Hi, everybody! My name is John and I work for Palisis, the company that owns and operates TourCMS.
We at Palisis thought it would be a good idea to make some training videos to showcase the capabilities and use of TourCMS. In this video, I will try to give you an introduction into TourCMS – I’ll give you the very basics of how to set-up your TourCMS-account and – once this is done - how to operate it. Because of the enormity of capabilities and functions of TourCMS, I must restrict the content of this video to the basic needs shared by most of our valued customers.
First, I will try to give you a basic overview over TourCMS and show you what makes it so unique. Then I will show you how you can create your own TourCMS-account and how you can login after you did that. After that, we will go through some basic settings that need to be addressed… Before we can set up our first tour together. Once this is done, we can take a closer look at the TourCMS Marketplace: How you can get access to it with your products - and how you can add and manage the travel agents of your choice.
Please note that I’ll enter the timecode of the beginning of every chapter behind it. This will give you the capability to easily rewind this video to your current point of interest.
The content of this video is as follows:
- Overview & unique advantage (01:38)
- Account setup & login (03:50)
- Users & basic configuration (07:11)
- Creating tours (11:53)
- Accessing the marketplace (32:13)
OVERVIEW & UNIQUE ADVANTAGE (01:38)
TourCMS is – as the name already suggests a Content Management System that is geared towards the tourism industry. This means it stores information – like your tours or existing bookings with their departures, prices and many other specifics online on multiple servers. This ensures not only great accessibility but also a high degree of data security. Once this data is entered it can be made accessible to other systems – either upstream to your own websites or any connected online travel agency - or downstream to your operational ticketing system.
You might ask yourself now what makes TourCMS so unique and why should you incorporate it into your existing operations? Well – we all know that the customers turn with steadily increasing numbers towards the internet to plan and purchase their travel experiences. Some will find your own web pages and many others will access the big Online Travel Agencies like Viator, Expedia or Veltra. Whatever sales channel that you are using - So far all these bookings had to be entered into your operational ticketing system by hand. This equaled for many clients a waste of labor, time and money.
Now the beauty of TourCMS is its API – which by the way stands for application programming interface. Once the connection between your websites or those OTAs is established in TourCMS all this wasteful communication will be handled automatically.
As an example: A booking will find its way - without any help from your office staff - from the customer's online order to your onsite ticketing system. Suddenly your staff will have a lot more time for more important work like quality control and alike. The goal of this training video is exactly that. We want to enable you to setup your TourCMS-account and to enter all of your products with the needed information – so that any connected system can access them - and do the work for you.
ACCOUNT SETUP & LOGIN (03:50)
If this site is popping up you made it to the Homepage of your very own TourCMS account.
Here you can see 5 general areas:
- A step-by-step guide that helps you to create your first tour – please ignore this for the moment – I’ll show you a much deeper and more sophisticated way to do this in the following minutes.
- The main operational area where you can find every function necessary for the use of TourCMS.
- Some additional information that can be helpful if you have some handling problems.
- Some search fields – where you can search for a specific booking or a customer.
- And at the bottom some useful links.
The main operational area itself contains six basic groups of functions:
- Travel products: Here we will create and edit our tours.
- Channels and Web sites will be used later in this video to connect to affiliated systems.
- We have Reports
- System is where we change the configuration and settings for our TourCMS account in a moment.
- Customers and bookings
- And finally, Partners which helps us making and maintaining the connection to our travel agents.
Before we can start configuring your account we must talk about users.
USERS & BASIC CONFIGURATION (07:11)
Let's get our hands dirty! If you open up your browser and enter www.tourcms.com into the address bar of your browser, you will get to the TourCMS home page. Here you will find a lot of information about TourCMS. If you want to sign up for an account, you can either go to "sign up" or "click get free trial account". Now choose making an operator or supplier account. On the following page you have to enter some information about yourself, the account you want to set up, choose a password and choose your base currency. Because my make-believe company is situated in Zurich, I'll choose the currency Swiss franc and finally, I'll click create an account. Now you should get an email with all the necessary information to log in to log in. You can head back to the tour CMS homepage and click up here: log in. Choose the tour operator log in and here you're on the entry page of TourCMS. To the top left we now must enter those credentials from the email if this site is popping up you
If we go to the user settings you will probably see, that you are limited to a single active user. Free accounts – such as the one we just created for you - have this limitation. While this might be enough to evaluate the use of TourCMS for your company, it won’t be enough if you want to take your TourCMS account operational. If you need more users to proceed - please contact email@example.com for a subscription upgrade.
