After setting up operations in Singapore and Russia, UK-based travel search engine SkyscannerÂ nowÂ has an even bigger target in its sights: China.
But rather than launch a standalone operation as it has done so far in its quest for global domination, Skyscanner has partnered with one of the country’s giant search engines in the shape of Baidu.
Skyscanner will provide international flight search tools to Baidu, as Baidu looks to increase its travel functionality to outbound Chinese consumers.
The ramping up of activity byÂ Baidu follows its investment in local travel search site Qunar in July 2011. The pair launched hotel search a few weeks after the deal closed.
Qunar found itself on the receiving end of a $306 million investment from Baidu, a sign that local players are taking online travel search seriously as the likes of Expedia continue to pump more money into their interests (such as eLong) in China.
For the Baidu deal and entry into China, Skyscanner will be known locally as Tianxun. Skyscanner’s airline product will appear automatically in search results and the usual handing off to the supplier site will take place once a user selects a ticket.
As a result of the partnership, Skyscanner has opened its first office in the Chinese capital of Beijing, run by director for Asia-Pacific, Ewan Gray.
The company claims that since opening the Singapore office in 2011, traffic has grown some 400% across Asia-Pacific, with China outperforming the regional average with its own 700% increase.