|Type of site||Flight Search Engine|
Skyscanner is a flight search engine that allows users to browse for flights via price and location. Additional tools such as fare graphs, allow users to compare flight prices of any given route over a month period, or the price of weekend flights from any given city.
Skyscanner does not sell flights directly; instead, the site can be used to find the cheapest deal for a desired route after which users are automatically transferred to the airline or travel supplier’s website to make their booking directly.
Users can search for flights without having to enter specific dates or destinations, creating a very flexible flight search platform. Skyscanner’s proprietary indexing technology means that search results can be found much more quickly than with meta-search engines, as there is no need to scrape third party pages for information every time a search is made, which makes it distinctly different from some of the other flight finding websites.
The company was formed in 2001 by three IT professionals, Gareth Williams, Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes, after Williams, a keen skier, was frustrated by the difficulties of finding cheap flights to ski resorts.
Skyscanner version 1 was developed and released in 2002. In 2003, the first employee was taken on to assist with site development. In 2004 the Edinburgh office was opened and today the company employs about 40 staff.
The site began life listing European budget airlines only, but has since expanded its search index to include most major European carriers, including BA, KLM and Virgin. It has also expanded its geographical reach to include carriers to, from and in the US, Canada and other parts of the world.
The company states that its ultimate goal is to become a completely comprehensive site which offers every single commercial flight in the world.
In addition to its flight search engine technology, Skyscanner also features regular news items from the travel and flight industry as well as travel tips for consumers.
Skyscanner offers a suite of free online tools, collectively called 'Skytools' that allow users and webmasters to download and integrate Skyscanner flight information into their own website, personal page or desktop. These come in the form of a 'Cheap Flights Widget' Map (an interactive flash map displaying airports on a world map) and a 'WhoFlies' API, which displays airlines for any given route.
Skyscanner currently receives over 4 million visitors per month, and 1 million flight searches a day, which deliver referrals of £15m in ticket sales every month. According to an article on Travolution.co.uk, Hitwise - a company that monitors internet traffic and online trends, report that Skyscanner has an 11.34% share of the UK travel search market.
The site has been well received by the UK media; in an ‘Online Cheap Flight Finding Experiment’ run by The Guardian Newspaper, Skyscanner was praised for finding the lowest flight fares and for “beating much bigger operators such as Expedia and Travelocity”.
The site was also listed in The Independent Newspaper’s articles - ‘The Ten Best: Travel Sites’. and ‘101 Really Useful Websites’. Skyscanner has won various awards including the Best Technology Site 2005 from TravelMole, and silver in Wanderlust’s top travel websites 2005.