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The automatic travel agency

Helmut Pilz
May 20, 2016 11:15:03 AM

How to save 2 hours per day and employee with just a few clicks?

Michael Lerchner and the team of 12 travel consultants at Vista Jet Travel were utterly surprised. The entire invoicing process had been automated. With just a few clicks. The boss did it himself.

Time saved?
Up to two hours per employee per day!

Michael’s investment?
Half a day to understand the logic behind the customising options and to do some testing.

None. Lerchner did not have to pay an external consultant. There was no need for project management, which would have consumed already scarce internal resources. Even the small monthly bills for his mid-office system did not increase.

Umbrella took the opportunity of Michael’s wonderful feedback to ask him for an interview:


Michael, saving two hours per employee per day with just a few clicks sounds impressive. How did you calculate this result?
We produce at least 150 tickets per day. In peak time, this number goes up to 300. Before this automation, each consultant spent about 25% of his time on the manual invoicing process:

  • Creating the invoice
  • Printing the invoice
  • Archiving the invoice
  • Manual invoice checks
  • Sending the invoice

Umbrella’s automation solution is doing all that. It really saves a lot of time.

Does that mean that every single billed ticket at VistaJet is completely untouched?
Well, we currently stand at slightly over 90%. The remaining 10% are due to data errors or handling errors. As we fix the root cause of each error when it arises, the automation level keeps increasing. I am confident that we will reach 95% very soon.

«Clean Data» is an interesting cue. What are the preconditions for a TMC to reach this level of automation?
Company data in your mid-office has to be absolutely accurate. All travellers need to be linked to the right company and cost centre. This is the main reason why we are implementing your profile management tool. You can only automate if you have clean and correct data – across all applications.

And then you just have to inform your customers that they will only receive electronic invoices. That’s it!

I guess is not the only mid-office system with complete invoice automation. What is so special about Umbrella’s solution?
Sure, you can do that with other mid-office solutions. But the effort and costs involved with implementing such an automation with other tools are substantial.

With I was able to configure and test the tool in a matter of hours. I did it myself and no support from the provider was needed. The tool is very well designed – intuitive and unambiguous.

Together with Umbrella Faces, this is the perfect automation. I think there is no better, faster and easier way to do this.

Are you done with optimising your IT?
Well, we are certainly done in the mid- and backoffice areas but there are other processes that need our attention.

Our next project is the adoption rate of our Self Booking Tool cytric, which has a seamless data interface to Umbrella Faces.

With the consequent automation of your processes, you are quickly moving away from a TMC’s traditional business model. What will be the revenue sources of business travel agencies in the future?
You are absolutely right. No TMC will be able to cover its costs with booking fees alone. And let’s be honest, nowadays you don’t need to be much of an expert to book a flight or a hotel.

But I am absolutely positive that many TMCs will successfully manage the transition towards a consulting business. There is a huge need for travel management consulting, particularly among small- and medium-sized corporations.

The foundation of a TMC will be an automated infrastructure. TMCs of the future need to have excellent IT expertise.

Would you tell us a bit more about Vista Jet and Vista Jet Travel?
VistaJet is a globally present provider of non-scheduled flight services. Our fleet includes 60 midsized and large Bombardier jets. We are able to guarantee jet availability within 24 hours at any airport in the world.

Due to our massive growth, VistaJet will expand its fleet with 40 more jets by 2018. Our company’s headquarters are in Malta and it is owned by the Swiss entrepreneur Thomas Flohr. Thomas has been prominently featured in this Fortune article.

My area, VistaJet Travel, is our internal travel agency. Our 12 consultants manage trips for over 450 frequently travelling employees in two shifts, so we operate 24x7. The majority of our bookings are for crew members, who have to travel to their assignments all over the world. We also organise trips for our management and the sales team.

Would you recommend Umbrella?
I absolutely recommend Umbrella to TMCs and Corporate Travel Managers. Our extremely successful automation story is just one example of our partnership with Martin Bachmann and his team. Umbrella is a very fast, very competent IT partner that carefully listens and thoroughly understands our needs and challenges. This is the foundation for excellent results!

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