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Fly in Russian

Correspondent of EastRussia learned to look for cheap air tickets together with the director for products of Aviasales Anton Baysur

To fly for the weekend to a neighboring state or to friends, to plan a vacation in several flights, book travel places and all this under the label "cheaper" - which of us did not think about it? After all, whether financial need or entertainment is akin to sports in search of "where is cheaper" (yes, there is such, and it has been gaining popularity in recent years) - in any case, you win, not only emotionally, but also financially . Therefore, as soon as a friend living on the Thai island of Phuket offered me to go on an excursion to the Phuket office of the guru of searching for cheap air tickets - the Russian company Aviasales - I did not refuse. And at the same time decided to do an interview, asking about the subtleties of business. So, about flights, flights, features of the Russian mentality and a few myths about cheap air tickets. The interlocutor of EastRussia is the director of Aviasales products Anton Bajtsur.

Fly in Russian
- I'll start with the classic “how it all came about”?
- It all started long before me, in 2007, Konstantin Kalinov (the founder of the company) started a blog where he collected airline special offers. Some time later, the blog turned into a search engine and Aviasales appeared, and on December 28 of the year 2008 was found and sold the first air ticket. It was, by the way, the flight Moscow-Paris.
 
- That is, in fact, the company has been working seriously since the beginning of 2009 (take into account the ticket sold)? 
- Seriously the company works from the very beginning,. But with 2009 everything turned much faster - that's for sure.
 
- So what is next? 
- In 2011, Max Krainov joined the team as CEO, and a year later we already had a million visitors a month. And then it’s like fast forwarding: every day Aviasales finds so many tickets that would be enough for a hundred Boeing 737s! Vzhuh and our application in every sixth Russian smartphone!
 
- Yeah, also on TV shows ... 
- The fact is that now it is important to create something new in advertising, so from the very first days we searched for unusual channels of promotion. Even in St. Petersburg on the asphalt near the offices of travel agencies Kostya wrote: "In the Internet is cheaper: aviasales.ru" .. And then there were serials, YouTube. We have an important feature. No, not even two:
- we spend almost everything we earn on development and advertising;
- We spend money on marketing only where we can count them.
 
- But how to be, when advertising does not work? The crisis is the same: many large companies are crying ... 
- The money that we spend on advertising, we beat off almost instantly. We spend well, but I won't tell you how much.
 
- Maybe, at least in percentage terms? 
- Almost everything we earn. Operationally, we are profitable all life, but everything goes to growth. We never stopped growing in Russia - despite the crisis, we grew up all of last and before last years: 2016 was fantastic for us at all - we were the only ones who grew in the market in the second half of the year. We are growing now, and we are very pleased with the results, although we understand that we could have done it even faster: for this we need new hands of developers, heads of creatives, money for advertising ...

- How did you manage to outgrow Skyscanner?
- I have no definite answer. But here is the marketing and our fair prices ...
 
In addition, we have built the world's largest affiliate network for those who work with travel-traffic. You can search for tickets on the blog of Artem Lebedev or on the Sheremetyevo airport website, but in fact the request will go through Aviasales.

- And you are aimed at the States as an audience? 
- For overseas markets, we have a Jetradar, while we are most focused on the domestic market.
 
- What is the capitalization of the company at the moment? And are you in the stock market? 
- Aviasales costs exactly as much as it will be paid for. All existing estimates are a finger in the sky. If you look at the Forbes rating, the cost of Aviasales varies from year to year by 100 million dollars, you can not take it seriously.
 
- What is the secret of Aviasales? So far it turns out that you, rather, "in spite of" than "thanks" became market leaders: a site on your knee, advertising on the sidewalks ... 
- "On the knee" in our case means only that the product that corporations make with the hands of thousands of employees, we collect the forces of two offices. Peter is responsible for the application, which Apple and Google have named the best for finding tickets in Russia, and Phuket is working on a website and a variety of services.
 
Of course, there is some chance of success in success, but in general it is a cold calculation, that is, constant monitoring of the market and work with users.
 
- While I still do not understand how aggregators work - that is, what they earn. 
- We also do not know how aggregators work. Aviasales is a search engine and with earnings everything is simple, we get money for every ticket sold.
 
This imposes a certain responsibility on us. For example, it is important for us that the exact amount that was indicated and certainly in rubles is debited from the card. We are against the imposition of additional services - insurance and SMS mailings. We constantly check partner sites and if there are problems, we disable them from the search results. All this is called "fair price" and distinguishes Aviasales from others.  

- And what is your conversion is considered good? 
- 10-15% of clicks should lead to the purchase of tickets - depends on the channel. Some Western agencies have 7-8%.
 
- I turn to Pelevin's non-existent "Generation P", namely "cultural references" (peculiarities of mentality) - did you have to make an amendment to Russian perception? 
- In marketing - certainly, this is what many customers have taken. In the product - only in part. For example, in the States, if you fly a threesome and book tickets for the whole company, you are shown the price per passenger. At us it is accepted to show already a total cost. Otherwise, the most important thing is to fly as cheaply as possible.
 
- Brazen question: how big is the margin that you get from the airlines for the tickets sold? 
- On average - about 2,5% of the ticket price.

- True or fiction: from devices on Windows / Android / Apple on your site will be different prices?
 
- It happens, but only because sellers in the application and on the site may differ. For example, the most profitable agency does not have a mobile version - these have to be disabled. Believe me, no one specifically monitors how much is the device from which you came.
 
- And for how much is it now optimal to select tickets? Six months before the holidays? 
- No, absolutely not. If you look, for example, Thailand - for six months, you can just search. And for 3-2 a month before the holiday to take. If you look at tickets to Russia, the best deals can be until the last week. It depends on the popularity of the direction: in the summer, tickets to the same Simferopol will be difficult to get, while on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route inexpensive places are stable at any time of the day or night. At the peak season is better to look a year before.
 
- How do you fly around Russia now because of the new-fangled “only with backpack” column?
- Such travelers will be helped by our new baggage filter. Directly on Aviasales, you can choose a ticket with a backpack or with an 20-kilogram suitcase. Luggage at the airport costs 30% more and about half of the passengers faced the need to pay at the front desk. It seemed to us that this is completely wrong and so on Aviasales there was a service that allows you to add luggage to the ticket. Especially nice that we made it the first!

- And no one thought of doing such a simple thing ?! 
- So it's not so simple! The baggage filter we did a year. But further - more. Soon on Aviasales it will be possible to add to the ticket not only a suitcase, but also other options.
 

EastRussia help (information taken from the official website of the company)
- Monthly on Aviasales comes 7 000 000 unique visitors.
- The company compares ticket prices across the bases of 728 airlines and about 200 online ticket offices. In the search for Aviasales there are not only classic carriers, but also such low-cost airlines as, for example, Pobeda and Ryanair, as well as charter tickets.
- For 8 years of work, the company helped to save users about five billion rubles.
- The most expensive ticket of economy class, found Aviasales, cost 1 991 092 ruble. This flight from Hungarian Kosice to Apia.
- Half of the searches are made from mobile devices.

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