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.”