Kiwi.com is to roll out a new algorithm that help customers find the best route to get the cheapest deal on a trip that features multiple flights, the firm announced as it moves to scale up its business in China.
CEO and founder Oliver Dlouhy outlined plans to for the feature that would offer users a way to search without using date and destination tabs.
Instead, they could use a web form where they enter the number of days they intend to stay in each city they are planning to visit.
So, if a user intends to visit Europe in a month’s time and visit various cities, with a couple of days in each, they fill in all the cities and dates into Kiwi’s system, which would come up with an order of flights to offer the cheapest deal having tested billions of flight combinations.
The flight search site intends to scale up its business in China, where it plans to open a new office in Beijing this summer following the opening of a call centre in Dalian last year.
Dlouhy said Kiwi’s advancement in translation, and local payments in China, such as Alipay, will help it grow in the country – but it needed domestic Chinese content to bolster its business in the world’s second largest economy.
“We are starting with a small team for our business development, scaling it up to 10 employees by the end of this year,” he told ChinaTravel News.
“We are working on plans to strengthen our Chinese domestic content. We plan to interline the same with the long-haul flights. We hope to add trains as well.
“We have Chinese translations on our website, but since we mainly focusing on the B2B model here, this isn’t our main area of focus. Kiwi.com needs to provide the best flight or transportation content to our partners.”
Kiwi.com, which uses its technology to help customers combine flights from non-cooperating airlines, has nearly 1,900 employees, and has grown that number from around 800 in 2016.
It past the five million bookings mark in December 2017.
In China, it will not work direct but in a B2B environment, with more than 500 booking channels.
“If the partners would be more open to ticketing time, it would be much easier for us,” Dlouhy added, explaining that Kiwi’s Chinese partners bring the traffic to his site, which works “in the background.”
He added: “We have to remain focused on our sweet-spot which is flights, the virtual interlining aspect and using the technology to facilitate flight bookings and making them easier and cheaper. We are looking at diversification by investing by acquiring, tying up with partners on a white label basis. Still we are sticking to our core competency and continuing to keep it in-house.
“We are hiring more employees because that’s the nature of the development. Our product is super-complex and it will never be finished.”
Kiwi.com works with 600 different carriers and each one has a different website, API, different processes for managing post-booking services, ancillary services.
“We need to accommodate all those requirements of carriers,” Dlouhy said. “So even if we interline them, eventually the experience remains smooth for our customers. Around 60-65% of our developers work on automation and internal tools to make it easier for stakeholders to book.”
He said that despite Kiwi growing “super fast” it would always look to “challenge the status quo”.
“The key is not to lose agility,” Dlouhy said.