While travel was on hold for most of the past 12 months, the people at Vertical Systems didn’t stop, designing and adapting their technology so it can be used by the growing number of people working from home. The team even developed its own video call platform. Managing Director Chris North explains.
Vertical Systems has been busy over the past year. Fill us in.
At the start of the first lockdown we took the brave decision not to furlough our programmers and use the period as an opportunity to plough through our development roadmap and deliver new relevant technology. The lockdown forced travel agents to change the way they work as they could not go to the office, so we adapted the way some of our tech works to make the transition easier for them.
How have you made it easier for people working from home?
As more people started to work from home, we ensured our back-office software, vTarsc, could be accessed from any location and on any device.
We enhanced our vCrm platform by adding great new features such as a brand manager, itinerary quote builder (including full cruise itineraries) and tour operator booking retrieval tool.
Our main enhancement has focused on content. All customer quotes are now super rich in content including 4K videos (the standard resolution used in digital TV), high-res images, maps and descriptions.
Agents needed an alternative way to transact money as they couldn’t use their physical PDQ payment terminals. We developed VSL PAY, our pay-by-link technology, where a link can be sent to a customer, allowing them to make the transaction themselves.
As businesses were unable to meet their colleagues and customers face-to-face, we created VSL CALL, our video and conferencing call platform. We run our business internally and our calls, demos and meetings externally with the platform. Seeing a face makes the call or meeting so much more personal and productive. In the future we won’t be travelling as much as we did before Covid as we feel the video calls have worked brilliantly.
Consumer confidence is more important than ever. How does your technology help agents to gain a competitive edge?
In the past two years the industry has had the failure of Thomas Cook and the pandemic, where most people’s holidays were cancelled. Now more than ever people are looking for a trusted brand when parting with their hard-earned money.
Our vCrm quoting tool includes rich content to increase brand awareness. This includes an agent headshot (pulled from their e-business card), agency introduction, maps and personalised videos where an agent or agency can introduce themselves to their customer. Most CRMs ask: Do you know your customer? but we add: And does your customer know you?
This is so important as you can give the best quote ever but if you aren’t trusted, a customer will not book with you.
People are still a bit scared of technology. How does Vertical get around this?
The most important message is to tell a person WHY they should use technology. What are they going to gain and learn from it? We ensure we get this across before showing someone how to use our software.
We provide videos for all functionality that customers have access to 24/7 and we have a great support team on our help desk in Essex.
What are the key ways Vertical can help travel businesses?
We can demonstrate immediate cost savings, efficiencies/time saving and a stronger brand awareness immediately. The customer relationship, quote, payment process, booking and documentation is all linked across our suite under one licence.