Travel & Hospitality

We strive to become the premier Travel & Hospitality industry partner for services implementation in the Salesforce ecosystem.

With unique experience among Salesforce consulting partners, particularly regarding cruise industry Salesforce implementations, coupled with a decade-plus of established trust by Salesforce’s own Professional Services team, Gerent will leverage its differentiated foundation to deliver unparalleled, results-based, Salesforce solution success within the Travel & Hospitality industry.
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COVID-19 Message

We are dedicated to helping our travel partners and customers focus on the safety of travellers, work with pandemic guidelines of the CDC and WHO, and develop a sound strategic plan to address the future of travel.

You can count on us

Depth of Experience

With over 40 years of collective experience and 40,000 hours of implementation, we have deep understanding of the Travel & Hospitality sector. We know what it takes to drive revenue and reduce costs, and we know the importance of staying up to date with new and current global requirements pertaining to COVID-19, GDPR, and PCI compliance.

Broad Areas of Focus

We specialize in multiple areas of the Travel & Hospitality Industry including but not limited to Cruise Lines, Shore Tour Operators, Transportation such as limousines, buses, and trains, and Hotels & Lodges, including both retail and wholesale models.

Knowledge & Expertise

Our expertise in the sector is enriched with a strong network of travel partners and a large user community that we leverage for research and development. We work with Senior Management in a number of organizations to ensure continuous visibility to top-level visions across travel markets.

Committed to Innovation

Our DeepQuest solution is a one-stop-shop, low-cost, and easy implementation Salesforce-powered CRM solution designed to help SMBs in the Travel & Hospitality industry optimize their customer relationships and scale their business.

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Customer Success

We’ve successfully deployed a wide range of Salesforce solutions for some of the largest players in the Travel & Hospitality industry, including but not limited to Norwegian Cruise Line, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, & Florida Tours.

How we can help

Customer Engagement

Use the best technology tools tor the sector to build customer journeys, drive brand awareness, and foster strong customer relationships.

Process Standardization

Streamline operations and automate processes by enabling easy connectivity to external travel portals and booking engines that expand customer reach.

Data Anlytics

Run reports and dashboards leveraging Mulesoft, API builder, and Einstein.

Safety Measures

Enable COVID-19 tracing and strengthen customer support with additional touch points.

Compliance

Remain up to date on GDPR data protections, customer privacy acts, and PCI compliance.

Ketta Riley

Travel & Hospitality Practice Leader

Ketta Riley brings over 30 years of experience in the Travel & Hospitality industry. She spent a large part of her career driving growth and innovation in a wide range of roles at Norwegian Cruise Line and has an intimate understanding of the sector. She has tackled many challenges and changes in the industry for multiple decades and brings with her comprehensive, 360-degree expertise.

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Our Point of View

Our Point of View

Catering to Guest Preferences in the Ever-changing Hotel Sector explores how hotels can continue to build customer loyalty, outline technological innovations the lodging sector has adopted and examine effective ways hotels can expand their reach to convert new audiences.

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Episode 27: A Story Of Survival In The Travel Industry

On March 15th, 2020 – the Ides of March – the management team at Florida Tours.com, a large transportation company in Miami, began to shut down its operations in the early days of the global pandemic.

Florida Tours plays a large role shuttling passengers and crew members from airports to cruise ships but when the ships stopped sailing, Florida Tours’ buses stopped as well.

But, in the true spirit of entrepreneurship, the team buckled down, went into survival mode, and rode out the storm.

Florida Tours’ story is a story of survival in the face of steep odds. We’d love to tell you that their survival was driven by CRM technology but it wasn’t. In fact, they didn’t have any such digital tools. However, both the CEO and the head of business development now realize how much a CRM system could have assisted in making their recovery even stronger and faster.

In this episode, the CEO and head of business development tell the story of what they did to survive and how they could have done it so much more easily with a CRM system in place. Theirs is as much a cautionary tale as a success story.


July 15, 2021

Crystal Cruise Lines Adopts Marketing Cloud

In 1962, Avis rental car company launched an ad campaign that became legendary in the world of advertising. “When you’re number two, you try harder” was the tag line and the message was clear: we do more to provide great service because we don’t want to remain number two.

A well-known luxury cruise line might have re-worded that tagline to read, “when you slip from number one to number two, you try even harder”. That, in fact, was the situation for this particular company and the goal was simple: we want to get back on top.

Conde Nast had ranked Crystal Cruise Lines number one in the world for luxury ocean cruising for almost three decades – before Viking, a company best known for European river cruising decided to take a successful run at the top spot in 2017.

