Ryanair’s Travel & Ticket: ‘A Natural Fit’

Irish airline Ryanair has started selling tickets for events across Europe. Pollstar spoke to the company’s director of ancillary, Greg O’Gorman, about the business, and dynamic pricing in particular.  

Ryanair Tickets
– Ryanair Tickets
On either side of the cast of “Thriller” are Greg O’Gorman and Coras CEO Mark McLaughlin.

Whether going on a holiday, business trip or city break, taking in a live event while at it is a popular activity, “a natural fit,” according to O’Gorman.

Ryanair travels to 30 countries across Europe and claims to transport 130 million passengers per annum, 30 million of which have personal Ryanair accounts.

All of those customers will now be offered tickets in addition to rental cars, and hotels when booking flights.

“We can trigger an email to everybody who is traveling into London during certain [event] dates and be extremely targeted in a way nobody else can,” O’Gorman said.

He added, “We know where customers are going and when they’re traveling. We don’t have to buy that information via PPC from Google, which is what Amazon, Ticketmaster and all the rest have to do.”

And since ticketing is an ancillary business for the airline, it can afford to charge lower service fees than a full-fledged ticket agent.

Ryanair Tickets launched in UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and Portugal, in seven languages and three currencies. “We started with theater and concerts. We’ll have rugby tickets available soon, and it’s an obvious extension to get into other sports events like football etc,,” said O’Gorman, adding “music festivals are a good fit for us as well, as were obviously moving people around Europe, to the European capitals, where there’s lots of music festivals, particularly in the summer.”

DEAG’s Kilimanjaro is the first concert promoter Ryanair is working with in the UK, selling tickets for the company’s Live At Chelsea concert series, which kicks off June 16, 2018, with James Blunt.

Facilitating the API connection to any given event’s ticket supply and delivering the inventory to Ryanair is Irish ticketing startup Coras. A resale platform is “not currently” part of Ryanair’s offering but “That could be something further down the line,” O’Gorman said.

Flight tickets, like event tickets, are perishable goods, meaning one has a finite window to sell the complete inventory. In that regard, concert tickets are just the same as flight tickets.

“Typically we’ll have a target for hitting the capacity levels of our flights. The theaters and venues should also be looking at it the same way, which is: they’ve got a finite opportunity to sell all the seats for that show that evening. They should be really targeting the sell-though and adjusting the price to ensure that they’re on track,” O’Gorman thinks.

“That gives an opportunity to start with the lower price and see how the demand is going. As you get closer to the event date you’ve got the opportunity to start yielding those prices higher,” he said.

There’s already a fair amount of dynamic pricing going on in the live events industry. Matinee shows will usually be priced less than prime-time shows on the weekends. In the theater business especially, seats will sometimes be priced differently within one stalls category. Starting with various early-bird offerings is another form of dynamic pricing.

Compared to the airline business, however, dynamic pricing in the events sector is pretty static. This has various reasons. For one, many artists and promoters have an unwavering conviction about the amount their tickets should be priced at. Maximizing pricing is not their priority. Others point out that event tickets are an emotional purchase, not to be compared with seats on a plane, which are interchangeable. But if someone wants to go to a gig, they won’t be content with just going to another gig.

O’Gorman understands that buying concert tickets is “a bit more emotive, but so are other products that we sell dynamically priced. If you look at Ryanair Holidays for example: it’s also an important and quite an expensive purchase. For a family in particular it’s a purchase you have to do a lot of research on to make sure you get it right. But customers know the prices go up, and that if you leave it until the last minute you’re going to pay more.

“They know that if the person on the sun bed next to them got a cheaper price then that is because they booked early. Why not for concert tickets as well?”

He added: “I don’t think we’re at scale in that market yet to really adopt that. It could clearly be made a lot more dynamic than it already is. We’ll work with the venues and promoters on that.”