Travel, Payments and Coronavirus

As the world grapples with the enormity of the coronavirus crisis, the travel industry is being forced to react in real-time to changing dynamics to maintain business operations and accommodate customer concerns and requests. The impact is being felt at every level of the industry—from the largest online travel agencies to individual tour operators and the local ecosystems that support them.

While the financial repercussions are top of mind, the emotional impact cannot be discounted. In times like this, humans crave physical contact, a break from the normal routine, new challenges and action-packed adventures—all experiences uniquely offered through travel.

So many of our travel clients started their businesses out of their own love for these experiences, and they’re eager to get back to business, creating amazing adventure travel experiences for their customers. We’ve been in close touch with our travel clients and partners and those conversations make us optimistic about the future of the industry.

For one, many point to the travel industry’s amazing resilience to big crises over the years. The chart below from Skift demonstrates how travel has come back stronger after every major crisis in the last 20 years.

We’re also seeing our travel clients take the initiative to maintain and build customer loyalty with an eye towards the future. Many are offering 24/7 support to help field customer inquiries. Others are offering new options like free re-bookings within a certain timeframe to ensure customers don’t miss out entirely on their desired trips. And most have updated their cancellation policies so customers aren’t penalized under ongoing travel bans. All these approaches provide their customers with the peace of mind and assurance to plan for an exciting adventure that they can look forward to.

Flywire is trying to do its part as well to help minimize risk for travel companies and their clients. A few benefits built into our platform include:

  • Our 24x7 multilingual customer support team is available to help travel agents, tour operators and their clients address any questions regarding the payment process.
  • Our relationship managers are always available to help clients navigate the complexities of any situation. The digital foundation of our payments infrastructure provides complete transparency in the event of questions about deposits, cancellations and refunds.
  • Through our global payment network, we offer 290+ payment methods to our clients’ customers, and provide 2+ ACHs in each major region, which act as redundancy if one bank partner is disrupted.

In discussions with our travel clients, there are also a number of important questions that have come up that we thought would be helpful to all. We are sharing some of this information below and will continue to update it here for your reference. If there are additional questions, we encourage clients to reach out to their relationship manager.

Will the ongoing recession and travel bans hurt Flywire’s travel business?

We expect some fluctuation, but not a meaningful downturn. We are already seeing very positive momentum from some of our global clients who specialize in winter travel experiences that bookings for the Q4’2020-Q1’2021 winter season will be strong. We have total confidence that travel will come back stronger, and we’re hearing from our clients that consumers are eager to travel again when it’s safe to do so.

How is Flywire supporting travel businesses?

Fortunately, Flywire’s services have a lot of resilience built-in. Our global footprint, operations and business continuity plans minimize any potential disruptions to the flow of monies. And our relationships with the world's top banking institutions and trusted regional and local payment partners assure continuity and minimize risk in the face of market volatility. We’ll continue to offer convenient payment options to the extent practicable and securely process transactions from over 240 countries and territories, in more than 150 currencies.

We are also ramping up our formal and informal client communications, ensuring we can help them resolve their questions as the situation continues to evolve in different regions.

How will Flywire handle refund requests for payments already made by customers? What kind of response time can they expect?

These would be handled as normal, based on the specific service agreements our clients have with their customers. There is nothing that would happen in our process that would change things.

Check back here for more information in the coming days and weeks.