What Would You Do If You Were CEO of Skyscanner?

A Skyscanner promotion is giving founder and chief executive (CEO) Gareth Williams a day off to celebrate the travel search engine reaching 40 million users. The CEO position will be open for a day, leaving room for someone else to give the company insights on its products, strategies, and changes to its app and site.

That person, who will also be expected to handle a media interview and play ping pong, is expected to be an opinionated, well-traveled Skyscanner fan who’s able to travel to the company’s Edinburgh headquarters. The application deadline was yesterday and we figured, who better to run a search engine than a seasoned search marketer?

We reached out to some of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ contributors, and asked, “What would you do if you were CEO of Skyscanner?”

chuck-priceChuck Price, Founder and President, Measurable SEO

Since this is a one-day gig, the scope of work needs to be focused on and limited to high-priority items. Skyscanner has a generally good reputation, but a search of reviews around the Web exposes two common weaknesses: using the Skyscanner link for booking and “the price listed not being available.”

 The sentiment of this TripAdvisor user appears frequently enough to be a concern: “Skyscanner is a good tool for finding the cheapest flight itinerary. I do not recommend booking the flight from the third-party Skyscanner directs you to.” Since this is how the website is monetized, finding the resolution to this problem would be my top priority. Some conversion rate optimization could have a meaningful impact on revenues.

[Regarding the other issue,] this Trustpilot comment is somewhat typical of the complaint: “The price listed is not at all what is offered. Either not available or much more expensive.” The obvious question is why. The next question is what, if anything, can be done to mitigate this problem. Perhaps some sort of alert system can be implemented, where a user can notify Skyscanner when a published price doesn’t match the actual?

jennifer-wolfe-headshotJennifer Wolfe, CEO, Wolfe Domain Strategy

From a user experience perspective, I’d love to see Skyscanner have a concierge type of service for people who want a little more attention or assistance in planning a trip, particularly if it’s more about the experience than the price. I’d also love to have a way to check direct flights from multiple cities at the same time. I live near several airports and it always takes me way too much time to search for all three airports when I’m looking for a direct flight.

They could also add an ability to track your journeys in a more custom way, like uploading photos or sharing photos. It would be interesting to see them link up with Facebook or do something where people could upload photos from their trips, share with friends and create digital photo albums of trips they took. 

benjamin-spiegel-head-shotBenjamin Spiegel, CEO, MMI Agency

If I were CEO of Skyscanner, I would be concerned about my competitiveness in the marketplace and try to create a feature that will differentiate me from the competition. I would challenge the team to develop a first-to-market search section that allows consumers to search for experiences instead of transportation and lodging.

I believe that consumers in a vacation mindset are not just looking for flights. Instead, they are looking to create memories and experiences. Imagine if we could search for a vacation based on personal preferences, with features like single versus family, historic landmarks, the beach, hiking.

The search engine could return complete experiences based on a consumer’s preference versus destination-based choices. I believe people often want unique experiences instead of transportation, and Skyscanner will connect consumers with complete experiences based on their unique attributes. Think eHarmony for vacations!

Larry Kim

Larry Kim, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, WordStream

In my opinion, Skyscanner is the opposite of Expedia and other travel sites like Kayak. On those sites, you have to know what you want. You need to enter destinations and dates, and then choose from the results.

I use Skyscanner to do the opposite and answer the question, “Where could I possibly go?” Generally, I just enter in airports and see where they connect to and when. It’s just too bad that its user interface is so clunky. I would want to make it more idiot-proof for people like me!

Josh McCoy

Josh McCoy, Lead Strategist, Vizion Interactive

The first thing I would do as CEO is determine who we need to partner with to understand the customer, to listen and to learn. This means that while we are looking for digital success, we may have to take a step back and even step offline to gain a better perspective. We need to build personas that help us develop better content for organic search and social media, as well as how we advertise through paid media.

This may mean working with “whatever” restaurant across American airports for print media with QR code surveys, which allow us to understand the wants, needs, and pain points of your potential customer – the flyer. We are seeing a digital climate polluted with average content created for a broad audience, based on a broad topic. It is time to dial in and spend time succeeding on the right message.

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