The Skyscanner 1,000,000 tweet challenge

When I arrived at Skyscanner HQ earlier today, I’d been expecting a pleasant chat with the folks here, maybe a nice lunch out somewhere. I was definitely not expecting the whirlwind of activity around a 24-hour challenge day! The plan is to build a flight search tweetbot, launch it, and serve 1,000,000 tweet replies by 12:00 (UK time) tomorrow. The tech team is frantically putting together servers and message queues; the commercial and marketing team is all a-buzz planning publicity, and figuring out landing pages and campaigns. I just get to sit around and watch the fun for a while.

Skyscanner, if you don’t know, is a flight search engine. They have some cool natural language search capabilities in place, and this new tweetbot will take advantage of that. The idea is that you can write a tweet to @flyscan, for example “flights from Amsterdam to Edinburgh on 19 April, back on 26 April”, and it will tweet you back a link. The link will take you to a page with the best flight options for your query.

Putting the technology together quickly enough is only half the challenge, though; getting the word out to enough people to generate 1,000,000 tweet queries is the other. The @skyscanner Twitter account will be providing updates throughout the next 24 hours, but the buzz machine is going to have to go into overdrive to hit that number. Will they make it? Follow @skyscanner and @flyscan over the next 24 21 hours to find out!

Disclaimer: I’m a former Skyscanner employee, and I will be doing some work for them in the future, but I’m blogging about this because I happened to land right in the middle of it today, and it’s nifty.