“Our payment system is different from those handled by your average finance package. We looked at Pegasus – and at upgrading our existing Sage system – but only Greentree didn’t require expensive add-ons to meet our needs.”
Sue Cobley is the Financial Controller at Midlands-based Travelstyle. Every year, more than 100,000 Britons embark on UK or European coach and self-drive holidays organised by this company, which specialises in value-priced holidays.
We’re a growing business,” Sue says. “We believe we have a competitive edge in the market for people who want a holiday but only have a modest amount of money to spend. We aim to deliver great value holidays to our customers.”
Travelstyle felt that it was wasting time and effort coping with booking 2,000 tours a month using a Sage financial system and a separate bespoke CRM system. There was also the constant risk of errors. “Handling invoices was a major problem for us,” says Sue. “We’re often dealing with small hotels and coach operators. They’re not very good at generating invoices and there were times when we’d get three invoices for the same booking, so we had a number of manual systems in place to ensure supplier payments weren’t duplicated. “Having a system that would enable us to keep an eye on those aspects was very important.”
“In terms of payments to suppliers, we’ve literally gone from an all-day process to half a day, previously we literally had to pay each supplier individually through Sage and then manually enter every payment via the bank system one at a time; whereas Greentree allows us to do an entire payment run all in one go.”
Unique payment structure
Information was difficult to get with two separate systems. Manual spreadsheets were used to take the sales data from the CRM system and then identify the costs from Sage. Then there was that payment system…
“Unlike a standard accounting system or purchase ledger, where you pay everybody at the end of each month or once a week, we actually pay a couple of weeks after a tour has ended,” Sue explains. “Most systems can’t handle that sort of payment structure.” As mentioned previously, Travelstyle looked at other systems, but they were quickly ruled out for that reason.
“We had to keep costs down, so it was important that we didn’t have to spend a lot on extras, just to make a piece of software work,” Sue says. “Greentree had the edge through their understanding of our tour structure and how we needed to analyse all of our tour data.”
The benefits of Greentree were plain to Travelstyle’s staff very quickly.
“In terms of payments to suppliers, we’ve literally gone from an all-day process to half a day,” Sue says. “Previously we literally had to pay each supplier individually through Sage and then manually enter every payment via the bank system one at a time; whereas Greentree allows us to do an entire payment run all in one go.
“My purchase ledger staff are very impressed with how quickly they can get a payment done. Our payment approval process has also been simplified using Greentree’s document register.”
Greentree Partner Prerogative was able to make changes to incorporate Travelstyle’s payment needs, and to enable single-point data entry of tour details for analysis. “The other systems either couldn’t do it or would have required new programs,” says Sue. “With Greentree we were able to keep the costs down and we can now link everything together.” Sue says Prerogative were great “from day one”.
“They suggested using the trees in Greentree for our tours. We’ve got a tree set up for each of our tour types, and tours are listed on those branches. Their consultant was very, very good – he understood our very specific requirements.
“I can’t fault Prerogative; they’ve been very responsive and very patient in the support and training process.”
A magic moment
Greentree enables a trial balance to be produced within 24 hours of month-end – a process that used to take the best part of a week. “With Greentree I can just drop a trial balance into Excel for both companies whenever I need one, to analyse our costs against each tour and more clearly identify any missing costs,” says Sue. “The previous system was open to a lot of errors.
“Our Managing Director’s face lit up when I showed him that he could drop a trial balance into Excel in a matter of seconds.” Hotel and transport bookings have to be consolidated monthly, and manual processes are being eliminated.
“Greentree has brought a lot of our requirements together in a more simple way, and I believe it has the flexibility and variety we need to take us forward,” Sue concludes.
Travelstyle, established in 1992, offers value-for-money short breaks and holidays by coach throughout the UK and Europe. Situated in the historic market town of Chesterfield, Travelstyle is one of the UK’s leading coach tour operators, carrying tens of thousands of holiday makers every year.
In addition, Travelstyle has developed a large self-drive market, giving customers the freedom to do what they want to when on their break or holiday.
- Integrated accounting & customer details – handles a specialised payment system without needing expensive modifications
- Payment processing time has been halved
- Month-end trial balances are available almost instantly rather than days later
- Greentree has equipped Travelstyle for future expansion