Digitalization and automation in the tourism industry - from manual to robotic processes at a tour operator

Since its foundation in 1983, the FTI GROUP has developed into Europe's third-largest tour operator. With 12,000 employees worldwide, the group is represented in around 20 countries and at over 40 locations. Together with its versatile subsidiaries, FTI Touristik GmbH offers travel experiences to more than 120 countries. In addition to package and building-block tours, the range of products includes short-term and last-minute offers, individual and luxury travel, self-drive tours, and city and long-distance trips.

Activities and challenges of a tour operator

In tourism, tour operators very often work together with several service providers. In this way, their own products are combined with tourism services from various third-party service providers and sold as an overall package. Here, coordination and communication with all participants in the value chain (e.g., airlines, hotels, destination agencies, rental car brokers, travel agencies, etc.) take on a central role.

Customer care before, during, and after the trip is also essential. Day-to-day business includes preparing offers, booking and canceling trips, processing payments, and handling complaints. The diversity of business processes and the large number of stakeholders involved entail manual and individual workflows.

First automation project in cooperation with AKOA GmbH

 

Also in the course of advancing digitalization, the FTI GROUP decided to introduce software robots and consequently robot-controlled process automation (RPA).

Together with the company AKOA, the IT environment of the group was first adapted to the framework conditions of RPA and several employees were trained in the UiPath software. As a result, the first process automation was successfully implemented in the tour operator's business units.

In addition to daily invoice processing, such as transferring invoice data to various financial systems or checking missing incoming payments in Accounting, the robots are used to prepare analyses.

Thus, in the Operations area, availability and booking request data were determined and compared with previous years. Based on the analyses, an automated MS PowerPoint presentation for the management level could be created by means of programming.

Further data queries took place in Controlling, among others. Taking into account the season and travel times, numerous MS Office Excel files were automatically downloaded for various destinations and the files were subsequently consolidated.

The tour operator uses additional robotic resources for frequent copy-paste activities or e-mail dispatch.

Successes through RPA

 

The automation of rule-based and recurring business processes enabled higher process speed, stable and efficient workflows, and an improved cost situation. In addition, time-consuming tasks were reduced many times over, standardization within the company was optimized, and available employee resources were used in the best possible way.

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