Vida Vacations

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A custom app built on the FileMaker Platform boosted sales by 12% for this Mexican vacation company

Overview

  • Vida Vacations uses a custom app built on the FileMaker Platform to track its sales team's talent and output.

Industry

  • Travel/Hospitality

Solutions

  • Managers use a custom app to track detailed information about successful matches between customers and sales representatives.

Benefits

  • Guesswork has been replaced with data, resulting in a 12% annual increase in sales.

Nuevo Vallarta. Cancun. Cabos. Puerto Peñasco. Acapulco. Mexico’s most beautiful beach towns are the stuff of daytime reveries, especially for those whiling away the hours in the cooler parts of North America.

But it’s not just the beaches that make vacationers book a ticket south. It’s the promise of verdant jungles, warm seas, friendly people, delicious food, historic ruins, and the chance to relax in relatively affordable, luxurious hotels and resorts.

From its main office in tropical Nuevo Vallarta, the people at Vida Vacations sell exactly those kinds of vacation dreams: timeshares and club memberships for people who want to relax at some of the country’s most lavish resorts. And since Vida Vacations started using the FileMaker Platform, it has become far savvier about how to do that. The multi-purpose custom app they use, built on the FileMaker Platform, has contributed to a sales spike of more than 10%, and the company’s best 11 consecutive months yet, according to Fred Deblois, Vida Vacation’s Chief Operating Officer.

“I’m not saying that our app is the only reason we’ve been successful, but it’s one of the major reasons,” Deblois said.

With the help of FileMaker Business Alliance (FBA) partner Creative Databases, we built an app to manage quotas and interactions between salespeople and clients. The app puts all of our salespeople on the same playing field.

— Fred Deblois
Vida Vacations 1

Better ways to work

Vida Vacations’ investment in a custom app started in 2014, when the company wanted a better way to track its sales team’s output. Back then, many of its records were still analog (some had been lost in moves and floods), or stored on a mix of Mac and Windows computers.

The FileMaker Platform was attractive to Vida Vacations because it enables seamless integration across multiple devices and operating systems.

Executive assistant Yadira Reyna was tasked with learning how to use the FileMaker Platform. Her first job? Create a prototype for a mobile tracking system featuring personalized goals for each sales associate.

“With the help of FileMaker Business Alliance (FBA) partner Creative Databases, we built an app to manage quotas and interactions between salespeople and clients,” Deblois said. “The app puts all of our salespeople on the same playing field.”

The FBA helped train Reyna, who quickly took to the Platform despite her non-technical background. She dedicated nights and weekends to learning, thrice attended the annual Developer Conference hosted by FileMaker, Inc., and earned developer certifications.

“I love solving problems,” said Reyna. “Now, when anything comes up, we can solve it in-house.”

Reyna created profiles for each sales associate, and used it to match them with specialized training and coaching. Managers use the app, deployed to iPad devices, to build out robust employee data.

“We could see, ‘This person needs to be mentored this way, this person likes working in teams, this person needs to be left alone.' Things like that,” said Deblois. “Even people in the company who don’t know how to interpret data could go into those profiles and understand the employees better. This helps with retention and performance.”

But the company’s biggest stroke of genius related to its custom app happened at the Vallarta sales office, where more than 100 sales associates gather each morning to meet potential customers — a total of 25,000 of them each year.

Data over guesswork

Sales, like the kind Vida Vacations does, often rely on personal chemistry between a salesperson and customer. Before Vida Vacations’ custom app existed, sales representatives would take their best guess at which customers they should pair off with to show timeshares and make their sales pitch to.

Those who liked working with young couples or families would gravitate towards them, the same with those who liked working with older couples, or those who had similar personal interests to them. If one representative had lived in California, they might choose a couple from there, knowing that they had something in common. The process was usually improvised each morning as customers arrived.

“It wasn’t a scientific approach,” Deblois said.

Vida Vacations’ managers began using their custom app, deployed to iPad devices, to gather data about the successful matches between reps and customers, they discovered a trove of rich insights. The information was far more detailed and specific than the vague guesswork managers had been doing before. Managers used the data to pair the best suited customer sales rep with each couple for the next morning’s meeting.

As it turned out, data produced better results than guessing. Sales shot up by 12% and Deblois, who was credited with the innovation, got promoted to COO.

“When you’re talking about total sales in the hundreds of millions, that’s a big difference,” Deblois said. “We made between $10 million and $20 million from that change."

The success of the matching program also encourage executives to reinvest in the company’s custom app and allow Reyna to hire 9 dedicated developers and 4 data entry clerks to serve the 1000-employee company and its growing ranks.

With all that manpower, Vida Vacations has been able to grow its custom app, inventing new ways to save time and improve operations.

An app that grows with the business

Today, information about potential hires is handled in the app. And time cards have been done away with and replaced with facial recognition readers —a natural choice for Deblois, who used to work in biometrics. The switch, made in 2015, has freed up managers who used to spend hours logging employee attendance.

“Before, we had punch clocks or look around to see who was present. And they would enter the time into a spreadsheet. It was a mess,” Deblois said.

The change improved security and attendance.

“Knowing where people are, and when, makes them more responsive for their time and attendance,” he said.

With its own robust team of dedicated engineers, Deblois is confident that Vida Vacations will continue to use its custom app to make operations smarter and more productive.

“Pretty much everything we want to do with our business, we can do with the FileMaker Platform,” Deblois said. “Our custom app offers us a tremendous competitive advantage.”

To learn more about the FileMaker Platform, download your free trial. To learn how to build your first custom app, visit the Custom App Academy to watch a series of free educational video tutorials.

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Vida Vacations