Luxury Escapes is a platform that acts as a virtual travel agent. It takes care of many aspects of vacation planning, including: discovering new locations; booking flights, hotels, and rental vehicles; and organizing travel insurance, tours, and excursions. In early 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, Luxury Escapes experienced a wave of cancellations and date changes and a drop in conversions.
Recognizing that customers were hesitant to pay thousands of dollars up front with so much uncertainty over travel, the team searched for ways to adapt the Luxury Escapes business model to better meet its customers’ needs. “When the pandemic happened, it became an opportunity to invest in improving our business model and building better travel products for our customers,” says Robert Preswick, director of product management at Luxury Escapes.
To help support its global ambitions, Luxury Escapes looked for a payment provider that could easily manage flexible installment payments and issue refunds in the event of travel interruption or if customers changed their travel dates, giving people more control and peace of mind over their bookings. The team also wanted a solution that could provide integrated fraud protection across regions, with automated payment processes to augment in-house development teams.
With a focus on creating a solution that helped customers feel more comfortable booking travel during an uncertain time, Luxury Escapes integrated Stripe Billing into its financial infrastructure. Billing supports recurring business models, allowing Luxury Escapes to accept deposit payments and installments so customers can book trips with less immediate commitment.
Luxury Escapes ran an A/B test on these new payment options. Customers in the experimental group were given the option to pay a 50% deposit, while the control group had to pay the full amount upon booking. The test showed an increase in both conversion rates and average order value from customers who opted to pay a 50% deposit rather than 100% up front.
Luxury Escapes also relies on Stripe Payments for the majority of online transactions via its website, apps, and call center, including cancellations and partial refunds. Payments automatically passes metadata through to Stripe Radar to detect and protect against fraud. Radar, which trains on hundreds of billions of data points across Stripe’s vast network to gauge risk and automatically block high-risk payments, helps safeguard both Luxury Escapes and its customers.
Each of these Stripe solutions offered the automated payments capabilities Luxury Escapes wanted to help reduce its teams’ manual workload and drive efficiency gains across the organization.
Luxury Escapes’ Stripe stack powers a self-service system where customers are in charge of their own bookings. This maximizes conversions, prevents fraud before it happens, and reduces pressure on the company’s in-house team.
20% increase in conversions at launch and 10%–15% increase in average order value
Luxury Escapes’ A/B test with Stripe Billing demonstrated a simple way to resolve a significant customer pain point. By offering more flexible payment options, Luxury Escapes saw a 20% increase in conversion rates for customers who paid a deposit. Additionally, average order value also increased by 10% as people were more likely to both reserve a room and choose an upgraded room.
Preswick also largely attributes the boost in checkout page conversions to Stripe’s differentiated error messages. In the event of a failed payment, Stripe can surface relevant messages and recommend a specific action to help customers complete their orders. For example, if customers try to book a flight but they are over their card limit, the Luxury Escapes platform can automatically suggest installment payments instead. “Typically that would result in an abandoned cart, but with these error messages, we can help people complete their purchase and ultimately improve conversion,” says Preswick.
Radar Rules and 3DS offers proactive fraud protection
Radar for Fraud Teams has empowered Luxury Escapes to automate and heavily mitigate fraud on its platform, freeing up technical and development resources to focus on building new products and features. Since Radar is already built into all Stripe products, the company was able to easily implement more fraud features, such as Radar Rules and 3D Secure (3DS) integration.
“Since fraudsters are always evolving and innovating, it’s important that we are able to react quickly and be proactive where we can be,” Preswick says. “With Radar Rules and 3DS, we can block, review, and allow payments based on predefined criteria, significantly reducing fraud on our platform.”
Self-service platform reduces quarterly call volume by hundreds of hours
Stripe’s ease of use and end-to-end integration enabled Luxury Escapes to create a fully self-service platform where customers can change their own dates, initiate refunds, upgrade their trips, and more. Now that the majority of travelers are opting to self-manage their trips, call volume has decreased by as low as 40% and call wait times are shorter, creating a better, faster customer experience across touchpoints.
There are a lot of strong payment providers available on the market, but we chose Stripe because it makes everything really easy. With Radar, I don’t have to explain complex fraud rules or wait for a development cycle—we can just add a rule to the metadata, and it’s done.