We already know that the travel took a massive hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some, like Southlake-based Sabre, have already announced pivots to prepare for an industry that’s bound to evolve.
Another North Texan recently making moves is Frisco-based TourConnect, which has decided to launch technology that could help tourism organizations increase operational efficiency and maximize productivity during this time.
In a released announcement, TourConnect introduced a new Partner Management Tool that combines a CRM, a virtual trade event, a rate management tool, and a marketing material distribution tool all in one platform.
TourConnect Founder Michael Herrmann recognized that travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, and suppliers were faced with unique challenges—reduced staff, slashed budgets, and more—and knew his company could help.
TourConnect was founded to provide modern software solutions that could eliminate outdated, inefficient processes in the tourism industry. The tools focus mostly on business-to-business relationships, except when it comes to actual bookings.
Herrmann, a Dallas native, started the company in 2011 to address some of the challenges he was experiencing in the B2B aspect of the industry. He shares an office with his brother’s company, Call-Em-All, making for a family enterprise that often swaps advice and insights.
As the tourism slowly starts to ramp up again, Herrmann knew he and his team had to step up.
“Tourism isn’t going away, but the huge portion of the industry that is B2B focused (think retail travel agents), must modernize to remain competitive,” he told Dallas Innovates. “What worked for the past 30 years just isn’t going to cut it going forward. TourConnect aims to help our industry during that transition, and truly help our industry recover from this year’s challenges.”
The new Partner Management Tool aims to help organizations keep costs down while preparing to hit the ground running as soon as bookings start to pick back up, Herrmann says. Users are able to manage all key industry contacts in one place, sending messages to partners, and keep a history of conversations, contracts, and notes for every partner.
“We provide cost savings and efficiency, which is vital, as every tourism company is going to be operating with smaller staffs and less resources,” Herrmann says. “Where we used to hear companies say they could live with manual processes (they were throwing people at the problems), they are now starting to look for better, long-term solutions.”
TourConnect’s other solutions are built on top of the Partner Management Tool’s infrastructure—that includes rate management and marketing material distribution—and the platform can integrate with other CRMs, booking systems, and industry software.
The new release is expected to be a huge boost for TourConnect, which took a hit immediately following the health outbreak. But, if everything goes as planned, Herrmann expects to add a few more resources before pursuing an investment that could fund the company’s growth.
“We are still in startup mode (as so many tech companies are even after 8-plus years of operation); however, this year was shaping up to be our ‘year of overnight success.’ We had two deals, one signed and one awaiting final approval, that would have meant by the end of February, we would have locked in 2020 revenue that would have already exceeded all of 2019’s revenue,” Herrmann says. “Those contracts got put on ice due to COVID, and virtually all of our revenue has stopped (even our renewals, as most are from hotels/day tours, etc., that have $0 in revenue right now).”
He now expects one of those deals to come back on board soon. Plus, he and his team are seeing signs of companies “coming out of hibernation” as summer begins.
“There is a chance we still exceed revenue expectations this year, as we are finding that companies are considering TourConnect an essential backoffice platform,” he says.
And, TourConnect is still stepping up despite the economic downturn. In an effort to help tourism organizations start to recover, TourConnect is offering flexible pricing options like 20 percent down and no payments until 2021 on existing solutions and any custom development work.
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