Why did ChangeYourFlight.com win Flightglobal’s website of the year award? February 7, 2012Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing.
Tags: Aerospace, eBusiness, International Business, Marketing, Website
“It all started when five of us booked a trip to Paris”, says Iñaki Úriz, one of the founding partners of ChangeYourFlight. When three of his friends had to back out on the non-refundable tickets, he thought the airline could have made money had they known the three seats would be empty. A simple concept was born: Would low cost airlines offer money in exchange for cancellation of a non-refundable seat they might be able to resell?
That is how this Barcelona based company got started. Úriz and co-founder Jose Vilar put up some of their money for a prototype and then rounded up development money from friends and family. The partners had no IT or aviation background. But the two things they did have were airline consumer experience and design engineering backgrounds.
That explains why, when I first opened the website while judging the “Site of the Year” category for Flightglobal’s Webbies, I knew immediately that I had come across something very special. The concept was easy to understand and the design was simple but very slick. And, as Flightglobal’s Michael Targett points out, this translated into a wining website with fantastic usability.
The current concept took two and a half years of development. The site officially launched in December 2011 with Italy’s AirOne as its first Airline. In a phone interview last Friday, Úriz tells me that things have taken off rapidly for the website: “Air One is approving about a dozen voucher requests per day. And we are getting regular inquiries from a number of other European airlines.” For more background, on the company, check out this excellent post from the APEX blog. The company is now hiring IT talent and is actively looking for its next round of financing.
As a specialist in the use of Internet by the Aviation industry, I see my fair share of “new or improved” websites every day. The vast majority wouldn’t even get nominated for site of the year, let alone win it! So in my discussion with Úriz, I really wanted to find out what sets his creation aside and what other companies can learn from this example. Here are three things companies can learn from ChangeYourFlight.com:
- Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. “It is not because something does not exist that it is a bad idea”, says Úriz. Too many companies perpetuate the same processes and approaches to customer service and relationship “because they have always done it this way.” Most companies need to start from a blank canvas and change things up. This doesn’t always mean building your own website by the way. Using marketplaces such as ChangeYourFlight can bring the benefits of innovation and standardization without the costs of development. Noteworthy websites provide innovative and more efficient ways to interact with a company. Winning websites roll-out simple win-win processes that benefit all parties.
- Users Prefer Doing to Reading. The era of the website as a slick electronic brochure for the company is long gone. Sure, the company needs to describe what it does succinctly right up front (i.e. elevator pitch), but today it is all about customer interaction. Could airlines set-up their own customer support procedures to handle the ChangeYourFlight concept over the phone? Sure! But for Úriz, “what makes our success is that it is all self-service and information rich. You just enter your data, pick a few options and then wait for the answer.” Noteworthy websites provide self-service information portals. Winning websites provide interactive and influential action portals.
- Keep It Simple Seniõr (KISS). “We felt that it we had to explain too much, ChangeYourFlight would never be used”. Did you ever notice that the iPhone does not come with a user manual? Imagine that you had to learn all of the Microsoft Excel functions before you could start on your first spreadsheet. As a rule of thumb 90% of the complexity is introduced by the last 10% of functionality. So the secret is to provide a simple interface that handles 90% of the task at hand and cover the rest some other way. Noteworthy websites provide a simple way to handle the most common tasks. Winning websites handle all the situations with an integrated and layered approach focused on delighting the customer.
I would love to see more website use these principles by next years’ Webbies. But in the meantime, give me your feedback on this winner or these principles. And if you have a good example of a company that is doing this right, pass it along!