commented Sam Argyle, the Managing Director here at Alternative Airlines.
One of our largest current projects is to move our front-end development over to React. A cutting edge front-end technology, React makes it easier to build more complex designs across all digital platforms, and will enable us to create more complex and dynamic user interfaces.
“It is important for us to be at the forefront of the latest technology. React lets us separate our front-end away from our backend, making it easier for our specialist developers to have more freedom and work more efficiently, while managing their projects separately. We’ll be able to create more impressive user interactions and enhance the on-site experience,” commented Christian Menniss, Head of E-Commerce here at Alternative Airlines.
Through this project, we’re also ensuring that the site’s core web vitals (including site speed and responsiveness) are fully optimised — the priority of which has extra significance ahead of Google’s upcoming Page Experience algorithm update.
Our tech team of designers also integrated with Amadeus’ SeatMap Display API, a market-leading service which returns live aircraft seat map data. The team then built their own airplane seat map widget, which reflects the unique layout of each specific aircraft, to make it easier for customers to select their seats when booking flights. By building their own widget, the team has full control over the experience and can integrate it how they want, while also being able to plug into other APIs to expand seat selection to even more airlines.
In response to the evolving needs of customers, in febrero 2021 we took the step to integrate with ATPCO’s Structured UPA product (a new format of Routehappy’s Rich Content), to display essential airline cleaning and safety information to customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We work hard to provide a superior service, ensuring that our customers always have up-to-date and accurate information. It’s essential that we’re able to provide our customers with the information that they need to feel safe” - Sam Argyle.
We’re always working to improve the experience of the user. This is where Hotjar comes in, a heat mapping tool that the development team has been using to analyse user behaviour. Combined with exit intent surveys, which were developed in-house, the team has been gaining invaluable insights into the end-to-end experience of the user.
Our quest to further optimise the site wouldn't be possible if it wasn’t for the server capability to execute the team's ambitions. Amazon Web Service’s (AWS) suite of cloud-based products has been crucial in helping us meet the ever-increasing demands of its customers. Sam Argyle: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of Amazon Web Services (AWS) as we continue our global expansion. By providing scalable storage cloud solutions and server capability, the technology will play an instrumental role in accelerating our long-term growth”.
Another way in which we’re able to provide customers with more choice is through partnerships with ancillary service providers. Over the past year, we noticed a shift in customer purchase behaviour, with many more customers prioritising the flexibility of their airline tickets. In response to this, we partnered with Refund Protect, to offer flight cancellation protection.
Seamlessly integrated into the Alternative Airlines booking flow, customers are able to add cancellation protection at the point of purchase. No matter the airline or ticket policy, customers can claim a refund through Refund Protect for a number of unforeseen circumstances.
Sam Argyle: “To travel affordably often means buying low-cost, non-refundable airline tickets. Despite many airlines not allowing refunds for these tickets, we still wanted to be able to offer all our customers protection — to empower everyone to book their flights with confidence despite these uncertain times. We’ve worked closely with Refund Protect over the last few months, finding ways to reassure our customers from the moment they land on our site.”
By exclusively focusing on flights, we aim to mitigate all the stresses that can come with booking flights and ensure as smooth a trip as possible. In 2020, we also partnered with Blue Ribbon Bags, which lets customers add lost baggage protection to their booking.
Over the past year, we have also partnered with many leading global ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) payment providers, including Sezzle, Zip, QuadPay, and Afterpay, as well as expanding its payment plan options with Klarna and other existing partners. Alternative Airlines now offers over 40 ways to pay, with 1 in 3 of the site’s customers currently booking using a BNPL payment option.
Sam Argyle: “When Coronavirus put the brakes on international travel, we found that demand in domestic markets remained prevalent, especially in the U.S., with people needing to fly home, for work, or any other essential purpose. We saw a massive opportunity to target these travellers with BNPL options. Splitting airfare into instalments is ideal for those needing to book flights last-minute but without the full funds in their bank accounts.”
Demand for BNPL had already been on the rise in recent years, but with more budget-conscious shoppers looking for flexible payment options, this demand has massively increased — and looks set to transform the way that people pay for big-ticket items such as flights for good.
Wise (formally Transferwise) is a financial technology company which has been an important partner for us for years. With the U.S. market currently accounting for around 80% of the site’s bookings, we’re able to benefit from Wise’s competitive exchange rates as it continues to expand in America and other international markets.
When COVID-19 suddenly ushered in a time of unprecedented disruption, we needed to adapt quickly to solve the new challenges facing the operations of our Customer Service team.
This began by switching to Freshdesk, a leading cloud-based customer support and help desk software which enables the whole team to easily stay connected to customers, even when working remotely and away from the office.
Shelley Tasker, Head of Operations here at Alternative Airlines commented: “We realised we needed to upgrade how we manage our customers, and Freshdesk presented an ideal solution. The software provides superior functionality compared to other inboxes. Freshdesk understands how important it is for us to offer an exceptional support experience, making it easy to support our customers through their preferred method of communication.”
As well as Freshdesk, our Customer Service team also set up with Aircall, a new cloud call center software developed to facilitate an easier transition to remote working. With features including shared inboxes and tags, our Customer Service team are able to collaborate seamlessly to resolve queries even when working apart.