Joomla development: A dedicated business application for Travel-Safe
Find out how Travel-Safe, a specialist insurance broker in the tourism sector, benefited from bespoke development using the power of Joomla. In this exclusive interview with Alain Kisiel, Director of Travel-Safe, we explore the challenges the agency faced and how their collaboration with Agerix resulted in a dedicated business application that met their specific needs.
Thanks to this bespoke development, Travel-Safe was able to automate time-consuming manual tasks, carry out in-depth financial screening and a solvency study of candidate agencies. In addition, this bespoke solution played a crucial role in managing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, offering increased efficiency and adaptability to regulatory changes.
Explore the improvements made by version 2 of the application, including filter management, flexible reminders and multilingual support, and find out about future plans to continue optimising and improving this Joomla development solution.
Alain Kisiel, who are you and what is Travel-Safe?
Travel-Safe is an insurance broker specialising in the tourism sector. Travel agencies are obliged to take out specific insurance to either guarantee their customers partial or full reimbursement of their trip in the event of problems, or to be covered for damage caused by their own fault (civil liability), in this case adapted to the amounts involved, as travel damage can be very specific and more serious, amounting to millions of euros of damage (exceptional). Few insurers market this type of insurance because the agency has to meet very specific solvency criteria. The aim of our application is therefore to carry out a financial screening and solvency study of the candidate agency.
How did you start your collaboration with Agerix?
Before working with Agerix, all the work was done manually, which corresponded to one full-time equivalent. Compared with wage costs in Belgium, we had a problem with profitability. After analysing this manual workload, we realised that a large part of it could be automated. So we had to find and choose the right tool or method. After some research, we saw an example of the use of Joomflows at a conference at JoomlaDay in Paris. The project had completely automated the processes, saving time and energy while retaining the original quality.
We got in touch with Agerix to discuss the subject and see if it was feasible (fear of unattainable fantasy) and, reassured by the agency about the credibility of the project, we drew up a specification to specify what would improve communication between the companies, Travel-Safe and the customer.
In 2019 we built up the specifications gradually and jointly with Agerix and, once this had been approved and the outline of the project defined, the Agerix agency was able to implement the development of the application. The first version of this Joomla development was launched in early 2020 just before the COVID and the first containment.
What was the impact of COVID on your agency and what did the application bring to you in this complicated context?
The arrival of Covid and confinement was particularly violent, painful and long for those involved in tourism, because nothing could be sold any more, but we had to deal with customer returns, refunds and bookings, and do all this free of charge! It was a very depressing and difficult period for the agencies, which were severely affected, with income falling to 0, no visibility and no cost-cutting, since the service was still to be provided to customers. It was the longest crisis ever experienced in tourism, taking 2 years in all to get back to normal.
It took a long time to get the application up and running, and it required a lot of energy because it involved changing internal processes and habits, as well as careful monitoring of customers who weren't on board.
So we were able to test V1 to process our information and see that the financial screening was sharper and more strategic, which was good news given the risk of bankruptcy with Covid. The system allowed semi-automatic administrative and invoice monitoring, which greatly reduced the risk of oversights.
What does version 2, which we developed in 2022, bring?
Response from Alain Kisiel, Director of the Travel-Safe agency: After 2 years of using version 1, we had to redo the specifications to improve the points that had been identified as being lacking. For example, the management of filters, making the new system more flexible so that we could better decide on the timing of reminders, or reviewing the calculation of the bonus based on turnover and completely redesigning this part to allow it to evolve over time.
In this sector as in others, things evolve and certain specific figures (aviation flights, insurance) have to be removed or modified from the turnover. Legislation concerning tour operators also changes, so the premiums change too. We had to make the system more adaptable to these changes.
Another important point added by this second version: multilingualism. Here in Belgium, language management is an important and divisive issue, so it has to be very well managed, with no translation errors. This requires very rigorous and attentive work.
What is the future for this Joomla development?
Our aim is to continue to improve the application little by little, brick by brick, so that we don't get bogged down in improvements that are too cumbersome and difficult for the teams to learn.
We now need to go up a notch in terms of customer follow-up so that we can inform customers of missing items without any aggression, e.g. certain documents that need to be provided on time and reminders by email are still too infrequent or not managed well enough.
The stakes are high, because if the insurance is not renewed by the travel agency, it is ordered to stop working by the police. So they do everything they can to avoid this...
Other points will also need to be optimised or improved, such as the automation of internal processes, systems to ensure that everything works, invoice exports for accounting purposes, etc.
Can you tell us what is the Return on Investment of this custom development?
In 2019 our aim was to reduce processing costs and in this respect the objective has largely been achieved, since today the saving of ¾ of a day means that we can optimise the time saved on other projects, the working time allocated to other things and reused on other aspects. For example, looking for new customers, new means of payment, a new product, liability insurance (...), the time freed up by the programme made it possible to do all that.
Of course, the COVID effect really speeded things up, because when the employees became partially unemployed I had to manage the customer portfolio without Human Resources, so I had to get into the programme and the application and manage everything myself. It went really well, and today it takes me roughly 3/4 of the time, down to 10 to 15 minutes a day! So I don't need anyone else, because the application is stable and functional, and the clear, precise information makes the job perfectly manageable by just one person.
For example, thanks to the programme, someone who was excluded from insurance because they hadn't paid could find themselves without protection for their business, perhaps because they hadn't really received the information. Today, thanks to the traceability of the application, we can prove that the emails were sent, so we can guarantee the protection of our company too. In the event of a lawsuit or questions being asked, this is protection for both parties.
Article updated on June 14, 2023