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A boom in travel-related tech is driving recruitment in the online search engine sector, says Fang Fang, head of growth, Asia-Pacific, at Skyscanner

Published on Saturday, 22 Sep 2018

Technology has revolutionised the travel sector, with consumers increasingly turning to apps and online platforms to manage all aspects of their trips. That, in turn, is leading to growing demand for talent, says Fang Fang of the travel fare aggregator and search engine, Skyscanner.

What trends have you seen shaping the travel or travel search engine sector over the last few years? We are seeing growing demand for travel metasearch engines, like Skyscanner, that can provide consumers with free, unbiased comparisons of the ever-growing number of travel options available to them. Mobile booking is another notable trend. We have worked with brands like Cathay Pacific to offer direct booking options that enable our users to book directly from the convenience of a single app. We also see more application of technology in the travel process – from biometric self-check-ins to robot concierges.

What effects are these trends having on careers in the sector in Hong Kong? The increasing reliance on technology means companies are looking for candidates who have relevant technology experience or are highly adaptable. Hong Kong has seen a rise in tech start-ups, further heightening the demand for tech talent. At Skyscanner, we have always taken a global approach to recruitment to find the best candidates to address our business and customer needs. As a result, Skyscanner currently boasts 900 employees from over 50 nationalities across 10 offices. What are the current challenges for firms like Skyscanner when looking for talent? We continuously look for talent from all over the world, so hiring is a never-ending process for us. We also try to hire people with native or on-ground experience in local markets to ensure that our products are informed by local trends and needs.

Has Skyscanner made any changes to its recruitment strategy recently? As a core part of our recruitment strategy, we stress the importance of empowerment and agility. We try to appeal to like-minded talent who enjoy working with a wider team of colleagues of different functions, expertise and nationalities.

What separates a great professional in your field from just a good one? The travel industry is fast-paced and ever-growing. Great industry professionals need to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit and show a “growth mindset”, embodying qualities like learning, discipline, diligence and openness to failure.

Can you outline the path your career took to get to your current role? Is this a typical progression? I started off working in engineering at an aviation company before moving into a marketing role with a start-up. I joined Skyscanner in 2014 as a marketing manager, which to me was the perfect combination of my previous roles, enabling me to focus on data, technological innovation, and at the same time creativity-based traveller insights.

How easy is it for professionals from other sectors to move into the travel search engine sector? What do they need to consider? You need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of local and global travellers, enabling you to see how factors like political policy or pop culture will have an impact on consumer behaviour. You also need a passion for data – to identify trends and grasp traveller insights.

What is the hardest part of your job? And the most rewarding? Skyscanner sees data as our DNA, helping us to better understand the market and enhance our products. While it can be challenging to comb through vast pools of data to identify trends every day, it is an essential part of the role and a good way to maintain my analytical skills. Asia-Pacific is a very diverse region, so travellers’ needs vary a lot from market to market. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to elevate travel experiences for travellers in this region, and see more travellers turning to Skyscanner to become smarter about how they search and book.

Is a good work-life balance possible in your line of work? Do you have any tips on how to achieve this? Marketeers traditionally work long hours but, as a new working mother of a ten-month-old son, I strive to find the work-life balance. When I’m at home, I try to completely switch off from work and just focus on my family. This allows me to regain my spirit and be more productive. It is important to work for a company that doesn’t undermine your personal time and Skyscanner has been very supportive in this area, allowing me to work from home once a week. Using daily planners is also a good way to maximise productivity, ensuring you keep track of deadlines, and optimise your working day.