It all started with an answering machine.
That’s how TourRadar COO Nicholas Trieb tells the story of how TourRadar went from seven people to now 260 strong and growing, providing multi-day tours all over the world to experience-seeking travelers.
As the Vienna-based company grew, they quickly realized they needed a way to manage the growing influx of phone calls peppering their handful of travel agents via one central Austria-based line. Users wanted reassurance the company was legitimate, since tour travel bookings have traditionally been done with in-person agents, and were phoning the company incessantly to gain that trust and receive answers to booking questions.
“We needed an easy way to work internationally,” Trieb said. “We needed a partner that could provide us with local phone numbers, while it didn’t matter where our agents were sitting. So they could call us local for the customer and we could have agents sitting in Austria or in Australia or anywhere around the world, and they could pick up the phone at any given time to answer the customer—24/7.”
Using a Twilio-powered IVR, along with Voice, Conference, and TaskRouter, the TourRadar team now works within a powerful global communications center with 90 support agents and growing, working across the world 24/7, with agents located in numerous countries—many of them working from home managing international accounts.
The best part? The initial proof of concept took less than a week for one developer and a single intern to build, and the final product was up and running in just a few months.
With Twilio, the TourRadar team provides 24/7 customer support, both inbound and outbound, using all local phone numbers. Customers can transfer easily between agents if need be, and they’ll always get an answer—from a real human—when they call. TourRadar can call customers and local tour operators internationally using Twilio as well, which results in huge cost savings on top of an ideal customer experience. That kind of person-to-person interaction is what makes all the difference, said Alberto Azambuja, a product manager on the team.
“[Using local numbers] brings a level of trust, especially in the travel industry, because that industry has always been focused on offline travel agents so there’s still some hesitation with online, when you’re spending 3,000 euros without even talking to a human,” he said. “Oftentimes customers just call from a trust perspective. They want to know, is this for real?”
“The other factor is the level of customer support that we can provide,” Azambuja continued. “We have specialized customer support agents that are trained and can give you individual advice. It serves on travel advice but also serves from a trust perspective.”
TourRadar serves customers across the globe, 24/7.
Recognizing the value trusted communications brought to the company—including increasing the company’s NPS significantly—TourRadar engaged Twilio SendGrid to power their email communications.
First they used SendGrid for newsletters, then later to drive transactional emails, for a massive list that ballooned quickly. The team sends 10 million emails a month, in fact, and love not just the system’s ease of use, but its reliability too.
“We’re now at the stage where the entire email is completely personalized based on recommendations and recent behavior,” Trieb said.
“Reliability is the important factor,” Azambuja continued. “When we scale out, especially when we have the big sales like Black Friday or a couple of the major sales that we have throughout the year, we scale our infrastructure and at some point we hit Twilio SendGrid over 100,000 times per hour for sending emails, and so far it’s been super reliable. We might send a couple of million emails in a space of 6, 8 or 10 hours, and it works really well.”
Reliability is the important factor. When we scale out, especially when we have the big sales like Black Friday or a couple of the major sales that we have throughout the year, we scale our infrastructure and at some point we hit Twilio Sendgrid over 100,000 times per hour for sending emails, and so far it’s been super reliable.
So what’s next for TourRadar? Further international growth, expanding into more countries, enhancing their already-40,000-strong tour choices, and increasing their market share in their key local markets, to start. They’re exploring messaging and expanded chat opportunities, and venturing into multilingual communications too. And they’re relying on Twilio and Twilio SendGrid to support it.
“The value of having Twilio and Twilio SendGrid as an omni-channel platform is that it’s taking that heavy weight from us, so we can focus on the important stuff, since (Twilio and Twilio Sendgrid) are doing their part so well,” Azambuja said.