Skyscanner is a Scotland-based flight search platform. With its eye on Asia, the company also has its APAC headquarters in Singapore, and an office in Beijing. Skyscanner dubs itself as “the everywhere search” as it provides all available flights globally.
The company got funded back in 2007 for GBP 2.5 million. Since then, it has been using that money to increase the amount of profit. There has been no additional funding for the past 6 years. According to Skyscanner, it has grown organically using its own profit and investing back in people and technology. There’s also no IPO plan for the company.
Tech in Asia got to chat with Sam Poullain, Skyscanner’s APAC PR manager and he explained that the reasons Skyscanner has been growing rather fast could be the result of 3 main things:
First, We have a direct connection to the airline, not GDS software. So we can show the best price to the users with great number of airlines. We believe we have the largest number of airlines available. This is a result from connections, not computer software. Second, technology. We build the technology ourselves so we can show results in flexible ways. There are not that many sites that have this function available. Third, travelers can use our site to search to go anywhere. That’s a fun thing about it. They just have to input the budget, and we will tell them where they can go.
Certainly, there are many travel booking/searching sites/apps out there. There’re Orbitz, Travelocity, Farecompare, Kayak, just to name a few. Not to mention the four other amazing apps made in Asia that we recently wrote about. However, Sam is pretty confident in his company. He mentioned that:
We’re the number one site in Europe and we’ve done really well in the first 2 years here (in APAC) so we’re not too scared of the competitors. We have 5 million unique visitors in APAC only. We believe that we have the best product and we’re number one in the region. We’ve learned a lot in the past 10 years.
When asked about the challenges that the team in Asia has to encounter, Sam explained that educating and getting the message across to users is the most challenging part. The company has to explain it’s not a travel agent. Once customers understand what the company does, most of them love the site. So I asked him: if getting the message across is so hard, explain to me in one sentence what Skyscanner actually does. He responded:
“We save you time and money and we can inspire you and show you where you can go according to your budget”.
Good enough? It seems like the team doesn’t do a bad job in marketing and creating awareness of itself. Not only are its website and apps are available in 30 different languages and 70 currencies, it already has 30 staffers at the APAC HQ in Singapore. It’s also looking to hire more people. The markets Skyscanner focuses on are Australia, China, Japan, and India. Overall site traffic in Asia Pacific has grown from 7 percent of Skyscanner global traffic to around 20 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Sam shared with Tech in Asia that:
The app is the key to the traffic. The mobile traffic is over 50 percent. However, the desktop traffic is also growing at the same time. We see a similar behavior happens across the regions. Customers use the app to browse for airlines but they use the site for booking. The peak time for people using mobile for browsing is Sunday evening. On Monday during lunch time, we see the peak in bookings via desktop.
The first version of Skyscanner’s Thai website went live in 2011. Traffic to the Skyscanner site and apps in Thailand has grown by over 350 percent in the last 12 months (Aug 2012 vs Jul 2013). The desktop traffic went up over 220 percent while mobile traffic went up over 490 percent.
(Editing by Charlie Custer)