I just upgraded my account and as you can see this changed – among many things - our user settings: We are now capable of adding more users to our account. I quickly add a new user.
On the following page, we can add more information and edit the permissions of this new user. Please read carefully through those permissions and choose them according to the function of any new user. One of the very nice things about TourCMS is that settings and functions are always briefly explained besides it or a link for further information is offered. Please make sure that you always hit “Save changes” at the end of any editing.
If you want to change those permissions at a further date you can always go to the user settings and click in the row of a certain user on “permissions and main setup”.
Next, I’d like to talk about “Tours general settings”:
First, we should set the default country for newly created tours to your base of operations.
Next, I should mention pictures. TourCMS by default requires pictures with a quite high quality of at least 1500 pixels in width. This makes a lot of sense as many OTAs will pull the pictures from your tours and display them on their own websites. And we all surely want them to look as good and inviting as possible, right? Sure you can switch to “OK images” but I strongly advise against this.
Under “Product and price types” we find more settings which I would leave untouched for now. In “Show departure languages” you’ll find a way to customize the languages available on your tours. BUT I will show you another way to work with languages that proved to be handled much better by the various OTAs. We’ll get to that a little bit further down the road.
The setting to “Show private rate fields” isn’t necessary at the moment either, if you’re already working with the Palisis Ticketing System. It would allow other downstream systems to hook the various rates in between them. The same goes for the options under “Tour departures” so we can click on “save changes” and then return to your account homepage.
We are finally ready to create our first tour. Please head to Travel products – Tours.
CREATING TOURS (11:53)
To the top, we see a Box where all our tours would be listed if we had any. Let’s change that!
In the field below we can enter the name of our first tour. Please don’t use a code but a clear statement what kind of tour this is. This is for two reasons:
- This product name will be used by all of your TourCMS Travel Agents to sell your products to the public. They often won’t understand what the difference between a “Red” and a “Yellow”-Tour is.
- If you are already using another downstream software like our Palisis Ticketing System, it helps a great deal during the system integration, if the technician can easily comprehend which tour is which. This not only saves time but costly mistakes during the integration process are hard to find and repair.
But let’s continue: As an example, I want to create a very typical product for many of our customers: A local 24 hour Hop On - Hop off tour. Not only is this type of tour very common for many of our clients, but its nature allows during the course of this video for some interesting talking points. I call my tour Zurich City Hop-on/Hop-off 24 hours.
Now the box I mentioned before displays the tour we just created. Each tour has six setting groups that need to be addressed:
- Dates & Prices
- Descriptions & images
It’s always best to edit a tour from the right to the left. This might feel a bit counter-intuitive but the reason for this is rather easy to understand: The settings of Dates &Prices as well as Description & Images, are dependent on the general setup of a tour.
Please click on “Setup” to continue.
Within setup, we can see six tabs to the top. Let’s go through them one by one.
The “General” tab offers the following settings:
- “Private” allows only for staff entered bookings…
- “Public” makes booking from your own website possible…
- “Distributed” opens up the booking to all connected sales agents and API.
Because I want to show you a neat little trick later in this video, please set this for now to “Distributed”. If you want to change the public availability of your tour after that, you surely can do so.
Tour name allows us to change the original tour name into another one.
Online booking URL is a booking link for this tour. You could copy/paste this into your web page at a later stage.
Display order gives us the possibility to change the order of the displayed tours in the tour's list. Usually, this list is chronical, but this function would allow us to bring our most important tours to the top of this list. The lower the value you enter here, the higher it will be displayed.
At the moment, we can ignore the functions “Freesale” and “Alternative Tours” as none of our sales agents have incorporated them into their sales process.
Again, we hit save changes to continue.
The Times and cutoffs tab defines the time settings of a tour.
