Foxtrail is the most exciting way to get to know a city at close quarters. This leisure activity provider has set up paper chases in six Swiss cities and in the canton of Aargau. The fox's trail can only be followed by solving tricky riddles and deciphering secret messages. Participants therefore get to know a place in an enjoyable and exciting way and finish by celebrating their success with a cold aperitif. However simple this business principle sounds, it is extremely complex in reality.
Foxtrail started on a small scale in 2002 with the creation of its first paper chases. The company soon wanted to take the whole idea further with IT support and connect the online booking platform directly to the ERP. They opted for a standard solution with native programming. After four years, the company had reached its limits. The decentralised structure was crying out for a cloud solution that would make both the hosting and the continuous updates superfluous. A sales-driven CRM solution was required. Innovation is essential in the fiercely competitive leisure market.
Operations Manager at Foxtrail
An easily scalable solution was required to make it possible fully to concentrate resources on developing the range. The choice was clear: Salesforce. Foxtrail opted for a German provider when it came to implementation. Salesforce enabled Foxtrail to scale its business for the first time, but still with a small team. However, after the initial implementation, it became clear that the new system, which had now become the heart of the company, was playing such a central role that a partner was required for development and support who was more local and would be able to implement the complex extensions systematically.
The trail to the right partner
«The selection criteria comprised the size of the company – to ensure stability and good support – expertise in Salesforce and proximity to us,» says Daniel Arnold, Operations Manager at Foxtrail. He evaluated three providers on the basis of these criteria by means of desk research. «There are not that many Salesforce implementers of the right size in the Swiss market. But PARX succeeded in convincing me and Thomas Bösiger. They have enough staff to ensure quality and continuity and yet they support the customer both personally and individually. Their expertise in Salesforce is extensive, with over 70 certifications and PARX is highly innovative. As Salesforce is our central application, the crucial factor is not just price but also quality.»
The project began in July 2012 with a joint kick-off event. Takeover of the system was planned down to the last detail and the support arrangements were established. PARX then analysed the existing functions. «We continued to work in parallel with our old partner. That gave us all enough time to approach the project systematically and calmly. I would recommend this to anyone who is planning to switch provider,» says Daniel Arnold. The concept for the new website was then developed. The design was completed by the web design agency Ginetta and converted to HTML. PARX built the website based on Salesforce sites. Thanks to Force.com, Salesforce's own development platform, it is possible to program online portals, for example, which communicate seamlessly with the CRM and thus create integrated processes.
The site is a very complex booking platform that specifies the possible trails and their starting times dynamically, provides information about when they are not available, calculates the price and suggests places to get an aperitif. «The toughest nut to crack was the price calculation, including discounts and the option to redeem vouchers,» says Christian Deckert, the engineer at PARX. New functions were integrated for this purpose. Setting up and continuously developing the website took from July 2012 to June 2013. Now Foxtrail can maintain over 90% of the content of the website itself. All of the content is fed in dynamically from Salesforce and all inputs are written to it immediately. «With our old website, it was almost a miracle that customers made any bookings at all. Now we have an online experience of the sort customers expect – the complexity is taken away by the system and is not passed on to the customer.»
Salesforce at the heart of the company
Now Foxtrail has modelled everything in Salesforce. They manage the data of private and business customers and handle all of the correspondence – using e-mail integration – through the system. Price calculations, management of vouchers, invoicing and the reminder system have all been fully integrated. The trails are also managed in this way, as are the times when the individual tasks can be completed. «It is not that easy to offer trails with tasks that can be completed in the required time,» says Christian Deckert, one of the PARX engineers. The partners in the restaurant industry who offer the aperitifs are also managed through the CRM and the prices for the drinks are calculated. Foxtrail uses Salesforce as a complete content management system for its website, so that even purely editorial material such as news is created with it. A special feature is the QR code that is printed on the confirmation and allows participants to follow their trail on an iPhone with the Foxtrail FoxApp.
The entire development process for the trail also runs through Salesforce: plotting the route, designing the riddles, obtaining and managing authorisations, producing the individual tasks and the technology required for them and managing the tasks, including times when they are available.
Daniel Arnold: «Our project made us realise that a complex project like ours is only possible with plenty of time. Only then can all of the processes be properly considered and smoothly programmed. A close and honest exchange of information is also extremely important. We really appreciate the fact that PARX raises potential problems or new functions and therefore sufficient time can be planned for them. In this way we were able to get the project off the ground easily and without any real problems at all.»
Focus on innovation
The next step being planned is the development of a customer portal on which customers can assemble their trails, together with a survey and support for regular customers. Similarly, the telephone switchboard is to be connected to Salesforce. Opportunity management is also pending. The team headed by Daniel Arnold and the PARX team will therefore have their hands full.
In conclusion, Daniel Arnold from Foxtrail believes: «The project is extremely sustainable for us. We have now created a base that provides scope for the spirit of innovation to develop.»