A number of the world’s busiest airports are in chaos with cancelled and missed flights at a time when hundreds of thousands of travelers are gearing up for their first trip since before the pandemic.
In the past week alone, Dutch carrier KLM temporarily suspended flights into Amsterdam Schiphol airport from Europe for a day.
Meanwhile, London’s Heathrow Airport has told airlines to reduce passenger numbers by a third at certain times of the day for the next month.
Most passengers just want to get to their destination relatively stress free, which seems rare currently, or at least know that they can get their money back if it all goes wrong.
It’s the latter that an increasing number of travel companies are taking note of knowing there will be bumps in the road to the travel industry’s recovery.
Alleviating pain points
Enter Hopper, which is expanding its fintech products with the introduction of "Standalone Trip Protection," enabling travelers to add flight disruption or cancellation protection to bookings made outside of Hopper.
The insurance can be purchased via the Hopper app once a traveler has booked a flight via an airline or other online travel agency.
Then, if something does go wrong, travelers can go back to the app and get a refund in the form of Hopper's "Carrot Cash" credit or book another flight.
One unique advantage of Hopper is we’ve collected a massive amount of pricing and demand, which allows us to dynamically price every fintech offering.
Fred Lalonde - Hopper
All things considered it’s a clever way to gain customers, increase brand recognition and boost revenue via products and services that provide reassurance in times of travel uncertainty.
Hopper is also expanding the fintech products it offers for flights, hotels and car rentals booked in its app.
The company has added Cancel for Any Reason, already available for flights, to hotel bookings up to the time of check-in and even for non-refundable rates.
It has also unveiled Leave for Any Reason - a product enabling guests to leave a hotel at check-in or at any time during the stay if they are not happy and book a different hotel in the same category with Hopper covering any rebooking costs.
And, to help protect travelers from price fluctuations in car rental bookings, Hopper is extending its Prize Freeze product enabling customers to freeze prices for up to 21 days. If prices do increase, Hopper pays the difference up to $100, while if the cost goes down, customers pay the lower price.
Hopper boss Fred Lalonde insists it is not an insurance company and remains a travel company, adding that the latest products “play a critical role in our journey to becoming the first travel super app in North America.”
The appeal of fintech products is not unique to Hopper as companies look for new revenue streams as well as ways to improve the customer experience.
A recent study by Amadeus revealed that most travel companies view fintech as high priority and plan to invest more in the area of fintech and payments.
Airbnb, for example, recently expanded its AirCover program to cover guests as well as hosts and added coverage similar to Hopper's “Leave for Any Reason.”
Meanwhile, American Express Travel has introduced its own “cancel for any reason” product, but Hopper continues to stand apart for a number of reasons including its mobile-first approach and “full suite of fintech products that address every customer pain point,” according to Lalonde.
“One unique advantage of Hopper is we’ve collected a massive amount of pricing and demand, which allows us to dynamically price every fintech offering. This means we’re able to offer all of these products at an affordable price point for consumers,” he says.
“Additionally, our comprehensive marketplace is paired with our loyalty program, allowing users to get Carrot Cash on any booking that can be applied across the different travel verticals.”
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There is a further question around how sustainable these sorts of products are if and when some sort of normality returns to travel.
Lalonde acknowledges that there is a higher attachment rate on fintech products during times of chaos but adds that there will always be travel-related stress because of pricing fluctuations or weather or some other disruption and therefore the need for these types of products is constant.
Going forward the company will continue to expand fintech offerings across further elements of travel, according to the areas that customers highlight as making them feel anxious.
“We created Leave for any Reason after asking customers directly what parts of the trip-planning process made them anxious. Many of our customers cited that they often feel anxious that the hotel they booked may not live up to their expectations. We’ll continue to work backwards from our customers and build for what travelers are actually dealing with in today’s travel environment,” Lalonde says.
Fintech products are also on the way for Hopper Homes as the company builds out its direct and third-party vacation rental inventory.
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