Offering overland adventure vacations to individuals and families requires a great deal of organization and coordination. The excursions are distributed all over the country and span several days. In addition, vacationers can choose different levels of participation depending on their preference for accommodations.
While the variety of vacation offerings allows travelers to customize their experience according to personal preference, it can be complicated to manage internally. The hosts need to track all of the registrations, which include contact information, trip specifications, payment details, etc. Each reservation captures several important data points for the staff and trip guides to know before and during the events.
The vacationers made their reservations over the phone. However, this was a clunky and unreliable process. It took a lot of time to collect the information, and it would be unfortunate if the staff recorded any of the information incorrectly. Needless to say, this was not an ideal process.
It would be better to digitize the workflows. They wanted a website to promote the different events and activities. In addition, they wanted to create a mechanism to allow users to submit the necessary reservation details.
They also needed a system to distribute communications to the customers. For example, it would be helpful to distribute messages to remind vacationers about their upcoming plans at specific intervals. They also want a streamlined way to update customers about the itineraries and special requirements.
- Replace a manual process with a digital solution.
- Create a custom application using the FileMaker platform to collect reservation and payment information.
- Use the FileMaker system to create and manage the digital content for the website.
- Integrate FileMaker with QuickBooks Online to push payment attributes into the accounting system to track fees, cancellations, and transfers.
The Support Group connected with a trusted partner to develop the WordPress website. As required, the site highlights specific details about the excursions and allows users to submit reservations. It effectively handles the initial contact with customers.
We then built a FileMaker application to serve as the hub for customer interactions and fulfill accounting requirements. The system was configured such that FileMaker would handle the workflows and processes to minimize training and maximize efficiency.
The internal staff uses the FileMaker system to update the event information on the website; they don't even have to work with WordPress at all. Instead, it's integrated to push data to specified areas of the WordPress site. This arrangement allows users to focus on learning how to use the FileMaker system, not so much WordPress.
REST-based APIs are leveraged to integrate FileMaker and QuickBooks Online to track essential bookkeeping functions. For example, when a new user submits a reservation, a corresponding customer record is created in QuickBooks accordingly. In addition, users can track sales via sales receipts and refund receipts. They are also able to monitor event availability to let travelers know when an excursion is at capacity.
Some technologies used
- Claris FileMaker
- QuickBooks Online
Digitizing the event management and reservation process allows the company to grow without acquiring additional staff. Instead, the administrative time saved is directed toward high-value activities like researching new adventures and improving the customer experience.
Since realizing the benefits of customer autonomy, the team has extended self-service opportunities to their partners that offer complementary services.
The plan to streamline operations will eventually extend to the merchandising part of the business. They would like to efficiently track sales of goods and gear at their events.
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