The Pluto first quarter 2020 update
We wanted to give an update on what we've been up to at Pluto HQ in the first 3 months of 2020. We thought previous months and quarters kept us on our toes, but none have tested us like the last few months and undoubtedly will continue to test us over the next quarter!
Summary and highlights
Important things that have happened in the last 3 months:
- In response to the Coronavirus crisis, we've made a number of tactical moves, but we're not going into hibernation, more on this in "Responding to Coronavirus" section below.
- Before Coronavirus started to impact the business, we achieved some very strong growth. With 180% increase in policies sold and new customers compared with the last quarter.
- We hit an incredible milestone, with over £100k of policies sold.
- We refined and validated the Pluto Pinboard proposition through extensive customer research, allowing us to clearly define the first release.
- We announced two new partnerships with travel startups WeSki and Be right back.
- We've been working on some important brand updates with the objective of establishing ourselves firmly as a travel brand.
- We launched Bring travel home, a new content series to keep travel alive and allow people to experience new cultures from their living rooms.
So, what's next for Pluto?
- Continue to closely monitor the situation and only resume normal growth and marketing activities when things are returning to normal.
- Support the Pluto team to ensure they're adapting to the new working situation and taking care of their wellbeing.
- Launch an early version of Pluto Pinboard to our existing customers and some early adopters.
- Roll out some of our new branding updates across our website and social channels.
- Stay well connected with all our existing and some new partnerships to help them be in the best possible position for when things return to normal.
Responding to Coronavirus
You can see much more information about how we've responded to Coronavirus as a business here. A few key points from that update :
- With travel banned for the foreseeable future and lots of financial instability, we must extend our runway by a further 3-6 months.
- We will continue to provide the best possible customer service to our customers who are in difficult and stressful situations, this is an area we pride ourselves on.
- We intend to not hibernate the business. We are slowing some areas, such as product development and have stopped all spend relating to growth and marketing.
- We'll continue to develop Pluto's Pinboard, mentioned above, although the launch may be delayed, we couldn't be more confident in this tool for all travellers post-Coronavirus.
We talked about some of the important new hires we made in the last quarter. All of these team members have now joined Pluto full time and are up and running. Check them out here.
The wellbeing of our team couldn't be more important right now. And, these are not only challenging times for us as a business, but for all of us as human beings. We've never experienced a lockdown with endless months of forced working from home.
This Tweet sums it all up quite nicely:
As a result, we're doing a few things to support our team wherever we can and importantly just acknowledge that the working day is different now. We're really grateful for their ongoing support and understanding.
The main product focus area for us over the past few months (and the next few too) is the development of our travel planning tool, Pluto Pinboard. We've been continually speaking to customers and people within our target audience to ensure the product we're designing meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. Development work is underway and we're aiming for a June launch. Although we'll be flexible to ensure it's an appropriate time to launch given the current travel environment.
We're working on our next hero feature for our travel insurance - a free lounge pass or cash when your flight's delayed - which we'll release later this year. We've been experiencing an understandably higher number of claims, and our customer support channels have been busy, but this has given us the opportunity to exceed expectations in supporting customers through these trying times.
At Pluto, we continue to pride ourselves on providing the best possible customer service and satisfaction. Our Trustpilot page is the best reflection of what our customers have to say about us. Here are a few of our favourite reviews recently.
Before the crisis, growth was extremely strong and we were performing very well towards our main growth objectives. When the crisis started to impact the UK and travel restrictions started there was a short positive impact, where people without insurance wanted to protect their trips, and then there was a sharp drop, where now almost no one is travelling and hence no one needs to buy travel insurance.
The impact from Coronavirus is best illustrated through our cumulative sales graph:
Last 3 months (January - March)
- Total gross written premium: £65,430, a 180% increase from the previous period (£22,912)
- Policies sold: 1,583, a 180% increase from the previous period (564) And, around 38% average month on month growth for policies sold, despite the significant drop off in March
- New customers: 1,321, a 187% increase from the previous period (461)
- Over 50% of our customers download and login to our mobile app after buying their policy
- Our referral rate, where a customer buys because another customer referred them, climbed to 19%
Cumulative sales to the end of March 2020
- 2,459 customers
- £111,000 GWP
- 2,867 policies
This meant, we hit an incredible milestone, of selling over £100k worth of policies since we launched.
Direct to consumer marketing updates
As our Growth Marketer, Ben Jones, got up to speed after joining the team in January, we saw excellent progress with our D2C marketing. This was reflected in a 55% reduction in paid customer acquisition cost between January and March. This improvement was driven by optimising our funnel setup, audience targeting, and creatives. With the disruption caused by Coronavirus, our paid marketing has been paused, as it's primarily acquisition focused. We will pick this up again as part of our bounce back plan.
Our D2C marketing is now driven by developing and promoting high-quality travel content - Bring travel home.
Some new and also improved partnerships from the last 3 months:
- Be right back - an online-only travel subscription service (new)
- WeSki - an online-only winter sports travel company (new)
- Various other online travel and ex-pat groups (new)
- LuckyTrip - an online-only travel discovery and booking service, we've made some enhancements to our existing partnership (improved)
In general Pluto remains in a good financial position. That said, there are a number of immediate corrective actions we've taken as a business to extend our runway and to weather the storm.
It's hard to know how long this crisis will last and what the final impact will be on the fundraising environment. But, depending on how things pan out over the next few months, we will still likely look to raise funds in 2020.