Revenue Manager and victim of IP tracking… Argh… !

It could happen to you… I paid the price with an online agency, which we’ll modestly call O…O…O (I preferred to keep these letters rather than the others), for a holiday that some friends and I had planned for our April holiday in Greece. There were 4 of us, and I was in charge of making the bookings.

First drift: the call price cannot be booked

The cheapest solution that emerged from our first search on this site for the Paris-Athens route is a combination of Air France and Easy Jet. It costs 346€ per person including tax, i.e. 1,384€ for 4, including tax.

Unfortunately, when we selected the outward flight on Easy Jet, the return on Air France was not available. The cheapest combination initially proposed was not bookable.

But we’re not out of the woods yet…

IP tracking

The second attempt shows 1,395.28€ including service charges and payment. That’s what it says. That suits us fine. I’m going to go through with the booking. After several input screens, in particular to fill in the details of the 4 passengers, we arrive at the payment.

Second drift: taxes included... are not included


IP tracking

In the end, the tour operator added service and payment charges: 148.67€ ! This was supposed to be included in the price. Simple malfunction? Omission? Scam?

I’ll pass over the fact that we’re putting together a single file and not 4. We would therefore appreciate a service charge linked to the file and not to the number of passengers.

I went to the airline’s website and finally found it cheaper (even though there were other hidden charges).

Out of a clear conscience, and not believing my eyes, I tried again on the tour operator’s website. And here’s what appears:

 IP tracking

Third drift: IP Tracking drives up the price

Some sort of IP tracking, I suppose, which encourages you to buy straight away, raising the price on the 2nd connection to create a sense of urgency. « Quick, quick, let’s make a reservation, the price is going up! ».

It’s as if the sales assistant in a shop, watching you try on the jacket you want, and seeing you hesitate, try again, hesitate again, announces a higher price when you finally make up your mind: « it’s no longer €189 dear Sir, it’s €210 now ».

An unhealthy process, bordering on legality, that horrifies Revenue Management professionals.

I’m not counting the spelling mistakes in the announcement of the pricing increase: the apostrophe in « davion », the « s » in « tarif », the « e » in « limité »…

In short, I left this site and booked on the carrier’s website.

In trying to earn 74.48€ (4 x 18.62€), O..O..O lost a 1,532.67€ customer. For this IP tracking to be profitable, the next 20 customers have to be caught in this emergency trap.

As well as being disastrous in terms of image, I’m convinced that it’s not economically viable.

There is nothing transparent about this type of policy put in place by some online tour operators: some display attractive combinations that cannot be booked, others include hidden costs that explode in your face at the end of the booking process, with the added lie that service charges were initially included in the price. Still others jack up the price through IP tracking.

To be sure, I tried again the next day. On a Paris-Berlin flight. Same message with the same « fote d’aurtograffe ». Price up 18.01€.

IP tracking

Statistically, even if Yield Managers vary prices frequently, it’s unlikely that they do it exactly during the two minutes I book, and every time. In reality, these price increases are the work of these online agencies.

To see for yourself, open 2 simultaneous windows on your browser and go through the booking processes in parallel, that of your preferred tour operator and that of the selected carrier. You will see that the price increases are not the fault of the airline.

Quite apart from the fact that these tour operators will lose a lot of customers in the long term, it is clear that they are not helping to clarify prices and are not taking responsibility for their pricing policy.

I naturally wrote to O..O..O, which has all 3 of these problems, to tell them how dismayed I was. The reply email was appalling in its false compassion and generalities.

A disaster for the customer. A heresy for the Revenue Management professional that I am.

As a Revenue Manager, I take responsibility for selecting customers by price level when demand exceeds supply. I accept overbooking, which allows us to accept many customers on board, even if some of them pay the price. They will be compensated.

O..O..O Managers, take responsibility for your IP tracking and don’t pass the buck to the airlines.

Keywords: IP Tracking, Reservation, Taxes, Service charges, Air, Revenue Management

Written by Pascal Niffoi