3
 min read

How Aarhus Charter transformed the travel booking system designed by Simon Spies

A case study on how a modern travel booking software can help a travel agency turn profitable in just one year.

How Aarhus Charter transformed the travel booking system designed by Simon Spies

Do you need inspiration for streamlining the booking processes with modern tour operating software?

In this blog post, we are going to learn how ‘The Danish travel king, Simon Spies’ was the inspiration for how Aarhus Charter managed their booking processes, why they concluded that they needed a tour operating software – and ended up getting far better results after just 1 year with Tourpaq.

Aarhus Charter was founded in 1988 by 2 sisters. Since then, Aarhus Charter has been honored 7 times, by the Danish Travel Award with the title of being ‘Denmark's best charter agency’. Aarhus Charter sends approximately 30,000 guests on charter holidays to Kreta, Rhodos, Sivota, Zakynthos, Side, Cypern, Mallorca, Tenerife, Madeira, Gran Canaria, every year.

Today you will meet Henrik, who is the COO at Aarhus Charter since 2014.

First, a nostalgic look back at the booking process that ‘The Danish travel king, Simon Spies inspired. His way of managing bookings and planning the trips was used by Aarhus Charter until 2014.  

How The Travel Booking system was designed by Simon Spies  

Imagine a large wall in the office, where +30.000s small cardboards are placed. One for each hotel room, for every week at each hotel. This dashboard gave the agents a quick and easy overview of which products were available, when and where.  

Once a client called, an agent went to the board, picked up the cards that matched the requested trip, and manually added the capacity and collected all needed information.

The customer's contact information and relevant details were noted by hand on a piece of paper. This paper was handed on to the booking department, where 2 people then processed the booking and send out tickets.

It could therefore take up to 3-4 days from a customer had booked a trip until the booking had been confirmed and the ticket could be sent.  

Besides being too manual a process this of course, also had some very practical challenges.  

For example, if a door blew open, it could blow all the cards down from the wall, and then all cardboards had to be counted and re-arranged in order to make sure that there were no seats or rooms that were not accounted for.  And one every year the team had do cut out all the boards by hand and set the wall for new season.

No doubt this wall of cardboards provided the agents with a great overview of capacities, but was heavy on manually process - and now a days pretty outdated.

The Turnaround strategy

When Henrik took charge of Aarhus Charter, the company was experiencing poor finances and a lack of modern software to support the business. And it was clear that something had to change to make Aarhus Charter a profitable business.  

The first part of the turnaround strategy was to introduce Tourpaq as the heart of the booking flow. Of course, this had a huge upheaval as the employees were only familiar with the old-fashioned manual booking process.  

With Tourpaq, the process was modernized - automatized.  It quickly became obvious that there was no need for a booking department or extra administration. All admin processes were now managed by Tourpaq and all the employees now had time talking to customers and selling products.

Data is now only entered once and often done by the customer directly through the web booking. The automatic workflow in Tourpaq sends the tickets directly to the customer, passenger lists to the airline, guest lists to the hotels, and the guides etc. All the heavy backend operations are now running automatically - without having an employee monitoring or passing on information.

Now we can send a ticket to the customer, pretty much while we had them on the phone – otherwise within 30 minutes at the latest, says Henrik and continues.

So the gains in efficiencies were huge...

In fact, 9 employees could now sell the same number of trips as was managed previously by 19 employees.  

Mastering data and bookings in Tourpaq

Up until 2014 the focus had been on selling as many trips as possible. However, its was unclear what the exact cost of the trips were and therefore it was not possible to adjust the price as the market changed during a season - Making it hard to make a profit.  

It was mostly guesswork – making it difficult to see what was in fact a good deal and what ended up costing more than we earned.  

In order to set prices correctly, you need to see where sales are lagging and why. The manual booking process does not allow for this, as it was hard to get an in-depth overview of all the bookings.

Therefore, the next step in the turnaround strategy was to increase profit through sales management and price changes reflecting market demands.

When Aarhus Charter switched from the manual booking processes to using Tourpaq, Henrik gained easy access to data enabling him to do documented decisions and act rather than react. Now Henrik can quickly drill down the numbers of empty seats on a given flight and how the occupancies are on hotels.  This enables him to adjust prices and/or capacities according to market demands.  

Just 1 year after the introduction of Tourpaq, not only had the deficit turned into a profit – Customer satisfaction had also increased significantly.  

Important to say that a turnaround like this is not done only by implementing Tourpaq, although it is a very important prerequisite. The explanation for our satisfactory results is also to be found in our focus on the right products, brand, marketing and an engaged team.

Summary

  • The booking process must be efficient and automatic. Information does not have to go through several stages before a booking is registered.
  • Utilize resources on sales and customer service – administration can be automated with Tourpaq
  • Focus on making a profit - Tourpaq helps with quick overview and supports decisions to change prices and products
  • More efficient in operations. 9 employees with Tourpaq can do the same as 19 did before

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