Crystal Cruise Lines has been a long-standing Salesforce and Gerent customer. As it planned a strategy to regain the top spot, the customer turned to Gerent, again, this time to implement Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

The Plan To Re-Take Number One

The goal, as Tom Harding, V.P. of Sales for Gerent explains, was simple. “They wanted to be number one again and they wanted market growth. After enjoying incredible status for over a quarter-century, they were suddenly knocked off their perch. And that didn’t go over well with their new corporate owner, an ocean shipping conglomerate in Hong Kong.”

The first step back to the top taken by the parent company was to bring in a new CEO. Under his leadership, Crystal Cruise Lines decided on a two-pronged strategy. While working to regain the number one spot in ocean cruising, the company also targeted river cruising. That meant building more ships capable of handling the narrow confines of European river cruising.

“So, you can imagine,”, Harding continued, “to facilitate these big plans, they had to grow their business.”

The Cruise Lines customers are very affluent, a “high net worth audience”, as Tom put it. The company does an exceptional job of creating and maintaining close personal relationships with its customers, says Harding,  but the customer data was scattered and many sales or marketing tasks were manual or ad hoc. The marketing plan needed to account for a rapidly aging demographic among their well-heeled ocean cruising guests while reaching a younger demographic more typical of river cruising.

Implementing The Right Technology

The one thing that was missing was a technology base from which they could launch effective marketing strategies, according to Harding.

When Gerent first met to propose Salesforce Marketing Cloud, they learned Crystal Cruise Lines had opted for Adobe Campaign. However, Adobe didn’t work out, largely because it couldn’t integrate properly with the company’s other Salesforce software without huge expense and pain. They gave Gerent the green light to implement Marketing Cloud, providing the cruise line with the technology, systems, and processes with which to launch an effective marketing push. “At the same time,” says Tom, “they got something that gives them the ability to maintain or find new levels of customer intimacy that had never existed on the marketing side of their business before.”

Crystal Cruise Lines is targeting two distinct markets. For its high-end ocean cruises, the company has established excellent relations with travel agencies around the world. “The last thing a high-net-worth guest wants to have to do is sit in front of a computer and try to figure out the best cruise, the best destination and so on. They just call a travel agent to do it for them,” Tom explains.

New Portals and New Opportunities

So, Crystal Cruise Lines “rolls out the red carpet” for the agencies. Gerent helped its client to improve on that experience through Community Cloud, creating a new, efficient portal for travel agents to use in order to provide top-level service to their well-heeled clientele. At the same time, Gerent implemented another portal within Community Cloud for the cruise company’s direct sales teams to utilize. When Salesforce Community Cloud is combined with Marketing Cloud, direct sales teams no longer have to use Excel spreadsheets to chart their contacts with leads - the company’s previous practice; now, both marketing and sales teams can tell instantly how often a lead has been contacted, when, and what the messaging was.

Taking An Email Journey

Valentine Christopher was Gerent’s Project Manager on the Marketing Cloud implementation. He explained how the cruise line needed to go beyond simply sending out ad hoc emails. “They needed to be able to track their leads and contacts as part of a journey up to the point where they make a cruise booking. That journey could run a week, a month or a year between first contact and booking,” Christopher said.

Because email is such an important sales and marketing element for the cruise line, the company opted for Email Studio,  one of 11 powerful applications within Marketing Cloud designed to streamline different marketing functions. Email Studio starts by centralizing customer data from every area of the company, allowing marketers to segment a mailing list and target custom messaging, based on a customer’s profile. From Email Studio, Crystal Cruise Lines can filter thousands of profiles in seconds, employ Einstein Analytics to help create specific, meaningful messaging and automate the whole email process.

Gerent also implemented Journey Builder to work in conjunction with Email Studio. With Journey Builder, Crystal Cruise Lines builds custom milestones into an email campaign that trigger further action. A journey is a roadmap that lays out touchpoints and interactions using event-driven triggers such as a customer or lead downloading cruise content from an app on a mobile device, in order to proactively respond and deliver the right message at the right moment.

All teams within Crystal Cruise Lines – marketing, sales, and service – have a full view of each custom journey and can drag and drop other content ( SMS messages or ads, for example) created elsewhere within Marketing Cloud while providing a full 360-degree view of the new content internally. In this way,  consistency of message and contact is assured.

Marketing With Power

Marketing Cloud offers a total of 11 powerful tools. By choosing and combining the most applicable ones, a company can supercharge its sales and marketing. For example, Audience Studio, a data management platform, gathers data from all touchpoints, analyzes it using Salesforce Einstein AI and generates actionable recommendations; Social Studio brings in the power of social media to reach contacts and leads; it’s possible to monitor audience discussions on topics relevant to a company’s brand, using machine-learning sentiment analysis and image recognition or identify whenever a company’s name is mentioned anywhere within the social media universe.

