Some travellers just want a flight and a hotel room. Others want a complete travel experience. House of Travel was a household name in New Zealand, having operated there for 20 years, before entering the Australian market in 2007. At the time, the company saw an opportunity to differentiate itself in the travel booking marketplace by catering to more discerning travellers.
The result was TravelManagers, an online company that assigns locally based Personal Travel Managers (PTMs) to customers.
In December 2007, the company had 50 home-based PTMs. Today, TravelManagers has nearly 500 PTMs and this huge 10-fold growth has brought with it a range of travel inventory, pricing, accounting process and client documentation challenges. This has required a robust, automated and centralised customer relationship management system.
When the company first opened for business in Australia, the invoicing system involved each travel agent having a folder on a network drive. Each agent’s folder contained a file called ‘template.xls’ and every month, TravelManagers would manually create a new version. Staff members would open the file and manually enter amounts at the end of each month. Invoices were then emailed to the relevant PTM and a copy printed out.
“Over time, the use of Excel macros improved processes, but it was still a dog’s breakfast,” says Matthew Harris, Director of IT an House of Travel.
What TravelManagers needed was an all-in-one solution for recurring charges, sales (including commission transfers to PTMs) and invoices.
TravelManagers has built its own invoicing system on the Salesforce1 Platform, which successfully automates all billing and invoicing. Using the Salesforce Excel Add-In, staff members can automatically upload data from various sources with one single click.
The new system has also automated PTM charges. It can create up to 460 invoices in a few minutes on a Visual Force page and send the same number of invoice emails as formatted PDF attachments, instead of the .xls files created previously. Additionally, the invoicing system can now download and format an MYOB file in a few minutes using the RSSBus Excel Add-In, a task that used to require three staff to simultaneously enter data, saving hours in time.
TravelManagers also developed its business enterprise solution (BES) – known as ‘the beast’ internally – on the Salesforce1 Platform. With the beast, TravelMangers can manage PTMs from recruitment and training to contract termination.
The template.xls files were maintained in silos, which had to be manually edited to align with the BES. Now all the information is already in the BES, which is always up to date.
Now that all invoicing data sits in a central platform, TravelManagers has been able to automate its sales reports and sales monitoring. “Days of effort are now hours of effort, and all stakeholders are happier. Even the budget is happier,” Harris says.
Invoicing’s now a breeze, with quality and accuracy now light-years ahead of the old system, Harris says. “When we switched to Salesforce, we could afford to reinvest in the system. That in turn led to a willingness to transfer more into the system, giving us a more complete solution.”
All up, the Salesforce solution has saved TravelManagers between two to three full-time equivalent staff members out of a workforce of fewer than 40. “The system’s integration with everything we do has fueled growth of 10x over eight years,” Harris adds. “With Salesforce our future projections are even more ambitious than when we opened our Australian business.”