Well, where do we begin?
2020 has been a melting pot of emotions, challenges, successes, setbacks, progress, and everything in between.
To say it’s been a rollercoaster year is a little bit of an understatement. Lockdowns, curfews, furlough, 1000’s of Zooms, postponements, cancellations, refunds, remote working, self-isolation, new rules, more new rules – ignore those rules and follow these even newer rules. Like no other period in our lifetime we’ve had to become more resilient, more patient and more understanding than ever. Not to mention, our industry in particular has been completely turned upside down and is still facing ongoing travel restrictions. Let’s not beat around the bush… it’s been a mess!
However, you only need to scan through people’s social media feeds to see there has also been a shift in people’s mindset. Although we cannot underestimate the upset and upheaval the pandemic has brought to millions of people across the globe, there have also been many positives to take from the situation. Also like no other period in our lifetime, the sense of community, support, empathy, kind-heartedness and humanity has been mind blowing. The shift in people’s approach to work life balance is also a promising and positive culture change. COVID has forced us to think differently, both in business and in our personal lives, especially as people have had time to reflect on what really matters to them. From a business perspective, we are avid promoters of these positive changes.
Continuing on the positive note, once again when we finally sat down to review the events of our previous 12 months, as challenging as it has been, we were pleasantly surprised with our progress. Without further ado here is our 2020 roundup…
As featured in Skift’s weekly round-up of travel startups investments, it was a significant step forward when we secured our first seed round of investment. Although the cash injection has funded a number of successful developments this year, bringing both Frank Martin and Chris Harrison on board as part of our growing team has really helped to enhance all aspects of the business. Our plans to raise a further Series A round this year were justifiably put on hold and will be reignited as we move into 2021, however, utilising 2020 to build closer working relationships with our new business partners has been nothing but beneficial, and we are very much looking forward to building on these newly found foundations.
Read the full announcement here.
UK Head Office
Setting up and moving our main operations to the UK has always been part of Privadia’s longer term expansion plans. As we now move into multiple destinations across Europe and have quickly become a 12 months a year business, the seasonal mindset ingrained in Ibiza’s culture now plays a different part in our overall endeavors.
Make no mistake, Ibiza still remains our flagship destination and it will always feel like the heartbeat to our brand and operation – over a third of our team are still based there.
But in order to serve customers across multiple time zones, different seasons in the year and currently in five different countries, it was time to step things up and build out our HQ operations from a new, larger and more centralised UK head office.
Situated in the picturesque village of Ribchester based in the heart of the Ribble Valley, we moved into our new home back in August, just as the UK’s second lockdown kicked in. Not ideal by any means, but at the same time has encouraged a more flexible approach to our working conditions. Combining flexible furlough and the transition across different lockdown tiers has created a more fluid, yet still a highly productive working environment. Our new home has become more of a basecamp space where our team members have come and gone as the rules and their own preferences have permitted.
In any event, moving into our new space has been a significant step forward in our overall expansion plans and we’re sure we’ll continue to settle in even further as we move into 2021.
Probably one of our biggest and most significant achievements in 2020 was the launch of 5 new destinations, and in particular the launch of a completely new market – Ski. Formentera and Mykonos (read more on that here) saw further luxury villas being added to our portfolio, but the listing of some of the world’s most exclusive Ski chalets in France, Switzerland and Austria is what signposts Privadia’s largest step towards our European wide plans.
Within the next two weeks, 41 Ski chalets across Europe’s most exclusive Ski resorts will be readily available for our Travel Partners to book. We are extremely proud to be working alongside some amazing property owners in resorts such as Verbier, Zermatt, Courchevel, Chamonix, Megeve, Kitzbuhel, Lech and St Anton to name a few. The standard of these properties really is second to none and takes the premium aspect of Privadia’s offering to a whole new level.
Keep your eyes peeled for the full announcement on this over the forthcoming days.
New Travel Partners
As we continue to expand our portfolio into new destinations and markets, our offering is becoming more and more appealing to a wider range of Travel Partners. Mallorca for example attracts a large number of avid cyclists and golfers, meaning our partnership with sports related travel brands has become more prevalent. The same principle applies to the Ski market.
This year has seen our global partner network grow by over 30%, providing our property owners with an even wider and more diverse reach. The definition of ‘luxury travel’ is evolving all the time, and in more recent years has shifted more towards unique one-off experiences rather than glitzy gold taps and helicopter pads. From HNWI PAs through to the largest luxury travel agents in the world, our ever growing mix of Travel Partners is what makes up part of our USP, so it’s very satisfying to see us form new working relationships with all kinds of new and unique companies.
As well as our growing portfolio and our extended Travel Partner network, we are always keen to form new working partnerships with like minded, complimentary brands. Take our newly formed partnership with THIRDHOME as a prime example, providing our property owners with a creative, unique and non-conflicting way to maximise the potential of their property’s calendar.
Amongst others, our initiative with Invoked Media was another valuable partnership that was formed this year, where we set out at a time in need to provide free, no obligation marketing support for our Travel Partners. Many of our partners took advantage of this free service, providing them with a full marketing health check and a professionally produced custom campaign. A special thanks to Jack and the Invoke team on this one as this really helped out many of our partners.
Privadia wouldn’t be Privadia without further platform updates. As a tech based business which is continuously working on new and innovative tools for our Owner and Travel Partners, even under the pressures of COVID in 2020, we still had to find ways to keep evolving.
Due to enforced downtime, last year also provided an opportunity to work through some of the lower level priorities. With more time on our hands for testing and to provide feedback to our tech team, we’ve managed to implement some key back office improvements, particularly in preparation for further scalability into more destinations.
New and improved tools for onboarding properties, multi-currency rates, improved location search, flexible booking terms, additional iCal options, and a more streamlined back office booking process are just a few of last year’s developments.
Our year in numbers
2020 was such an anomaly when it comes to bookings and revenues – any trends that have been shaping over previous years were certainly skewed. But, surprisingly, although COVID most definitely had an impact, we only saw a notable dip in March, April and May. January and February (Pre COVID) actually showed a 29% increase in revenue – a great start to the year! And luckily, due to a surge in post-lockdown bookings in June, July and August, the average across the year held up well vs 2019.
Our length of stay increased too, showing a 19% increase in bookings for 8 nights or more. The medium to longer term stays became more popular as people were keen to get away from busy, high risk city centre living, as well as an upward trend in people combining holidays with remote working.
Our property portfolio increased by over 35% due to new listings in Formentera, Mykonos, France, Austria and Switzerland. And, as mentioned above, our Travel Partner network also increased by 32%.
Finally, but most importantly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our property owners, travel partners, clients and associates for their unbelievable support in 2020. The whole industry has really come together and has given us a true sense of belonging. Hopefully we have managed to spread a little bit of faith and positivity too.
The pandemic certainly isn’t over yet, but we are most definitely making progress. And, if the sheer determination and strength shown in 2020 is anything to go by, 2021 will really struggle to keep us down.
Onwards and upwards!
The Privadia team! X