Ryanair’s Howard Millar on How To Not Succeed Online

Where it comes to succeeding on the web SEO is only part of the picture, and not always the most important thing depending on your industry. Running a successful online business requires good client relations, good vendor relations, and possibly finding as many income funnels as possible. Unless your Ryanair, or your CEOs name is Howard Millar.

Recently Ryanairs website started to suffer some performance issues because aggregation websites (ie airline fare comparison sites) were hammering their website scraping (aggregating) their content to generate their own websites with cheap flight comparisons. Now 99 out of 100 business owners would be pleased that these websites helped them increase their internet branding, corporate presence, and increasing their sales (100 websites offering the same product will generate more business then just a corporate website).

However Howard Millar is that one in a hundred who thinks not, so he started out with a lawsuit against one such aggregator, and then he came up with a brilliant idea (well it must have been brilliant to Howard Millar just not to the rest of the world) to cancel every Ryanair ticket that had been booked through one of these websites. Now although this may have seemed wise to Howard Millar, it does not with me. Can you imagine having booked a family trip through one of these websites, received your confirmation, only to have to cancel your trip as your ticket you thought you had purchased won’t be honored.

Essentially what Howard has done is 1) Generate bad press for Ryanair 2) Pissed off a lot of potential clients 3) Lost a lot of potential revenue 4) Loss of recurring revenue from clients that may have flown with Ryanair through these websites then came back for repeat business (it is not like Airlines are declaring bankruptcy on a daily basis and require frequently fliers…) and 5) Increased the revenue of their competitors that do allow the aggregators to pillage their websites.

Now what would have been a better approach to dealing with this without losing revenue? The first would have been to put together RSS flight feed information to help aggregators build their sites without having to download as much information thus bogging down the server less (or even having a seperate server to host these RSS feeds to reduce load even more). The second is definitely less technical and that would be to upgrade their web servers, hardware is relatively cheap if you’re generating additional revenue from it (let alone from 100s of websites).

Then with all the additional revenue Howard Millar could have invested it in SEO to pull visitors away from these sites by targeting the terms there ranking well for 🙂

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