The Travel and Tourism in South Africa significantly increases productivity and slashes overheads

Microsoft partner Newfangled made business scalable for SA Cruises in just few weeks with Microsoft Power tools and Ant Text Outlook add-in

SA Cruises significantly increases productivity and slashes overheads through the adoption of the Microsoft ecosystem and their 3rd party partners.

Daphne Osborne

CEO / Founder

When Mrs. Osborne, CEO and owner of SA Cruises implemented a new business model and strategy she knew she needed to look to digital technologies to keep overheads low for the model to be viable. She turned to Newfangled Software for help in making this a reality.  

Daphne had worked with us before through her other businesses and had confidence that we would be able to assist her in in meeting her business objectives.  

The need to create a business model

SA Cruises is a travel agency that partners with cruise providers like MSC Cruises in order to sell cruise packages to consumers. The new strategy involved buying out all the cabins on the entire cruise ship and then selling each cabin at a profit. This new bulk buying strategy came with tight margins but offered more stability for the business due to stock guarantee.  

Tight margins meant that the business had to operate with a light resource load to reduce operational costs. This was not a problem that was going to be solved with an army of people. It was originally calculated that each cruise would need 3 people per cruise to manage the booking volumes and administration. Since the model was based on having multiple cruise promotions running concurrently, having 3 people per cruise would cut into margins and cause redundancy when cruise numbers were low due to seasonal demand 

SA Cruises faced a huge administrative challenge in that they needed to manage a large volume of bookings and communications from consumers manually. This also meant that the volume of data was becoming a problem to manage and reporting on the data was delayed and inaccurate. 

Bottlenecks

The administration process became slow , which in turn created customer dissatisfaction. 

High Error Rate

3000+ emails sent to passengers in a day via MS Outlook, with booking information managed in Excel caused inaccuracies.

Poor Response Times

Collecting payments, tracking bookings and passengers and assigning cabins became a nightmare.

Solution strategy

SA Cruises realized that they had to turn to technology to solve the problem. However, the software and systems were either too expensive or only partially met their needs.  

Having worked with Newfangled Software, the decision was taken to build a custom solution with the use of new Microsoft technologies and Ant Text, a third-party software partner.

Phase 1

Digitize, collect and automate

  • Create a digital booking channel with Cognito Forms
  • Store data using MS Flow to push data into SharePoint from Cognito Forms
  • Send professional emails using Ant Text's easy and professional templates

Phase 2

Management of data

  • Build an app for managing the bookings coming into the system with PowerApps
  • Passengers were enabled to pay through PayFast
  • Booking and passenger information became able to be updated and changed.

Phase 3

Reporting and Analytics

  • Solve the problem of reporting on the data
  • Power BI allowed us to build reports for analyzing bookings, payments, passengers and cabins
Loving Ant Text. The Templates have allowed us to manage the content at one master source to ensure accuracy as well as conformity in our email responses, and then sharing the templates with others in the organization to expedite work flows… Read more

Loving Ant Text. The Templates have allowed us to manage the content at one master source to ensure accuracy as well as conformity in our email responses, and then sharing the templates with others in the organization to expedite work flows. For all responses which we find are “regular” responses, we now simply setup an Ant Text template and what could take up to 10 minutes per response is now done in mere seconds. Quotations were obviously the most time-consuming tasks with high levels of accuracy and checking required to ensure all the info was in, and correct. With the Ant Text templates we’re able to send out quotations instantly, so turn around times have improved dramatically, leading to better customer service and increased sales. The Templates are “friendly” and colorful, providing the ability to promote your brand, or current offers in images in the emails, ensuring your message reaches the customer in dynamic way that does not require them to read reams of text.

Merle Hambakis

General Manager

Results

  • Large volumes of bookings for multiple cruises could be managed by 3 to 5 people without difficulty keeping overheads low and profits at a reasonable and consistent level
  • Customers were receiving a high quality of information and service thereby keeping passenger drop off rates low and filling cruise ships quickly
  • The goal of reaching scalability in the business model had been achieved