Valentine maintains that Crystal Cruise Lines now possesses sales and marketing power it never had before. As it moves forward with its two-pronged marketing strategy to re-acquire the number one status in luxury ocean cruises and make strong inroads into the river cruising market, it can realistically expect to reach its goals. It can now rely on having a clear profile of its contacts, leads, and customers and drive effective messaging, thanks to Marketing Cloud and Gerent’s knowledge and experience of how to maximize Marketing Cloud capabilities for cruise lines.

It makes sense to talk with implementation experts who can help select the right tools in the right combinations. This is what Gerent does, so, we invite you to contact us to learn more about Marketing Cloud and how it can help your sales and marketing campaigns hit their targets.

Smart Data Propels Sales for Crystal Cruise Lines

The cruise industry has grown dramatically in the past 20 years and is projected to grow even faster in the years ahead.

Much of this is attributable to Baby Boomers and their substantial savings.

Boomers Demand More

As more and more Boomers retire, according to Forbes, their overall good health is allowing them to stay active. Simply being on a cruise ship for 3, 7 or 10 days sailing through the Caribbean or up the west coast to Alaska is just not what they want any longer.

River cruising is hugely popular; cruises to exotic destinations in Asia or elsewhere in the southern hemisphere are also sought after; ecology cruising is another destination subset enjoying substantial growth.

The cruise lines have stepped up to serve – and service – the ballistic growth in the number of people cruising today.

For the more affluent and discerning water-borne travelers, there are high end and high cost cruises to satisfy every taste.

The Battle for the High End Customer

Here, the competition is especially fierce and cruise lines fight to ensure that every aspect of on-board service is exceptional; a satisfied cruising traveler will not only spend more on board but in all likelihood will be a returning customer in the future.

So, it’s vital for cruise companies to know how to reach those customers to offer them what they want and how to reach potential new customers, as well.

Gerent was approached by Crystal Cruise Lines, a cruise company that is in the top echelon of the high-end cruising market.

The company had recently been acquired by a Hong Kong firm that was implementing an aggressive growth strategy that demanded enhanced sales and administration efforts.

Because of the nature of marketing in the cruise industry, the company dealt with a number of travel agencies worldwide as well as engaging in direct marketing efforts online.

Disjointed Data Means Lost Opportunities

What was lacking was a digitized and unified customer relationship management system that could generate and analyze valuable data from various sources. This data could create a complete picture of the cruise company’s customers and allow the company to fine-tune its sales and marketing efforts.

When Gerent conducted its investigation, it became apparent that any data the Crystal Cruise Lines was gleaning through its affiliated travel agencies around the world was coming via email and manually processed reports.

Customer information was often siloed, making it difficult to get a complete picture of who their customers were and leaving many great sales and marketing initiatives on the table, as a result.

Knowing the Customer is Critical

Gerent explained that Crystal Cruise Lines needed to be able to define its customers, from their past travel experiences and on-board activities to what they liked to eat and drink, as well as where they lived before the company could capitalize fully.

Gerent’s Salesforce solution implemented both Sales and Service cloud, two powerful solutions for the agency sales and direct sales teams.

As a result, the client was able to integrate all sales efforts for revenue and account management purposes, route all lead traffic from the online forms directly into Salesforce and provide all sales teams with mobile access in real time.

Gerent also explained how the client could integrate data from existing reservation and lead generation platforms directly into Salesforce; there was no need to jettison technology the client had already paid for.

Data in a Single Database

A total of 4 million legacy guest records were migrated into Salesforce and Gerent also mobilized Chatter so that all sales teams were able to communicate directly with each other using just one, standardized platform.

Now, Crystal Cruise Lines has unprecedented visibility into its sales and lead pipelines, greater collaboration with its global partners and enhanced relationships as a result.

Sales agents have become more productive with the elimination of manual reporting processes and the client’s new, far more complete, view of its customers has already led to different and more effective marketing initiatives that are driving sales forward.

Alaskan Dream Cruises Gain Valuable Customer Contacts With DeepQuest

As the Admiralty Dream, a 145 foot vessel, turned slowly north and up into Tarr Inlet, deep inside Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska,  excited passengers rushed to the port side to watch the massive Margerie Glacier put on an incredible show of calving.

Huge slabs of ice broke free with a sound like thunder and crashed hundreds of feet into the icy, chill blue waters below.

None of the 58 passengers aboard this Alaskan Dream Cruise ship would forget the experience.

They would return home, vowing to come back to the magnificent natural beauty of Alaska again.

