Vitality Travel by Discovery Bank is a new integrated travel booking platform that will go live for all banking customers on 22 March 2022 – EDIT: The platform is live today, as of 15 March due to Comair being grounded. The platform will initially only be available via the website through the banking platform once customers are logged in and will not be on the app. The idea for the travel platform was conceptualised in 2021 and being a digital bank, it was easier to integrate into its existing architecture.

Customers can expect huge discounts tied to their Vitality status, which can be used for all booking on the platform. It includes flights, accommodation, car hire and prepackages holidays with local and international partners, all payable with a Discovery Bank account, or via rewards earned from managing health and money.

At the media launch event in Cape Town on 10 March, Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender said the company launched its travel benefits 20 years ago, with over millions of flights booked. “We’re making that better tonight. If you’re a Discovery Bank client, you’re going to be able to access Vitality Travel.”

Essentially, your “healthy” behaviour from Vitality money will allow you to travel more and take advantage of the discounts offered.

Akash Dowra, head of client insights at Discovery Bank shared stats from their existing travel benefits to highlight how much customers love travel. He said in 2019, they were the biggest travel agency in the country due to over a million flights and over 70 000 room nights were booked in the year.

How does it differ from Vitality Health?

“With Discovery Health, we could give you 35% off flights but with Discovery Bank, we can boost that to between 10% to 75% of local and international flights; 25% of over 1000 hotels, B&Bs and apartments and 25% off car hire,” says Dowra. “What that gives you is really deep discounts that I don’t think you’ll find anywhere in South Africa.”

The platform has expanded its flight partners from BA and kulula to include Airlink, Safair and Lift, as well as the ability to search other airlines to compare prices even though you may not necessarily get a discount with them.

How many bookings can you make?

Discovery Bank customers can book up to 6 one way flights per year locally (Airlink, BA, kulula, Safair, Lift) and up to two international flights (Emirates, Qantas, BA) per year and get between 10-75% off the booking. There does not appear to be a restriction on accommodation, with access to 25% off from brands like One&Only, Tsogo Sun, Protea Hotels, aha Hotels & Lodges; and 25% off unlimited car hire from Europcar and Tempest. Coming soon is the option to book prepackaged holidays at a 15% discount from Beachcomber Tours, World Leisure Holidays, Contiki, Royal Caribbean, and Globus.

Here are some examples of discounts that were shared by Discovery Bank from the platform that will be available on 22 March – EDIT: 15 March. The platform is live due to Comair being grounded.

The way I understand the allowance is that you can book your two international flights per year as an account holder for you and a plus 1 but if you want to go on a bigger family holiday, you make use of the packed deals shown above, at the 15% discounted rate. More information will be available once it goes live.

What are the additional benefits as a Discovery Bank customer?

Customers with black or purple cards get access to over 1200 lounges around the world and fast track at airport security locally (I’m sure you’ve seen these separate sections at Joburg and Cape Town airports already). There will also be 24/7 concierge service in a time where anything can be changed or cancelled. The concierge is also for when you need help or assistance – I asked about a call centre and this was the reply I was given; you use the concierge.

What are the Vitality Travel exclusive platform benefits?

  • Customers can compare rates across the market with full access to all airlines on the platform. The five local airlines will allow bookings to 40 local and regional destinations; plus you get 2 international flights. In terms of accommodation, it will include not just hotels but one of a kind game lodges, apartments, and exclusive holiday deals.
  • Fast-track; airport lounges; 24/7 concierge
  • If you have Discovery Bank Forex account, you can save and pay for holidays with multiple currencies.
  • Trip management to view your flights, accommodation and car hire in one place and make changes where necessary. A digital vault will let you store important documents safely and securely (coming soon).
  • Free travel insurance and buy-up additional cover for international flights (coming soon).
  • Book vaccinations and request international medical travel benefit docs (coming soon).

All of this is built on the Discovery Bank architecture, so it’s completely safe, secure and a seamless process from booking to payment, which works through your Discovery Bank account, says Dowra.

Can I benefit as Discovery Health medical aid customer?

Both Dinesh and Akash tells Wired to the Web that Discovery created a free banking product called “Discovery Pay” for any of their existing customers to use, in order to access Vitality Travel, complete with a virtual card. So you can be an insurance or medical aid customer, etc. and sign up for Discovery Pay to access the Vitality Travel platform. But banking customers can leverage their reward tier status to get further discounts of up to 75% off bookings. Important to note though, this product will only be available in the “next couple of months.”

If I join Discovery Bank, what are my immediate benefits?

Last year I also joined Discovery Bank to test Apple Pay when it launched in South Africa because my bank didn’t have the feature. As an account holder, I can get 10% off discount on Vitality Travel, this is before I work on getting a higher tier status.