We are excited to welcome Andreas Krohn, MSc Computer Science, API specialist and former Head of IT for ForSea Ferries, aboard as Expian’s new Chief Technology
Andreas is a computer programmer at heart with more than 25 years’ experience in programming and IT development, including 15 years working as an Application Programming Interface (API) consultant. Most recently he was Head of IT for ForSea Ferries, where he was responsible for procuring business critical systems, including booking technology.
Today he talks about his personal and professional frustrations with bad booking systems, what he sees as the big IT challenges facing leisure companies and his advice for anyone looking to transform their admissions process.
What does your role as Expian’s CTO entail?
I am responsible for Expian’s IT strategy, cybersecurity and technical development, which includes innovation for our unique booking software. I also work closely with our sales team to respond to briefs from new clients. I believe it’s important for technologists to get involved in client relations from the procurement process so we can get under the skin of a business and design technology solutions that best serve them.
Within my role, I will help Expian to understand the latest technological developments with a view to how it can help operators improve their business. Technology for technology’s sake is costly and delivers no benefit. Innovation must be implemented to solve real-world problems to achieve business success.
Why did you come to work with Expian?
I met Expian, previously Ticknovate, at Forsea Ferries. We were searching for a solution that would increase the revenue we generated through ticketing. This included selling experience-led packages and allowed us to upsell as well as manage additional services, discounts and dynamic pricing.
The Expian team designed a new booking platform that transformed the way we sold to customers. I admire their passion for seeking smart ways to improve the booking experience and how they created a market fit platform that serves a real need. It’s inspiring to work with a company that is so smart and driven with a product that truly delivers.
How do you think booking processes can be improved?
I’m a keen traveller so I have experienced first-hand the frustrations of trying to buy tickets for attractions on poor software. My outstanding memory of Toronto Aquarium is how difficult it was to buy tickets! Consumers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to buying online and a poor booking experience can lead to abandoned purchases or poor reviews, ultimately damaging the attraction - this is what I want to eliminate with Expian.
Professionally, I have led procuring new ticketing systems in the cruise and ferry sector, therefore I understand the limitations of legacy systems. So many do not allow for upselling products, managing group bookings and seat allocations, and giving customers greater control of the bookings through their own portal. Integration is also key to success, which is why I appreciate Expian’s API-first architecture, which enables seamless integration with business tools such as CRM and accounting programmes.
What are the biggest IT challenges leisure attractions and ferry operators will face in the next 5 years?
Maintaining regulatory compliance, cybersecurity and minimising environmental impact will remain high on the agenda but being adaptable to unforeseen challenges is also crucial.
The past 5 years have taught us all the importance of flexibility. The COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain issues and international conflicts have affected the travel and leisure industries in completely unexpected ways. Technology infrastructure and booking systems need to be easy to manage and update to reflect changing availability and to supply additional advice and information to reassure customers at the point of booking.
What advice would you give to an attraction, event manager or ferry company looking to upgrade their ticketing software?
Firstly, don’t be afraid to change platform. It is a major business decision that should not be taken lightly but if chosen well your software should last the next 5-10 years of business. Ticketing is business critical and a key source of revenue, so has a big impact on the overall success of the organisation. Admissions is one of the first touchpoints customers have with a brand and it also opens the door to more revenue generation opportunities.
Booking software must also integrate with other business critical systems including the finance function, sales and marketing activity and operations. For this reason, procurement should involve stakeholders from across the business so you can determine what functions are important from the start.
Start by mapping the customer journey, identifying pinch points and raising problems you have experienced with your current system. Then consider where you could upsell and cross-sell to increase visitor spending. This will shape a brief for your supplier. Finally, expect phased implementation to avoid disruption to daily service, large-scale digital transformation takes time!
What are you most excited about achieving?
Expian is at an exciting point as it scales up from a start-up business to an established and recognised challenger and I’m thrilled to be part of the journey. As a programmer at heart, I am also excited about the business advantages that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation bring. We are already exploring how the booking software can integrate with AI forecasting and price optimising.
Meet Andreas Krohn and the rest of the team at World Travel Market London on 6-8 November, Stand N9-200