Website allows travellers to customise Bintan itineraries

A website launched in March allows customers of Ms Sim's Albatross World Travel & Tours to book and pay for packages online. The laptop display next to the chief executive is of a personalised planning tool used to customise an itinerary to Bintan fr
A website launched in March allows customers of Ms Sim's Albatross World Travel & Tours to book and pay for packages online. The laptop display next to the chief executive is of a personalised planning tool used to customise an itinerary to Bintan from scratch.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

When Ms Crystal Sim bought over a 10-year-old travel agency in 2011, its employees' main task was to book transportation tickets and hotel rooms for customers.

Customers would fax in forms, with full names and passport numbers handwritten on them, and staff had to painstakingly transcribe these details into booking systems - which was not just time-consuming, but error-prone.

"We needed to revamp it," said Ms Sim, 52, chief executive of Albatross World Travel & Tours in Circular Road.

Its chief operating officer John Ching, 64, added: "We decided that it could not carry on like that. It created a lot of work and was liable to mistakes. The prices were also manually computed and would sometimes be wrong."

The solution was a website, launched in March, which allows customers to book and pay for packages online.

It was built at a cost of about $140,000, with partial funding from Spring Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board.

There was initially some resistance from older employees used to doing things manually, but the convenience eventually won them over, said Mr Ching.

The firm, which specialises in trips to the Indonesian island of Bintan, did not stop there.

In May, it added an option on its website for customers to create customised itineraries to Bintan based on their budgets and interests.

They can pick from a menu of attractions and the system will map out a route linking the chosen destinations, taking into account the travel time needed and opening hours of each attraction. Admission fees and transportation costs will also be reflected.

Customers can then book and pay for the trip via the website.

"We want to help customers tailor-make their holiday," said Ms Sim. "The aim is to create a memorable experience for them."

Melissa Lin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Website allows travellers to customise Bintan itineraries'. Print Edition | Subscribe