The pilgrimage industry is one of the longest-standing industries in the world. Every year, millions of Muslims across the globe make the same sacred journey to Mecca that their forebears made 1,400 years ago.
Umrahme, a division of Holidayme and part of the Traveasy Group, is an online travel agency specialising in providing B2B and B2C travel packages for pilgrims. Founded in 2017, it’s one of the fast-growing businesses providing Umrah-related products, and today, it’s revolutionising the industry for millions of customers across 40-plus countries.
“We’re bringing digital innovation to a very traditional market,” said Bechir Omran, Head of Growth at Holidayme. “With Salesforce, we can help more agencies manage travel and accommodation bookings for their customers as they complete their pilgrimage to Mecca.”
Umrahme has around 80 employees across offices in India, Egypt, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. It was launched in response to an initiative by the Saudi Arabian government to attract 30 million pilgrims per year by 2030. “Numbers were steady at around 6-7 million per year, but over the last year that’s increased to 10-12 million,” explained Omran. “To prepare for exponential growth it was crucial to replace manual processes with greater automation and find smarter ways of running the business.”
Managing bookings for millions of pilgrims relies on multiple touchpoints and numerous partnerships with third-party vendors. To market itself as a best-in class travel agent, Umrahme wanted to provide its customers with the best possible experience, and that meant highly responsive service teams, fast access to information, and a unified journey across the whole company.
“We started looking for a holistic solution to give a single source of truth for customer transactions, cases, and other touchpoints involved in giving customers an amazing experience,” recalled Omran.
The company went to market and selected Salesforce to underpin its digital transformation. The solution was integrated with the help of its partner Smaartt Digital Consulting. “Salesforce is a reliable platform that already has all the capabilities we need to achieve our goals,” said Omran. “We realised a platform approach could save us years of development time and make it easy to track and serve customers across multiple touchpoints.”
Smaartt Digital Consulting customised the solution and used AppExchange apps to extend the functionality of the platform, for example with an app to integrate the telephony system and a real-time chat feature.
The solution was built with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot, and Tableau and supports the customer journey from opportunity through to aftersales.
“Salesforce is a reliable platform that already has all the capabilities we need to achieve our goals.”
Sales Cloud provides account managers with full visibility of their accounts from a single dashboard, reducing dependency on third-party vendors for booking details. Every touchpoint is tracked in real time, so if an employee leaves, another member of the team can seamlessly take over the account.
“In the B2B market there’s a limited number of opportunities, so customer retention is really important,” explained Omran. “With Salesforce we can give them a more seamless experience and make the most of every opportunity.”
With B2B clients booking for potentially thousands of travellers, converting an opportunity brings in a significant amount of revenue. If a prospect doesn’t complete a booking, it triggers an abandoned cart journey in Salesforce. Once notified, the team can proactively reach out to customers to help them complete the transaction.
Today, there are more than 7 million bookings per month handled by a small team of 15 agents. “Salesforce has helped us grow our market share from 25% to 80% in just a matter of months, and that’s because we have 360-degree visibility of the customer and can offer them an experience that sets up apart from our competitors,” revealed Omran.
To make sure customers are happy with their interaction with Umrahme, the team sends surveys from Salesforce to capture customer satisfaction ratings in addition to reaching out to key customers for testimonials. The company currently has a CSAT rating of 90%.
Businesses that transact online are increasingly facing demands from consumers for 24/7 customer service, and with Service Cloud, Umrahme has replaced siloed support channels with omnichannel capabilities that all feed into a single dashboard and simplify providing round the clock services.
B2B customers often have a team of people making bookings under a single account. With Salesforce, the team leader can track all transactions made by their agents and drill down into any touchpoint, meaning they can self-serve to access data and don’t have to contact the service team.
With both sales and service data centralised on Salesforce, there is company-wide visibility of every customer, which enables the sales team to see if a customer has any open cases before contacting them. “Salesforce helps us have the right conversations with the right people at the right time. We can add more value to our customers instead of just pushing sales,” said Omran.
To communicate with customers at scale, the company is using automated journeys in Pardot, including a dormant customer journey to improve engagement rates with customers who aren’t following their usual pattern of behaviour.
“With smart email journeys, we’ve minimised attrition and improved the performance of campaigns by up to 10%. But Pardot has really opened our eyes to what a more sophisticated solution like Marketing Cloud can do for us,” commented Omran. “We’re looking at deploying social studio, Einstein, and Datorama next year to provide omnichannel marketing journeys.”
Better access to data is pivotal to Umrahme’s success, and it uses Tableau to capture rich metrics from across the organisation. “Reporting is really important to track performance in terms of transactions and lead conversion,” explained Omran. “With better visibility we can see where we need to make improvements to deliver on our promises. For example, when something goes wrong with our booking system we can identify the issue in five minutes using Tableau, compared to three days previously.”
The sales team also use dashboards to get a better overview of accounts, with full visibility of when a customer last logged in, their transaction history and abandoned carts to follow up on, as well as new leads to work on converting. The management team can then directly link each rep’s performance to revenue growth and how many opportunities are converted.
With a single source of truth and powerful data visualisation from Tableau, insights are available in real time instead of taking hours to collect data every time the senior management team needed to pull a report.
Salesforce has triggered a shift in culture among staff – having seen how the solution has transformed their roles, they’re more proactive in requesting optimisations to the platform to help them be more efficient and better serve the customer.
“The 360-degree view of the customer is immensely powerful. But as a platform, Salesforce is also a real enabler,” Omran revealed. “Our team recognises its potential to help them be more efficient, and as an organisation we’re excited to keep expanding the functionality to help us transform the customer experience.”
And Umrahme is a company dedicated to blazing a trail for pilgrims. During the COVID-19 pandemic when bookings were down, it used the time to develop better internal processes to hit the ground running when business picked up again.
“The pandemic accelerated digital transformation for everybody, but Salesforce made it seamless to onboard new members of the team remotely, and the user-friendly interface meant they needed minimal training to feel comfortable using the platform,” commented Omran.
With Salesforce, Umrahme is primed and ready to meet its 2030 targets to attract more pilgrims than ever before. For an industry that’s hundreds of year old, the organisation has mastered the perfect blend of optimisation and preserving traditions for millions of Muslims across the world.