Hopper Leans on Fintech to Lead Travel Industry in Innovation

For travellers, the mission has always been clear: nail a dream destination, secure a good deal, and make sure your travel purchases are protected from unforeseen disruptions.

For the travel industry, the goal has always been straightforward: to keep customers happy. But one app is simplifying this mission with the innovative way it has married artificial intelligence and travel data to meet the evolving demands of the modern globetrotter.

At Hopper, a North America–based travel app that boasts more than 100 million downloads worldwide, providing its customers with a good deal and worry-free vacation are at the heart of everything it does.

Today the company is the third-largest travel agency in North America and its revenue has grown to be 40 times what it was in 2019. The key to its success is in its proprietary risk-based pricing protection products – a new travel category that is driving 40% of the company’s annual revenue, according to Ella Alkalay Schreiber, Hopper’s General Manager of Fintech and a trained data scientist.

“Especially in the travel space, there is high demand for flexibility and transparency,” Ella said. “The foundation of how we think about our travel agency is that we can’t compromise on price selection and convenience, so we have to have the best price available.”

The company was built with the power of data and artificial intelligence at its core. Its system can collect real-time prices from travel sources around the world and analyze trends as they relate to travel demand, pricing, and supply. Hopper expanded on that by building predictive technology that can guide users toward buying decisions.

For example, a traveller could be browsing flights for a trip to Australia. If they are using the Hopper app, they will be told if prices are trending high and if they are expected to come down in a few weeks. An alert on the app will let them know when that flight has likely reached its lowest price. This on average saves customers about $100 per trip.

“There really is an ‘a-ha’ moment when they see the new price. This provides our customers with real value and that’s how we build trust,” Ella explained.

Customers prefer payment optionality when booking travel 

Building trust is essential to Hopper’s strategic plans, especially as it seeks to expand globally. In fact, Hopper’s international sales now amount to 20% of its business -- twice as much as last year. One of the ways Hopper ensures it is meeting the expectations of both consumers and travel partners is by continually pulsing customers on the types of services it should offer and the partners it should work with. This is how the company came to work with PayPal for payment processing.

“We put in front of users different payment options and looked at what they engaged with. One of the preferred payments, especially internationally, was PayPal,” said Ella. “As we are growing globally in Latin America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, many don’t have access to credit cards and prefer PayPal.”

Aside from the conversions it generated, the company also liked that PayPal is available in 200 markets around the world and supports 25 currencies.

“With built-in foreign exchange conversion at checkout, access to local payment methods, and the ability to offer an option to pay in installments, it was natural for us to leverage PayPal,” she said.

Tracking travel trends

Aside from booking flights, hotels, and car rentals through Hopper, the company recently started offering ancillary products such as Price Freeze, Change or Cancel for Any Reason, Flight Disruption Guarantee, and Leave for Any Reason. All these offer different forms of travel flexibility and hotel satisfaction.

“We are still seeing travel disruption in the news. Travellers want to add disruption guarantee so if something happens, we will take care of them and get them on another flight or give them a refund. Today, over 50% of Hopper bookings attach at least one ancillary product and those who do so typically attach 1.5 products,” she said, adding that all refunds are done through PayPal’s payout solution, PayPal Hyperwallet. “Hyperwallet makes sure there is no friction in the exercise.”

Post-pandemic, Hopper’s stats show that the modern traveller tends to be more flexible with their travel plans and more at ease making last-minute bookings. They are also planning more elaborate trips to Europe and Asia, the top two travel destinations searched online, according to Hopper’s data.

“Despite economic concerns and inflation driving up costs, more than half of the users we surveyed are saying they are planning on spending more on travel this year compared to previous years. What we find is that users are saving in other areas but not on travel,” said Ella.

Catering to the B2B community

While Hopper’s ancillary products are particularly popular with Millennial and Gen Z travellers, the company is looking towards further developing Hopper Cloud – a new channel to distribute Hopper fintech and travel services that will help big businesses cater to their customer base. This will allow Hopper to offer their travel agency services to other companies for their customers’ use through a customized travel portal on that company’s website.

“We only started and last year, our revenues from Hopper Cloud were greater than the entire revenues of the company in 2021,” Ella noted.

One of the reasons Hopper is a relevant solution for business audiences around the world is its ability to offer payment options in different markets via the PayPal Braintree platform.

“If you’re in the U.S. or in Latin America, the forms of payment are very different,” she said. “Keeping the right relevancy in each market is fundamental.”

To learn more about how PayPal’s enterprise solutions can help your business remain competitive, chat with a representative here.


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