Skyscanner's airfare data opened to airlines, airports, and marketers for B2B Big Data accessNews / Distribution | OnlineBy Sean O'Neil | January 22, 2014Share This article was originally published on Without fanfare, Skyscanner, a metasearch company, has jumped into the Big Data game. Travel players such as airlines, airports, and tourism marketing organizations can now tap into Skyscanner's airfare data, using purchase patterns to more accurately model trends in travel demand. Skyscanner's airfare data covers fares actually purchased by customers, as opposed to quotes that are only theoretically available.This "demand side" data reflects actual passenger behavior when faced with real world choices of routes, times, and prices. Analysts who make their living building forecasts don't have many reliable sources for such data on a pan-regional level, and the Skyscanner airfare data might be valuable.Say Airline XX hasn’t realized enough traffic on a particular route. Its price analysts may have a guess of how much passenger share is exiting at a nearby airport where it lacks gates. To get a more precise estimate, Airline XX's analysts could drill into Skyscanner's airfare data to see if regional trends justify it opening another route or developing its route network differently. By plugging bits of Skyscanner's data into their models, analysts might more accurately predict if price or routing changes would shift passenger share. Tourism marketing organizations might also find the data useful. When planning which geographical areas to launch a marketing campaign, the demand-side data could reveal which in-bound markets generate the most searches for their destination. The information might reduce inefficiencies in marketing spend by being able to more precisely target potential customers.New access to Skyscanner airfare dataIn a Tnooz interview, Filip Filipov, Skyscanner's new head of B2B, says the company will soon launch a website that gives industry players access to its statistical data. For the time being, Skyscanner affiliates can request access to the data through a link on the network site or by contacting a representative. But affiliate membership won't be required for access through the upcoming site.The fees for access will be on sliding scale rates, based on frequency of updates and type of access. Filipov says all customer information is protected; all that's shared is the fare and itinerary, and personal details are anonymized, he says.Most travel players will want to use Skyscanner's statistical software shell to analyze the data. Says Filipov:"It's not an Excel spreadsheet. It's a massive amount of data. For a single airport in the UK, there could be 400 gigabytes of data, so hosting and transfer of files isn’t easy. Plus, we want to give tools that make it easy for users to draw accurate conclusions."Share this quoteSkyscanner's leading metasearch rival, US-based Kayak.com, tells Tnooz that it generally does not provide its data in a similar B2B model. Says Robert Birge, chief marketing officer: We have periodically provided data output depending on the query. Direct access would provide non-public, material information to our performance as well as market-level performance, and category performance in the US given our scale.Share this quoteSkyscanner claims it has 23 million unique visitors to its site each month, and that three out of four of these visitors were from outside the United Kingdom, where it's based. Consumer-facing use of the data, tooSkyscanner says there's a missing opportunity in metasearch. A site that can persuade a customer that any given fare is a good deal in the context of broader trends will be more likely to convert him or her to a sale. Four out of five travelers aren't sure when's the best time to book a ticket, according to a survey of 5,000 international travellers by Onepoll, a market research firm.Separate consumer campaign launchesIn a first step to educating customers and extending brand awareness, Skyscanner rolled out today a consumer campaign touting benchmarks for "the best time to travel" from the UK to various destinations. This content marketing campaign draws on a subset of the database mentioned earlier, but is separate and consumer-facing. Says the company: "The UK report is based on flight data from the past three years and identifies a clear pattern across the UK when flights are, on average, at their cheapest: 5 weeks on average."Share this quoteThe rule-of-thumb advice for Britons varies by destination, according to the company's interactive tool. (See also chart advising Britons of best time to book from the UK, below.) Given that such contextual trend information can improve conversion rates, you might be led to wonder if Skyscanner will start adding that contextual information to its results pages.Skyscanner's Filipov declined to speak about the company's product roadmap other than to say, "We believe more than any other brand that we should be empowering consumers with relevant contextual information."Share this quoteNB:: A few sentences were modified after publication to make clearer the difference between the B2B offering and the B2C campaign, the latter of which is based on a UK-outbound subset of the same database. I regret any confusion.