Start & End times are rather self-explanatory but for Hop-on/Hop-off it is an issue worth talking about:
The nature of Hop-on/hop-off is time-wise often a bit “loose” - it’s hard to pre-determine an exact departure time, as it is in most cases an ongoing operation during the day. If you already run a Hop-on/Hop-off operation with our Palisis Ticketing system you probably know, that there we modeled this with one single departure per day at 23:59.In TourCMS we have more options to model this behavior:
- We have the option to set no specific time at all,
- A Fixed start & end time…
- Or Multiple start & end times.
Currently, we recommend to our clients to use “Not applicable” for Hop-on/Hop-off operations. This defines no time for the departures and just the date. In our experience, this has proven to be the best solution for all connected up- and downstream systems.
Cutoffs stop the booking of a tour at a certain time before its departure. In this case, I don’t need one because I want to sell until the very last minute. To deactivate this please choose the 2nd option and set it to “0 minutes/no cutoff”.
Again – save changes.
The “Money” (Sales)-tab allows us to change specific financial settings of a tour. The most important one is down here; it sets the unit that is tagged with a price. As we are selling by person we can leave it at that. While not necessary I hit none the less “save changes” out of habit.
“Operations/Suppliers” is usually used if one subcontracts a supplier. In this case, we don’t need a supplier so we can leave this as it is.
The tab “Booking sizes” allows us to enter the usual capacity for any given departure. For a Hop-on/Hop-off tour, it’s certainly best to push this to the maximum number of 1000. If this were some other product like a day trip I would limit this to a smaller size we could well handle.
Below that we can set the range for a single booking – meaning – how many spaces can be booked by a single booking. I set this to the maximum of 250 because there is no real reason to limit this.
I skip the advanced settings beneath this because they are of no use for a Hop-on/Hop-off tour.
“Save changes” and we continue to the tab “rate types”:
These are rather important settings, so please pay close attention.
The 1st point is Rate type. “Multiple rates” means that each rate type – like adult, child or whatever - must pay an affiliated price for admission. “Quantity based pricing” sets the price to be determined by group size. We should again use the default option of “Multiple rates” for our tour.
The same goes for “tour group pricing” as want the price to be calculated on the base of sold rate types.
We won’t need the “Price notes dropdown” but depending on your taste it might make sense to disallow “child only bookings”.
Now we must define the various rate types. TourCMS allows you to create up to ten different rates. Let’s enter for the sake of this example an Adult… a child… and an infant rate. You can handle this as you like but if you’re already using another subsystem you should use exactly the same rates in both systems.
Finally, we conclude the setup with “save changes”.
“Hotel Pickups”, “Options” and “Questions” allow for the customization of the products for each customer individually. While these certainly all are useful options - right now - none of the OTAs incorporated this into their selling process. Because of this, I again skip these settings.
Under “Text Descriptions & Images” we find the possibility to tell and show much more about our tour. As I already mentioned it makes a lot of sense to be very unmitigated when filling in this information as your connected sales agents will pull this information and use it to sell your products.
“Key information” is the first tab we should take a closer look at:
“Commercial priority” influences the order in which sales agents get your products displayed if they do a search query. This isn’t a very important function so I would leave this at default.
“Where does the tour take place” should already be filled, as we did that in the “Tours general settings” a few minutes before. But if you run a multi-national operation you might want to change this entry.
“Postal Address” is not a mandatory field but here you could enter the address of your office.
About “Geocodes”: Here we must enter at least the start and end point of our tour. We are required to enter the geographic Latitude and longitude, which can be easily found by using the “Latitude Longitude lookup tool”. Just enter the name of the location – like Zurich in my case – hit enter and then search the right spot on your map. If you click on the map You get the exact geographic values which you can copy into the corresponding fields in TourCMS. For Hop-on/Hop-off I recommend adding all the stops and mark them as “Can start/end here”. To keep this video as short as possible I’ll do a small time lapse.
Next, we must choose the “Tour type” – if a “tour leader is supplied” – the required health grade required to come along – and the “accommodation comfort rating. As we don’t offer accommodation we set this to “no accommodation/not applicable”.
Then we must choose the suitability of our tour for various kinds of tourists. In my example, I can be very inclusive and allow all sorts.
