Grow 2.5x in 2015 (img:src)

With the beginning of a new year your agenda would definitely be to increase sales. 
Focussing on the right tools can help you lead the competition and achieve your goals.

Attend trade shows: Experiencing the art of knowing and exploring different trade values can be a key tool for your growing organisation. Most of the trade shows are focussed on B2B deals, it is a good opportunity to connect with buyers and sellers. So, if you want to expand in a new territory, finding partners can be a lot more easier among peers who are attending the same trade show as you are. But you will have to keep a tab on which trade-show to attend and which ones to skip.

Scout for Channel Managers:  This might be the most obvious strategy for most of you. If you want to increase sales, just increase the reps, increase the channels. It follows the basic unitary principle taught in junior Maths class and it works out almost always. Hiring good channel managers can impact your sales numbers in matter of weeks.

Replace your old Technology: Technology is evolving each day. Keeping track of the latest software can open up unexpected opportunities for your business.. This is specially relevant in travel as technology has not touched this industry as much as it has some other like manufacturing, for instance. New technology could help you find better leads, high worth clients or automate your entire process. Chances are you might end up saving on annual IT bills on switching vendors. This becomes all the more true with newer and better tech providers in the market.

Get a travel CRM:  One of the key tools for your organisation is the travel CRM. The role played by a travel CRM is pivotal as it manages interactions with current and future customers which helps in organising, automating, synchronising sales, marketing and customer service. You see, we have listed all the stages in a booking cycle and that is why this is what makes it a key software for any business to have. The better your team uses and maintains CRM, the better is your growth.

Analyse Customers’ Choice: As your organisation is customer oriented so it is mandatory for you to keep a track about your customer and about their preferences. Any query and feedback helps you to rectify your shortcoming and also provide you the opportunity to tempt the customer to avail the offer pitched by you.

Promote your USP: Highlight your USP to position your company at a different level than your competition. It makes the customer convinced about the service and the value of your product. A delighted customer will always come back in future. Promoting your USP also helps in winning referrals as your satisfied customers don't have to put in effort while describing your values. Its already on their minds.

Price it right: Pricing is very important for any DMC. Right pricing should justify your service and product so that your assurance towards profitability is more. Even a small increase in price can bring dramatic change in your sales. By Pricing, I don’t mean just your margin, you also need to take care of currency conversion factor. Far too often, travel businesses rely on manually updated conversion rates which marks up your inventory by upto 5% as compared to businesses who depend on automated real-time exchange rates. So the key to correct pricing is to factor in all the parts that go in it.

What do you do when you need something? General convention is that we tend to buy it. But think about it. How many of the essential things do we personally own? Air - na! Water - no. Electricity - nako! Phone? Internet - NO. All of these are shared with others. So why insist on owning the software.

This economist post will awaken you to a new world of "Shared Economy".  If you haven't noticed, everything around you is available on rent. Destination management software is no exception.

The cost for building DMC software, that is any good, tends to go north of 1mn USD.
You will have to cover for

  • Full-time software-developers
  • Designers 
  • Servers
  • Product managers, etc
These are just one-time expenses before the system is even rolled out. What if the system crashes?
Who takes care of

  • Updates and Maintenance
  • Data security
  • Does it evolve as your business grow

These are the pertinent questions you need to answer before shelling out that much money which could otherwise be used in other business expansion plans. I have met DMC business owners who have spent large fortunes trying to build such systems. Some have failed miserably while those who succeeded have no clear advantage over the existing "rented" solutions commonly know as SaaS.

The key is to look out for existing solutions that are reliable, customisable to your business needs and are available on small monthly rental fees. So the next time when your Reservations Manager asks you to hire an IT team, ask her what for? Take pride in being part of the new 'Shared economy'.

Next week: Prime criteria to compare DMC software systems.

At the outset, let me wish all of you a very happy, prosperous and great new year 2015. Its been a good 2014 for travel industry, in general, and we definitely want 2015 to be only better. 

At Moxiter, 2014 brought us a great deal of learning, joy of highs, strength for bracing the lows and overall a good year by any standards. In 2015, we will be using the insights and focussing our energy on following key areas.

Sales :  The most important department in any startup. While past year was well spent on product development and understanding the market, in 2015, we will be channeling all our energy and resources towards sales. As they say, everyone is in sales and we will be living by that.

Customer success : We are a young company and in the limited experience that we have had, we understand the meaning of this term like no other. Moxiter is fortunate to have clients who have been more like partners than customers and we owe a great deal to their support and encouragement. 2015 is when we show them the gratitude. Going forward, we are totally committed to the success of our clients.

Team and Culture Building : We are building an A-Team at Moxiter and throughout the year, will be looking out to onboard the best of best. If you think, you are an A-player and can contribute please do contact me. Couldn't stress more on the importance of culture. Thankfully Dharmesh from Hubspot has provided us with enough convincing and motivating content on this. [:-)]

Fun : Lets not lose focus from having Fun in 2015. After-all, that was the only reason to startup. 

Once again wish you a very happy new year. Stay tuned for frequent blogs from me.

"Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers." - Wiki definition. Most of us know what exactly a CRM is. Then why did I repeat it? To emphasize on the word in bold - customers.

As a Travel Business stakeholder, your primary concern is having a universal set of happy & satisfied customers and multiplying that set manifolds over a short period of time. A good CRM system is the first step in that direction.

For Travel businesses, it is a very pertinent question - "When does a company need a CRM"? Very often the question is on the validity of the following hierarchy-
  1. Leads 
  2. Customers and 
  3. CRM System
Which of these should come first? Traditional wisdom would suggest the sequence as outlined above but, traditional businesses are finding it hard to grow fast these days. It is becoming increasingly tough when faced with competition from multiple sales channels. 

For any organisation, a CRM system should always come first. Any lead that you miss without a CRM, is more than just a single customer that you missed; It translates into a habit and results in un-recorded losses. 

Complexity doesn't mean profitability

Often when business stakeholders say "Spreadsheets are good enough for us", they fail to account for this -
Spreadsheets are fine only till your business has reached a certain threshold.
When a Travel Business is being setup and has just started to grow, it is the perfect time to try out multiple CRM alternatives. When the business volumes start going up, it becomes increasingly difficult to change your business processes. Your commitment to client engagement starts from day one. 

If you have relied on spreadsheets till now, it's time you start measuring -
  • Number of leads generated per month
  • Paying Clients/Leads ratio
  • Growth of leads month-on-month
The numbers don't lie. If the numbers are stable and growth hard to come by, then you have missed out on converting more leads into paying customers. Spreadsheets have cost you dearly.

Cost is a very important consideration for growing Travel Businesses. Thankfully, technology has grown faster and is now more affordable. Gone are the days of complex software installations and associated high maintenance costs. With cloud technology, we now have software being offered as a Service (SaaS model). For starters, the software is hosted on the cloud and all you need as a buyer is internet connectivity. What is in it for your business?
  • Plug & Play - zero installation time
  • Lower setup & maintenance costs
  • Automatic updates

Bottom Line
"Spreadsheets are not tools for client engagement". Depending solely on spreadsheets does more harm than any good over a period of time. Travel Businesses should look at CRMs as an important investment in client engagement.