Hopper rolls out new FinTech products as it aims to build a “travel super app”

CEO says FinTech products make B2B play more sticky.

Travel tech company Hopper continues to expand its FinTech capabilities, announcing several new products that the startup characterizes are for summer travellers, but which, really, can be used all year-round.

Hopper said its new products are meant to help alleviate high prices, frequent delays, and consumer anxiety over travel, especially at a time when cancelled flights, long lines at airports, and ultra-pricey car rentals are the new normal. The products include hotel insurance, a price freeze for car rentals, and trip protection.

CEO said FinTech plays a critical role in the aim to make Hopper the first travel super app in North America.

The new products are part of Hopper’s ongoing push into new verticals and build on some of its previous FinTech products, such as its price freeze or flight disruption guarantee.

While the new products are consumer-facing with a downloadable app, they are also available through Hopper’s B2B initiative, Hopper Cloud. The latter allows travel providers to integrate and distribute Hopper’s FinTech and travel agency content and has provided much of the company’s revenue in recent years.

Hopper has expanded its Cancel for Any Reason insurance from flights to hotels, giving consumers the ability to cancel stays for any reason up until check-in, and recoup 100 percent of the room cost.

It has also added Leave for Any Reason, which allows consumers to leave a hotel for any reason after check-in, and book a new hotel of the same star category with 100 percent of the rebooking costs covered.

Price Freeze for Cars protects customers from pricing volatility by enabling them to freeze prices for up to 21 days, much like Hopper already offers for flight bookings. The price freeze allows customers to take more time to finalize their plans before they book. If the cost goes up, Hopper pays the difference up to $100; if the cost goes down, the customer pays the lower price.

Hopper’s other new offering is Standalone Trip Protection, which covers fees in the event of a rescheduled flight.

RELATED: Hopper’s Series G kept Montréal funding strong in Q3

Hopper’s CEO and co-founder, Frederic Lalonde had previously said that the company’s FinTech products are needed in the current environment where airlines are focused on recovery from the pandemic. Lalonde noted that such products “have the ability to drive conversion and create new revenue streams.”

Lalonde told BetaKit that Hopper’s FinTech products help generate incremental revenue for its cloud partners. “Leave for Any Reason and Cancel for Any Reason for Hotels, in particular, will help our partners unlock new revenue streams in the accommodations industry,” he said. “According to our estimates, if all travel brands leveraged fintech, it could generate an additional $200 billion USD in customer spend annually.”

Lalonde said Hopper’s travel FinTech plays a critical role as Hopper positions its technology to become the first travel super app in North America. “We pair our fintech products and comprehensive marketplace with our loyalty program, allowing users to get Carrot Cash on any booking that can be applied across the different travel verticals,” Lalonde said. “All of the products work in a cohesive ecosystem to feed the super app strategy that we are working towards.”

As part of the move towards a travel super app, Hopper acquired Parisian startup Smooss in February in order to add more airline partners to its B2B offering. Smooss operates as a backend for airlines to sell tickets, in addition to travel plan disruption tools and COVID-19 health check verification. Smooss is being integrated with Hopper Cloud, allowing Hopper to serve its existing customers, including the airlines of the Air France-KLM Group and Corsair.

Hopper also acquired PlacePass in 2021 for an undisclosed amount, adding its B2B tour and activity booking solution to its suite of FinTech tools, and bringing with it a partnership with Marriott International’s Marriott Bonvoy Tours.

Hopper’s acquisition of Smooss followed Hopper’s $35 million secondary sale that allowed Hopper employees and some shareholders to sell part of their holdings in the company, and t Hopper’s entrance into the home rental vertical, placing it in direct competition with home rental companies like Airbnb.

The company’s move to a B2B FinTech has been steady over the past few years, and has enabled the travel tech firm to recover from the pandemic, during which it was reported to have laid off some 250 employees at one point.

Hopper has raised over $590 million to date. The company claims its app has been downloaded more than 70 million times, and that it is the third-largest travel agency in the United States.

Hopper’s approach to product development is customer-obsessed, according to Lalonde, who noted that all the FinTech products its developed came after asking customers what part of the travel experience are stressful for them.

“There’s been an extremely high volume of airline cancellations and delays this summer as airline staff back up and adjust their capacity,” he noted. “And, travel prices are on the rise due to high demand. With these new offerings, we hope to make the travel experience smoother and help customers save money.”

As for the future, Lalonde said Hopper will continue to expand its offerings across travel verticals, constantly testing and developing new products.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in Wired.com, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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