Introducing the flight search geeks that make Skyscanner work
**1. What do you do at Skyscanner?**
I’m the Head of Search Technology and a database architect. I make sure we have the best software architecture to provide the functionality we need on the website whilst having the capacity and speed for all the users. I don’t do pretty – I do fast, functional and high capacity.
2. What kind of flight geek are you?
I’m a problem solving geek. I can find loads of solutions to any problem. I’m also a poker geek and can fake-bluff brilliantly to take all your chips (where I pretend I’m bluffing!).
3. What best generally describes your travel style?
Often it’s up and go with a last minute journey. I enjoy travelling with others but I love the freedom and control of travelling alone. I have travelled so much on flights and done so many long road trips, that long or short journeys don’t faze me anymore – I enjoy the journey as much as getting to the destination. I also love reading, so that helps.
4. What’s your ideal holiday?
I’m going to be trying out some adventure holidays this year – but traditionally I like going to any place which has awesome food and great nightlife. My favourite places so far include Paros in Greece, for a very chilled out beach and nightlife holiday, Melbourne for partying and New York for music and food; I would love to live there.
I’m also rediscovering Scotland which has amazing scenery and is great for mountain biking or walking. In future I will definitely go to Las Vegas to get my bracelet from the World Series Poker.
5. Who’s your ideal travel companion?
My friend Graham is good fun to travel with but I wouldn’t mind sitting next to Iain M Banks for a while on a plane just for the jabber. Other than that, Salma Hayek would be my preferred travelling companion for hanging out in all the places mentioned in the previous question!
6. Do you fly with children?
No, but I have no problem with children. It’s the parents who can’t control their children I have a problem with! I’ve travelled with my nephews before and they can make a trip far more enjoyable due to the excitement they have; you get to see a place through fresh eyes.
7. How do you decide where you want to go?
If I’ve been to a place before and it was good, then I’ll go back – otherwise it’ll be based on hearsay, conjecture and a bit of advice from friends.
8. How do you decide when you want to go?
Geekily enough I normally base this around the projects I’m working on at Skyscanner. The snowboarding season limits your options for those types of holidays and for summer holidays temperature and season start/end points of the destination play a big part in when to go.
Paros, Greece, is perfect in May and September for example but not so good in August when it’s packed with tourists and approaching 35 – 40 degrees C.
9. What annoys you most about planning holidays?
I find that if I’m looking for ideas on where to go, the biggest problem is identifying recommendations from someone else who is similar to me and likes the same things as me. Facebook holidays would be a good idea to see where all your friends have been travelling.
10. What are you doing in your job at Skyscanner to help?
We are implementing architecture which will provide things like ‘other people who like this also like…’
11. What’s your favourite thing about the Skyscanner site?
Definitely the month view – being able to see WHEN it is cheapest to fly is invaluable. I’m sure my favourite thing will change when my dream features are implemented though.
12. What’s your dream feature?
Recommendations of destinations based on similar user’s behaviour, activities linked to destinations and Google travel queries linking directly to the Skyscanner month view.
13. Favourite websites apart from Skyscanner (not necessarily travel) and why?
The BBC website amazes me for usability, functionality, scalability and performance – and iPlayer is awesome. Facebook is good for catching up with friends and there are a few blogs I follow too. When it comes to travel sites, Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor are good although I need Trip Advisor to filter out comments by people whose opinion I would never trust in real life.
**14. What’s the geekiest thing about you? Your secret geek shame?**
I started programming when I was 6 years old. I got my mum to buy me graph paper and I drew and then reprogrammed (hacked!) the animated sprites in Donkey Kong on my brothers C64.
I also bought a Das Keyboard a couple of years ago – it’s very fast for typing, lets me get up to speeds approaching 100 words per minute and there are no letters or characters on the keyboard.
15. Worst travel experience
One time when I was coming back home from Australia I’d been up all night saying goodbye before flying and packed my bag in a rush, including my towel from outside, before taxiing it to the airport. When I got there I stank so much and was in such a mess that the security people felt they had to ask me to open my bag and search through it.
A massive huntsman spider flew out and legged it across the airport terminal floor scaring both myself and the poor security girl half to death leaving me with some explaining to do in my half-cut state.
Meet more Flight Search Geeks