The fintech platform that promises happy campers

The fintech platform that promises happy campers

Change Roof

The rain insurance provider could discover many partners on the other side of the Atlantic as more brands and consumers warm to smart insurance add-ons.

Matthew Parsons

California-based technology company Sensible Weather is expanding from the US to Europe following a new partnership with Ireland’s Campsited.

The outdoor holiday specialist, which has its eyes on remote workers, now allows bookers to hedge against rainy weather in Europe. When Sensible Weather’s forecasting model identifies rain at the customer’s location, it automatically issues a refund based on the daily price of the booking, without the customer having to apply.

There seems to be plenty of consumer appetite for fintech add-ons. Anything that can take the stress out of travel planning is welcome, as Hopper (cancel for any reason) and more recently Google (flight refunds) are discovering.

Sensible Weather already works with Tentrr in the US, which said the number one reason campers are hesitant to commit to a camping trip is the possibility of rain. Now Nick Cavanaugh, Sensible Weather’s founder and CEO, is targeting multiple travel verticals in Europe as climate change continues to dominate the headlines.

Static approach

Cavanaugh founded Sensible Weather in late 2019, following roles as a climate data scientist and hedge fund analyst (weather derivatives are big business).

The pandemic hit, but the startup has grown since it ended. It raised $4 million in January 2022, and then $12 million in Series A in July 2022, including backing from travel investor Certares. It also received a Skift IDEA award along the way.

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Building the business also took a while, as it was necessary to build a cloud infrastructure that was fast and scalable enough to support a consumer product.

“To build into the point of sale, when someone books travel online, you essentially have to return a quote for a product or coverage in less than 500 milliseconds, which is a big challenge,” Cavanaugh said.

Working with Campsited on the Rainy Weather Guarantee marks Sensible’s Weather’s entry into new currencies. The UK appealed as its first international launch because of the English language factor. However, France (with French language support) comes next.

However, the range of travel partnerships it can look for is limited, as the end product ideally needs to be a specific location, where the weather is easier to predict, unlike a flight or car.

“We’re going into different verticals,” Cavanaugh said. “We’ve looked at cruising, but haven’t gone in that direction. Traveling vehicles are similar to cruises.” However, reasonable weather can offer its cover to cruise-goers on port excursions, because they are planned in advance and at a specific location, he added.

The more obvious partnerships are hotels, theme parks (which have “good entry prices”), ski tours and even vacation packages. “Anything that’s pre-ordered is a good target for us,” he said. “We structure our coverage based on forecasts. The reason we do it is that we find that the consumer experiences much better if people get a refund first.”

Cavanaugh noted that there are “strong synergies” with some of the travel brands in Certares’ portfolio, but said many of them are giant complex organizations. And for now, Hopper is not a partner. “I would love to have Hopper as a client,” he added. “They make a lot of embedded fintech products for consumers, and that could be a very good partner for us.”

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As weather patterns become increasingly erratic, Sensible Weather is likely to find many more travel brands willing to compensate guests for inclement weather.

“Climate change presents interesting obstacles and an interesting problem for consumers,” Cavanaugh said. “How this translates into partnerships remains to be seen.”

Disclosure: Skift CEO Rafat Ali is an investor in Weather Promise, a competitor to Sensible Weather.

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