Updated: Sep 25
“We cannot tell you how grateful we are that we made the move to Salesforce, given what came next with Covid19, we simply would have not been able to function and survive.” - Mandy’s, Director/Owner of Tours Direct, exact words when asked about their Salesforce.com journey.
Tours Direct, before Covid19, is a travel company previously specializing in exotic international destinations. Richard and Mandy Page, the Directors, had been “taking people to anywhere on the planet that doesn’t speak English” for over 20 years. With only four office full-time staff, one part-time office support and eight Tour Leaders, Tours Direct had been successfully organizing not-so-ordinary trips that gave travelers “authentic experience and connections to people and places”, as how Mandy describes it.
Then, Covid19 happened. With the borders closed, the sought-after exotic travels had to take a break. Bouncing back from the business impact of Covid19 became a necessity. How to do it, was the big question. For Tours Direct, it was a change in focus, AND, investing in technology that will give them flexibility and scalability.
Two years ago, Tours Direct was heavily relying on an in-house database, which, at times, turned out to be unstable. There was no link between the website and the company’s database, so, leads generation and bookings had to be done manually. Because of this, there were gaps in the daily operations and it was a challenge to process inquiries and bookings in an efficient manner. It was also difficult for the staff to master the whole business process and how the database and all its functions fit together.
After years of research, Mandy got introduced to Salesforce.com. It wasn’t a quick decision to make because migrating from one system and business process to another also meant there was a need to manage organizational resistance to change. Being also one of the Tour Leaders, Mandy was heavily involved in the trips and was constantly overseas, so there was not enough time for sit-downs and consultations to do a cost-benefit analysis and to prepare for the would-be migration.
Photo by Tours Direct via https://www.toursdirect.co.nz/
“I knew we needed to change, and I wanted to find a good fit with our style of business.”. For Mandy, the buying decision criteria involved “using the lens of investment vs inefficiencies and being assured that technical advances are matched with the adequate security.”
Meeting Donnie Banez, from Cinch + Strike, also helped them decide to make the big leap. Mandy felt comfortable with Donnie's understanding of their business concerns, what was needed and how they can make Salesforce work for them and for their business.
How has the business been after moving to Salesforce.com? “I can sincerely say, if we didn’t move to Salesforce when we did, we would not have a business today. No one foresaw Covid19 coming and because we moved when we did, we had a secure database that we could operate out-of-office.” With Salesforce now in place, Tours Direct was able to refine their sales cycle, which allows them to efficiently manage inquiries from the website and convert them into bookings. This resulted to an increase in conversion rate between lead to contract. Salesforce automation had also become the key to capture leads from their website and eliminated human errors and delays in the process.
Was it a worthwhile investment? For Mandy, “Absolutely. The database is our most valuable asset, and it is now secure and easier to use. The staff are using it efficiently and following procedures without hesitation and with more confidence, as we intended.”
Tours Direct, at the moment, continues to provide group walks and bike tours within New Zealand. One of their famous tours include a 7 Day / 6 Night tour visiting Queenstown, Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacier and an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. The focus for now is “to survive by selling more domestic tours”. And, now with the vaccine roll out happening, there is very high hope of rebuilding the confidence of people to travel overseas. As we all prepare for the re-opening of the international boarders, Mandy is currently working on ways to increase their database, constantly reviewing existing processes to spot areas for improvement, and learn more about Salesforce automation to ensure they are using the platform to its fullest potential.