Hugh Aitken, Director of Business Development, Skyscanner, interviewed by Marc Watkins.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search engine with over 35 million monthly unique users. It works in 40 markets and has nine global offices, including Miami, Singapore and Beijing. Launched in 2003, Skyscanner brings comprehensive, free flight, hotel and car rental search direct to customers through its website and mobile apps.
Having grown to a leading position in the B2C market, Skyscanner is moving into the B2B market with a new business unit, “Skyscanner for Business”, which is developing tools specially for airports and airlines – specifically its data analytics tool ‘Travel Insight’. Hugh Aitken, Director of Business Development, Skyscanner, told Airport Business that Travel Insight “provides airlines and airports with real aspirational demand traveller data and a comprehensive view of the air travel market, which enables the industry to quickly identify business opportunities.”
Travel Insight is currently a single subscription product, which gives access to 12 months of forward-looking data that can be viewed either in a pure raw data format or via a dashboard of visualised graphs and charts. It is also available with multiple licences. Because it’s single subscription, the data that one customer sees will be the same as another. It’s how customers interpret and use that data that provides the value and the insight.
Airports and airlines conventionally rely on MIDT and schedule-based products, such as OAG and Innovata, for marketing and demand data when working on devising new routes and strategies. Travel Insight is entirely different because it is based on actual consumer aspiration and represents a completely new tool for airport and airline network planners, rather than looking at historic data and planned airline schedules etc. “Travel Insight is another tool at the disposal of airlines and airports to allow the industry to gain a holistic view of the market,” Aitken explained. “Travel Insight doesn’t replace industry expertise and business knowledge, but instead works alongside the more conventional tools to effectively widen the view of the sector beyond historical data and airline or airport specific knowledge.”
Importantly, Travel Insight offers visibility into passenger inclinations for the next 12 months – popular flight routes, preferred travel days and times, locations that travellers are searching to and from, where they’re booking, and perhaps more interestingly, which routes they’re searching but not booking. This type of data helps determine the profile of an airport or airline’s travellers and what their travel needs are.
The near real-time data is collected from the tens of millions of searches performed globally on Skyscanner each month, from over 35 million unique visitors. “We work with each business customer to identify what their route network needs and requirements are, and how Travel Insight can give them insight into this area,” Aitken said. “All data is anonymous and aggregated to provide the average, rather than the specific for conversion ratios, customer locations (via anonymous geo-tagging), forward demand, etc.”
It’s possible to be sceptical about search data because “aspiration” is not exactly the same thing as finally confirmed bookings. However, search data can valuably build the profile of traveller desires. “Skyscanner searches show what a traveller wanted to do, while bookings – if different – show what a traveller is forced to do, either because of budget restrictions, holiday allowance, or even a lack of suitable airline routes,” Aitken commented. “A traveller searching for Glasgow-London Luton, for example, who ends up booking Glasgow-London Gatwick could have done so for a number of reasons. However, if you start to see a trend for these searches and a pattern emerge, you could deduce that there’s an appetite for this particular route. Looking solely at bookings wouldn’t identify that business opportunity, and what’s great about a tool like Travel Insight is that you can look at data from both perspectives.”
A number of partners are already using Travel Insight, including airlines, airports, tourism boards, and other players in the travel industry. As a bespoke solution, there is no fixed price – Skyscanner works together with each customer to find the best solution for their needs, offering a powerful tool to determine where real demand for air travel lies.
What is Skyscanner for Business?
Skyscanner for Business is the B2B offering of Skyscanner, the world’s leading travel search engine.
The Skyscanner for Business “Travel Insight” product harnesses the aspirational searches over 35 million monthly unique Skyscanner users and represents a powerful new tool for airport and airline network planners.