Major Impediment To Customer Service

Alaskan Dream Cruises works hard to ensure that guests are satisfied and leave with nothing but fond memoires and a desire to come back again.

However, the family owned cruise company had a balky and awkward reservation platform which made it nearly impossible to follow up with guests.

Their reservation system was also difficult when it came to actually taking reservations in the first place.

Alaskan Dream Cruise's reservation sales agents were forced to spend a great deal of time on mundane and redundant work that left them with little or no time to do any sales follow-ups with potential guests.

User Unfriendly Reservation System

Doug McLatchie, Alaskan Dream Cruise’s Director of Sales, doesn’t hide the frustration in his voice when he talks about the company’s platform.

“I have a reservation sales agent who’s been with us for a month and a half and she still struggles with it. It’s just not an intuitive system; you have to know where to click; a novice just can’t jump on and begin to use it.

My biggest problem with our reservation system was that it’s reporting capability was terrible. There were a few stock reports we could call up but every time we wanted to look at our data in a different way, it seemed like we had to pay additional money so that the supplier would build a report from scratch.”

Could a customer book a reservation directly through Alaskan Dream Cruise’s website, at least?

“In theory, yes,” replied Doug. “but it was going to cost us a lot of money to have the supplier implement that for us.”

Forced To Rely On Manual Bookings

So, Alaskan Dream Cruise resorted to booking all reservations by phone, a process that is very time consuming.

Doug was actively searching for a replacement system when he heard about DeepQuest from a Salesforce contact.

DeepQuest is a Salesforce CRM-based set of modules designed by Gerent exclusively for small and medium size travel and tourism companies like Alaskan Dream Cruise's to be able to compete with much bigger firms.

He got in touch with Ketta Riley, a veteran cruise industry executive and the creative mind behind DeepQuest.

“To be honest, I was skeptical about whether Salesforce could handle what I was looking for, but after speaking with Ketta and hearing about her background, it actually raised my confidence in this product.”

DeepQuest Is Chosen

He says the company looked at half a dozen other reservation systems before he convinced the owners that a Salesforce CRM-based system was going to best meet their needs.

Doug had known about Salesforce from his days with Carnival Cruise Line. “I was familiar with Salesforce’s ease of reporting and when the other reservation providers told me they didn’t really have robust reporting systems, that did it for me. I want to be able to run a report on any piece of data I put into the system and I should be able to pull that out and organize it any way I want. No other company really gave me that ability.”

DeepQuest got the nod.

Alaskan Dream Cruises books between 1200 and 1300 reservations a season. Under the old system, that meant a lot of manual operation and the chances of human error were high.

Now, More Time For Sales Efforts

DeepQuest has taken 50% of that manual labor away from the agents who can now spend more time on sales.

“This is where DeepQuest is going to help us a lot. When we get a brochure request from a potential guest, the DeepQuest platform will create a lead and we’ll be able to follow up.”

Alaskan Dream Cruises will also be able to track how long it takes somebody to book once they order the brochure.

“That’s going to help us to dial in at what point we need to be calling them back. We want to be in touch so that we’re the company first and foremost in their mind when they make their decision on coming to Alaska.”

The cruise company is also working on implementing their Guest Information Form in the DeepQuest software.

“So, the experience for the guest will be more like they’d get from a larger cruise line where you fill out the form online and send it directly from the website. With DeepQuest, it’s going to tie right back into the reservation and the guest automatically.”

DeepQuest Drives Plenty Of Advantages

Ketta Riley says the implementation project began in January 2019. At the time of writing, Alaskan Dream Cruises was 90% implemented.

The cruise company derives a lot of advantages from DeepQuest: tremendous flexibility and scalability as well as the capability of generating reports, checking booking processes and eliminating the need to pay a third party for any platform modifications.

The DeepQuest platform gives them the means to dynamically change it as their business changes, a key Salesforce CRM characteristic.

Ketta explains that this DeepQuest implementation by Gerent involved Service Cloud and Salesforce Lightning from the Salesforce product shelf.

As a result, at least 50% of the manual work around reservation bookings has been eliminated and, perhaps best of all, the cruise operator has a much more complete picture of their customers.

Real Value For Money

As Ketta Riley puts it, “they knew they’d be getting this with DeepQuest. They didn’t know just how much they’d be getting.”

The last word goes to Doug McLatchie. “There are reservation systems out there that don’t cost a dime but they wouldn’t do what we wanted them to do. By spending a little extra up front, I know we can reap the rewards. I’m already excited by it. It’s so easy to get in and we’re already doing a lot with it. I can’t wait to get the old system out of the way.

“I can say that I’m confident that this little cruise line in Sitka, Alaska is going to have the best reservation system on the market.”

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