Emirates Airlines has become the latest carrier to add a more inspirational touch to their online flight search tool. As reported by Tnooz, the airline has adapted the way customers can search for flights on their website, allowing them to search for a vacation as opposed to just a flight.
Similar to Google Flights’ map view, the newly launched ‘Inspire Me’ service allows potential passengers to conduct searches with only their dates and departure airport as parameters, the generated results showing destinations within the Emirates network. After this step comes the personalisation element of the tool, allowing travellers to narrow down the options by specifying the temperature range they’d like at the destination, the duration of their flight, the region and the type of holiday they’re looking for (beach, safari, backpacking, shopping, etc.). Once a destination is selected, a destination guide page is brought up, as well as the flight options.
Emirates is not the first airline to launch this kind of search portal, with Lufthansa having created one in 2009 and British Airways in 2011. The question is whether this is the route flight companies will all be taking in the future. At the moment, these features serve more as a novelty customisation tool for travellers, with their links opening within microsites, whereas the main airline websites still have standard search criteria. It is of course important to cater to all travellers; many turn to airline sites once their plans are settled to check prices, and are seeking efficiency and a basic search process. However by incorporating the more inspirational option, which Emirates links to very clearly in their main search box, unlike the others, they can bring more users to their site; users in the very early stages of travel who will as a result be confronted by purely Emirates advertising, deals and information, thus impacting their later booking decision.
What does this mean to destinations and tourism organisations? As stressed within the Digital Tourism Think Tank previously, content is essential, and allowing travellers to customise their online experience in order to reach that content is a key tool to keep them engaged and active on your website.
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