Having been honoured with a top title at the World Travel Awards Grand Final, Breaking Travel News here chats with Inna Vilenska, chief executive of Discover Cars, to find out more
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations on your victory at the World Travel Awards, with Discover Cars having taken the prestigious prize for World’s Leading Car Rental Booking Website. How does it feel to have won?
Inna Vilenska: It was an amazing Christmas gift and simply felt magical to receive such a prestigious award.
We all know that this year was really tough for the travel industry, so being awarded as the World’s Leading Car Rental Booking website at the end of 2020 was a sign that our hard work through the year had paid off.
And, of course, it is all thanks to our team, customers and partners.
BTN: How useful will the World Travel Awards accolade be in promoting the brand as we move into 2021?
IV: It will be a crucial part of our promotional efforts.
Winning at the World Travel Awards is an honour itself, but it will also provide an incredible opportunity for moving DiscoverCars.com forward.
There are markets we would like to enter or cover better, there are potential partners we would like to cooperate with, and there are definitely customers who still haven’t used our service and don’t know us — the impression we will make on each of these will be much stronger having been named World’s Leading Car Rental Booking Website.
Right now we are focusing on expanding our coverage of specific regions, partnering with new suppliers and sales channels, and increasing the number of the geographical breadth of our current suppliers.
At the same time, we are focusing on our product’s quality by making sure it corresponds to the current needs of our customers and creating as easy and pleasant a user experience as possible.
This has led us to recently increase our workforce by 15 per cent due to the expected increase in sales volume and to further invest in our product.
Being the World’s Leading Car Rental Booking Website adds another way to stand out of the other as a reputable and respectable employer, too.
We have always worked hard to promote our brand, but it will be a huge boost when you have an endorsement from an industry authority like the World Travel Awards.
BTN: What is it Discover Cars brings to the market? I understand the company has substantially grown its business-to-business offering of late – what can you tell me about that?
IV: We have indeed. When it all started, we served a few European destinations cooperating with several car rental suppliers.
Now we have suppliers all over the world and a vast network of partners that either promote us or use our platform for car rental bookings.
For example, we launched our affiliate program two years ago, and travel businesses of every size have since joined it.
Besides opening up new markets and providing more offers on our website, we are focused on the expansion of our business-to-business programs.
This includes partnering with online travel agencies, airlines, travel blogs, offline travel agencies, accommodation sites, mobile apps, and other travel-related businesses.
Having an attractive program and being seen as a reliable partner is crucial for this.
That’s why we’ve made sure our affiliate program includes: an attractive revenue sharing scheme, a long cookie lifetime (much longer than many others), performance analytics, attentive account managers, and flexible technical solutions — from plain links all the way to white label products and API integration.
Our affiliates earn €25 per booking, on average.
As an example, suppose your online travel agency receives 150,000 visitors a month and has great audience engagement — even if only 0.1 per cent of your visitors book a car with us via your affiliate link, that would be 150 bookings and €3,750 earned per month, which is a simple way to increase your revenue.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in the market this year – is there hope the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will allow the industry to recover ground lost during lockdown?
IV: I personally am a person who prefers to see the bright side of bad situations.
I wouldn’t use the word recover though.
Like others in the industry, we aim to build anew upon a foundation of trust, stability, security, and flexibility — both ours and that of the product offered.
When airports closed, we added city centre pick-up points which became incredibly popular.
Vaccines themselves won’t bring us bookings unless our product meets the needs of our customers. And the situation going forward will be that we all — customers, partners, and employees — will be involved in creating a new way of travel.
We are following the news along with the forecasts and opinions of other companies in the industry and expect a travel boom in the middle of the summer with a large demand for last-minute bookings.
As a booking platform, we must create a product that there is a demand for, and we can do that by adding different car delivery options, adding downtown locations, offering a variety of last-minute rentals, and having a flexible cancellation policy.
As an example of the latter, we are currently working internally to improve upon the industry-standard cancellation policy (up to 48 hours prior to pick-up) to offer customers the ability to cancel at the very last minute and still receive a full refund.
We also must take into consideration our rental suppliers.
Some of them, unfortunately, didn’t make it through the pandemic, while others have serious fleet problems.
Finding the proper balance between supply and demand will actually be the greatest challenge for those that are still operating.
In a normal year, rental companies would currently be adding to their fleet to prepare for the upcoming summer.
However, it is currently difficult to predict demand, and increasing the size of their fleet entails a substantial risk for rental companies.
So we may see unfortunate situations where there is either demand outpaces supply or there are not enough vehicles to meet the demand.
It is my sincere hope that these situations won’t arise, everyone will remain healthy, and that we will all be able to create beautiful memories through travel again soon.
Discover Cars is a leader in online car rental reservations; they compare car rental deals from many companies so that travellers can choose which is best for them.
Find out more on the official website.