This week Ryanair revealed its Labs project, an innovation lab based in Swords, Dublin, with a remit to reinvent the online travel industry.

There's a Labs website and the company is recruiting for 200 staff.

On the page of the website titled 'Why work for Ryanair Labs?' I was struck by how much the reasoning echoed many of the points Econsultancy has been discussing around digital transformation and company culture.

Let's take a look.

Empowered staff 

Empowered staff are the lynchpins of cultural change. As you can see from the copy below, Ryanair is intent on letting prospective employees know that their work isn't going to be hindered by half-hearted commitment to digital products.

It's this kind of messaging that attracts the best from agency land, those that want to have their own baby.

REAL IMPACT  The work you do will be seen and used by millions of people.  This isn’t wireframes that never see light of day. It’s very real. Your work will be used by millions of people, not stuck in QA or half-finished because the company ran out of cash. 

why ryanair labs?


Whilst the copy below is intent on making applicants aware that commitment is needed to move to Dublin, it also highlights another message. Development is done in-house.

This trend for bringing functions back in house was identified in the SoDA report 2014, where 62% of client respondents admitted to working with two agencies or fewer. 22% of agencies were undertaking more 'embedded' work with clients.

MADE IN DUBLIN  Strategy, architecture, design and content is all done here in Dublin.  You’re not refactoring code or content from another time zone. You’re in control. Don’t like something – fix it! 

swords, dublin


Again, Ryanair Labs' focus on innovation, shown below, is designed to appeal to the empowered workforce but it also hones in on the notion of having freedom to create.

This tallies with the much vaunted 70:20:10 model that dictates innovation is best served by spending 70% of time and resource on core products, 20% on young and mid-stage products and 10% on new products.

Imagining experiences and prototyping has an important role to play in ensuring Ryanair never again lags so far behind competition when it comes to digital.

INNOVATE  We are going to change the online travel world and we want you to reimagine the online travel sector.  Whether you write code or copy we want free thinkers, creatives and people who can not only imagine but build amazing experiences. 

Startup draw

The startup has fully entered the worker psyche over the past ten years, thanks to the amazing success of relatively young companies online.

Ryanair recognises that the culture of early-stage companies (play hard and work hard within a self-contained unit with responsiblity for its actions) backed up by large company resource is an attractive draw. Especially for those that work in restricted and corporate surroundings.

STARTUP PERKS  You’ll have the perks and culture of a startup without the downsides.  Labs is run as a self-contained operating unit backed up with proper processes and resources for development and content distribution. We work hard at crunch times but don’t depend on our people pulling all-nighters or sacrificing their weekends. 

Good pay 

An obvious attraction is good pay and benefits. Digital professionals rode out the recession on the back of enormous demand for their talent. Prospective employees want the right culture and responsiblity, but they don't want to take a pay cut.

Marketing Week's Salary Survey showed a 14.4% increase in the wage packet of marketing directors from 2013 to 2014.

EXCELLENT REWARD  Low fares do not equal low salaries.  In fact, we’re proud to pay well to make sure we get and keep the best people. As you’d expect we offer heavily subsidised Ryanair flights making it easy to visit family and friends or explore the best of Europe. 

Ryanair CMO Kenny Jacobs will be speaking at our Festival of Marketing event in November, a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including Tesco, Barclays, and more. 

Ben Davis

Published 8 July, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

Simone Kurtzke

Simone Kurtzke, Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Robert Gordon University

The downside is you'd have to work for them! I used their dire old website and O'Leary's sexist Twitter debut last year in my teaching as an example of what not to do in digital.

about 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

@Simone - Ryanair is going through a major process of reinventing its brand. I think O'Leary has finally realised that his dinosaur approach is rapidly alienating people and even the lowest prices in air travel can't mask that.

So my view is people deserve a second chance. If the words emanating from Ryanair regarding culture and customer service are more than clever PR and translate into corresponding action, then i would embrace that because it's positive change.

However, based on their prior behaviour, it's going to take some time convincing people this change is genuine and a cultural shift.

Whatever the reality, as Ben points out the positioning of the labs is very good and appeals to the digital mindset of people who want to innovate without being hamstrung by arcane process and structure.


about 4 years ago

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