JULY 13, 2016, the global flight search and travel deals website, is celebrating World Emoji Day (17 July 2016) by launching the world’s first emoji flight search function, enabling mobile users to insert emojis instead of words for their flight origin and destination as they begin their search.

In order to build the functionality, Cheapflights mapped 40 destinations across the world with popular emojis based on common associations with each destination. For example, users can search using a South African flag and a union jack flag to get flights from South Africa to London, and a koala bear and sushi for Sydney to Tokyo.

Launching initially as a prototype, Cheapflights is the first flight search engine to use its proprietary search technology in this way. The release follows the launch last month of Cheapflights Chat – a Facebook Messenger bot configured to provide flight, hotel and weather-related results upon query, which has already seen more than 4 947 interactions. Cheapflights Chat is today also updated to include emoji search functionality as well.

Commenting, Samantha Otter, Cheapflights’ Marketing Director said:

“We want to make travel search as intuitive as possible, and delivering this new functionality furthers our brand promise to make search smart and simple. Personalisation is the future of travel search, and this is a further step in that direction, allowing our users to communicate with us in a way they’re comfortable. It encourages frictionless dialogue in whichever setting and communication medium they prefer.

“With World Emoji Day upon us, it felt like the ideal time to press the button on a function with which our team has had a lot of fun in the last few weeks. We hope our users do now as well.”

Emoji search is available on the Cheapflights mobile site in select markets globally including South Africa, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It will be available on the Cheapflights app before the end of 2016.