The TOPAX System of Success
It is obvious, no two tour-operators are exactly the same, each has specific needs based on the structure and service offered, location, area of operation, etc. In an optimized world, all these unique tour operators would have a computer interface reservation system exactly matched to their needs. However, the costs associated with the development of such unique and complex systems are very high, not to mention the IT costs associated with updating and maintaining such a system. Therefore, it makes much more sense to purchase a system that pertains to many common elements and functions of tour operators in general, and then tailors the system with built-in options that in the end produces a unique system that matches the company's needs.
It is of utmost importance, when choosing a system, for a tour operator to first understand exactly what their needs are.
This can be an intimidating decision, given the core of your business is reliant on an information and computer reservation system. You should ask yourself if view data is your prime selling tool. Do you need to manage a direct sell database? Do you have existing hardware that you wish to utilize? Time should be given to considering your requirements of a system and these should be written down and documented. It doesn't have to be a detailed list of every single requirement, but make sure it includes those that are important to your business; those that set your company apart from other tour operators and so may not be standard features of every system.
This specification of requirements is very important. Because it is quite time consuming, it is also the one task that is most frequently ignored. A written specification of requirements forms the very foundation of selecting and contracting for the most suitable system. What level of service do you expect? Do you prefer dealing with large or small "companies"? These questions will be able to assist you in the selection process.
With a clear and written understanding of your requirements, the next step is to review the suppliers that you believe can fulfill your requirements and approach them.
Do not eliminate discount suppliers that may be considered borderline. You can make that decision later when you have their information. Ask for a written response from each supplier, addressing your specifics. The quality of the reply you receive back is a good indication of the knowledge, enthusiasm and professionalism of the prospective suppliers. At this stage, it should be easily possible to produce a short list of suppliers with which to continue.
Make arrangements for system demonstrations. If possible, the demonstration should be at the suppliers' premises, as this will add to your overall impression of the supplier. Rather than just accept any statement that a supplier can produce a system that they will "enhance" to your specifications, all the while demonstrating a generic "across-the-board" system, bring your written requirements and ask that they demonstrate an enhancement to a particular function YOU choose from the list, not them. Choose an important one.
Following the demonstrations, you may well be left in a dilemma.
No system can match all your needs and different systems are meeting different sets of requirements. If it comes down to a compromise, as it more than likely will, the compromise needs to remain under your control. Obtain quotes from the suppliers but, before this, each offering should be reviewed and you should decide whether any supplier should be invited to quote for developing enhancements to match requirements that their basic system could not meet.
This will require you to decide which features are really important to the business and which you think you could manage without..This article was written by http://www.formula-travel.
com. Formula Travel Solutions is the leading technology provider of advanced tour operator software and Airline Systems. Formula Travel offers the most comprehensive technology solutions for Tour Operators, Wholesalers and Airlines. Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must include a link back to http://www.formula-travel.
By: Formula Travel
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