June 05, 2020
easyJet is the European leader of low-cost airlines. The company serves 802 routes across 31 countries and achieved a revenue of £5.047 billion in 2018.
easyJet has been at the forefront of digital innovation in the airline industry. Their digital strategy is a core part of their broader business ambitions, which Valtech has been a part of as their Sitecore partner since 2011. easyJet’s agile approach to digital, focus on speed to market, and continuous improvement of the customer experience has helped to build customer loyalty, drive revenue growth, secure cost savings and deliver greater customer satisfaction. easyJet continues to benefit from increasingly loyal customers. In H1 2018, 75% of its seats were booked by returning customers, representing 63 million passengers.
easyJet originally approached us in 2011, as their existing site couldn’t keep up with the flexibility and agility that a fast-paced e-commerce business demands. easyJet urgently needed a platform that could cope with their existing demands of £8 million sales a day, peak views of 400 pages a second, and offer flight prices in real time, all while providing customers with an excellent browsing experience on a secure, performant and scalable platform for exponential growth.
To meet these increasing demands, Valtech came on board and kick-started the incremental journey onto Sitecore. In the long-term, the platform would introduce flexibility and transform the customer experience for the better. In the short-term, it allowed a continued focus on value for the business and demonstrated a clear return on investment by focusing on the highest value areas of the site and responding to ever-shifting priorities. Valtech initiated a three-year transformation program and worked with easyJet to build a case for “digital acceleration.” This approach enabled us to launch the redesigned booking funnel on Sitecore within six months.
easyJet can now make live content changes to build, test, and release winning features in three weeks. This makes them more responsive to clients (e.g. taking queries on Twitter for unclear copy) and quick to amend content.
A Phased Migration
We started off by rebuilding the homepage. Valtech used search and GeoIP data to dynamically personalize the experience for unique visitors, showing flights from local airports, alongside imagery and content that appealed to their previous behaviour. The site was also personalized based on key data, such as sales history, campaign, search activity and “persona” segment groups, such as behaviours displayed by a typical business or family site user.
The integration of easyJet’s bespoke e-commerce system was the key to their successful personalization initiative. This enabled them to go a step further and display the lowest price in real time from a database of 2 million lines based on that user’s interests and location—an industry first.
The homepage was soft launched with the aim of canary testing for a couple of months in the UK to measure the impact. However, two weeks into the launch, statistics showed the improvements were such a success that the board insisted the solution be launched to all users. Following the successful UK launch, Valtech worked with easyJet to roll out across European regional sites. easyJet reported a 22% uplift in conversions (the target was 2%).
The site presented personalized homepages to more than 2.5 million concurrent users at peak load times during the airline’s popular first five-day January sale. After migrating to Sitecore, easyJet transacted five sales per second, the equivalent of filling two planes per minute. Since then, the site has scaled to over 800 transactions a second.
Inspired Travel Transformation
After the initial homepage migration, rather than merging the rest of the site straight away, the decision was made to create an inspirational tool first as a higher priority for conversions. easyJet’s site testing and analysis showed that 40% of customers visiting their site wanted to travel but hadn’t yet decided where. Spotting an opportunity, easyJet came to Valtech to help create a tool called “Inspire Me” that would help visitors decide on a destination and book a trip.
Working with the easyJet team, Valtech created an interactive map that allows site visitors to set their budget, departure date, and trip type, providing flight routes and price results in real time.
We also collaborated with easyJet’s email campaign partners to promote the tool further, by sending customers tailored emails featuring destinations based on their preference data and prices based on what they’ve previously paid.
Alongside the targeted email promotion, easyJet’s “Inspire Me” campaign quadrupled conversions. Altogether, the campaign delivered a 67-fold return on investment by inspiring people to take the plunge and book.
Improving the Travel Experience
Valtech then developed two key areas of the site to improve the experience for easyJet customers based on integration with flight information and customer data. Firstly, the flight tracker, an interactive map displaying flights in real time using data from Flightradar24, allowing people to see exactly where their flight is and information on delays. Secondly, disruptions—if there are long delays the disruption portal is displayed, allowing customers to view updates and manage compensation for their delay such as food vouchers and hotel stays for longer disruptions, alongside email and SMS integration to send notifications to affected travellers.
The Next Stage in Personalization
Having migrated, redesigned, and optimized the entire brochureware part of the site over three years. Our next step was to move their legacy bespoke booking funnel and overall commercial platform to a new system and to combine content and commerce for a connected and personalized end-to-end experience.
Having the entire front-end on Sitecore means we can now help easyJet progress from basic content personalization to using data to adapt the entire booking process in real time to maximize non-seat revenue, while delivering a seamless content and commerce experience across the site.
Currently, we can send people through different booking funnels and personalize the messaging based on search terms and browsing behaviour. For example, on the seat pages we can show “Have you thought about xyz?” if you have kids. However, the next stage is to use data models to predict optimal personalization journeys in real time.
The Valtech Data Science team cleaned and analysed the dense web log data to support UX and data-driven UX design to enable a better understanding of current user journeys, which can feed into the next stages of improving the customer experience. By measuring basic key metrics around high value areas, such as Inspire Me, Destination Guides and Low Fare Finder, we are able to validate (or disprove) business assumptions about how customers use these features and explore the data to uncover behaviour patterns that might not ever have been seen or thought about before.
This has already proved an invaluable insight into redesigning areas of the site by feeding data-driven inspiration into designing the next generation of customer experience and personalization on the site.
Together with Sitecore, Valtech has guided easyJet to new heights of end-to-end personalization, and in return, easyJet is reaping the rewards.