Travel Tech Blog

Why the Netherland's best-managed company chose Umbrella Faces

Clean customer profiles are essential for backoffice automation

Interview with Michael Bots, Technology Manager at Munckhof Business Travel

Munckhof Business Travel, headquartered in Venlo, is a major player in the Dutch travel management industry. ING and Deloitte awarded Munckhof “Best-Managed Company among medium & large-sized enterprises” in the Netherlands for the seventh (!) time in 2015.

Umbrella is absolutely thrilled to have such an outstanding partner among its clients. This interview with Michael Bots was conducted on March 18th, 2016 by Helmut Pilz.

Michael, as one of the Netherlands’ best-managed companies, Munckhof has a strong focus on operational excellence. What is your view on the importance of travel profile management?
We have implemented Umbrella Faces with the clear goal of increasing our level of automation. Standardised and clean profiles are absolutely crucial for the effectiveness of our backoffice. And as we all know, a TMC needs to automate as much as possible in order to stay ahead of the competition.

I understand that even you had issues with data quality before?
Well, obviously, online and offline profile data were not in sync. But the core problem was that we had limited standards for company profiles. This caused unnecessary manual effort in our backoffice and needed to be changed.

You started the profile migration to Umbrella Faces towards the end of 2015. What was your project approach?
We are migrating office-by-office and currently we are just over halfway through the project. Each migration requires a few days of preparation as we have to organise the setup for our Self Booking Tool Amadeus cytric and prepare the data for the upload. The migration itself takes just a few hours.

So when you upload profiles, are they already clean and standardised?
No. Think of it as a semi-automated clean up. Some reference data can be automatically translated into a new, standardised format in Umbrella Faces. The rest is transferred into a “comment field” for further processing.

OK, so you basically clean up the data partly automatically during the upload to Umbrella Faces and partly afterwards. How much is typically left after the initial upload?
About 80% of the data is correct after the migration. The rest is cleaned up by the travel consultants immediately afterwards. We start with company data followed by frequent travellers. This is critical and we can complete it within a couple of working days. The rest is completed “on the job”.

Do you allow travellers or travel assistants to update their profile data?
Well, customers who use Amadeus cytric update their data in the SBT. From there, it is immediately synchronised to Faces and the GDS. But many updates are still done in Umbrella Faces by our consultants. The idea of handing this over to our customers is definitely on our roadmap.

You might be aware that Kuoni Business Travel has completely outsourced profile maintenance to their customers and they are pretty happy with the feedback?
Yes. We understand that, among other benefits, profile data is much richer when the travellers or travel assistants maintain it themselves. Suddenly, they care about meal or seat preferences. This, in the end, will improve the quality of our service as a TMC.

Which data interfaces do you have in place?
We keep our travel profiles synchronised in Umbrella Faces, Amadeus cytric and Amadeus GDS. An additional interface to our CRM tool “Afas Profit” is on the project roadmap.

Is there anything about Umbrella Faces that we should improve?
Not that I can think of. Umbrella Faces works very well. Sometimes I get confused because the location of certain fields seems to change from log-in to log-in. But I just found out that the layout depends on the zoom of my screen and on the device I am using. It is actually pretty cool that we can use Umbrella Faces on any browser and any possible device.

Did you evaluate other profile management tools before you chose Umbrella Faces?
Oh yes, we took this very seriously. We evaluated a number of tools. Umbrella Faces was finally chosen because of several winning factors:

  1. the technology is highly flexible and simple to adapt to our needs
  2. it is easy to use
  3. the data is stored in Switzerland rather than in the US (this is very important for some of our customers)
  4. we had a very positive feeling about the company after initial calls with Wolfgang Schuller and Martin Bachmann. They understand our business very well

Would you recommend Umbrella?
I would absolutely recommend it, yes. I had some ideas to improve the tool, which were implemented with impressive speed and quality. I am looking forward to continue Munckhof’s partnership with Umbrella.

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