Case studies

Background

A Spanish tour operator sells tours through their own agency and through resellers (OTAs, high-street travel agencies etc).

In 2017 they moved 8000 pax distributed across 250 departures.

The Need

The agency initially managed all aspects of their tours (private hotel contracts, airline quotas, buses, guides…) using email and excel sheets. All services in an inventory had to be listed in a separate excel sheet for each departure, keeping track of whether a service was quota based or on request. This method was so labour intensive, each tour required a dedicated agent, and TWS couldn’t offer many departures for each tour or costly errors would be made. In 2016 a decision was made to invest in management software.

A customised solution was contracted enabling the agency to sell online with instant confirmation thanks to automated pricing and availability data – a major breakthrough – however the system still had many limitations. The agency had to hire a lot of extra staff in the high season to manage and found it was difficult to scale the business without increasing staff members and costs disproportionately. TWS Management therefore decided that in order to continue growing while keeping costs at a reasonable level, they needed to invest in a more technologically advanced solution.

Amongst other requirements, the solution needed to be able to:

● Provide a detailed view of tours including all services and their status, so that missing services would not be overlooked and services with no further availability could be detected

● Enable opening and making changes to all aspects of a booking, instead of needing to cancel and rebook as was previously the case

● Automate management of quotas and pricing with suppliers, avoiding costly errors when reservations with multiple suppliers are not picked up and cancelled

● Automate communication with retailers (stop sales, price changes…) reducing errors caused by manual communications

● For each specific activity in an itinerary, automatically replace a service with no remaining stock with an alternative, ensuring the tour can remain on sale online

● Track price and commission evolution over time and track who booked what and when

● Connect each service (with related price & stock data) to various tours and departures, ensuring availability is not exceeded for a specific hotel or flight quota

● Issue flights from Amadeus-compliant files automatically generated from bookings

● Provide automated notifications for the multiple details a tour operator needs to keep constant track of (hotel and flight release dates, low availability for critical services, on request reservations, delayed payments…)

● Automatically generate detailed documentation and vouchers for travellers and guides, ensuring last-minute changes to passenger lists and schedules won’t require complex manual management

● Ensure pricing is always correct through automatic monitoring of hotel discounts and free room allocations as well as different rates for distinct markets and channels.

● Integrate all data with accounting systems ensuring it is possible to get realistic cost and profit data for each departure and accurately match invoices with payments

● Automate the assignment of campaign-related pricing, ensuring pricing adjusts automatically when campaigns end

“TourKnife has completely revolutionised how we run our business. Thanks to the centralised management of all tour elements with automated update of pricing, availability and billing, we have dramatically increased productivity, enabling us to improve and add tours, dedicate more time to sales and reduce costly errors. We can also publish up-to-the-minute tour pricing and availability on line, which is having a big impact on sales. And TourKnife provides total visibility in real time of all elements of our business, enabling us to make smart and timely business decisions.”

CEO, Wholesaler/Retailer

The Solution

After doing a thorough analysis of solutions on the market, the agency discovered that there was no existing solution which could handle the full range of their complex management requirements for their multi-day group-tours. A Barcelona-based software development company agreed to develop a solution to meet not just their needs, but also those of other tour operators and DMCs in Spain and internationally. The result is TourKnife.

TourKnife has been developed and rigorously tested to ensure the cloud-based software provides the best possible solution to the agency’s requirements. The agency currently uses TourKnife to:

  • Fully manage all aspects of their tours
  • Control the availability and pricing of supplier services
  • Create campaigns that temporally modify pricing based on rules
  • Market tours online to both travellers and agencies
  • Manage all aspects of bookings (cancellations, modifications, etc)
  • Generate all documentation required for travellers, guides, hotels and airlines
  • Seamlessly integrate with the accounting system and ensure it is possible to get realistic cost and profit data for each departure and reconcile invoices and payments

The Benefits

Thanks to TourKnife, the agency has been able to solve every issue they had with their previous software and have dramatically increased productivity and efficiency. They have also found new ways of working they didn’t even know existed: they no longer need to invest time in repetitive manual tasks, errors have reduced significantly and data accuracy has increased exponentially. This is thanks to the centralisation and integration of all aspects of tour management: from the creation of tours right through the entire tour management process to invoicing and accounting.

The agency uses TourKnife to publish tours with updated pricing & availability on their OTA site

In 2018 TourKnife’s impact on the agency’s business has been to:

  • dramatically decrease the time required to create tours and contract services with suppliers
  • reduce human errors in all processes: contracting, release dates, documentation, etc
  • decrease the number of staff required to manage existing tours.
  • increase the number of tours & departures and so revenues and profits with existing staff numbers, because with less staff TWS can now do more
  • provide 100% confidence that the availability and pricing for tours they market is always correct and updated
  • improve the relationship with retailers who no longer call requesting trivial information, since they can remotely access all the information they require remotely.