This is an excerpt from our FREE Skift Trends Report,  Airlines and Direct-Channel Booking: Cutting Out the Middleman, brought to you in partnership with EveryMundo.
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Online, airline customers can be categorized in three key ways. One category includes the customer already loyal to an airline brand. Another type is the consumer who is loyal to an OTA or a metasearch brand. And then there are consumers who are not loyal to any one specific brand in any of these verticals. Thesenon-brand-loyal customers represent at least 75% of searchers and they represent a segment airlines can mine for new acquisitions, groom for loyalty, and leverage for conversions over time.

“Airlines need to reconsider their often passive response to OTAs pursuing customers, because that OTA pursuit is deflecting customers’ search for a specific airline’s brand,” Cassel says, speaking with Skift. “We believe that airlines should be aggressively capturing and protecting their brand-loyal customer base. And for non-brand-loyal customers, airlines should actively pursue those as well. That’s where incrementality occurs — that’s incremental customer activity.”

Pursuing customers begins with an understanding of how and where travelers enter ticket-purchase channels. Key to that effort, airlines can begin by addressing search, where a significant number of queries for flights and schedules originate. Airline leaders need to understand how search-engine results impact conversions, where key challenges can be identified, and then how to move customers from search to acquisition. Capturing the resultant revenue and the resultant customer over time is the endgame: the goal is to drive brand-loyal relationships, not just single transactions.

Recently we launched a FREE Skift Travel Trends Report, Airlines and Direct-Channel Booking: Cutting Out the Middleman, brought to you in association with EveryMundo. Above was an extract from it. You can download the full report here for all the insights.

Download the Report, Free!