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These days, travel advisors must wear many hats, including being their own chief technology officers, so it’s important to stay current on the latest tech offerings. This issue’s cover story, “10 Tech Tools to Boost Your Business” (page 12), shares some of the best options for agents.
At some point, however, you might choose to custom-design your own platform. More and more advisors are choosing this approach, including Northern California-based Amie O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Ciao Bambino.
“We evaluated a few of the industry-standard CRM applications and found they didn’t meet our needs to integrate with our website, given that our site generates so many of our leads,” O’Shaughnessy told me recently. “We found that although the integration required to customize a system was more expensive at the time of purchase than using an out-of-the-box solution, the cost of ownership over time made sense.”
She began by hiring a consultant to help define the requirements, and she sourced an integration partner who could do the work. Even though this approach was pricier, it was worth it to her to build something that was right the first time.
“Be honest about what you don’t know and hire resources accordingly,” she said.
The resulting system has been a big success for Ciao Bambino, improving the agency’s time efficiency and sales effectiveness. But no business can rest on one platform forever; technology changes over time, and agents must be prepared to make updates.
“We’ve had to invest in updating our system with things that were impossible to predict during the initial design phase,” O’Shaughnessy said. “In addition, a database requires care and maintenance, and data needs constant massaging to ensure it is consistent and accurate.”
So, while you read about the tools in our story, you might also want to ask yourself if you’re ready to take your tech to the next level with a customized system. Don’t be intimidated by the concept — there are experts who can help. And the right platform is certainly worth the effort in the long run.