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Success Story - Vacansoleil

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Vacansoleil


Modernization


Entertainment


WebSmart ILE

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Vacansoleil books a brighter future with IBM

Vacansoleil books a brighter future with IBM. Vacansoleil sees its new booking service not just as a way to keep costs low, but also as an extra service to its customers. The company anticipates that the new channel to market will help it to expand more rapidly in new territories.

For small or medium-size enterprises that want to implement Web interactivity safely and securely, WebSmart on iSeries is a great solution.

Wim Backers, Managing Director of Vacansoleil


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Heading for the sun

Founded 30 years ago, Vacansoleil is one of the Netherlands' leading travel businesses. From its headquarters in Eindhoven, the company, owned by the Backers family, has grown from modest beginnings into an international organisation - it even has its own TV programme! Vacansoleil offers camping and caravanning holidays, as well as holiday homes and villa holidays, and has opened branch operations in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Denmark and the UK.

Vacansoleil prides itself on offering expert advice to customers, and requires all of its reservation employees to visit at least 40 camp sites each year. With business growing rapidly, it was becoming more difficult to offer in-depth advice to each customer without causing delays for other customers.

Wim Backers, Managing Director of Vacansoleil, comments: "We wanted to continue to offer the highest standards possible in customer service, and the rate of growth in our business was making it hard to train new employees sufficiently quickly. We realised that an online booking service would give regular customers exactly what they wanted, whilst reducing the strain on our reservation staff."

No reservations about technology

To meet the challenge, Vacansoleil worked with NN Solutions, www.nnsolutions.nl, an IBM Business Partner, to implement a full online travel and holiday booking service. From initial planning to completion, the solution took just six months, and has already delivered cost savings. Built using WebSmart Smart technology from BCD, www.bcdsoftware.com - of which NN Solutions is the Benelux distributor - the new booking system runs on IBM eServer iSeries.

Explaining the benefits of the solution, Backers says, "We have already seen a financial return from the new system, because it has enabled us to manage our usual annual growth in business without the usual increase in staff numbers. In the past, we have commonly added 20 to 30 people to our call centre each year. This year, we needed only five, and the 15 salaries we thus saved have repaid the investment. However, the real benefit is that we are able to serve our customers even better from now on."

Feeling at home

Vacansoleil was no stranger to the iSeries platform: the company had used the IBM server and its predecessors since 1986, and had come to rely on its high reliability and low running costs. When NN Solutions suggested that an iSeries-based Web booking service could deliver high flexibility along with the usual robustness and security, Vacansoleil jumped at the chance to stay on its platform of choice.

The new solution is linked directly to existing back-end databases, ensuring that bookings made online are communicated to internal allocation systems. Customers who know precisely where they want to stay can now simply reserve and pay for their holidays online. This not only provides an excellent, round-the-clock service, but also allows reservation staff to spend more time helping other customers to find the right holiday location.

Backers says, "For small or medium size enterprises that want to implement Web interactivity safely and securely, WebSmart Smart on iSeries is a great solution."

Taking on the world

Following the resounding success of the new online booking service, Vacansoleil has engaged NN Solutions to build around ten additional sub sites, most of them based on WebSmart technology. The company plans to make more intensive use of the Internet, especially for information which cannot be added to printed brochures. "Up-to-the-minute information on availability becomes important later in the year, when most locations and caravans have been taken," explains Backers. "Right then, it is particularly important to be able to place a fast last minute offer on the Web site."

Vacansoleil sees its new booking service not just as a way to keep costs low, but also as an extra service to its customers. The company anticipates that the new channel to market will help it to expand more rapidly in new territories, such as Poland. Backers concludes, "With the new Web-based solution running on iSeries, we are confident that we will continue to offer excellent customer service as our business grows."

 

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