Consumer Goods companies must know what the market wants
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Tourist travel isn’t what it used to be. The one-size fits-all charter trips are being replaced by tailored travel. Customers want to choose the hotel, food, sports activities, degree of sustainability and more.
For travel agencies, tailored travel means new opportunities, but also huge amounts of facts and figures to keep track of. TUI Nordic, the biggest tour operator in the Nordic area, decided to go for PLM and TechniaTranscat (previously Technia) to sort it out.
“PLM is usually associated with the manufacturing industry, not service products. But TechniaTranscat very quickly understood our needs and showed us the possibilities with PLM in our business,” says Peter Ulwahn, TUI Nordic’s Head of Product and Purchasing.
In the travel business, charter trips used to be a pretty straightforward product: basically a flight and a hotel. There were few options, if any. Travel agencies developed their IT systems for bookings and the Internet, but detailed information on hotels, flights and other services were limited and hard to find.
“Such information was scattered in different systems, individual Excel lists or stored in some mainframe computer,” says Ulwahn. TUI Nordic includes Fritidsresor in Sweden, Finnmatkat in Finland, Star Tour in Norway and Denmark.
“We would guess what customers wanted and it took months, sometimes a year, to produce a new travel product. We printed a catalogue with our offerings twice a year,” says Ulwahn.
“More and more, customers were asking for additional services such as paying extra in order to have more luggage, for a baby carriage, or a golf bag on the flights. Customers wanted to know how much this would cost, what the seating and food options on the plane were, the kind of hotel rooms offered, or the tours and deals available at nearby restaurants. Something had to be done,” says Ulwahn.
“We needed all of this information in one place and to have it accessible for relevant staff at any time,” says Ulwahn. PLM started o in the manufacturing industry, to keep track of every nut and bolt in aircraft production. TUI Nordic was evaluating the system for a small project concerning hotels.
“We then realized that PLM could be used to keep track of all detailed information. We called in three suppliers to find out how it would work,” says Ulwahn.
TechniaTranscat had experience not only from the manufacturing industry, but also from Haglöfs and other apparel companies. That made an impression.
“PLM is a great support when you have a lot of information to keep track of, regardless of what product or service you are selling. The system gives you an overview and the base for new offerings,” says TechniaTranscat’s Sales Executive Arik Gilboa.
TUI Nordic named its PLM system the Travel Product Generator, TPG. It is integrated with all purchasing information. All products are updated and distributed to all systems, with one master.
By keeping track of all the details, TPG makes it easy to tailor customer demands and to make new products, even when they are complicated.
“For instance, we may have a hotel with 18 restaurants in the neighborhood with which we have favorable deals for our customers,” says Ulwahn.
“Or say, we have a hotel in Tenerife which does not sell as well as we hoped. Now we can reconfigure the offering and include tickets to the huge Tenerife Siam Water Park.”
The two-times-per-year printed catalogues have been replaced by 19 releases on the web. TUI Nordic is probably the first travel agency in the world to use PLM.
“PLM can work just as well for banks, insurance companies, and telecom operators, any company with a lot of products in different combinations,” Ulwahn says.
The next step could be equipping staff with TechniaTranscats’s TVC Mobile Access which would enable them to punch in information anywhere, for instance when visiting a new hotel. And the next generation travel sites may be when customers are allowed directly into the PLM system and are able to make their choices on their own and give feedback.