Finally, we have the option to add “spoken languages” to our tour. But because we currently handle languages in another way I’d like you to leave this empty for now.
Click “save key information” to continue.
Next, we head to “Text description & Video”
Here we have some mandatory and some none-mandatory fields to fill in. As I already mentioned this information will be pulled to some extent by your sales agents which will use them to sell your products. Thereby it makes a lot of sense to invest some time and love on this page. Try to give as much information as you possibly can - even down here in the non-mandatory section. Again I’ll do a quick time lapse to save us some time. I filled almost all the boxes so I can press “save description changes”. No, I can’t because the save button is grayed out. Whenever this happens it’s for sure because we missed to fill out a mandatory field or tick a mandatory selection. Just head back up, search for the red “missing information” symbol and correct the mistake.
After all this hard typing we can luckily continue to “Images”
A picture can say more than a thousand words. And that’s nowhere more true than in marketing. You can search them on your hard drive and upload them here. If you maintain the high-quality standard of at least 1500 pixels in width, TourCMS will prompt you to cut your uploaded pictures into a 3 to 2 aspect ratio. Once this is done it will save your pictures in multiple sizes – Thumbnail, Default, Large and Extra-large – and make them accessible to all your sales agents.
It also can’t hurt if you add a brief description for your pictures down here.
The next tab is “Product page URLs”. For the moment, I want this to remain untouched as it will be greatly influenced by the sales channel, that we will set up in the next chapter of this video called “Accessing the marketplace”.
Because we did set the Status of this tour to distributed we get a fifth tab called “Incomplete data”.
This tab acts as some sort of quality control and all the requirements in here must be met, before a tour can be distributed to the sales agents. As you can see we’re still missing some critical elements which we must add in the next few minutes.
So, let’s head to the final tab “Dates & Prices”. This page is structured in four basic areas:
- The listing of all departures for this tour. As we don’t have any right now this box is empty.
- A filter area where we can influence the departures shown in that list.
- An area where we can create “a new single departure”. This, by the way, is the least important part of this page.
- Because we find down here a group of very useful tools. These tools will help us a lot in setting up and managing your departures.
Let’s set up the first season of departures for this tour. The “1-day tour/activity generator” is by far the best way to do this.
We start by setting the first and last day of our season.
Behind that, we can tick off certain days of the week if we don’t run the tour on those days. For the sake of this example, I tick off Monday.
Now, we must enter the prices for the various rates we defined a few minutes ago in the setup menu of this tour. Let’s say adults pay 30, children 20 and infants can come along for free.
Great. Next, we go to the Product note and enter the first language that we offer on our tour. Let’s say it’s English. You might now think, that this seems to bit clumsy as there is a language setting in the setup menu, BUT we handle language in this particular way because we discovered that this is the easiest way for our connected OTAs to incorporate language into the sales process while maintaining fully automated interconnectivity to your system.
Let’s hit “Create departures” to do so.
As you can see we created a whole lot of departures for every day of our season – without any Mondays. We see the date, the pricing, the product note, the quantity of bookings – Q/P/C, by the way, stands for Quotation, Provisional and Confirmed – Spaces left, Status – open or closed – a field to close a departure, Capacity Management, Supplier note, offer price and note. At the end, we have the possibility to delete a single departure. But this is only possible if there aren’t any bookings for this departure. Speaking of deleting – down in the tools we find a function called “Delete ALL departures on this tour (With no booking)”.
Let’s continue by adding more daily departures for the other languages. Again we click “1-day tour/activity generator”.
Now we can copy the price structure from already existing departures which should come in handy.
Again we select the start and end date of the season, tick off Monday. Now we change the product note to another language and “Create the departures”.
In the updated list of departures, we now see two departures per day with different product notes – English and Spanish. You can go on and repeat this process for all the languages on your tour. I add some in fast forward mode myself.
Now, that we have our complete list of departures, we should learn how we can make changes to them.
There are basically two ways to do so:
If we want to change a single or only a few departures we can do that right here in the list. We can micro-task every departure however we like, but we should never forget - after the change - to scroll down and hit “save changes”.
Let’s say we want to close down our tour during the 24th to 26th of December. We can use the filter to quickly find those dates… and now we can either close or delete those departures.
