Travel software company eyes growth despite half-year loss

Travel software company Serko says demand for business travel is far from over and the New Zealand market is close to 80 percent recovered from the effects of Covid-19.

Businessman and businesswoman traveler with luggage at city background, Business People Commuter Walking City Life Concept.

Opportunities in Australia and North America are on a travel software company’s radar.
Photo: 123RF

Serko reported a $10 million loss for the six months to September and operating revenue shrunk to a third of what it was last year following a 77 percent decrease in travel bookings.

It burned about $1.8m a month during the period to stay afloat but at the same time raised $67.5m through a share issue, so as to be ready when business rebounded.

Chief executive Darrin Grafton said there would always be a demand for business travel.

“Although we have fantastic technology out there that can actually enable meetings face-to-face … the money saved goes elsewhere.

“It always rebalances and the money that’s saved gets reinvested into growth and new opportunities which normally have a backbone of travel.”

Grafton said the focus for the company was retaining and growing the market in Australia, but also making sure North America was ready to go.

“We’re now moving through to the phases of rolling out to the full global market with booking and bringing on new business customers to that platform so for us it’s making sure that we’re building the technology ahead of the curve, getting ready for that recovery and investing into that future.”

Serko was also picking out some larger North American accounts, including negotiations with a Fortune 500 company.

“We’ve hired over 40 people in the last six weeks, with more to go. We’ve definitely got more demand on our technology team than we have capacity at the moment.”

Grafton said the company predicted global volumes to be between 40 to 70 percent of pre-Covid capacity by March 2021, but that had been made on the assumption of no vaccine.

“So you start to get a little more buoyant, as the market is doing, when you start to see that travel goes through these hype-cycles as soon as lockdowns recover and there’s a vaccine with a 90 percent success rate.

“I feel pretty confident that we’ve positioned for a progressive recovery through to 2023-2024.”

The company also confirmed its chief financial officer Susan Putt would step down before May next year. Recruitment for a new CFO would begin shortly.

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