UK-based Skyscanner, a global leader in the travel meta-search engine business, is betting on Big Data as its next big money-spinner. This is because analytics, in the form of patterns in customer and flight data that the company has accumulated over the past 11 years, is seen to be of major importance for both airlines and government agencies, which are looking at more efficient deployment of resources.
Travel meta-search engines offer a single-point search option for flights through tie-ups with both airlines and online travel agents such as Makemytrip and Expedia, offering the convenience to passengers of not visiting multiple portals in their search for the best deal.
“We are looking to make analytics a significant part of our business, there is huge potential in this. We are currently doing this work in Europe in a small way and want to offer our consulting services in India as well,” Andy Sleigh, GM (APAC) at Skyscanner, told FE.
He added, “Information of what routes are most popular for customers, or which airports are losing business to competitors, are important for all those working in strategy. For example, in Scotland if an airline offers services only from Glasgow and passengers from nearby Edinburgh have to travel all the way, it makes natural sense for the airline to offer services at Edinburgh as well, or risk losing business to rivals”.
Skyscanner, in which US-based top-tier private equity fund Sequoia Capital bought into last year, is currently valued at around $800 million. Sequoia, which has also invested in internet and mobile giants Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo and Whatsapp in their early days, has placed its chairman Michael Moritz on the Skyscanner board. Skyscanner has also bought Spanish hotel search search portal Fogg in 2013, and China's Youbibi this year to expand its business in the Chinese market.
Sleigh said the company may look at acquisitions in India as well as business expansion, but right now it is in talks with handset makers and telecom service providers to integrate its product directly onto phones. “In India, 40% of our searches happen through the mobile, compared to 30% in the Western markets. We are a mobile-first company, so that is our main focus,” he said.