Skift Take

Singapore's TruTrip is jumping into fintech at probably the right time, but can it emulate the success travel booking app Hopper has had?

A Singapore-based corporate travel booking app has launched a subscription package that lets companies refund their trip — with no questions asked.

TruTrip’s new TruFlex feature provides an instant refund of at least 80 percent of incurred costs for travelers in the event of trip cancellations. It was launched in partnership with insurance company FWD.

It’s another example of fintech products seeping into the travel industry. Hopper, which was the most popular travel booking app in the first half of 2021, as measured by U.S. downloads in the Google Play and the Apple app stores, has recently added several financial extras.

In fact, it makes more money from these add-ons than it does selling travel, with its price freeze a popular option.

“About one out of three of our customers that freeze the price say they don’t have the money in their bank account to pay the whole thing. They’re using this as a deposit. It’s a better version of buy now pay later,” CEO Frederic Lalonde said at Skift Global Forum last week, adding that what Hopper does is hold the price for the consumer.

Barcelona’s TravelPerk, which is another business travel platform, also has a no-questions-asked refund feature called FlexiPerk. The opt-in service has a 10 percent fee for all bookings made with a FlexiPerk account, but it gives travelers the option to receive 90 percent of the total payment back.

Like all pesky travel insurance products, there’s small print.

In TravelPerk’s case, users can cancel flights up to two hours before departure, and they can cancel hotel reservations until 4 pm of the first day of their stay. Refunds are returned as credits to use on future TravelPerk bookings only, and it is available for trips invoiced to the UK, U.S., all 27 European Union countries and Switzerland.

TruTrip’s TruFlex, meanwhile, comes with a montly subscription fee of $15 per  company, plus a 12.8 percent fee charged on each travel booking. To be eligible, the company needs to be booking at least 80 percent of its travel with TruTrip.

Companies can cancel for any reason until 24 hours before their travel starts, and there aren’t any geographic constraints.

“Unlimited by borders, we believe TruFlex is a first-of-a-kind innovation that has been made possible with help from our friends at FWD,” said Hugh Batley, founder and managing director of TruTrip. “TruFlex offers our users a real alternative between the high-cost flexible fares and a ‘self-insure’ approach many businesses end up adopting.”

Content aggregator Travelfusion also offers a refund platform called tfCFAR, or Travelfusion Cancellation For Any Reason.

Business trips are tentatively taking off again, but there’s still lots of uncertainty around borders, while many countries still impose compulsory testing and quarantines.

But these types of fintech products could give companies a little more confidence in ramping up their travel programs. TruTrip said it’s an accessible alternative to booking flexible air fares, which often come at a much higher price.

Price freezing could also give companies some extra financial control, and Batley said it’s something he’s been exploring.

“We certainly agree with Hopper on the application of fintech to drive out cost and improve ‘trading terms,'” Batley said. “We looked at a price freeze feature briefly, it is in the backlog but not yet a priority.”

TravelPerk’s chief commercial officer meanwhile said there were currently no updates on its refund tool. “Our philosophy is always to do whatever will deliver the best capabilities and experience for our customers, whether that’s building it in-house, such as FlexiPerk, or integrating with a best-in-class partner such as our expenses offering with Divvy,” he said.

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Tags: asia, business travel, coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, corporate travel, fintech

Photo Credit: TruTrip is based in Singapore. Shawnanggg / Unsplash

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