Skypicker: a visual way to find low cost flights
I guess most of you are users of flight search engines...my personal experience, though, is that, when it comes to providing low cost fares, the results are far from optimal as coverage of the low cost airline sector is patchy, at best, so I end up searching in multiple low cost airline websites as well to make sure I am not missing out.
This is what Skypicker is aiming to fix. This Czech start-up has built a low cost airline search engine with quite an innovative user interface that allows for visual map-based travel inspiration (did I ever tell you I love maps?) as well as traditional field-based search. It also allows for searches based on date ranges, possibly aware of the fact that many low cost fliers are more sensitive to price than to actual dates or places, many jsut want to go somewhere (or somewhere close enough to their destination) cheap.
I got in touch with Oliver, the founder of Skypicker to learn more about this project. What follows is the interview I had with him:
Q: Oliver, could you please tell me, in you own words, what is Skypicker?
A: There are approximately 40 low-cost airlines in Europe. For us they’re not just 40 independent units, but rather 40 indispensable parts of one huge intra-European travel network. Skypicker is all about searching for the best flights within this network, booking the air tickets and providing its customers with a comprehensive customer support.
Q: How did the project start?
A: Skypicker is following the "scratch your own itch" credo.I love travelling and when I was planning the trip to Portugal, it took me very long to find the best connection.Since there are no direct low-cost flights from my location to Portugal, I need to combine multiple flights by multiple airlines. which takes a lot of time when doing it manually. And because I have some IT background, I've started to think about how to do it automatically. And then, 10 months later, we've launched Skypicker.
Q: Who is in the Skypicker team?
A: The core team is made of Jozef Képesi, who's developing the engine, Jan Liška, our frontend developer, Jiří Hlavenka, our angel investor and strategic advisor and myself, project coordinator, or, if you want, CEO
Q: What are your main differentiation factors in the crowded flight serch market?
A: Here are the three differences:
1) Skypicker can search for general queries: "I want to fly to Spain in July for 5-10 days, find me the best price".
2) Skypicker focuses on Europes low-cost airlines, we have the largest and most accurate database of Europe's low-costs
3) Skypicker act as a virtual airline: We combine offers of multiple airlines and sell them in one booking, under one brand, with one customer support. There's no need to leave our website in order to finish the booking.
Q: What is your business model?
A: Our business model is connected to the 3rd point above. We charge a small commission on our bookings. In exchange we offer seamless booking experience, missed connections insurance and a great customer support which most of the carriers are unable to offer.
Q: How do you feel about Google entering the flight search market?
A: Google had already enered the market with Google Flights. But I don't think of Google as a real threat. Google is a technology company with one specific goal: to aggregate and index all world's data information.
But being a travel agent is not only about the data, it's about partnerships, customer support and last but not least, it's still very country-specific. So althought Google may gain some significant market share, I don't think it will become a monopoly of travel as it did for more technological segments (search, online video).
Q: At what stage is the project now? what are your main markets?
A: Our project is now running and growing rapidly. We've hit break-even in April, which was very relieving for us. We're now working on some strategic acquisitions and B2B partnerships. Although one and half years in the business, we're still at the beginning, but we're very optimistic about the future. Our main market is Europe, we're based in Brno, Czech Republic, but we have customers from all European and many non-European countries.
Q: Any plans for the future you can share?
A: We're going to expand to the whole world, include all the world's airlines and become no. 1 travel agent in most of the regions. Sorry for not being more specific, but that's the plan :-)