Skyscanner offers £2,500 to ‘be boss for a day’

Gareth Williams, CO and founder of Skyscanner. Picture: Ian RutherfordGareth Williams, CO and founder of Skyscanner. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Gareth Williams, CO and founder of Skyscanner. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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EDINBURGH travel comparison firm Skyscanner today offered £2,500 to someone to run the company for a day - in return for their opinions.

The winner will step into the shoes of founder and chief executive Gareth Williams to bring fresh thinking to the 12-year-old firm, which attracts 40 million website users a month and whose staff have doubled to 600 staff in two years.

They will be required to “provide insight” into Skyscanner’s flights, hotels and car hire price comparison services - what they like and what should be added.

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They will also test changes to the website and comment on the company strategy.

Perhaps reflecting the foibles of senior executives, the successful candidate will also be expected to “draw weird doodles”. A game on the office table-tennis table is also included.

But the winner will not gain access to financial or other sensitive information about the company, and will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement covering everything they do lay their eyes on.

Skyscanner said applicants should have a “passion for travel” and be “obsessed with making travel easier”.

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Entrants simply have to say in 50 words why they should be chosen - that’s £50 earned per a word if you’re lucky.

Company staff are ineligible and there are no travel expenses.

Skyscanner also stressed that the payment - the equivalent of more than £900,000 a year - was not the Mr Williams’ salary pro rata.

Spokeswoman Mary Porter said: “We always say our customers are at the heart of our business, and this is our chance to prove it by bringing in one of them to take over as boss, providing us with the ultimate in user feedback.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity.”

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Nick Freer, who runs the Freer Consultancy, which advises firms, said: “They are quite a fun company and don’t take themselves too seriously.

“This should hit a very interesting target audience - seasoned travellers who might create a bit of a buzz about the firm.

“Bloggers are massively important in areas such as travel, so a well-followed person could provide useful intelligence for them.

“If you can understand the ‘user experience’, that’s probably the most valuable intelligence you can get.”

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Dr Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at Edinburgh University’s school of informatics, said: “Another interesting experiment by Skyscanner on how it makes sure it is staying at the front of a very competitive area.

“Might also be a good way to spot some management talent too for other areas - certainly a very different way to interview people. I hope they get a lot of good applications.”

Travel writer and blogger Robin McKelvie said: “I’m not surprised at something like this coming from Skyscanner.

“I’ve worked with them before and they are a real travel success story who keep coming up with fresh ideas.

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“Who knows what they will get out of it, but it’s great to see travel companies try something a little different

“It’s a unique opportunity for someone enjoy a lucrative day to remember too.”

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “The competition follows a similar vein to Tourism Australia’s ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign a few years ago, advertising for a caretaker on its Great Barrier Reef.

“The stunt gained a great deal of international coverage and proved a clever way of reinforcing the tourist board’s key messages on the region to a wider audience.

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“Similarly, Skyscanner’s competition not only highlights the sophistication of their operation, but engages with their customer in a fun and exciting way, reaching out to its important home audience, as well as potential new visitors.”

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