Innovating in the travel sector in times of pandemic

01 Aug 2022

The COVID 19 pandemic was a time that made us restructure our lifestyle. The same happened to companies, which had to find ways to reinvent themselves to stay in business, and this is where the ability to transform and innovate played a key role.Among the most affected industries was tourism, which was paralyzed for several months, but the organizations that took advantage of this time to adapt their products and services were the ones that finally managed to succeed.

Codurance and webbeds teams shared their insights and lessons learned on how they addressed the challenges that COVID 19 generated for the travel industry, and how innovation was a key aspect in overcoming them.

Participating in the session were José Enrique Rodríguez Huerta, Managing Director of Codurance Spain, Constantin Puscasu, Head of Development at WebBeds, and Gabriel Perez, Head of Engineering at WebBeds. 


WebBeds, client of Codurance, is the world's second largest and fastest growing B2B travel intermediary with 50 offices located in 30 countries. One of the key aspects of their business is the high volume of searches and requests they receive. Today they process around 4 billion requests across all their systems. Because they sell worldwide, their systems cannot go down at any time, so all changes must be made while the service is online.

Before the pandemic, the WebBeds team was focused on being able to cope with the increased size of searches and how to continue to grow. Then, when COVID 19 hit, in a matter of days approximately 90% of their operations went down, that's when the focus shifted to how to reduce costs and optimize systems.

Some of the main challenges faced during the crisis:

  • Domestic travel. Prior to the crisis, the focus was on international travel, which was the core of the business, but during the pandemic this changed and most operations shifted to domestic travel. People preferred to travel locally, where they knew the laws and restrictions of their own government. 
  • Informed users. Before COVID, not many users made an effort to optimize their searches, but when the crisis hit, people were more willing to refine their queries to get the right product and be prepared for the unknown. 

management of the company. Confusion about the actual magnitude and duration of the crisis created concern among both users and development teams. The issue revolved around being able to scale up and down to meet the fluctuations in requests and searches due to the constant legal adjustments related to travel. There were many people willing to travel, but the rules on restrictions and lockdowns could change at any time.

One thing then became clear: it was necessary to have flexibility in the systems to cope with sudden changes in requests and queries. Looking for options to support this situation, they found that spot instances were a good solution. This is unused hardware that is sold at heavily discounted prices. The problem with this solution was the lack of stability and the diversity of instances that existed, and this is where the company took a major leap:

"We made an innovation to deal with the diversity of instances and send the right number of requests to each one. So we increased the flexibility of the systems and were able to use any instance at any time. That allowed us to scale the platform up or down as we wanted and reduce production costs."

Gabriel Perez, Head of Engineering at WebBeds. 

How this adoption of technology has changed their way of working

  • Being in the cloud has increased their ability to experiment, which has contributed to improving their time to market. 
  • Thanks to the analysis of real data, through quick tests, there is more certainty around whether an instance is of real value to users or not.
  • They have implemented a new mindset that emphasizes simplicity and clarity, which has enabled them to reduce costs by 50% to 70% across all their platforms. 

The pandemic crisis provided a space to evolve in different directions. For many years we were only concerned about growth and now we could focused on optimization. As tourism is constantly changing, we thought about the flexibility we needed and how to provide it to our systems. Although we had several challenges, it was a good opportunity for the teams to learn new skills and develop a different way of working.

- Constantin Puscasu, Head of Development at WebBeds

Factors that led to success

  • Confidence in our team and their skills, embracing the exchange of ideas and experimentation. 
  • A change of mentality on how to face problems. Not assuming that everything already existed, but being aware that we can always innovate and create new things. 
  • Focus and relevance in data analysis. Data enables better decision-making, shortens feedback loops, and unifies information across teams.

Lessons and recommendations for the future

  • It is important to have a level of automation that can bear the weight of all the changes during a crisis.
  • It is important to have a level of automation that can bear the weight of all the changes during a crisis.
  • Be open to experimentation. It is not always necessary to follow manuals and specific ways of acting just because they are stipulated. Not all organizations operate in the same way, nor do they have the same culture, and there is room to do things differently. Focus on your particularities and your results. 
  • Be open to learning and be persistent. Try again until you get what you are looking for.
  • Be pragmatic, if something doesn't work you can change it and evolve it to something else. 

We are proud to continue on this path of improvement and growth together with WebBeds, contributing our knowledge and offering support in their project. Thanks to Constantin and Gabriel for joining us in this meeting and sharing their experience.