XpresSpa Group ($XSPA) is the world’s largest provider of airport spa facilities and had to come up with a new market strategy as the coronavirus ravages the world. Where the share steadily increased at the beginning of this year, soon after the spread of the virus it became clear that the company had to change its business. Critics aloud wondered what the fate of this airport-based company would be and whether the stock would ever climb again. A few months later, as today XpresSpa is seen in almost every heatmap since the company is experiencing a lot of attention on social media, in well-known magazines and on various news channels.
The board of XpresSpa must have been worried for some time when large parts of the world went into a lockdown and many international airports got completely silent. The company saw how travellers stayed away and the corona measures made business difficult. The stock fell further and at one point got traded for less than $0.50 per share. With managing plenty of real estate at the airports, the company had the necessary fixed costs. They simply had to come up with a great solution.
This solution has come and it seems more promising than expected at first. Instead of perceiving the virus as a threat to their business, it now offers a big potential. A few months ago, XpresSpa came up with a business plan in which it wanted to transform its real estate into COVID-19 test centers. The company was immediately criticized, as the local airport authorities would never approve the plan. The reality now turns out to be different, because shortly after the announcement, the company concluded two important agreements with two of the largest airports in the United States. JFK International and Newark International began pilot programs to ensure passenger health before and after the flight.
Previously, this was done by different equipment and scans, as the COVID-19 tests simply took days for an acknowledged test result. Currently, the converted travel hubs of XpresSpa can determine in less than 15 minutes whether a traveller is infected with the virus or not. Visitors to the airport are enthusiastic, because most of them have enough time before a flight to take a test. In addition, the certainty and health safety at airports is increasing and the company can continue to pay their costs of all the real estate without any problems.
Since the company has already focused on the health, physical care and travel experience of its customers, setting up COVID-19 test centers is not a strange development. The virus is likely to be a long-term problem with an annual cycle, similar to a cold or flu. Consumers will continue to ask for testing locations and to look for reassurance about the virus. It’s a good feeling for people to know that they are boarding an airplane or leaving the airport in a healthy condition.
This market strategy has been operational for some months, so how is it possible that the stock only recently enjoys so much attention? Of course, a good market strategy has various ingredients that are necessary to make it successful. Although the strategy is labelled as promising by experts, it now appears that not all media were familiar with the development of XpresSpa. Only this week, several TV shows and big magazines such as “Time” are publishing about the potential success formula of the travel hubs that turned into COVID-19 test centers. It seems the company has forgotten to notify the world in full measure of its transformation.
At the moment it is known that the company wants to press ahead and plans to also offer its services to airline employees, contractors, concessionaires, TSA officials, US Customs and Border Protection agents and its own employees. In addition to the increasing number of travellers, this expansion will include a large potential market that applies to the biggest mundial event our world has known in many years.
Furthermore, XpresSpa is working closely with the New York and New Jersey port authorities to move the XpresCheck locations to other placements. The Company is having conversations with several US airports regarding the temporary conversion of existing COVID-19 test centers to XpresCheck test sites, with the main goal to increase the number of sites. Rumours say that new agreements will be announced soon with Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta Hartsfield. Finally, the company is in talks with state and federal governments to set up test protocols in multiple ways.
To date XpresSpa has raised $40 million, proving that the business is heading in the right direction. It seems that the stock is undervalued and thanks to the recent media attention it has now been noticed by the general public. It’s definitely interesting to see what else will be pulled out of their hat in the near future.
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