At long last, this year has yielded some hopeful news! In a historic moment, Pfizer was the first to announce a vaccine that protects 90% of people from COVID-19. That was shortly followed by similar announcements from Oxford University and Astra-Zeneca, Moderna, and Gamalaya. I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that this dystopian nightmare is almost over.It’s no secret that the travel industry suffered greatly this year. In my own company, we experienced a drop in bookings of over 95% at the peak of the crisis back in April. But I’m really proud to say that this did not break us. If anything, TravelPerk is emerging stronger from the ashes.
The share of purchases coming from this service was highest at the peak of the pandemic in April to June. Since then, we have sustained higher levels of FlexiPerk GMV when compared to the figures from January and February. This indicates that FlexiPerk customers were more comfortable booking travel in the face of uncertainty. That’s why we think that the need for services that enable companies to book flexible business trips will be higher than it was pre-COVID.In the summer months, we saw a drop in our GMV share generated from FlexiPerk. This could be because customers not using FlexiPerk felt secure traveling without coverage when the restrictions relaxed. That being said, the service’s GMV share remained higher than in pre-pandemic times. We observed that this was due to FlexiPerk customers continuing to travel consistently, and other customers converting to the service during the pandemic.
This trend has changed since the summer. In fact, less than 10% of searches on our platform are conducted for trips more than a month away. We also noticed that searches for trips less than 6 days away are now almost equal to searches for trips between 7 and 30 days away. This is an important change from pre-COVID times, when the majority of travelers searched for trips 7 to 30 days away.That tells us that the search window is now shorter than before COVID and at the peak of the pandemic. This could mean that travelers are waiting to book closer to their departure dates in case there are any health restrictions and changes that could affect their trips.
This shows us that customers are more comfortable taking trains than flights for domestic trips, possibly because of a perceived higher level of safety from infection. It could also mean that people are changing the way they travel within their own countries. We believe that the ease and efficiency of travel by train will likely extend its popularity for domestic travel well after the pandemic. As an added bonus, trains are also great for travelers looking to reduce their carbon footprint!
- Flexibility - Travel will need to make room for changes in trip schedules and last-minute bookings. So, we developed FlexiPerk—a way for you to change and cancel whatever you need, no questions asked.
- Safety - Travelers will be more concerned about cleaning procedures, transmission levels, and exposure to others. In 2020, we created TravelCareandTravelSafe APIto keep our users up to date on any health-related travel conditions.
- Savings - The time has come to be creative about saving money, which is why we launched our VAT Recovery Solutionto help you save up to 25% of your travel spend. We also negotiated special rates with our partners.
- Sustainability - The travel industry as a whole is shifting towards “green” travel. With GreenPerk, we help our customers offset their carbon footprint for each business trip taken.
- Efficiency - We’re always working to empower our customers to book autonomously. Our platform is a one-stop-shop for everything related to business travel—we even try to make it easy for companies to integrate TravelPerk into their workflows through APIs.