Shearings.

Supporting growth and exceptional customer service.

Sector

Travel and Tourism

Project type

Reservations

Supporting the UK’s largest escorted tour operator through a technology driven revolution.

Shearings, recognised as the UK’s largest escorted tour operator, offered a broad range of holidays and hotel breaks to more than 200 destinations across the UK, Europe and Worldwide via their dedicated luxury coach fleet and their exclusive network of hotels and accommodation.

The Shearings brand became Synonymous with knowledgeable and friendly teams who would look after every aspect of their customer’s journey from start to finish. The drivers, tour managers and hotel staff were always on-hand to ensure everyone gets the very best from their holiday. With over 100 years’ experience of planning and providing holidays, they knew the importance of adapting and change to ensure their customer's experience was second to none.

Their success was due in part to their approach to change and development, constantly looking for ways to improve and grow, whilst improving their customer's experience. This approach to business transformation, combined with ambitious growth plans made them perfect partners for Inspiretec as we supported them through a multi-year technology driven business transformation programme.

Building a platform for future ambitions.

Planning for growth almost always means doing something different and embracing this change is what led Shearings to work with Inspiretec and their Reservations platform. With a large and well-established call centre, they wanted to improve the functionality of on-demand distribution and support core business growth and increased product diversification.

The incumbent coach reservations platform was hard to use, reliant on a lot of manual intervention and lots of ‘offline’ product knowledge. Shearings wanted to update their technology and build a more flexible system, capable of leveraging regular updates and improvements, whilst ensuring both internal and external user experience was second to none.

For an organisation that always went that extra mile for their customers this was critical to their future success.

A journey with the Shearings team that started in 2017.

Using agile iterative releases, the Shearings’s team implemented Inspiretec’s Reservations product and worked closely together to engage the different users to discuss and evaluate their needs and requirements. Working together with a shared destination in mind ensured every member of the team knew exactly what needed to be done and who to work with to get it done. The journey from investigation and evaluations through to development and build was seamless and ensured that only the very best practice was mutually agreed and applied.

What are the benefits of a shared goal or destination?

This close working relationship reaped benefits when it came to integrating the new functionality with existing systems and platforms. Inspiretec’s in-depth knowledge of ‘coach’ business alongside their wider travel industry pedigree allowed for a greater level of understanding what was needed when it came to user training and onboarding.

Starting in 2017.

The journey started with the introduction of our core Reservations platform to support their Worldwide product launch – a series of innovative escorted tours to exciting short and long-haul destinations, designed to diversify and expand the Shearings product.

In parallel, new coach specific functionality was developed so Shearings could set up coaches in the system so they could be assigned to tours – allowing users to manage seat maps and attach them to specific coaches. This phase of coach enhancements also allowed the Shearings team to define routes with multiple pick-up points and sequencing, with real-time mileage information and pick up locations provided by innovative geo-location look up tools.

2018/2019.

We utilised the new coach tour configuration functionality to create a brand-new selling journey, helping the call centre team with features like automatic coach assignment, seat selection and joining options, specifically:

  • Tour connect – customer meets feeder vehicle at a chosen pickup point
  • Home connect – taxi service collecting from a customer-specified address
  • Direct connect – the customer makes their own way directly to the interchange or hotel

A tailor-made approach to selling allowed for multiple components to be added to basket including their coach tour and any upsells. This ability to increase in-basket transactions led to an instant improvement to bottom-line sales.

The new selling journey was applied to the Customer website through the custom-built Reservations API. This API allowed for the selling of different types of tours, not just coaches but complex worldwide tours with Adhoc flight bookings. This meant, whichever sales channel was used, the new system ensured seamless integration with back-office systems including OpenAccounts their finance package.


2019/2020.

A Management tool was created for final routing that showed all passengers and their joining information in one place. It allowed for the construction of the best possible route to pick up passengers and clearly match bookings with their routes.

Fleet management was improved with the ability to consolidate coaches where not enough seats have been sold, ensuring the most cost-effective vehicle allocation can be made based on real-time demand.

This ability to consolidate coaches is made more effective by the creation of a bulk transfer tool, that allows the transfer of multiple bookings for tours and their associated components. A task that would have taken significant manpower and time previously.

With any project that fundamentally changes the way you engage with your customers, it is essential that you are as careful choosing the right people as you are the right technology stack. Inspiretec’s approach truly embodied both of these essential factors and the results speak for themself.

Richard Calvert CEO, Specialist Leisure Group.

Benefits.

  • 01

    Offer new ways to sell and manage coach holidays and complex worldwide tours.

  • 02

    Reservations offer more flexibility approach with range of supporting functionality that doesn’t exist in coach industry.

  • 03

    Use of modern technologies.

  • 04

    More user-friendly experience to ease training, onboarding and ability to grow in future.

Products and services used

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