Each journey is a dream. It is best to take it from the cloud
“It’s like being reborn! Now we can do everything,” said Maja Domijan about life after the company moved to the cloud. It is important to her that everything is possible; Maja is living her dreams.
First, there is the dream of a pleasant journey. A journey is one of those life stories in which one apparently remembers visiting new sights, famous buildings and fine exhibitions, wandering through picturesque streets, finding interesting restaurants and lost bridges in a foreign city. What one actually remembers is the feeling of contentment and happiness.
But to go beyond merely dwelling in dreams, you need people who help make it all happen. Travel agencies, for example. Those who do it well get closer to their dreams and, just like Azur Tours did, move their operations to the cloud. Azur Tours is a travel agency that sends about five thousand people a year on their journeys from its head office on Zagreb’s main, Ban Josip Jelačić Square, and literally turns the dreams of its travellers to reality from the cloud.
The first step on the road is see one of the seven Azur Tours employees, at two sites, whose creativity makes each journey much more than just transfer to and accommodation at a destination. “It is important to choose well, to speculate and please people’s tastes,” stressed Maja Domijan, the head of sales whose job includes travel calculations, negotiations with hoteliers, and tour guides, with whom she designs programmes and in whose hands she leaves tourists.
Tour guides are the face of the agency
“Guides are extremely important, they represent the agency, they need to be resourceful and skilled, solve various unpredictable situations and, at the same time, be able to follow through on the entire plan,” emphasized Maja Domijan.
“It is extremely important that they get along well with the group, that they are at everyone’s disposal, that they help fulfil most requests and offer more than expected. They are the first who introduce themselves to the agency’s travellers and much is expected from them.” Saying this, Maja is thinking of situations in which guides need to know everything about Greece, Portugal, China or any other part of the world to which the agency takes its travellers. The agency also offers tours by other agencies, coordinates its plans with those of other agencies and hotels, finds the best conditions so that tours are affordable and more interesting than they would be when arranged personally. The nature of the job simultaneously demands that everyone from the agency jumps in and helps an indisposed or absent colleague. It’s all rather complex and dynamic.
“We were doing all that without IT connections. It was rather hard, unimaginable from today’s point of view,” Maja recalls the situation that lasted until late 2016. Every return from vacation, shocking by itself as there is no more view of the sea through the window, caused additional trauma, as there were hundreds of messages in the mailbox, and not all of them for the absent person.
To address these messages, they first needed careful sorting, so that none would accidentally be left unread or without a response, while knowing precisely what each was about or whether it had already been addressed by a colleague. Actually, quite frustrating.
The smart solution is called the cloud
Azur Tours needed a smart solution, they needed Sheeft. “We were not interconnected. Now we are in Microsoft Office 365, in the cloud, which means that we do not need to be physically present in the agency,” said Maja Domijan.
Ever since moving operations to the cloud, data is available to everyone at any time of day or night, regardless of whether they are on Ban Jelačić Square or hundreds of kilometres away. Distance is irrelevant. Should the need arise, say over the weekend, demanding swift reaction, it is now much easier, which also means that issues and potential problems do not mount but rather are addressed as they occur. For a life of a travel agency, or any other business, it is vital to avoid hold-ups that might lead to an adverse chain reaction, and congestion.
“We used to face 300-400 e-mails after returning from vacation, it took meetings to determine how to solve an issue. The situation today is completely different, there is no longer any need to clear up old matters,” described Maja.
Azur Tours moved to the cloud in early September. “It was a swift change. The Sheeft team came, the four of them, and in half an hour cloud was operational,” Domijan emphasized. This, of course, only describes the agency’s move to the cloud, even though this was preceded by meetings, arranging the agency’s needs and wishes and those of its employees, then all necessary preparations, and, eventually, the transfer itself.
It took them a week to get used to the different system, but it was not a problem actually. “Now we know who is working with which client, we know where to direct clients seeking information and everything is much simpler. It is functional. We know what was done last, I don’t need to waste time checking whether something was resolved since the last time I worked on it, because I see all of the changes and know exactly how things were handled,” said Maja.
She said there are laws and priorities governing the agency’s life, telephone calls and people’s requests are handled first, then come e-mails and their requests. It is a dynamic job, to say the least. “Everyone jumps in and helps everyone else, this is why it is important for us to be well connected and to be able to oversee all requests sent by mail,” said Domijan.
There are, naturally, periods when it’s totally crazy in the agency, not only summer travel during the holidays, and the pressure builds up with the first sunny days, in April and May, and lasts through October. It becomes active once more during Advent and the skiing season.
In any case, an agency has the same rhythm as those who travel thanks to it. The difference is that it seems to them that the urge to travel never stops.