Building a data powerhouse aligning separate business functions

Searching for the right tool

Swift Travel is a UK based travel specialist working with leading airlines, accommodation, cruise, rail and ground transportation providers. In such a competitive sector a seamless customer experience is essential. ”We’re quite boutique,“ says Edward Riddle, the Account Manager for Swift Travel, who nurtures the relationships with their corporate clients. “We require very deep knowledge of our client accounts to make it as convenient as possible for them to book travel.”

While Swift Travel’s customers enjoyed great service, the company’s quotation process was far from optimal. “We weren’t serving enough people. Our service level was high but the detailed quotation process was our major bottleneck,” says Riddle. “We were underperforming.” The employees spent a lot of valuable time tracking travel data and collating supplier information, creating documents manually and dealing with heaps of paperwork. It was time for improvements.

Riddle says the the idea to build the system came about because of the lack of effective sales tools in the market tailored specifically to the travel sector: “We searched far and wide before diving straight in and building it ourselves, but couldn’t really find the best match. There were CRM tools which were basically just glorified databases, and booking tools, there was nothing straight forward that handled both sides effectively.” He continues to describe the frustration with the tools available on the market, which, instead of helping, complicated the sales process even more: “Many were not fit for purpose. And the last thing we wanted to do is to destroy our process with even more destructive tools.”

From a quotation tool to a fully fledged pipeline management system

Our agile working processes let us start small and build iteratively towards a more comprehensive solution. What started as a project to speed up the quotation process evolved into a system that not only streamlined the whole travel planning pipeline but also helped Swift Travel bring its separate business functions together.

The first step was building a platform where enquiry information, once entered, could seamlessly flow to the next part in the process. We then identified the major pain points in the workflow: checking travel options with suppliers was both complex and slow due to the outdated technology that was used, while crafting quote documents manually was extremely time-consuming. Integration with supplier systems, automated document generation and email functions helped to significantly cut the time it takes to get from initial enquiry to the final quote. “We estimate that to get a quote out to a client took 25 minutes before. Now it’s 5 minutes,” says Riddle.

But we didn’t stop there. Swift Travel’s internal processes were full of opportunities to streamline and automate. Previously the employees were maintaining a pipeline of leads, managing follow-ups, booking trips and creating documents manually. “Without a coherent data management system it was difficult to share the information within the team. The manual nature of the process also meant we were putting too much reliance on a couple of people,” says Riddle. Expanding the system to cover the whole pipeline standardised the workflow and eliminated inefficiencies in the process. Together with intelligent reminders and diary function this has enabled Swift’s specialists stay on top of their leads and ensure a consistently positive customer experience.

With the new system Swift Travel employees have access to actionable customer data in one place: past bookings, interactions with the customer, their preferences and needs are just a few clicks away. While previously each booking was tied down to one account manager, the new system has enabled collaboration on customer accounts. “Having a central data source added more transparency and traceability to the process. Now we can effectively utilise sales support across the organisation. It’s far simpler and easier to scale,” says Riddle.

By continuing to build iteratively we were able to expand the system beyond the needs of the sales team. “When we realised what a powerful data source this is, we decided to add more functions to help us streamline our processes even further,” says Riddle. “The reporting of the data within the system has really simplified the way we track our numbers and helped to align a lot of separate parts of the business.”

The system has greatly streamlined the whole sales pipeline. Integration with the suppliers’ systems and automation of tasks allows Swift travel experts to focus on what matters the most: delighting their customers. “Our customer satisfaction rate has gone up,” says Riddle. “And the same consultant can now deal with 4 times more clients.” As Riddle reflects on the evolution of the product, he says it is hard to believe how much it has developed from the initial idea. Our Agile development methods coupled with Swift Travel’s eagerness to innovate made that transformation possible. As Riddle sums it up: “It’s amazing how much we’ve achieved with a small decentralised team.”