If you want to edit a multitude of departures all at once, there is a better way than a laborious search through all the departures and editing them one by one. We can use “Update multiple departures at once”.
Let’s say the demand for our tour on weekends is so high, that we must influence this by raising prices.
The page of this tool has two basic sections:
To the top the selection of all the tours you want to change – I pick Saturday – and down here the section to enter the new values of the selected departures. I change the customer prices to 40 and 25 and hit “Update matching departures”.
As you can see the prices on every Saturday have been changed to the new values. Please try this now for yourself for every Sunday of the season.
Before we continue I’d like to propose something: It might make sense to train your new knowledge before we continue. Maybe you could add another tour like a 72 hours Hop-on/Hop-off tour? If you do so, please go back to Homepage > Tours and create a new one. Just a little hint: Please take note of the “Copy from existing Tour”-function… This can save you a lot of time…
Now we’re almost finished with our first tour. The last thing I want to show you about the creation of a tour is the “shared availability” feature. Because our customer's book departures in their own languages and those departures are as a matter of fact one and the same; it makes sense to add them together so that we, the OTAs and the customers can see with one glance how much space on that tour is really left.
Please head back to the TourCMS homepage… go to “Configuration & setup”… and “Shared availability” under the title “Your travel products”.
Here we can create a rule for the system how it should calculate the availability. It’s probably best if you enter the name of your tour and hit “Create a rule”.
On the following page, we keep the setting “Other departures, same day, same tour”… Choose the tour this Rule applies to and hit save changes.
Congratulations! You almost finished your first tour.
Almost because we’re still missing one critical component: Do you remember when I showed you the "quality control" tab in text descriptions and images? If we take a glimpse at it we see that we're still missing the tour link itself. And this one can only be set up once your TourCMS sales channel is configured as well.
Let's do that.
ACCESSING THE MARKETPLACE (32:13)
We head back to the homepage and click on the "channel manager".
Before we continue please take note of this field up here to the top right of your screen. It reads in my case "channel 12498". This drop-down field would allow for the choice of one of your multiple sales channels... if you had more than this one. Please be careful to always choose the right channel before you start editing
My customers often ask me what the purpose of having multiple channels might be. That's a very good question:
The sales channel is like a display window of a store. Here you can showcase your company and your products. Every sales channel can be tailored to a brand and/or a specific group of customers.
The three main aspects of this customization are: Branding, language, and currency.
By Branding I mean the tailoring of your web appearance to a specific website or another part of your business.
Let's say I have a website that focuses on luxury travel for German CITIZENS. Now in TourCMS, we can create a Sales channel that uses the database of our tours and displays them in a way that is optimized for those customers... meaning the price is displayed in Euros and the language is in upscale German.
Setting up a new channel in TourCMS is rather easy:
Just enter the name of your channel down here and hit “Create a new channel.
Editing a channel is not very complicated, but demands a high degree of attention to detail. If you are working with a web developer like Senshi or a franchise chain, please ask them for instructions before you begin doing this.
Because setting up a channel is highly individualized, I’ll only give you a general overview without going into the full depth of this topic.
First, we check if we are in the correct channel before we go to “Channel general settings”
Here we can edit the channel name ….
And edit the Web address. This web address is always the first part of the Web page URL we just looked at a few seconds ago and to be honest it’s a bit tricky. Here one must enter the address of where your products in this channel will be sold. If you sell products on your own website you can enter its address…
BUT if sell over your franchise parent website you must enter that address. If you are not certain which address to enter you can always contact our support.
Beneath that, you should enter the contact information of the person responsible for maintaining that channel.
To continue once again we hit save changes.
Language & words allow you to change the date format …. The language of this channel… and allows you to change some keywords. As an example, I switch all necessary fields to their German counterparts.
E-mail templates is a quite complex topic. Basically, this allows you to generate emails that will be sent automatically by the system to the customer and/or the sales agent if a certain set of variables are met.
If you want to know more about this, please head to those three links:
They explain very well how this works and again if you should get stuck, feel free to drop us a support request.
The next bunch of settings are Sales prices, deposits & booking fees.
- As the title suggests here we can influence the sales price…
- which currency is used…
- Rounding & Format…
- Deposit rules…
- And booking fees.
