Skyscanner is making its ambitions for China clear after it announced an acquisition of Chinese metasearch firm Youbibi today. The deal, for which financial details weren’t disclosed, will bring together Youbibi’s expertise in the Chinese travel space with Skyscanner’s arsenal of international flights.
Youbibi was founded in 2010 and specializes in comparing flights, hotels and holiday packages for Chinese travellers. The deal with Skyscanner will help it become a more robust one-stop search destination for both domestic and international holidays.
Europe’s largest travel search engine (by traffic), and the world’s second biggest – after Kayak– had already set up a China team in 2012. Skyscanner CEO and co-founder Gareth Williams revealed that the number of Chinese visitors to its site and apps has grown tenfold so far, but it is “only at the start of the growth opportunity” it sees in the country.
“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… (it) takes us from being a strong international travel specialist in China to a truly global travel service provider for Chinese nationals, domestically and internationally,” Williams said.
Asia-Pacific accounts for 20 percent of Skyscanner’s total number of visitors, which explains the company’s desire to step up its efforts in the region. Online travel is also booming in China and competition is heating up as Chinese internet giants step into the space. Baidu-controlled Qunar, which operates in the same space as Youbibi and Skyscanner, raised $167 million in a US IPO late last year, while Alibaba invested in outbound travel site Qyer.com to boost its offerings on its Taobao marketplace.