App-y days: why tour operators no longer need the paper trail
Vamoos, an innovative, end-to-end digital solution for tour operators and their clients, is helping customers to dream, plan and discover at all stages of the journey
Four years ago, Tony Bean, one of the founders of Vamoos, who will be joining EyeforTravel in San Francisco next month, returned from a skiing trip. All in all, the trip had been a success, but what he found slightly frustrating was that despite having a mobile device in his pocket, he still had to carry around a whole lot of paperwork.
With people increasingly looking for unique and exotic holiday experiences, the rise in middle and upper middle class spending, and growing mobile device and social media usage, it was a perfect storm. Spotting an opportunity, Bean quickly garnered support from six UK based operators to scope out the initial requirements for Vamoos. The idea was to develop an affordable digital solution for the rapidly growing number of small to medium sized tour operators, and their end users.
Since launching in 2014, the company has gone from strength to strength and is currently working with some 250 operators across 23 countries. “We partner with operators who are servicing anything from 500 to 20,000 people each year, and we have been used in 183 countries,” says Bean. Now the team is looking to pastures new including the US.
Built on feedback
The first product was a simple document wallet but thanks to customer feedback this has now evolved into an end-to-end experience with numerous “show-stopping” features. Bean explains that this has been an evolving process of continuous involvement of both end users and tour operators.
Among the features are everything from direct API integration to itinerary building, live flight alerts, customisable mapping, weather updates, and more. Vamoos has both a B2C facing app, which can be downloaded from the app store, but white label solutions are also a possibility, and it’s all available offline.
Once a booking has been confirmed, and customers have downloaded the app, tour operators have the opportunity to share pre-trip tips and updates. In the fast-growing luxury segment, this is particularly true, as there is a real possibility to build excitement as soon as the holiday is booked. This was certainly the case for Magnetic North, an operator specialising in tailor-made trips to Scandinavia and Canada. “Customers love the countdown as the trip becomes real for them and it’s been a big part of the feedback we get,” says founder Laura Greenman. In addition, she adds, Vamoos “has saved us a lot of time in terms of admin work”.
For Sheri Fazleabas, President of US-based A&S Signature Journeys, Vamoos has delivered many benefits to an organisation that was previously paper-based. "Clients are able to see the progress of their bookings as we confirm different segments of their tour and they get uploaded to the application. We've also had positive feedback on the live flight notifications, as well as any special reminders such as visas or immunisations. It's really about better client communication."
Henrietta Ferguson Luxury Tours is another example of how Vamoos is being used to wow customers with beautiful photographs in order to bring the trip to life even before the tour begins.
As an end-to-end experience, it is also useful during the trip, for highlighting points of interest or to suggest tours and activities. Luxury Cotswold Rentals, for example, has focused on points-of-interest rather than itinerary building. It uses Vamoos to store a repository of house manuals, arrival information, links to activities and information about the local area. In aiming to be the best guide to the Cotswolds, the group has accumulated over 1600 points of interest and delivers personal restaurant and bar recommendations, that come from clients and owners and the team. Basic information on things like local theatres, petrol stations, public toilets, ATMs, supermarkets, cinemas and so on are also included right in the app, so that customers don’t need to look anywhere else.
One of the great advantages for tour operators is that they now have access to a lot of customer data. “This makes it much easier to deliver a personalised service, to drive loyalty, and to even make recommendations for upcoming tours,” says Bean.
And in this business, the ability to be standout with a unique and personal service cannot be underrated!
Vamoos is a sponsor of EyeforTravel's Analytics and AI in Travel North America, which takes in place on San Francisco on March 14-15