Please set all these settings to your companies policies.
The same goes for Credit card payments.
In regard to Payment gateway please first follow this link “Configure the main credit card payment gateway settings”… add the name of your gateway… and choose it in the drop-down selection of our available gateways. Hit “create” and enter your gateway login data. Choose between staging and live… The credit cards you’ll accept and hit “Save changes”.
Once this is done you can return to the Channel manager … Credit card payments and choose the new gateway in the drop-down menu.
For the moment, you can ignore the rest of the channel settings and return to the homepage of your account.
Please head now to the TourCMS marketplace. Look for the correct channel and hit “Configure” beside it.
Now you can turn your channel on, by ticking the field up here. Please edit all the settings to your liking and add as much company details as you can. These details are public to any sales agents acting in the TourCMS marketplace and investing a bit of time to make a good first impression is certainly a good thing.
“Save changes” brings us back to the marketplace.
Before we continue we must turn on the API. Go to the homepage… “configuration & setup” …. And API.
Tick the enable box on for your channel and hit “save changes”. Now that the API is alive your account can communicate with all connected up- and downstream systems.
Let’s head back to the Marketplace.
To the top, you now see that our channel changed its status to “live”. Besides that, you see, that the tour we set up in the first half of the video, still “can be made better”.
Clicking on the number brings us to an overview over all the tours that need some fixing. We can see that our tour summary comes up a little bit short. We follow the link to the problem and quickly address it. Save these changes and please always go to the product page URL tab after that. TourCMS automatically creates a URL address for a tour, BUT this is in most cases, not the actual place where your product is displayed. Press edit and link its real location on your site. Sadly, I can’t showcase this right now as my tour is pure fiction and we don’t have a matching web page.
Once this is done and the changes are saved, you can return to the Marketplace where we can see that the quality of your tour data has improved to “full setup tours”. Should you still see the old quality values don’t be concerned; The quality check process only runs every few minutes
Now your account, your first tour, and your channel are fully setup and we are ready to connect your first sales agent.
Connecting to a sales agent on the TourCMS marketplace is very easy. I’ll demonstrate this by connecting to TourSift. TourSift is a demonstration website from TourCMS, that showcases the web use of the sales agent functionality. If you connect yourself to TourSift please be aware that this page is “live”.. meaning that products on it can be sold for real.
I should mention that before you connect to a sales agent, you should open up a line of communication with him, establish a working relationship and find a contractual agreement about your cooperation.
Then – and only then – it’s safe for your company to create a live connection to a sales agent. If he’s a well-known re-seller, he’s probably on this list on the right side of the screen. Just click on his name to start connecting.
If he’s not on this list you can search him here to the left. Currently, we’re having more than 12 thousand sales agents in our database.
On the agent page, you can choose the commission scheme you agreed upon and the permission level of that agent. The level of permission you should assign to an agent is depending on trust. For the big OTAs we can use “trusted travel agent”, but for smaller ones, you might want to use a lower level of permission.
Hit “create connection” to connect. You can fine-tune the settings for each sales agent at any time by going to the “Travel agent manager” and clicking on “setup”.
There you go: You are now an active Tour operator on the TourCMS marketplace, ready to sell your great products.
The one key about learning TourCMS – well about learning anything – is practice. Take a break but please come back and try to create users, tours or even new channels. Don’t feel bad if you get stuck and have to re-watch a part of this video: I unloaded tons of knowledge on you and only repetition, practice and trying out new things will make you proficient in TourCMS.
If you’re running into problems please check here if you find a suitable solution:
If you can’t find help right here, use the search function: It’s very probable that other customers ran into the same issues and there is a guide or article that solves it.
Should you come up empty, you can always drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do so, please be so kind and state your account- and username… a detailed description of your difficulty and maybe even some screenshots illustrating it. That’s always the best way to get fast and accurate help from us.
We’re always trying to improve our products and our support system. The same goes for this series of TourCMS teaching videos. As I am new to making videos - such as this one - I’m humble enough to know that there is always room for improvement. If you have any constructive criticism or pressing topics for an upcoming video, please let me know by writing an email to email@example.com with the tile “TourCMS teaching video”. Thank you very much.