Virgin Holidays boosts planning

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Virgin Holidays boosts planning

Daniel Thomas
Tour operator Virgin Holidays expects to boost margins and improve forecasting after completing the implementation of a centralised planning system.

The move reflects the increasing importance of accurate planning and forecasting for travel companies, which have seen margins squeezed by the emergence of online agents, low cost airlines and the downturn in travel following terrorist attacks, the Iraq war and the Sars outbreak.

The enterprise planning system, from Cognos, will replace a variety of different forecasting spreadsheets and will integrate product and brochure planning with operational data such as costs and resources.

This will mean all departments, including sales, marketing, call centre and passenger services, will have an improved understanding of Virgin Holidays' product, brochure and sales channel profitability, said Ashley Royston, general manager of product and commercial at the operator.

"In the past we would launch a brochure without everyone understanding the relationship between our booking profiles, revenues, costs and strategic goals," he said. "This could result in uncertainty about how we were doing as an organisation."

The Cognos system will integrate with Virgin Holidays' booking and pricing systems, giving departments greater visibility of information, said Royston.

"There is always a risk that through an incorrect quotation for example, we could sell an unprofitable holiday. Cognos will not only allow us to clearly define and publish goals but will also help alert us to any unprofitable parts of the business."

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