REVIEWER: Nikos Papagapitos, manager of technology at Travel Dynamics International.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1969 in New York City, Travel Dynamics International offers the combination of luxury cruise travel and theme-based education covering a range of topics, including ancient and medieval civilizations and the voyages of modern explorers.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft xRM application development framework and Microsoft SQL Server running on the Microsoft .NET platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: For 10 years, TDI relied on a custom-built reservation and booking system. While the system met basic requirements for storing passenger and trip information, it did not include marketing, sales or customer service modules. This led employees to use a variety of nonintegrated applications to perform daily tasks that resulted in hampered efficiency, limited visibility into customer and sales data, and opportunities for error. TDI created an integrated CRM system that enables nearly every function of the organization to be more productive. Sales staff can better track leads through a centralized database that delivers real-time visibility of prospects and analysis of conversion rates saving up to an hour each week that was previously spent compiling data into standalone spreadsheets. The accounting staff no longer manually re-enters data from the reservation system, while customer service has eliminated paper-based systems for generating and distributing precruise mailings to travelers. And the marketing team no longer sorts through dozens of records retrieved from multiple, nonintegrated systems to track down relevant information in order to create targeted marketing campaigns.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Providing a hub to connect all of our core business processes, the CRM system offers streamlined reporting while eliminating numerous manual workflows. Additionally, it automatically updates customer profile data across the company based on a number of specified dimensions such as a passenger’s connection to a particular travel agent or sponsoring information. From management’s perspective, real-time updates of inventory utilization provide a clearer picture of sales figures, success of marketing campaigns and insight into operational data so that the company can proactively make the necessary adjustments in order to reach our target revenue goals.

STRENGTHS: By integrating all of our applications into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, TDI now has better reporting capabilities and more accurate, up-to-date information regarding all of our business processes. The lead tracking tools record detailed information about prospects, enabling sales to better organize and prioritize follow-up activities for each new opportunity. The reservation system allows agents to book up to four times faster because the customer information is automatically linked in the system with tour package details. Automated workflows and the ability to quickly merge mailing lists with documents allow customer service to cut the amount of time needed to complete delivery of customer mailings by 50 percent.

WEAKNESSES: As with most travel agencies, reservation details change on a constant basis, and it’s difficult to track the changes to the data inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM without additional customization. Also, because each reservation and customer has a good amount of information attached to each record or activity, navigating the multiple forms and screens inside the tool can be tedious.

SELECTION CRITERIA: TDI evaluated the leading CRM solutions and chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM based on ease of use and integration with the company’s existing desktop productivity and communication applications.

DELIVERABLES: TDI uses the solution to track itinerary and tour program information including lecture schedules, details about presenters and guides, shipboard entertainment activities, land tours and the various excursions available through each themed vacation package. To more tightly connect our business activities and streamline operations, TDI integrated our CRM system with our accounting system. This allows TDI to automatically convert sales orders into reservations that are subsequently recorded as invoices—all inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Accounting staff can now flow invoice data into the accounting system to update accounts payable records and reconcile the general ledger. Along with boosting employee productivity by 400 percent, TDI was also able to save an estimated $50,000 annually that was spent maintaining its previous outdated systems.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CRM experts at Infinity Info Systems supported TDI throughout the entire process. The best part for TDI is the ability to provide high-quality and thoroughly consistent service at every touch point with our customers.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is easy to understand, and the CRM consultants helped reduce the learning curve.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-7329
(425) 882-8080
www.microsoft.com

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