In the time of technological developments, there are still companies that have over 100 employees and are managing everything manually, writing on papers or on walls (yes, walls). As a software consultant, I often hear travel companies say “We can do it faster in Excel” or “Excel is really fitting our needs”. But what about the back office part, online booking part, GDS integrations part – this isn’t a future-space-shuttle thing, it’s a must or someone else will take your place maybe even tomorrow. Here are reasons why Excel can not compare to tour operator system:
1. Not a specialized tool
Doing business in the travel world means dealing with professional terminology on a daily basis. Using something generic isn’t a high level „thing“. Excel is used by different business organization types, so it’s not good to use it since your travel business is unique. You have to have a place where you can track your reservations, passengers, travel services, commissions, margins, groups, etc. A tour operator system is an all in one solution and what Excel can do is only 10% of what a tour operator system has!
2. Time wasted in manual work
Having an all in one solution helps you avoid manual work you invest each time you need to enter data for multiple worksheets and complex formulas. The prices for your services are automatically calculated, the itineraries are automatically generated and an overview of the current financial status is accessible with just one mouse click (you can also manage security roles for different employees!).
Let’s put it this way: You have 150 employees managing your travel business with Excel. With a tour operator system, you will have 75 employees doing the same amount of work. This is only to show you the idea of how this speeds up your work and empowers the efficiency. In other words, the business operations module within the software improves both productivity and profitability.
3. Complexity of usage
Only basic tasks are familiar in Excel. More advanced features require time and experience to be properly mastered. An Excel spreadsheet is basically a blank slate which you can store financial figures on. You need to type in every number one by one (or click copy-paste over and over again) and use different calculations to create the figures you want totally. An automated tour operator system takes the guesswork out because you don’t need formulas running through your head.
4. Missing crucial reports
A place where you can review all transactions that have been done or changed by your employees simply doesn’t exist! The profits, losses, margins, invoiced amounts, etc. are spread in hundreds of excel files, not giving you an overview of how your travel company is doing. With a tour operator system, it’s possible to get all reports out-of-the-box (manage money, budgets, free seats, track invoices and payments, customers, partners, suppliers, create and send documents, itineraries and monitor employees’ efficiency). For example, how can you reward someone or see if the person is having problems doing their work if you don’t have an overview of what they do? You can’t.
5. Ineffective organization
Enter your information once and manage it all from one central place. No desktop files and no 3 different systems needed (one for back office, one for creating documents/invoices, one for online booking, etc.). Also, Excel doesn’t offer an easy conversion of your records to customer-facing forms (for example by sending an email, or printing a vendor invoice).
6. Often manual entry mistakes
Manual data entry process usually leads to mistakes. Data can get corrupted through accidental changes or deletion. A situation where you don’t have the control can be extremely dangerous for the business.
7. Uncentralized data
With a tour operator system, you manage all emails, customers, suppliers, documents, and services from one place with a familiar interface. Also, the financial transactions are consolidated and managed from one central location, eliminating the need for separate Excel worksheets (that can lead to chaos!).
8. Inefficient employees collaboration
Each department (sometimes each employee as well) usually manages their own spreadsheet, which makes collaboration amongst teams almost like mission impossible. This causes miscommunication as well as frustration across the company. I don’t know which is worse – everybody having their own Excel file or the case where all employees are using the same excel file. In the second case, only one person at a time can manage the file!
A tour operator system gives you history overview of everything that was done with all reservations and data (when something was changed, what exactly was changed and who made the change). This is extremely helpful if more persons are working on the same reservation, customer quotation/itinerary or if somebody goes on vacation so the work needs to be continued where it stopped.
9. No secure data and lack of financial real-time insights
Your data stored locally on your desktop isn’t secure. You depend on the health of your hard disk and the quality of your computer. With a cloud based tour operator system, the information cannot be lost due to viruses or computer crash-downs, it’s possible to access this data from anywhere, at any time. The servers always have backup in case something goes wrong. Also, you can access the data from another computer, you just need to have an internet connection.
10. Difficult decision making process
With all that said – how can you even make any decision?! Decision making needs to be supported by some facts and numbers. Excel doesn’t offer an audit trail to show how your business records have changed nor provide you with real-time financial data for accurate decision making. It’s very hard to get the quality information you need to make future actions. A cloud-based travel software automatically converts data into actionable information, which can be used for business decision making.
To sum up, Excel is a good program for storing small amounts of simple data and it can provide basic levels of accounting functions and itineraries. But when it comes to visualizing data, creating interactive dashboards, managing unlimited data, and supporting real-time data discovery it’s inadequate. As your business grows and you have more data to track and monitor, it becomes a non-acceptable way of handling things.