First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
David Armstrong: We’re doing good, thank you. Through COVID-19, we’re spending much more time together as I’m currently not commuting from home in Munich to the office in Berlin.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined HolidayPirates
David Armstrong: I joined HolidayPirates at an early stage as COO in November 2014, and 18 months later, I became the CEO. Prior to HolidayPirates, I spent 10+ years leading companies within the travel industry, most notably some subsidiaries at tour operator FTI Group.
How does HolidayPirates Innovate?
David Armstrong: We apply a mix of technology and manual curation regarding the content on our systems. Technology helps our editors to find the best value-for-money deals on the market. Every single offer is then handpicked, screened, and sometimes even tested by our travel experts. We give the first-hand experience to our customers – people will only find deals on our website that our editors would go for themselves.
These days during the pandemic, we had a great advantage of operating in ten markets globally. We could offer staycations and vacations in each respective country. But also being a flexible and dynamic online company, we had the chance to broaden our product range quickly and also offer online-experiences or buy-now-travel-later packages to our users.
Also, we are constantly looking for new platforms and ways to reach and help our users. We always try to be one step ahead and take risks. Back in the days when HolidayPirates was founded in 2011, we were among the first companies in the travel sector to use Facebook as a deal-providing platform. Now, a couple of years later, we have almost 11 million fans and one of the biggest user bases in the tourism industry. We always strive to be the vanguard to explore and utilize certain tools and platforms.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
David Armstrong: Like every tourism company these days, we saw a severe decrease in our traffic and revenue. Still, times are getting better by now, and the bookings and sales are slowly rising again. Speaking of numbers, we can say that we reached 50% of our TTV in the first half-year compared to last year. This is quite good if we look at other big players who just stated that they were more than 90% behind last year’s sales.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
David Armstrong: Fortunately, we didn’t have to make difficult decisions – we didn’t need to lay anyone off due to COVID-19. We learned that we’re actually way better than we thought of working from home, so from now on, we changed our leading system from office to remote work. Our office space has become smaller and offers more space for meetings and collaboration than for strict computer work.
How do you Deal with Stress and Anxiety, how do you Project yourself and HolidayPirates in the Future?
David Armstrong: I love to take walks in the forest with my dog to deal with stress. For our company, I see good times lying ahead of us – people will never stop traveling, and we will always be there to offer them the best value for money deals. Our business model allows us to respond to changes in our ecosystem very flexibly and pivot if necessary.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
David Armstrong: We have quite a unique concept that hasn’t been copied much or by big players so far. We collaborate with almost every known brand in the travel industry and constantly grow our reach, but our travel experts always thrive for more. They search the internet for the best deals on the market and publish them after checking every detail. We are going to continue staying true to ourselves and being trustworthy sources for our users – that’s how we plan to stay in the game.
Your Final Thoughts
David Armstrong: Thank you very much for your time and the interview first of all. As for my last words, I’d like to spotlight how I think travel will change. In my opinion, people are going to be more conscientious about how they travel and diversify in terms of destinations much more than previously and enjoy the time and tourist attractions in their own country as well. It’s great to see how people discover places nearby and are amazed by it! Lastly, they will value overseas travel much more due to its cost and availability.
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