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Trivago’s CFO is preparing for travel to reach pre-pandemic levels by spring

November 2, 2021, 10:27 AM UTC

Good morning,

When I first talked with Trivago CFO Matthias Tillmann earlier this year, he told me the Dusseldorf, Germany-based company was emerging from a “long and very difficult” winter in Europe. The global hotel and accommodation search platform released its third-quarter 2021 earnings on Monday, showing some signs of travel recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Compared to last year, it’s further improvement that makes us optimistic that winter in Europe won’t be as tough as last year,” Tillmann told me. “Fingers crossed as the number of [COVID-19] cases are rising in Europe again. But, so far, it seems like we’re doing okay.” A lot of people booked travel closer to summer this year, he said. “So, the good news is that people traveled and they used as our platform as well to find an accommodation,” Tillmann said. That was “the big positive this quarter and, for sure, a key driver for the strong profit as well,” he noted.

For Q3, the company’s revenue increased about 129% to 139 million euros ($161 million) compared to 61 million euros ($70 million) the same time in 2020. Trivago had net income of 5.53 million euros ($6.42 million) in comparison to a loss 2.31 million euros ($2.68 million) the same period last year. However, 2021 business levels continue to be significantly below 2019 levels. The pandemic had “a drastic and unprecedented impact on our operating results starting in 2020, resulting in a 76% decline in Referral Revenue in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019,” according to the report. On Monday morning, Trivago, which trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker TRVG, traded up slightly on the Q3 results but remains at $2.64, below its 52-week high ($5.88) reached on January 27.

“In the Americas, we saw, at the beginning of Q3, further improvement,” Tillmann explained. “Then towards the end of August and September, it was a bit slower. But now in October, it ramped up again, and we saw nice demand in the U.S.” He continued, “On the flip side, in most of our Asian countries, but also in Australia and New Zealand, Q3 was difficult,” Tillmann says. “There, we haven’t seen much progress. It’s really going slow.”

Trivago does not expect a full rebound in travel over winter as there’s “uncertainty about the development of the pandemic in the Northern hemisphere over the coming months,” according to its letter to shareholders. But in the spring and early summer of 2022, the company expects travel demand and behavior to approach pre-pandemic levels in the Americas and Europe.

How is the Trivago preparing for the 2022 upswing? “What is important for the summer period is to have a highly efficient brand marketing campaign,” Tillmann says. “We usually use the winter to test different concepts, in particular, for TV advertisement. And that’s why it’s very positive that we do see an increase in volumes right now in the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico because we can use those countries to test our new creatives and to optimize for what we want to do in Europe in the summer.” On the product side, “we’ve spent a lot of time and money this year to invest into our local travel product Trivago Weekend,” he says.

Any vacations planned? “I want to go on a skiing vacation this winter, but my wife wants to go somewhere that’s sunny. We haven’t booked anything yet,” he says. “I haven’t taken too many holidays this year given everything that’s going on here at the company. So, I’m certainly looking forward to spending some time off at the end of the year.”


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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