Case Study: Global Ballooning Australia

A solution to enhance customers flight experience and become “china ready”
Overview

Global Ballooning Australia (GBA) is a family owned business in Victoria, Australia providing a once in a lifetime experience to over 90,000 customers over the past 25 years in Melbourne and Yarra Valley. They provide themselves on service, safety record and status as market leaders and have been recognised as a leader in the Tourism Industry over their many years in operation, having won the Hall of Fame Award for Tour & Transport Operator in the 2016 RACV Tourism Awards. GBA is the only Victorian ballooning company to go to market internationally, as well as being the largest and most experienced.

GBA are always identifying ways to improve and meet the specific desires of passengers, with the product offering constantly being refined to meet the needs of the target market by tailoring the product when opportunities or gaps are recognised. There are several methods used to ensure the product is meeting the needs of passengers, including staying informed of visitor trends and demands; obtaining, reviewing and analysing customer feedback; and monitoring industry research and data.

Owner of GBA, Kiff Saunders says: “Our team work together to provide our guests with a ‘ballooning experience’ not ‘just’ a balloon flight. We are highly committed to tourism excellence and always seeking to improve business practices and the visitor experience to contribute to the success and sustainability within the Australian tourism industry.”

With the ongoing increase in tourism to Victoria, GBA has recognised the importance of attracting tourists for sustained growth and the challenges of catering toward non-English speaking passengers. Given the nature of the business, GBA complies with the most stringent regulations when it comes to safety and risk so to ensure a seamless experience. There has to be a procedure for passengers to find out if the flight is proceeding and the meeting time (which changes daily, depending on the weather).

GBA’s Business Manager, Kate Esposto says: “The development of our mobile app adds to our 5-star ballooning experience and encompasses our core company values – innovation and leadership. With the development of the app, this now allows passengers to receive a notification with crucial details with regards to the flight proceeding. This also allows international passengers where English may not be their first language to translate the message into their preferred language should they not understand. The app plays in integral role in engagement, building relationships with our passengers and eases communication. It has a messaging system, itinerary, videos, safety information/checklist, plus much more. The feedback so far has been extremely positive.”

GBA’s values and philosophies recognise the changing marketplace and visitor expectations. Through continuous improvement, GBA has made significant inroads into the understanding and accessibility of balloon travel, contributing to the growth of tourism in Victoria.

Challenges

Hot air balloon flights are heavily reliant on mother nature, with optimal weather conditions required for balloon flights. Despite being consistently voted as the world’s most livable city; Global Ballooning Australia (GBA) has the additional challenge of Melbourne’s often fickle weather. GBA Pilots carefully monitor the weather the evening before, and on the morning of the flight to ensure that conditions are safe for flying. Communication between the Pilot & the passengers is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the conditions for flying.

“Our balloon flights can be cancelled and postponed to an alternative date if the weather proves unsafe to fly. Therefore, it is vitally important that the pilot can easily communicate and provide updates to our passengers in a timely and convenient manner. Prior to the launch of our mobile app, passengers had two methods to check if their flight was proceeding – they could phone or check a link on our website. This limited the communication for passengers to contact our staff, whereas now passengers can reach out via a messaging system through the app.” says Kate.

Another growing challenge for GBA is that most of their customers are international tourists, with Chinese tourists making up a large percentage. GBA needs to ensure that their international customers understand if their flight is proceeding, as well as been briefed on crucial safety information prior to their flight, to maintain passenger wellbeing.

Kate says, “One of our main goals over the past 18 months was to be completely ‘China-ready’. Having partnered with GAO Group – a Chinese specialist to help solve some of our key problems with regards to communication, we now feel that we have improved immensely and have fantastic relationships with key contacts in China. We are achieving positive results and will continue to work on new goals to communicate with other markets.”

Director of GAO Group, Lindsay Goding, says “In order to capitalise on the opportunities in the China market, it is essential that businesses first understand the market and are providing the right experience/product to the right customers. This should then be supported by highly targeted, integrated and smart sales, marketing and PR programs with a big focus on Chinese unique digital environment.”

Our Solution

SafeTravels and Global Ballooning Australia (GBA) have worked closely together to create a customised mobile app solution that:

• Provides customers with Information and Videos about their Balloon Flight and general ballooning safety information.
• Provides the ability for pilots to send important Flight Updates to their customers. Customers will receive a Push Notification on their phone with updates
• Provides all Flight information, updates and messages in multiple languages. GBA currently provide information in English and Chinese with Japanese and Spanish to be added shortly.

In addition to the core features above, SafeTravels created a uniquely branded mobile app for GBA for both Android and IOS devices. SafeTravels has also integrated their backend with GBA’s Booking Platform, meaning new customers on bookings are automatically sent an invite to download the GBA app.

Furthermore, Kate says: “We had fantastic feedback throughout the testing phase and since going live our customers have reiterated that receiving the notifications is a much more convenient way for them to find out if their flight is proceeding & a great way to communicate with their Pilot. This app has been a great innovation to enhance our product experience. In future, we would love to be able to allow passengers to re-book their flight through the app, a driver tracker so passengers can see where our drivers are during our pickup service and live balloon tracking. There is so much more we can achieve through this technology!”

SafeTravels CEO, Chris Reed, says “We are very proud of the custom mobile app solution we have developed for GBA and the way that they have embraced mobile technology to solve some of their challenges in an innovative manner. We work with a diverse variety of companies in the travel industry including on-line travel agents, tour and activity providers and luxury / boutique travel companies.


CUSTOMIZE

White-label app for Android
and iOS.

Remove all SafeTravels branding and make the service your own.

Adjust the features to match the unique needs of your company.



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