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Founded in 2003, Skyscanner is a leading travel company dedicated to putting travelers first by making booking trips as simple as possible. Skyscanner helps millions of people in 52 countries and over 30 languages find the best travel options for flights, hotels and car hire every month.
In 2019, Skyscanner celebrated 100 million people across the world using its app and website each month to help them with their travel plans. Then 2020 and a global pandemic happened.
To illustrate this point, there were 39,351 international flights worldwide on January 7th, 2020. Within 90 days, on April 7th, there were only 4,999 international flights worldwide. The result was catastrophic to the travel industry.
“Fundamentally, travel has changed moving forward," said Oli Mival, head of user research at Skyscanner.
He and his team at Skyscanner needed to understand the traveler in the new normal of life with COVID-19.
Mival said before beginning their research, they needed to define the questions they wanted to answer. They came up with five core questions:
Skyscanner’s research approach included combining data science and analytical insights from behavioral activity on their website with qualitative interviews and surveys from UserTesting of their own user base, as well as from the testing panel across their core markets.
They also asked more than 250,000 travelers across 19 markets who visited their website to participate in a pulse survey to measure how they were feeling about travel, in-the-moment.
“We could get a sense of the scope and scale of things from the pulse surveys,” Mival said. “But to really have that empathy with understanding the true human importance of what we’re seeing in the numbers, it was critical we needed the human insights from UserTesting.”
“By combining all our data with actually talking to people, it makes everything come to life and we can begin to understand what we can do to support travelers,” Mival said.
The results helped Skyscanner develop frameworks for understanding their customers. Their key finding was how a traveler’s attitude to risk and where they landed on that spectrum for any number of factors, such as financial or health, changed how they considered travel. The more risk-averse someone was, the less likely they would consider making travel arrangements.
They shared their findings in three ways: an internal blog, a dedicated Slack channel, and through an Insights All Hands.
Mival said even before the pandemic, Skyscanner had a core mantra of travelers first, partners second, and Skyscanner third. But the insights they gained from the UserTesting created a foundational empathy for their customers.
And that foundational understanding allows them to pivot rapidly and be more agile in how they serve those travelers and partners as events, such as the pandemic and how countries respond to it, change what it means to travel.
Among Skyscanner’s new initiatives from their insights include:
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected customer behavior and needs. By understanding these new needs, Skyscanner has a clear view of what customers require moving forward.
"The foundational understanding of the customer is the critical factor helping us drive decision making right now," Mival said. “UserTesting gives us that.”
“In today’s uncertain and changing travel landscape, the most important thing we can do is to give travelers the confidence they need when making travel arrangements. UserTesting gives us the human insights that allow us to do that.”