June 10, 2010
The 2010 FIFA World Cup gets underway on Friday, and it will bring hundreds of thousands soccer fans to South Africa over the next month. To cope with an anticipated ten-fold increase in visitor calls and online contacts, South African Tourism has turned to Salesforce.com for a rapidly scalable and social-network-connected CRM environment.
South Africa is used to hosting visitors to its wildlife parks and reserves. But the World Cup is expected to draw as many 300,000, including many first-time visitors to the country. With 64 matches set for nine different cities, more travel will be required once visitors arrive in country. The combination required big changes for South African Tourism, which normally handles pre-visit calls from would-be visitors. "We had to turn our call center inside out to handle calls from within South Africa, whether people need help with travel logistics, accommodations or ticket availability for specific games," said William Price, global manager of e-marketing at South African Tourism. The government-sanctioned agency had an aging, custom-built CRM system built on Microsoft technology, but Price says he immediately thought about cloud possibilities when planners estimated calls might jump from 1,000 to 2,000 per week up to 10,000 to 15,000 during each week of World Cup play. Salesforce.com was one of seven CRM systems and three software-as-a-service options the agency considered. "The World Cup has been a great catalyst for us to get something that is easy and quick to deploy and something we don't have to invest in from a software point of view," Price said. "When it came time for deployment, it took Salesforce about three weeks to get the system up and running, which is phenomenal from an implementation standpoint." Social-network-analysis capabilities were also of interest, as South African Tourism wants to monitor what tourists are saying even if they aren't using a telephone. Salesforce.com was able to plug in South African Tourism's existing Twitter handle and Facebook profile (along with followers and friends) into the agency's CRM implementation. "We'll be able to listen to these networks, so if there a lot of Tweets on 'FIFA' or 'World Cup' or another keyword we discover, we can quickly figure out what people are saying and start managing and directing those conversations using our Twitter handle and our Facebook page," Price said. South African Tourism is also planning a June 11 launch of a feedback portal through Salesforce Ideas, an electronic survey capability through which the agency can gather crowd-sourced tips on transportation logistics or favorite side trips, hotels and restaurants. Price said South African Tourism will also exploit Salesforce.com's built-in business intelligence and workflow capabilities. The former gives South African Tourism real-time trend analysis on types of inquiries, volumes of calls by category, and the languages of incoming contacts. The latter provides case management and escalation capabilities, so special problems or complaints can be routed to appropriate contacts or departments. Once the World Cup is over, Price said South African Tourism will phase out the old CRM system, which is still handling calls from outside of South Africa, and permanently replace it with Salesforce.com. "We may cut the number of licenses we'll need by half, but it's a powerful CRM tool that we can also use for knowledge management," Price said. "We want to be able to capture the information our call center agents are giving people over the phone so we can share that through our online presences." South African Tourism expects as many as 300,000 visitors during the World Cup, though Price said that's down from pre-recessionary highs of more than 400,000 visitors per month. Despite the success of online channels for European ticket sales during the 2008 World Cup in Germany, Price said many South Africans don't have Internet access, so in-country ticket sales have been predominantly through physical distribution sites including banks and vending machines.
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