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The New Normal – Sebastien Marchon

The COVID-19 pandemic will leave a lasting impact not just on our businesses, but also on our lives. The way we see the world right now is completely different from one month ago. Our companies’ strategic goals, work logistics, or plans for the future have had to change to adapt to The New Normal.

But… what will the “new normal” look like? How will our clients adapt to it? How will Rydoo adapt to it? To find some answers to these questions, we have interviewed not just some of our clients around the world, but also Rydoo’s CEO: Sebastien Marchon, the third guest of our new remote interview series: The New Normal.

Wondering who was the first guest of our remote interview series? Discover it here.

How is COVID-19 impacting your business operations?

”At Rydoo we have two activities: The Expense Management activity and the Travel Management activity. Our travel activity was heavily hit by the crisis: In the first week of March we experienced a business volume drop of around 20% and we are today around -90% in terms of travel business volume. Having said that, I think that compared to our direct competitors, we are less impacted. Because we have two business: Travel & Expense, and because we are selling a digital solution that is light to implement and boosts the costs selling. Due to this crisis, actually, many companies are now trying to accelerate their digitization and maximizing the cost reduction.”

How has the crisis impacted your strategic goals for the next quarters?

”When you go through such a crisis, properly managing your cash is key. We’ve worked very hard together with my team in order to optimize our costs structures and strengthen our cash flow position. But these are short term measures, in the long term, we are not really changing our strategic goals.”

How do you do that?

”You have to be very rigorous in terms of your financial processes in order to guarantee the sustainability of your business but also to help your suppliers, partners, and clients face the crisis. We are not necessarily billing earlier or shortening the payment terms, etc. We just make sure that we are paid on time and the same for us: We pay our suppliers/partners according to the payment terms.

One thing we have been cautious with, though, is the health of our clients. We serve 11,000 corporate clients today, worldwide. Some of them are small business so there is some risk for them and for us.”

Do you see opportunities for our industry?

”Yes, definitely, and before talking about the opportunities, we are going through a very tough period, so a lot of deep thoughts for the people that are impacted across the industry.

At Rydoo, we definitely consider that this crisis is a business opportunity for, at least, three reasons:

  • It will accelerate the digitization of the processes among the companies, and Rydoo, which offers an end-to-end fully digital experience on Travel & Expense, is ideally positioned. 
  • Companies need to cut their costs, and Rydoo, which offers a light platform, easy and quick to implement, and it’s much cheaper than our competitors’ solutions. We have a business model based on subscription not on booking fee.
  • Companies will need more control over travel, not only to limit the number of trips but also to be able to identify destinations and therefore travelers at risk when something happens. They will not be able to rely on B2C solutions, they will need to have in place a strong corporate tool that will allow the necessary control and reporting functionalities.

At Rydoo we are lucky to have a very solid shareholder, Sodexo, that supports us 200%. Even if we are impacted, we know that we will be successful and we’ll manage to go through this crisis.”

How will business travel change?

”First of all, I hope there will be a new normal because our planet needs it. We can’t continue traveling the same way and all the industries, including the travel-tech one, need to make efforts to limit the CO2 emitions and this is a collective effort: It should come from governments, companies, communities, and also individuals. We are all responsible. 

The crisis has actually proven that many of our meetings could be done through video conference. I hope that in the frame of this new normal, we will change our habits and think twice before deciding to travel.

I am not saying that we should stop traveling because I really think a trip, a physical meeting, brings a lot of value. In many cases it’s necessary, we just need to be wiser and replace the ones that can be replaced by other ways of connection.”

What is your challenge?

”My challenge is to equip all these companies that are not equipped today. There is still 80% of companies in Europe, for example, that use Excel in order to process their expenses and go to a public website to book their flights.

My challenge is not to maximize the number of trips and push my clients to travel more, but my growth opportunity is among all these companies that are not equipped.

By equipping these companies I will be successful.”

Do you expect a lot of domestic travel at first?

”Absolutely, I think it makes sense that travel will start again by domestic trips because it’s safer, quicker and less expensive for companies. Then, it will move to continental, and, finally, intercontinental trips will start again. But It will take time, I don’t expect a strong recovery before the next calendar year. 

It’s a long process and I don’t expect the level of travel to come back to what it used to be, before a year.”

Is it going to change how you organize business travel within Rydoo?

”Yes, actually I would like to be among the first to change the way we work at Rydoo. This is what we promote externally so we need to start with ourselves. Internally, I expect more virtual meetings.

Before deciding to travel, there is another aspect that we have not covered yet in this discussion: The health of our employees. It will remain our number one priority. We have decided to implement remote work for 100% of our employees before the government decided the lockdown. The health of our employees and their relatives come first.

We will definitely adapt our way of traveling to protect our planet and our people. I don’t want to send my employees to a destination that it’s at risk. I want to limit as much as we can travel within Rydo. 

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