Skyscanner soars high

Over the last six months, Skyscanner recorded an increase in its unique monthly visitors. The company is investing on enhancing its direct bookings feature, currently operational with 20 partners globally.

TT Bureau

Airline meta-search engine Skyscanner is working at a global level with over 1100 flight partners comprising a mix of online travel agents and airlines. Started over 16 years ago with a primary focus on low cost carriers in Europe, Skyscanner over the years has gone global and now features all airlines across all sectors of aviation, informs Hugh Aitken, Senior Director—Strategic Partnerships, Skyscanner.

Aitken sees Skyscanner as the largest global search site with a clear philosophy where the traveller comes first, the partners second and Skyscanner third. “This means that we build every product keeping in mind the needs of the travellers, building their trust and engagement into our product. We also make sure that the traffic we generate for our partners is of good quality, converts well and thus helps them grow globally. Most importantly, our content powers many search sites for flights,” says Aitken.

 In India, Skyscanner recorded 100 per cent growth in searches for domestic routes and close to 80 per cent growth in international searches. The trunk routes like Delhi-Mumbai remain the most frequent while London gains international popularity.

He explains that 30 per cent of the total traffic is generated from Asia with India included in it, 20 per cent is from the Americas and the rest is from EMEA. In India, Skyscanner recorded 100 per cent growth in searches for domestic routes and close to 80 per cent growth in international searches. The trunk routes like Delhi-Mumbai remain the most frequent while on international routes, London is most popular. Germany and Australia have also seen steady growth. The company identifies its users based on high frequency travellers and is largely leisure centric. “We develop products based on not only the cheapest route but also speed and fastest route from point A to point B. We have seen an increase in high frequency travellers with a solid base of leisure tourists growing day by day,” adds Aitken.

Skyscanner is working towards scaling its direct bookings feature which allows users to not only search with Skyscanner but also complete the booking within the platform. This feature has already been introduced with 20 partners globally like British Airways, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Finnair, etc and recently announced newer additions like Cathay Pacific. “We are not trying to become an OTA and thus, the airline remains the merchant on record while the travel agent issues the ticket to the traveller.”

Tech Talk

With the rise of different channels of search and distribution, Skyscanner has identified some technologies to focus on. Aitken says, “Search by voice is certainly growing as our conversational technology is improving rapidly. We are investing in voice and bot technology, and learning how users are using them. Although we operate globally in about 40 markets, we localise our products for the markets with language, currency, partners, etc. Travellers like to book with identifiable brands which have to be localised.

Diversification

Though we started as a flight comparison site, we also offer hotels and car rentals. We have recently launched an App only rail search function in the UK and we will test this in the market to see how the users respond to it and then take it forward. Though flights remain the largest business for us, we have seen steady growth in the hotels segment too and plan on introducing the direct booking capability for this segment as well.

Growth plans

The company uses a mix of unpaid and paid channels to market itself and is also very local in terms of marketing the products. Aitken explains, “We hope to grow not only directly but also through our partners on the B2B side. We are trying to work towards making Skyscanner not only a price-comparison platform but a product-comparison site. We introduced data into the site to allow users to see the various amenities onboard an aircraft like Wi-fi, etc so that they can compare the products well. We also introduced the Partner Quality Score into the platform to allow users to rate the experience with any of the partners. Also, since India is moving so rapidly towards the mobile devices, we are also making all services mobile-capable for the market.”

New Features

  • Skyscanner is working towards scaling its direct bookings feature which allows users to not only search with Skyscanner but also complete the booking within the platform
  •  This feature has already been introduced with 20 partners globally like British Airways, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Finnair, etc

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