CRM Case Study:
Tourism/Travel Industry

Maximo Nivel

Our company is a small language and adventure travel organization with offices in Peru, Costa Rica, and the United States. We centralize our sales and client service in Peru via our International Programs group in Cusco, Peru. The organization is around 85 people in total with 7 dedicated to sales and service for our International Programs.

Prior to August 2008, we managed everything via Outlook and Spreadsheets, but with our business increasing, our team growing, and not having a super-techie team on-hand, I was personally running Excel reports and screaming for email follow-up. In short, we were keeping up with it, but a lot of my time was used up on data management for the team–and I’m supposed to be opening the new office in Mexico.

Thus began our CRM search.

I’ve got some decent experience with front-end DB conceptualization for small companies beginning from 1989. So, with help from the team and some good brainstorming sessions, we knew what we were looking for.

Our business and our client contact is email-centric. More often than not, we matriculate clients into our programs ranging from $500 to $5000 without even a phone call. As well, we receive payments via a centralized online credit card processor, which then notifies us by email. These payment emails come from a single email account, but need to be associated with different clients. Beyond that, we needed to automate our follow-up process, which was not happening well–our people are often in the field working with various projects and destinations that we manage, and manual follow-up was just not getting done in a timely and effective manner. Hence, we knew we were losing matriculations and not always sending the best first impression to our potential clients.

I found Relenta in a write-up on salesteamtools.com. They did a great side-by-side comparison with Relenta, Batchbook, BigContacts, Oprius, Highrise and Pipeline Deals. From this I signed up for free trials and really put Relenta, Highrise, and Oprius through their paces. Oprius, with no team calender and no contact sharing, ultimately didn’t fit the bill for my group of 7. Highrise’s email drop-box and no email out, just didn’t give us the centralized, email-centric system we needed. Same with BigContacts. As well, Relenta’s follow-up and service to us from Day-1 was great! It took days to get answers from some of the others.

From there, after a week or so with Relenta, I was happy–my team was happy and we were well on our way, even developing the beginnings of a user manual to help us standardized how we enter information into Relenta and so on. About that time though, I became convinced that Relenta might not be large enough, might not give us everything we wanted.

Thus began my investigation into EMAIL MARKETING – CONTACT MANAGER – CRM – COLLABORATION

We wanted/needed:

  • A hosted service
  • Integrated in/out email
  • Centralized [team] in-box
  • Ability to link ANY email to ANY contact record
  • Auto responders
  • Drip marketing
  • Canned responses
  • Total email and activity history INSIDE each contact record
  • Team Calender
  • Web forms
  • Custom fields
  • Centralized contacts (contact sharing)
  • Affordable ~ $200 – $300 per month maximum

Now, 6 weeks later… I know something my mother and every business mentor I’ve ever had always told me… nobody [nothing] is going to give you EVERYTHING you want, only YOU can give YOU everything you want!

Here’s a quick list of what I looked at: FreeCRM, BroswerCRM, JobBlogs, iContact, Joyent, HyperOffice, Webex (WebOffice), vTiger, ZoHo, Zimbra, Chaos Intellect, StreetSmart, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM, Google’s CRM (Etelos), SalesForce, Infusionsoft, and a few others. 17 different trials ranging from 14 to 30 days. Some, where I barely got past the registration, others where I waited for days to be given access codes, sadly many that were unresponsive until the 3rd or 4th email. Some where I was led through a fancy, live, online demo, etc. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot out there. The EMAIL MARKETING – CONTACT MANAGER – CRM – COLLABORATION space
is big, growing, and at least for us… very exciting!

In the end, Relenta has won out. It’s small, tight, and gets the basics done so well that anything it lacks I just can’t be that unhappy about. Service has been very responsive too–very important to us as a small organization. Relenta needs to keep building, smoothing, and adding, no doubt, but what they’ve got here is nothing short of beautiful.

OUR IMPLEMENTATION

At present we’re using Relenta just for our International Programs team, but will expand this to the rest of the organization later.

We have a single in-box tied into multiple emails–our own centralized POP3 accounts as well as our partners’ emails where we act as their service team under their name with their email branding. Our team, with their respective logins, access the centralized inbox. We can all simultaneously see what’s coming in and what’s been responded to — they’re is no ‘synching’ and back and forth as to which email has been replied to and which one hasn’t.

We’ve set up categories and groups to track Program type, Channel (various partners’ and direct clients), and Destination (Peru, Costa Rica, etc.),

We’ve implemented the web form to auto-populate into new contacts when clients request information from our website.

We have email campaigns auto-running at various intervals–this has freed us from manually responding by email, and has better focused us on CALLING the clients to matriculate them. The time we spend on follow-up is now a much more personalized phone call, and we leave the emailing to Relenta.

We’ve moved our quarterly newsletter over to Relenta.

We’re presently working with Dabble DB and the Relenta export function for reporting and database purposes.

As we’ve locked and loaded on Relenta, we’re also building on our internal Relenta Users’ Manual to ensure accuracy and standardization of the information. After all, garbage in = garbage out. This requires dedication and fastidious attention to detail, team meetings, and lots of collaboration to AGREE on how we need to use the Relenta system. Interestingly, we’re finding out even more about our people, clients, and business as we work through this.

We’re very excited about our journey and process, and about increasingly utilizing Relenta’s
EMAIL MARKETING – CONTACT MANAGER – CRM – COLLABORATION system.

So, that’s our CRM case study. I hope it helps.

Ken Jones
Founder/Executive Director
Maximo Nivel
www.maximonivel.com

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