Corporate travel across Asia is a rapidly growing market, and regional travel management service providers are looking to expand globally.
New Zealand-based Serko released its 2018 annual report last week, showing the strides the public company has made in the Asia-Pacific corporate travel marketplace. The company’s operating revenue grew 28 percent to $12.78 million U.S. dollars with booking transaction growth of 20 percent this year. It claims to have more than 50 percent of the Australasian corporate market on its platforms.
Its profit before tax of $1.4 million marks the first time it has made a profit since going public in 2014. About $4.19 billion in travel was booked on its platform in the last year, according to the annual report.
Serko expects 15 to 30 percent operating revenue growth over its next fiscal year, ending March 31, 2019.
“Our global growth strategy is based on partnering with leading [travel management companies] to enter new markets,” reads the report. “This is the same strategy that has served us well in Australasia, and the success of our relationships in our home market is now creating opportunities in other markets. Our new international business development team is actively pursuing significant distribution and marquee customer opportunities.”
Serko’s Zeno online booking tool pairs a recommendation engine with chat-based service and integrated expense management. It also recently received new distribution capability level 3 compatibility with Qantas, allowing it to sell ancillaries from global airlines directly to travelers. This makes it easier for companies to track expenses, since things like bag fees and seat upgrades are usually submitted after a trip as an expense.
In a bit of inside baseball, Tony D’Astolfo, formerly of Deem, joined Serko earlier this year to handle its push into North America. It’s worth noting that Serko is reselling its Zeno tool through other travel management companies like ATPI, similar to how Deem has pivoted to sell its own services through other travel management companies in recent years. Reselling services is a way to expand a company’s reach without a costly geographical expansion.
Serko plans to roll out wider new distribution capability connections over the next year, while also further developing its Zeno Marketplace into a hub for services beyond hotel and air bookings. It also wants to migrate more existing customers to its Zeno platform from its older Serko Travel product to make more money on each booking.
Serko may not be the biggest player in Asia-Pacific, but it is up to some interesting things and is certainly worth watching as the region’s business travel market continues to surge.