Skyscanner's China growth

Published: 21 July 2014

Edinburgh-based travel search specialist Skyscanner is expanding into China following a recent acquisition. Skyscanner's co-founder and chief executive Gareth Williams explains more…

Remind us of your vital statistics?

Skyscanner is a leading global travel search site offering an unbiased, comprehensive and free flight search service as well as instant online comparisons for hotels and car hire. We have more than 500 employees spanning 35 nationalities across six global offices – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Singapore, Beijing, Miami and Barcelona.

We launched in 2003 and now help 25 million unique visitors a month find the best deals, through powerful technology we’ve built across our website and mobile app. We place great emphasis on our global flight coverage, with search available in over 30 languages and 70 currencies.

What business are you acquiring and why?

We are acquiring Youbibi, a travel metasearch company based in Shenzhen, China. Youbibi translates as ‘travel comparison’ and metasearch is basically a search engine of search engines. The company was founded in 2010 by Steven Pang, the current chief executive, and has 20 employees.

It offers travel search and deal comparison for flights, hotels and package holidays. Youbibi travel search is available in Chinese on the web, mobile web, iOS (Apple’s operating system) and Android.

What’s the rationale?

Since Skyscanner established its own China team in Beijing in 2012, the number of visitors to our site and apps across the country has grown tenfold, yet we’re still only at the start of the growth opportunity we see here. This acquisition brings the best of both worlds, with Skyscanner’s international coverage and Youbibi’s domestic travel search and intimate knowledge of the Chinese traveller.

The acquisition takes us from being a strong international travel specialist in China to a truly global travel service provider for Chinese nationals, domestically and internationally. We are continuing to expand our business across China and the Asia Pacific region, which accounts for a rapidly growing proportion of Skyscanner’s business. Around 20% of all our visitors currently come from the APAC region.

What happens next?

Our priority over the next six months is to integrate our technology to launch a new offering for our users in mainland China. We see this very much as a long term investment aimed at ensuring we can offer Chinese travellers the very best travel search wherever in the world they are travelling.

Youbibi will operate as a Skyscanner subsidiary and the team will keep its same office in Guangdong as well as the same management team and structure. The team will operate as Skyscanner’s product development and engineering team for China.

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