The founder story of Tourpaq and how Primo Tours became an industry leader.
Have you ever thought about what it takes to be a tour operator? Or do you just want to learn more about tour operating and how it all works? Either way – we’ve got exactly what you need! In this blog we will explore the inner workings of the world of Tour Operators with the Founder of the tour operating software Tourpaq and the Danish Travel Group Primo Tours; Bjarke Hansen.
Good tour operator software is more than just a booking system. It frees up time and resources within your company and makes your customers happy and satisfied – and lets you make better, documented business decisions.
More and more people are making their bookings and reservations online – that’s the truth. And in a fast-moving world with increased technology advances, you can’t afford to fall behind.
With the pandemic and war in Ukraine still lingering, customers and operators alike are now realizing the value of IT and automation in managing torus.
To say it simply, if you’re serious about being a tour operator, you need the right software to give you a distinctive advantage over your competitors. And no one else has managed to do so other than Primo Tours the travel company that gave Tourpaq to the world.
In today’s blog, we will examine why the Founder designed Tourpaq in order to grow the Danish travel agency Primo Tours and went on a journey with great ambition to disrupt the travel industry.
I was speaking with Bjarke Hansen the other day, and he let me in on a few things that have really helped Primo Tours – and the Primo Family to grow. I have taken notes and created this post to share his wisdom with you. Shall we?
I am a self-taught traveler. The travel industry is perhaps particularly distinguished by self-taught traveler who are eager to create a good travel experience to all.
I have been in the travel industry ever since I graduated in high school and have been all around in the industry. Booth at the destinations as a ski guide and buyer and then back office as general manager and then director.
So I'm pretty much self-taught, and have been in various travel agencies. After a few years I got the opportunity to buy into some Travel Agencies and here I got the opportunity to set my own agendas and vision for how we would like to serve our guests and run our agency.
That was around the time when the internet also disrupted our industry. Back in 2003, sales were very much based on catalogues and customers had to call in and book their trips.
We invested in the online transformation. But the problem was that the booking systems available at the time did not support that online booking.
We became more online focused but was really limited by the technology and booking systems.
We did succeed - and we were one of the first in the business to offer online booking.
When I was about to start PrimoTours, I was out researching the market and dug myself quite deep into 4 selected booking systems.
But they couldn't do what I had in vision to run a travel agency and sell the trips online – creating the good experience.
At the time, the IT systems were large and heavy programs. They were developed by IT people, and not for people like me who have much more focus on the online experience.
I was told many times that it was not technically possible.
Just downloading all our tours into the website and then letting users fill in all the possibilities - the hardware couldn't at all at the time.
The solution we were aiming for required a processing power that the hardware 11 years ago could not yet deliver.
It was a risk we took, but fortunately it quickly turned out that it was going as we had hoped – and over time, even better.
In my opinion, it should be easy to both create and book a trip.
When we started Primo Tours 11 years ago, we quickly found that there was no software system on the market that had both the users of the system and the guests in mind.
The systems were not very user-friendly. They were designed by the programmers.
And yes, then we had to develop our own...
I had a clear idea that when we were selling travel, the system should be fun and intuitive.
Appel has shown this very well by making user-friendly mobile phones that customers loved and explore all the features.
I remember that's how I wanted the travel consultants to feel when they opened our booking system.
It shouldn't take an education to work as a travel consultant. That was one of the things we wanted to change when we decided to build Tourpaq.
We had the goal of welcoming a new travel consultant in the morning and in the afternoon he/she could sell travel independently. And we succeeded.
Automation was one of the most important areas to me.
I'm basically "lazy", if I can build a system that can solve my daily tasks, then I'm happy...
The entire structure of Tourpaq is built to automate what can be automated and in such a way that customers still experience the personal dialogue.
For example, a workflow that can tell you whether customers have booked upgrades for a trip or not, then the system can send out emails and suggest relevant upgrades 3 days after booking.
The guest is feeling that someone has looked through the booking, and then makes recommendations for a better holiday.
We just need to setup the system how we would like to treat our guests, then the Tourpaq will deliver it.
In fact, no booking systems were focused on automation at the time.
Of course, it has come to varying degrees in many systems today.
But at Tourpaq it’s a part of the core design and core way of thinking, so of course we can do a lot.
I also had a vision of being personal towards our guests – even if we weren’t, Tourpaq was doing the heavy lifting of making a personalized customer experience.
It was a bit of an eye-opener to me that we have succeeded in automating so much of the work and the customers were doing so much more self-service.
The customer bought the trip from us because of the great personal service.
And it's a bit of fun when we are the agency in Denmark with the most online bookings and fewest hands in relation to the number of guests.
It shows that my dream has come to live
Instead of the system dictates how you should run your travel agency, we want to put the customer at the center and let them dictate how the booking system should be built.
In the beginning, we wanted a simple system that could take in online bookings and payments.
But over the years, Tourpaq has evolved into something much more complex - into a platform for all transactions related to travel and the operation in a travel agency.
In fact, there are more than 115,000 hours of development behind Tourpaq today.
There were many visions from the beginning, and there are still many thoughts and plans for Tourpaq.
One focus area is big-data.
It has become much easier to gather data on your customers. When do they travel, where do they go, how many do they travel together. Where have they already been and what are they looking for next?
All this data has the potential to optimize the earnings of your travel agency. But it takes many years of experience to do analyses and reach to reasoned conclusions on when to adjust prices, seats, departures and destinations.
We want to make Big-data more accessible in Tourpaq. Therefore, the system has pre-builed reports that you can translate into business optimization.
You can get an overview of where the potential lies and where are the patterns and trends in user behavior. Both historically - but also what we can predict with advanced algorithms.
Bjarke is the CEO of Primo Tours, which has shown a solid growth and acquisitions in the industry. Primo Tours are on the way to becoming one of the major travel players in Denmark. But what's the secret I ask?
Tourpaq has been a big contributory factor buying up competitors. Without a strong IT setup like with Tourpaq, it would not have been possible for Primo Tours to acquire Aarhus Charter, Sun Charter and Beach Tours financially or resource-wise.
When Primo Tours bought Aarhus Charter, for example, there were 44 employees. Today there are four; they sell trips to the same number of guests - and at the same time customer satisfaction has increased..
We are the travel agency with the fewest number of employees per guest. But when we ask people why they chose us, they often reply that "it's because we get such a good personal service". This is partly because Tourpaq allows us to use our efforts to service guests.
Until now, it has not been necessary to market Tourpaq or contact agencies as they have come to us.
However, we are seeing an increasing demand and we are currently in dialogue with travel agencies in five European countries, all of whom are interested in starting a collaboration with Tourpaq.
Therefore, going forward, we will also have a greater focus on building a sales organization while maintaining the development of the platform.
I am convinced that growth will continue in the coming years, both at home and abroad; IT is a growing competitive parameter for the travel industry.
In five or six years, we'll see Tourpaq bigger than PrimoTours!
- Bjarke Hansen, CEO and Founder at PrimoTours and Tourpaq
Tourpaq solve the pain points of travel agencies and to give them as much time and energy to focus on their core business, to talk to people, develop new products and make more money.
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