WASHINGTON, April 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Upside is marking its first 100 days since the launch of its revolutionary online business travel shopping service for unmanaged business travelers who book their own travel plans.
Upside is the first online travel service created specifically for the $165 billion U.S. market of business travelers from small and mid-sized companies who choose their own flights and hotel, and then get reimbursed by their company.
Since Upside's January launch, in addition to thousands of business travelers from small and mid-sized companies who have used Upside, Upside's key customer metrics have validated the company's value proposition and long-term prospects:
- More than 1 million people visited the Upside website; daily traffic currently averages over 10,000 visitors.
- Almost half of all customers have already bought a second trip from Upside within 60 days of completing their first trip.
- Savings on flights and hotel packages have averaged 9.7% below retail rates, and gift card rewards have averaged $162 per trip.
- Upside is fast approaching $1 million in gift card rewards given to travelers for helping their companies save money on business travel. Amazon.com, Target, and Whole Foods are the most popular gift card brands selected.
- Customer satisfaction is very high. Out a possible 5 stars, the average rating is 4.69. And, 83% of all customers give Upside 5 stars for excellence.
Upside also reported today that it has introduced a free app for the iPhone (see related release). Upside's iOS app is now available for download in the App Store. The App has already been featured in the App Store's "New Apps We Love."
"Business travelers from small and mid-sized companies have been seriously underserved for years," said Chairman, Founder and CEO Jay Walker. "Small businesses can't get volume discounts from airlines and hotels and, unlike very large companies, they can't get business-quality customer service. Upside changes all that."
Upside launched with 4 big promises:
- Average savings of 5-15% on fully customized packages of flights and hotel. The traveler chooses the flights and hotel they want and the single package price allows Upside to secure special discounts;
- A free gift card of typically $100-200 for travelers on every trip as a reward for being a little bit flexible on travel plans to help save their companies money. Gift cards can be used at more than 50 national retailers including Amazon.com, Whole Foods, Target, Nike, and The Home Depot. Travelers still get their frequent flyer miles and credit card points;
- A simplified buying process that allows customers to buy a business trip in just a few minutes using the company's iOS app or website; and
- World-class, 24/7 live, person-to-person customer service for any changes, cancellations, or questions.
"Upside is delivering on these promises and more. We promised to provide business travelers from small and mid-sized companies with a better, faster way to buy," said Walker. "With each day that passes, more business travelers that work for small and medium-sized organizations are realizing that Upside is the only service designed specifically for them."
Upside's most intriguing metrics include customer data that counter the myth that business travelers are inflexible when it comes to itineraries and package buying.
"Upside's performance data has disproved the myth that business travelers are inflexible when it comes to their travel choices," said Upside President Scott Case. "If travelers are given a personal incentive for being a little bit flexible with their travel plans, they are willing to choose less expensive options that still meet their needs and save their companies money."
During Upside's first 100 days, approximately 25% of business travelers voluntarily chose itineraries that substituted less expensive flights and hotels in return for greater savings and a higher gift card amount.
"We expect that number to grow rapidly," said Case. "And we are ready to serve that increased demand. Upside's technology systems were built to handle the entire US business travel volume from small and mid-sized companies – approximately 150,000 purchases per day."
Each traveler can be rewarded for being flexible on every itinerary. Upside's proprietary algorithms score every flight and hotel combination to meet the travelers' requirements and from there "curates" the 6 best flights options and 6 best hotel options. Once a customer selects their flight and hotel, Upside shows the gift card amount earned.
"Then it gets even better," said Jonathan Ellenthal, Upside co-founder and Chief Growth Officer. "We show the traveler a few additional options they might want to take – for example, stay at a hotel a few blocks further from their initial location or a hotel with a slightly lower star rating, perhaps make a stop on the way home, or take a flight that departs a little earlier or a little later. These kinds of changes can be worth a small fortune, yielding greater company savings and a bigger gift card for the traveler."
"The reason people believed business travelers couldn't or wouldn't be flexible on their travel arrangements," Ellenthal continued, "was because, until now, no one had figured out how to value that flexibility. For the very first time, business travelers' flexibility has real value and can be exchanged for savings and gift card rewards. That's what makes Upside a win-win-win for business travelers, their employers, and suppliers who have alternative travel itineraries to offer."
Big Data software technology makes Upside a fast, easy experience. Upside does all the work for the customer, pre-processing one billion flight records and 500 million hotel records every day. Travelers simply indicate where they're going, when they need to get there, and what kind of hotel they want. In seconds, Upside finds a handful of options that satisfy the trip requirements. Using Upside's iOS app or website, customers can make their purchases in five minutes or less.
Package pricing enables Upside to offer below-market rates from leading brands of airlines and hotels. Since Upside Packages never break out costs for "just the flight" or "just the room," airlines and hotels can offer significant discounts in a way that doesn't undercut advertised retail pricing in other venues. With private discounts embedded in package pricing and an incentive system that motivates travelers to make better choices, Upside can serve the cost and rewards conscious business traveler in unprecedented ways.
"It's been a great first 100 days," Jay Walker concluded. "The future of buying business travel is here today. The Upside revolution has been embraced by a growing segment of the business travel market. Looking ahead, we are focused on continuing to make Upside the first and best choice for the business traveler from small and medium-sized companies."
Upside serves the $165 billion segment of business travelers who work for small and mid-sized companies. These companies don't qualify for volume discounts or special deals from travel suppliers and can't get the kind of customer service they need. Upside uses new thinking and new technology to save companies money, deliver a big reward for travelers on every trip, simplify the buying process, and provide 24/7 human customer service.
Upside's business model is unique - travelers typically get $100-$200 in free gift cards for buying their flights and hotel for a single price, which allows Upside to obtain private discounts from suppliers, and for substituting less expensive but equally effective travel options, travelers get bigger savings and a bigger gift card reward. Gift cards can be used at more than 50 national retailers including Amazon.com, Whole Foods, Target, Nike, and The Home Depot.
Upside was created and launched by Priceline Founder Jay Walker and a team of travel industry innovation pioneers, including several members of Priceline's founding team. With Upside, the days are over when business travelers from small and mid-sized companies have to spend more and settle for less than leisure or big-company travelers. Upside is the better way to buy business travel when the customer is booking it themselves.
For more information, visit: upside.com or follow us on social at @UpsideTravel.
Media Contact: Steve Hofman
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