Our job essentially comes down to unburdening, and ease of payment is essential to that as well.

Anyone who hears the name 'Sunweb' may automatically think of sun vacations and not necessarily think of ease of payment. And yet the latter is essential, because the travel organization's statistics show that a lot of customers drop out if the payment system gets stuck in the final stage. Since this must be avoided at all times, Sunweb Group joined forces with strategic payment partner Buckaroo.


Sunweb post-corona

It's busy at Sunweb, because people are booking plenty trips again. While it has never not been busy, during corona the hustle consisted mainly of rebooking, canceling, sending out crisis communications and so on. "We can indeed enjoy the current busyness a lot more," laughs Tim Van den Bergh, Sun & Beach Holidays owner of Sunweb, which means he is responsible for the teams that manage the international sun vacations (and Winter Tomorrowland).

"People want to get out again and we like to guide them in that as best as we can. Our job essentially comes down to unburdening, and ease of payment is also inseparably linked to that. We took advantage of the lockdowns to optimize our platform when the store had to close irrevocably. In fact, in the corona year we made the biggest IT investment."

"In fact, in the corona year we made the biggest IT investment."


— Tim Van den Bergh, Sun & Beach Holidays owner of Sunweb

Smaller dropout rates

"We were working on that and when we got to the conversion part, we found that actually a lot of people who book a trip drop out in the last phase. We had known that for some time, thanks to research by Google and some external partners. We had already adapted and expanded our payment methods, but the problem remained, because frankly, we had underestimated it a bit."


"Only when we made the switch to another payment provider - Buckaroo - were we able to turn that tide. It had mainly to do with the interface, the way the systems communicate with each other and the speed with which payments can be made ... Suddenly the payment process radiated confidence and dropout rates have been reduced significantly. Often this involves simple interventions, such as consumers being able to literally see the payment methods they are familiar with on the payment page," Tim Van den Bergh continues.


"At the same time, it should not be noticeable that behind the user-friendly website often run very robust and complex software. Just like with lodging, our customer should be able to book their trip with us in three clicks and in full confidence. With the required flexibility, when it comes to rebooking a trip two weeks ahead of the departure date, for example. We have also completely automated that flow."

Credits to Alessandro Magia

"See, holidays may not be the biggest expense for people - that includes buying a home or a car - but it's still one of the most important expenses of the year. If customers can't make that payment in the utmost confidence, they will book their trip somewhere else. It's as simple as that. It is no coincidence that most dropout is in the markets where we are not active yet: consumers have less confidence in them."


"It's up to us to prove our added value. Is it because the customer has become more demanding? No, but since expectations have changed: much more is technologically possible nowadays, customers also expects to be served more adequately in terms of booking, payment, invoicing, follow-up, and so on. That should be clear to the consumer in every step. And if we can thereby improve our conversion rate by half a percent, we are already satisfied."

"If consumers cannot make their online payment in the utmost confidence, they will book their travel elsewhere."


— Tim Van den Bergh, Sun & Beach Holidays owner of Sunweb

Cultural fit between partners

However, ease of payment for consumers was not the only thing for Buckaroo to focus on: the new payment partner also had to align its systems with Sunwebs own processes, customer service, accounting packages and the channels of the various banks the travel organization works with. "If even one small link in that process fails or is missing, it would be disastrous for the entire payment process," Tim Van den Bergh explains.

"Even half a percent margin of error can mean a loss of millions for us in terms of sales."


— Tim Van den Bergh, Sun & Beach Holidays owner of Sunweb

"Often this involves very small interventions. For example when the actual payment takes place in a separate window, but the logo of say Bancontact is not recognized by the browser - because it looks a bit weird, it can already be a reason to drop out. With great consequences, since we register four million transactions a year, accounting for 1 billion annual sales - compared to 2019, we have doubled in volume, so business is doing good. As a result, even half a percent error rate can mean a loss of millions for us in terms of revenue."


"The fact that Buckaroo achieved a frictionless integration of its functionalities proves their great added value as a partner. Also important: they made the process as universal as possible, but also tailored where needed. After all, payment methods are not established the same way in all markets: for example, iDEAL is still very little used in Belgium, while it is already well integrated in other countries."

customization by market

In the search for a new payment provider, Buckaroo came out best on all fronts, and it has proven to be so in practice. Also since there is a cultural fit between the two companies, or better: partners. "That fit is vital because, on the first hand, we have to keep monitoring whether people's behavior has not changed post-corona," Van den Bergh explains.


"And secondly, e-commerce continues to evolve at high speed - also per country - and so waiting quietly is not an option. Also corona has obviously shaken up e-commerce completely and made it grow enormously. You really need a partner who thinks along, for example  about how you can continue to customize per market or how you can get value out of a particular trend."

Penetration of online bookings

"Every six months, we look at the market anyway and see if any trends stand out that we should go along with. Will Google Pay break through for example? That's a question we're asking ourselves these days and we definitely need to follow the adaptation of that. You may not be able to predict the answer to the Google Play question, but you should keep a non-stop eye on the development.


Another example: the penetration of online bookings in the Netherlands and Denmark is quite a bit higher than in Belgium, where bookings are still very often made through traditional travel agencies, although it is also moving more and more towards e-commerce. So we need to keep an eye on how this evolves in Belgium and respond accordingly. We hope that Buckaroo will continue to develop with us. We cannot look into the future of course, but we are very satisfied with the cooperation as far as we are concerned it can last for a long time." To put it in travel terms, the prospects are promising.

This case was written by and acquired from our partner Photo rights are reserved to Alessandro Magia.

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