Upgrading an outdated system reinforced how Tracoin provides for one of the world’s largest family-owned companies.
In this case study, Sengerio catches up with the General Manager for Transport and Uniworld Services at Tracoin, Giorgio Nocent, to understand what obstacles the company has experienced and how they found the success they have today.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect:
- The story of The Travel Corporation and Tracoin’s company culture.
- The limits of their previous system in managing their operations.
- Why upgrading to a digital alternative optimised the management of their operations.
- The future of Tracoin.
So without wasting any more time, let’s get stuck in!
But first, here’s an interesting story about the origin of The Travel Company…
The Birth of One of the World’s Largest Family-Owned Companies
It all started back in 1920 in a small village called Paternoster located on the west coast of South Africa.
A decade after escaping the Tsarist oppression in Lithuania at the age of 14 with only a few gold rubles, Solomon Tollman, later known as Solly, opened the doors of the newly acquired ‘Paternoster Hotel’.
Solomon’s son, Stanley Tollman, and his wife, Beatrice, grew the hotel chain throughout South Africa and purchased Trafalgar Tours in 1969 and expanded The Travel Corporation into the United Kingdom and beyond.
Solomon Tollman and his wife Evelyn. Source: The Travel Corporation
Today The Travel Corporation has over 40 award-winning brands such as Contiki, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar. All of which have something unique to offer anyone that is looking for the holiday of their lifetime.
From the small hotel in rural South Africa to a globally-run travel business, the creed Solomon had introduced has remained fundamental: ‘Driven by Service’.
The Rise of Tracoin
Founded by The Travel Corporation in 1994, as the name may suggest, ‘Tracoin’ is derived from three of the sister brands it provides services for; Trafalgar, Cointiki, and Insight Vacations.
Tracoin provides support to The Travel Corporation family of brands through contract administration services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
In addition, Tracoin also assists managing the supplier relationships for Luxury Gold, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, U River Cruises, Costsaver, Brendan Vacations and Travel Corporation Asia.
Source: Insight Vacations
Stretching their direct operations from Lisbon to Moscow and from the tip of the United Kingdom to Egypt, Tracoin provides contracts for many types of services including contract transportation, hotels and other types of accommodation, and different travel experiences such as dining, wine tastings and opportunities to meet local people.
While the TTC offices are found throughout the Victoria and Hyde Park areas of London, Tracoin’s Transport Department proudly stands overlooking Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom. Near the Tracoin office
During an interview with the General Manager of the Transport Department, Giorgio Nocent, who was talking from an office with a view of the Royal Family’s tennis courts, the primary objective of Tracoin quintessentially echoes Solomon Tollman’s famous creed:
Driven by Service.
Tracoin’s key objective is to give our sister companies’ guests the holiday of their lifetime at unbeatable prices while never compromising the safety or quality of our operations. Safety is especially paramount to everything we do at Tracoin and The Travel Corporation.
What we want to achieve is to develop new partnerships with like-minded suppliers who can exceed guests’ expectations at all times.
Since starting as operations executive 10 years ago and now the General Manager of the Transport Department and also responsible for contracting on-shore services for Uniworld, Giorgio and his colleagues reflect the company’s grit-determination and guest-orientated approach.
Company Culture & Superior Supplier Base
In a marketplace where conditions are continuously shifting and consequently impacting how the company negotiates and makes deals, the positive company culture that has been established at Tracoin was notable throughout the interview. Giorgio stated that:
This is a hyper-competitive industry, so what is vital to survive is to constantly be the trailblazer. This means not waiting to react but always proactively face the challenges that are thrown our way.
The only way to do this is to adapt, evolve, and innovate constantly and always be the first one in the market to change the market itself.
There’s no doubt that these values have provided a solid backbone to the company over the years.
This is evident in the partnership Tracoin has formed with their suppliers- not to mention the suppliers that have been with The Travel Corporation for 40-50 years.
We get contacted on a daily basis by potential new suppliers because they hear of our high standards, vast market, and our reliability in terms of payments.
For us it’s always important to remain conscious of the market and always understand it’s evolution.
Therefore we are always keen on talking with new potential suppliers in order to find someone who is like-minded, willing to provide our guests with the best service and give us the best possible rates. We are more than happy to develop new partnerships.
Keep in mind that new suppliers essentially become part of the big, united family. It’s for this reason that the ideal supplier is someone who understands that when things become challenging, it’s vital that everybody works together to overcome the difficult moments.
This requires flexibility, as Giorgio excellently puts it:
In the travel industry, anything can happen at any time of the day or night. We need suppliers who are reliable that can follow the strictest health and safety guidelines because that is absolutely crucial.
At the same time, it’s important to ensure that at least 80% of the suppliers meet the company’s expectations.
A few years ago the transport department revolutionised the way they manage their supplier base. This consists of reviewing the feedback a specific supplier has received from the Travel Directors, the members of the Transport Team, and the guests at the end of the main operating season.
This allows the company to consolidate the relationships with their suppliers by acknowledging the quality, rates, and flexibility they can provide.
However, they are always on the look-out for new opportunities to bringin fresh blood and keep things fluid.
