Tiff Burns, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LuckyTrip, and his brother wanted to build the absolute best travel product for the new generation of travelers. According to Tiff, younger people travel differently compared to older generations, for shorter durations, while on a strict budget, expecting unique instagrammable experiences and spending 4+ hours a day on their phones. “When you look at traditional online travel agents there’s so little differentiation out there. They’re boring, uninspiring and most of them have the same offering. Switch their brands and you’ll barely tell them apart!” says the pioneering leader. “LuckyTrip lets you find a complete trip in one tap. Set your budget and preferences, tap the Lucky button and instantly see a personalised trip to an amazing destination – the cheapest flights, handpicked places to stay, and unique experiences. Keep tapping ‘Lucky’ until you find something you like!”
For the siblings, it has been an experience to find amazing adventures. “We’d rather not show you a trip to Paris, to stay in a big chain hotel, and a visit to the Eiffel tower. We’d suggest a trip to Bucharest, to stay in a gypsy wagon and visit a haunted forest!” he explains, elucidating their mindset for the young and adventurous. “Our mission is to become the leading travel brand for a new generation of travellers, to inspire them to visit the hidden corners of the world in the tap of a button.”
Traditional travel agents search by location, LuckyTrip searches by budget and preferences. LuckyTrip uses an advanced AI-powered algorithm that scans millions of data points of travel inventory, availability, prices and provides a personalized real-time trip recommendation in less than a second.
LuckyTrip combines this unique technology with highly curated content targeted at a new generation of travelers. “We have a team of travel tastemakers and ex-bloggers producing amazing editorial, design and video content to inspire our travellers to book,” adds Tiff. “We launched a prototype of LuckyTrip back in 2015 and it was immediately featured on the front page of the App Store, driving tens of thousands of downloads per day. We were also awarded the prestigious App Store ‘Best of the Year’ award by Apple. The growth was insane.” Since then, there was no looking back as they joined leading accelerators such as Founders Factory (run by Brent Hoberman of Lastminute.com), the Hangar 51 program run by International Airlines Group, and have raised over £3m in funding to date. In addition to growing bookings revenue 6x year on year, they have partnered with huge brands such as EasyJet, British Airways, TUI, O2, and Disney – driving B2B revenue and customer acquisition.
Talking about the present pandemic, which has affected travel and tourism the most, Tiff states, “running a travel company through the COVID pandemic has been challenging! Once COVID hit in April / March 2020 – inline with the entire travel industry – customer demand for travel completely collapsed. Our highest priority was getting thousands of our customers home safely as borders closed. We worked through the night for days on end to find them routes home. It was the toughest period we’ve ever gone through. We’re extremely proud to say that we quickly got every single one of our travellers home safely.” Not only that, thousands of bookings that Lucky took before COVID needed to be refunded to customers within 14 days due to UK ATOL regulations. With careful navigation from their excellent management team, they got through the tough times with most suppliers issuing refunds.
Tiff says that they had to make tough decisions to reduce costs and extend our cash runway. “Right now, in the midst of the pandemic appetite for travel is low. But we are experiencing demand for summer 2021 and UK domestic trips.” Tiff and his team’s primary focus is on long-term projects ensuring they are ready for when the market recovers. “Travel is never going to be the same, and companies need to recognize this and adapt quickly. Travellers now have new needs that didn’t exist a year ago, and we’re changing quickly to make sure we can give them everything they need.” After many customers being let down by their travel providers in 2020, Tiff thinks the two key customer demands will be full financial protection and outstanding customer service.
The UK is currently undergoing the fastest vaccination program in history, paving the way to a travel market recovery. Tiff expects the recovery to be driven by LuckyTrip’s young demographic, who are less risk-averse than older generations. After 2020 full of lockdowns, there is pent up demand from these travelers to get away, and it is travel restrictions – rather than the fear of catching COVID – that is preventing many of them from doing it. “At LuckyTrip we saw a huge spike in bookings in July & August 2020 as travel restrictions temporarily eased, and we expect to see this again once this happens later in 2021.”
LuckyTrip now offers a COVID Refund Guarantee so customers won’t lose a penny if their future trips are canceled due to COVID. The same can’t be said for a customer who chooses to book separately with an airline and an accommodation provider. “Customer happiness is our top priority. When booking with LuckyTrip, you’re assigned a personal travel advisor to support you with every aspect of your trip,” says Tiff. “They’re here to help answer any questions you have, check you into your flights, send over your mobile boarding passes, and take the stress out of the process for you, so all you have to do is turn up at the airport. Bottom line is, we’ll do all we can to make sure we can deliver on the holiday you booked.”