Solutions

Blue Box Sailing

"Over the past three years, FileMaker has made a tremendous difference to our business, and our personal lives too as a result. We've been able to change the way that we run key elements of the company for the better, and the flexibility it gives us helps us to operate in a much smarter way." says Lisa Forbes, Co-founder of Blue Box Sailing.

FileMaker making waves at Blue Box Sailing

FileMaker provides a range of options for growth.

Overview

  • Specialist sailing experience day company needed flexibility to enhance customer-friendliness of online booking system.

Industry

  • Events: provides individuals, groups and corporate guests with a taste of life on the open waves.

Solution

  • Hooked into FileMaker’s PHP Site Assistant feature, Blue Box’s availability system was revolutionised.

Benefits

  • FileMaker enables the company to offer real-time availability and purchasing for its cruise events.

Specialising in sailing experience days on Around the World Ocean Race Yachts, Blue Box Sailing was established in 2003 and provides individuals, groups and corporate guests with a taste of life on the open waves. Catering for everyone from experienced yachtsmen and women to novices, Blue Box Sailing is based in Hamble, Hampshire.

Hooked into FileMaker’s PHP Site Assistant feature, Blue Box’s availability system was revolutionised.
Hooked into FileMaker’s PHP Site Assistant feature, Blue Box’s availability system was revolutionised.

The challenge:

“It’s saved us a huge amount of time,” begins Lisa Forbes, a co-founder and owner of Blue Box Sailing. “In a few years, it’s helped us to completely change the way that we run big parts of our business, making our lives easier and our customer experience better. We’ve just continued to throw things at the system and it keeps performing, no matter what we ask it to do.”

Lisa is describing the impact that FileMaker has had on Blue Box Sailing since developer Rugged Reef first installed the database for the sailing experience firm back in 2008. Naturally, life wasn’t always this way. “Before we had FileMaker, we were using a database from another major company,” continues Lisa. “There was nothing wrong with it per se, but it wasn’t really giving us much in terms of flexibility.”

In the main, that lack of flexibility was hampering the customer-friendliness of Blue Box Sailing’s online booking system. Although customers had the option to look at availability for sailing days, this platform wasn’t integrated with the business’ e-commerce system, meaning that they still had to make a call to secure a booking. Availability itself also needed to be updated manually, meaning that if every member of the Blue Box team was out on the boats, no-one was able to input new information into the system.

“All of that meant that we’d tend to get a flurry of calls at about five o’clock every day,” explains Lisa. “It would usually be people who just didn’t have a chance to call during the day, teachers for instance. They’d be dashing out of work just to get in touch before we closed, and would be trying to book based on availability that – by then – could be well out of date. It wasn’t really ideal for anyone.”


In a few years, it's helped us to completely change the way that we run big parts of our business, making our lives easier and our customer experience better.

—Lisa Forbes, Co-founder, Blue Box Sailing
From online check-in to on the go access, FileMaker does it all.
From online check-in to on the go access, FileMaker does it all.

The FileMaker solution:

“One of the main reasons that we decided to go ahead with bringing FileMaker in was that it provided us with a range of options for growth. It wasn’t going to just sit there and replace the existing system. Instead, all the indications were that it was going to give us the option to add new elements as we became more familiar with it,” says Lisa.

Those early indications very quickly became a reality. Hooked into FileMaker’s PHP Site Assistant feature, Blue Box’s availability system was revolutionised. Integrated with shopping cart functionality, what was previously a manually updated calendar of availability was transformed into a fully functional booking portal with data updated in real-time, enabling customers to plan their entire experience with just a few clicks.

“That dramatically reduced the volume of calls that we were receiving,” continues Lisa. “Around 60 to 70 per cent of our bookings are now made online, which has made a huge difference to our productivity and given our customers a much better booking experience. We see a number of bookings made overnight now for instance, as people make reservations for their partners after they’ve gone to bed – which they couldn’t do before!”

Thanks to FileMaker, Blue Box Sailing is fast on its way to becoming a paperless business too. “We now have an online check-in system too, so customers are able to check-in using an iPhone or iPod Touch,” says Lisa. “And as a team, we also use FileMaker Go on the iPhone and iPad to access the database for everything from bookings to invoicing. That’s vital in terms of our ability to do more with our time, even when we’re not in the office.”

With information now flowing freely around Blue Box Sailing, Lisa and her husband – also a co-founder and owner of the company – have been able to focus more on work/life balance too. “We recently had our first child,” concludes Lisa, “and so having that level of efficiency within the business means we can get on with the things that really matter in life has been a huge plus.”

Notable benefits:

  • A better customer experience – providing Blue Box with the functionality to build a better customer booking system, FileMaker enables the company to offer real-time availability and purchasing for its cruise events.
  • As big as the idea – Flexibility sits at the heart of FileMaker’s role at Blue Box Sailing, providing Lisa and the team with huge potential. From online check-in to on the go access, FileMaker does it all.
  • Productivity through processes – By simplifying and streamlining some of Blue Box Sailing’s core business processes, FileMaker provides ‘one-click’ productivity.
  • All in one, from top to bottom – FileMaker ties into just about every element of the Blue Box business, and has helped to streamline each and every one. From faster, more efficient invoicing to integration with Tesco’s Clubcard scheme, FileMaker is contributing at every level.

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