I’m proud to say that I feel we have the best supplier base from the transportation perspective.
We have outstanding suppliers.
A Lesson In Keeping Up With The Times
Within the last 10 years we have seen the transportation industry and the world in general change greatly. Especially from the digital perspective.
When I started at the company, we were still using faxes. Today. Hardly anyone uses fax anymore as it has been completely replaced by emailing.
In Tracoin’s case, a lot of the work was still being completed manually.
When it came to coach-tour location management, for example, their system consisted of using a huge plastic board on the wall with tiny pieces of paper with all the tours that needed to be allocated.
Once allocated, all this information had to be transferred onto an Excel sheet and then emailed to the relevant personnel.
We’re talking about 100 emails per month to each different coach company with their services. There was a minefield of mistakes of lost communication, not to mention all the time the team spent doing this job.
It was unthinkable that in 2016-2017 we still had to do all this manual work.
The management at Tracoin and The Travel Corporation needed to rethink their digital strategies to remain leaders of their sector.
Going Digital: Automatisation and Much More
In order to replace their outdated systems, a huge investment has reformed Tracoin’s and TTC’s IT system for several areas of the business.
We have worked on many different projects for each brand by putting our fingers in many pies to really push the boundaries of digitalisation.
While the travel directors have launched a new system to operate their trips in a more seamless manner, the transport department chose Sengerio in 2018 as the collaborative platform for their superior network of almost 200 suppliers and 1000 coaches on the road.
The problem that we had before acquiring Sengerio was that we didn’t have Sengerio.
Sengerio is a cloud-based suite of passenger transportation software that provides a centralised system for many aspects of transportation management for both buyers and transportation companies.
Utilizing dedicated transportation software allowed Tracoin’s Transport Department to organise their operations in one, unique place. This means no more plastic boards with pieces of paper or Excel sheets.
Our ultimate goal has been to create a one-stop-shop for all the communication with the coach companies and having all the information stored in one place. This includes everything from the insurance information to the drivers’ documents.
Now, their coach-tour operations are created directly in Sengerio’s system and their information can instantly be shared with travel companies and suppliers. This has saved an enormous amount of time and optimised their allocation process.
Giorgio Nocent, the General Manager of the Transport Department at Tracoin, on how Sengerio has optimised their business operations.
In addition, thanks to the shared platform Sengerio provides, it is possible for Tracoin to communicate with their suppliers via the direct messaging feature from within the booking of each service.
The communication is all done via a chat which is always saved on the system. This ensures that no information between us and the other companies is lost.
This automatisation resulted in fewer emails sent per month and ultimately reduced the total amount of hours the team members needed to complete these tasks, meaning that they can focus more on the guests rather than spending more time unnecessarily on the administrative tasks.
Along with rendering the impeccable communication between Tracoin and its suppliers, Sengerio’s features reinforced other aspects of the business such as:
- Provide a platform that collates all the itineraries with the financial information.
- Visualise vehicle information, such as insurance and maintenance history, directly from the suppliers.
- Visualise driver information, such as licensing and important phone numbers, directly from the suppliers.
- Allows operators to modify any service on the shared platform so that any modifications are instantly relayed to the supplier.
- The Sengerio Support team are always on hand if assistance is required.
I have to praise the team at Sengerio for their esteem and constant communication.
Whenever we approached them with a problem that needed resolving, they always proposed the best solution and helped us resolve it and even address some of the lateral issues in the meantime.
Overall I can say Sengerio greatly improved the efficacy and efficiency of our transport team.
The Future of Tracoin
Since the pandemic has halted operations and the entirety of the travel industry ponders on what awaits for them ahead, The Travel Corporation and Tracoin have been working endlessly to ensure that all the necessary steps are ready if operations are to resume as early as tomorrow.
Several of their committees meet every fortnight to create and distribute their elaborated post-Covid19 protocols to make certain that all relevant bodies, from travel directors, drivers, to hotel personnel, receive the necessary training.
We want to guarantee to our guests that these protocols are to be maintained. We have all worked extremely hard to make sure that when we resume operations, we’ll be ready.
In fact, some of TTC’s brands have launched the concept of the ‘Wellbeing director’ to accommodate the introduction of the strict new safety protocols.
The Wellbeing director will act as a second crew member to assist the travel director and the driver in making sure that the guests have an amazing and relaxing holiday and even assist cleaning the vehicle after each service.
The role will also consist of additional jobs such as collecting room keys for the guests so that they don’t have to wait in the hotel lobby, completing the Check-in for the guests, and ensuring the safety measures in restaurants are in order.
High-Quality. Cost-Efficient. Safety-Driven.
All with only guest-satisfaction in mind.
The team at Tracoin provide an exemplar nature to their services and business ethic that Solomon Tollman surely had in mind.
Together with the automatisation provided by Sengerio, Tracoin has mastered the fine art of efficiently organising their services.
Even though this year probably isn’t how The Travel Corporation imagined they would have been celebrating their 100-year anniversary, their sense of togetherness in this difficult time emits the positive light the travel industry needs to guide us back to the path we were once travelling.
In the meantime, from the Sengerio team, we wish our partners Tracoin and The Travel Corporation all the best for their next century in the business.