Meet the Res Tech – how tour booking software Xola makes life easier for tour operators

On today’s Tourpreneur Podcast, we hear how tour booking software Xola makes life easier for tour operators by understanding their client’s complexity and pain points.

Choosing a tour operator booking platform is one of the most important decisions we will make for our tour business. We are spoilt for choice with over 160 booking platforms offering services to tours, attractions, and activities. So it can be a headache, deciding who one to pick to service the online booking component of our websites, what our good friend Peter Syme calls the ‘plumbing.’ 

So with this in mind, we decided to create the Meet the Res tech series. These conversations are unique in that you will be able to listen to a res tech, a res tech customer, and a tour operator who is in the market for a new tour operator booking platform. You will hear an authentic conversation and is about as far away from a sales pitch as you can get. We don’t do the keynote, conference format exec pitch here at Tourpreneur, our goal is to deliver you a genuine conversation full of value. We hope you enjoy it!

Scott Zimmerman CEO of Xola joins us today to share how the Xola booking platform helps tour operators overcome their pain points. Margaret and Emilie share their motivations for finding an online booking platform for their companies and discuss their current and future functionality and configuration requirements. We discuss staff management, multilingual adaptations, payment processes, and refunds in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Scott also shares why he believes operators need an independent booking system and how Xola assists onboarding clients and tailor the service and support to each company.

“It starts with really getting to know our customers and knowing their pain.”

Scott Zimmerman

This week on Tourpreneur, the Tour Operator Podcast:

  • How Xola makes life easier for tour operators by understanding their client’s complexity and pain points
  • Why Brown-Forman were motivated to find an online booking platform and how it transformed their operational processes
  • Overcoming the resistance of change to new technologies
  • Why Cyclo Services want a booking platform and why Emilie believes platform research is essential
  • Overcoming the pain points of unstructured data with automation
  • The features of the Xola platform including staff management, guide management, customer communications, and internal communications
  • How Xola handles the multilingual needs of tour operators and configuring processes
  • How Xola assists tour operators with onboarding and 24/7 support
  • How Xola makes payments and refunds straightforward and the future roll-out of a refund reserve feature to counter crisis such as COVID-19
  • Why operators should work with an independent booking system

Meet Today’s Guests

Scott Zimmerman

Scott Zimmerman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Xola, a booking, back-office management system, and marketing platform for activity and tour operators. Started in 2011, Xola serves customers in North America, Western Europe, and across the world. Scott is passionate about building powerful technology and enabling software. He was a Neurology Resident at Stanford University Medical Center and a Senior Financial Analyst at The Related Companies. He earned a Doctor of Medicine from Brown Medical Schools and has a Bachelor of Arts and Economics from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Margaret Vibbert 

Margaret Vibbert is the Senior Project Manager at Brown-Forman, one of America’s largest spirits and wine companies who run tours for brands such as Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. She has 20 years of IT experience and implementing technologies by leading large strategic IT projects in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. Margaret was previously the IT Project Manager at GE Appliances and earned a BA in Communications from the University of Louisville. Margaret and Brown-Forman are an existing customer of Xola.

Emilie Pelletier

Emilie Pelletier is responsible for Business Development at Cyclo Services, helping people pedal freely and fall in love with Quebec City through sustainable tourism, bike tours, and private rentals. Emilie is the owner of Tuque & Bicycle Experiences and a local tourist guide for Montreal Food Tours. She undertook her guide apprenticeship at JPdL, and previously worked for Bus Tours of Old Quebec. Emilie has a passion for becoming an entrepreneur recognized by the tourism industry and is currently searching for a booking platform for Cyclo Services.

This episode is sponsored by Blend Marketing

These friendly folks work exclusively on marketing tour and activity companies. They’re great to work and really get results; some of our fellow Tourpreneurs have said some very nice things about them in our Tourpreneur Directory and now they’ve released a totally free ebook that shows how you can increase your direct bookings by stealing the OTAs’ top tricks. 

Check out that free guide at blend.travel/direct