lastminute.com group's first half results reveals some big strategic shifts over the past year, with its dynamic packaging business growing strongly in all markets.
The business is listed on the Swiss stock exchange and was formerly known as BravoFly Rumbo, changing its name in 2015 after it bought lastminute.com from Sabre at the back-end of 2014. Its brands include the eponymous former dotcom darling as well as Rumbo, Vologratis and JetCost.
The topline financials for Jan-June 17 are behind the same period last year - revenues down 2.2% to €130.3 million with adjusted EBITDA off 45.1% to €9.5 million.
CEO Fabio Cannavale acknowledged that the group is still "working on reshaping the whole organisation to become fully customer centric instead of platform-driven"
In terms of the financials, he noted that a decision to ramp up offline marketing in Italy, France and Spain "resulted in triple non-performance marketing expenses that impacted the Group P&L bottom line" but is confident "these kind of investments will have positive returns in brand awareness and improvements in direct traffic".
Overall marketing costs increased by 2.9% to €56.6 million in the half-year 2017 and accounted for 43.5% of revenues compared with 41.4% in H1 16.
One former investment which is starting to pay off, he noted, is its commitment to dynamic packaging. Revenues from dynamic packaging in the half were up by 22%. In the UK dynamic packaging is now the largest selling product, outperforming flights and across all its OTA businesses packages are the most successful category and growing at double-digit rates.
Cannavale explained that its commitment to packaging was and is "based on the strong belief that sooner or later this would become the most attractive proposition for our business."
Part of the packaging equation is the increasing commoditization of flight-only and the resulting "margin contraction". Flight-only account for some 40% of the OTA business and while there is a "significant revenue decrease" from flights this half, Cannavale is confident there are better times ahead for seat-only thanks to an improvement to the platform creating better upsell opportunities for ancillaries.
Its JetCost metasearch brand has also improved during the half. Consolidated revenue from JetCost for the first six months of 2017 came in at €23.7 million, or 22% of the total. Last time meta accounted for 13% of the business. The uplift in meta continues a good run of growth figures - FY2016 was 90% ahead of 2015.
Another growing part of the business is its non-transactional or media business, which now accounts for just over a quarter of the group business.
Geographically, the UK, France and Italy remains its biggest points of sale, each accounting for more than 20% of total revenues. The group is keen to talk up its worldwide reach and noted "growth outside the core markets has been also strong, especially in US and in the Scandinavian countries."
And mobile is also growing across the business, accounting for 30.5% of this half's bookings compared with 2016's 26.5%
Elsewhere, in the full interim report COO Marco Corradino noted that in order "to create exclusive and personalised travel experiences, we are looking at alternative accommodation capabilities to extend our range of products and enter into other segments."
At the time of writing, lastminute.com group's market capitalization is CHF183.7 million ($189.6 million).
Click here to read the press release which include a link to the full interim report.