Perhaps no other industry has been disrupted by COVID-19 as much as the travel industry. As travel came to a halt early in the pandemic, one company made the most of the slow-down by creating innovative solutions to long-standing challenges.
Flight Centre Travel Group is one of the world’s largest travel agency groups. Its vast leisure and corporate sales network extends around the world, operating more than 90 countries.
The company uses K2 Cloud for a number of processes, including HR approvals, credit notes, contracts, and travel approvals. So, when it wanted to improve efficiencies, the company again turned to K2 Software.
“One of our goals is to drive more sales by empowering more staff; making them more productive and efficient by enabling them to use the tools that we already own,” explained Nick Williams, Head of Digital Workplace at Flight Centre Travel Group.
FCM the global corporate division of Flight Centre needed to simplify a complex customer onboarding process. Using K2 Software, Williams and his teams were able to create solutions to these challenges expeditiously — saving the company time and money while improving customer service.
Manual HUB builds
Flight Centre uses an internal technology called HUB for its corporate customers, which stores a traveller’s profile (including personal preferences, credit card number and identification documents) in a secure environment.
HUB builds were 100% manual, so when onboarding a new client, teams had to collect information for each legal entity in each of its customers’ regions. This could mean Flight Centre has to manually create dozens, hundreds or even thousands of HUB sites for just one customer. The result was that it could take up to 16 weeks to build one HUB.
“We have one customer that needs 400 sites. And that’s an immense undertaking when a HUB build typically takes about 30 to 45 minutes per site,” explained Shaun Clear, Global Head of Operations for Flight Centre.
Throughout the process, Flight Centre struggled with maintaining transparency and consistency. Information was dispersed across spreadsheets, forms, and third-party tools. In addition, implementation team members were spending too much time managing this complex process rather than focusing on the customer experience.
K2 Cloud automates HUB builds
The team initially looked into RPA-based solutions for HUB builds but realized more orchestration would be required to fulfil their goals.
“We knew we needed to apply an intelligent automation layer, and that’s how we decided on K2 Cloud,” said Williams. “We knew we could use K2 Software to collect customer information and configure it with RPA. And that RPA could then use that data to automatically build those sites.”
The HUB builds solution, still in its early stages, is being applied to 1,200 HUB builds across three customers. After initial testing, it’s clear that the solution will deliver significant ROI for the company.
“For this initial project, 1,200 sites would typically take at least 3,600 hours of work,” Clear explained. “Now, we’re able to nearly wipe that clean. Of course, there’s still initiation work needed from the implementation team. But once they’ve taken it past that point, the K2 Cloud and RPA solution kicks in and they can walk away. We can even do these HUB builds on a weekend, overnight, or on a public holiday.”
Automation improves customer experience, productivity and more
Williams estimates this initial solution will save $165,000 in the first year but thinks that number will rise considerably as travel picks back up over the next couple of years. Aside from cost savings, Flight Centre has gained transparency within this process, allowing for better communication between the customer and implementation teams.
Moreover, the customer experience is improving. Due to the scale of some projects, onboarding clients has typically required three or four teams to work with the customer in a pass-the-baton relay fashion. Now, customers are matched with one team so there is continuity throughout the process.
“When travel starts to bounce back and the confidence from consumers starts to come back around business travel, we’ll be in a much better position to support customers and we’ll be much more agile in how we scale different solutions globally,” Clear said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the travel industry, forcing many companies to shut their doors. But Flight Centre’s implementation teams are going strong thanks to the HUB builds solution.
“We’re doing 77 implementation projects around the world right now and we haven’t had to miss a beat,” Clear said. “I know a large part of that is thanks to our investment in K2 Cloud.”
Read the case study to learn more about how K2 Cloud has supported Flight Centre through COVID-19 and beyond.