Wow, 12 years. Time flies when you’re having a great time, and I’ve been having a great ride with Caspio. I’m extremely excited to be here today.
I was delighted when Valaine and Sabina asked me to speak to all of you today about my journey with Caspio. It’s a product I love using. Most of my presentation is going to go over how Caspio has helped transform my business. However, I’m also going to touch a little bit about some personal things that I’ve experienced with Caspio.
But before I go into that, I’m going to go a little bit off-course. Valaine, I promise I’ll stay on time, okay?
Monday, I flew from New York to California. During my travels, I decided to pick up a book, a self-help book on public speaking. And one of the chapters focused on this: if you can inject passion and honesty into your presentation, those are two keys to success.
I closed the book and I said to myself, “I got it.”
Passion: I’m so passionate about using this product. Honesty: I’m going to be honest with all of you about my passion for using the product, to the point that I’m going to embarrass myself a little bit.
So, without further ado, I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself and Direct Line Cruises.
First, I’m going to make something abundantly clear. I am not a programmer. I am not an engineer. I do not have that talent. At 42 years of age, I finally recognized I’m not there.
Now, about Direct Line Cruises. We’re a travel agency that focuses on just selling cruises. We’re mostly the middleman between the consumer and the cruise line.
We sell all the major cruise lines: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises. I wear multiple hats in the company, from managing supplier relations to automation.
It’s funny. On Monday, I was talking to my daughter. I said, “I’m traveling on Monday.” My daughter has taken tons of cruises with me. I get to do different ship inspections, see brand-new ships and exciting destinations.
And she said, “Daddy, are you going on a cruise ship today?”
I answered, “No, Olivia, I’m not.”
She went, “Well, where are you going?”
So, I replied, “Well, I’m going to be in a hotel for two days.”
And she looked at me and she said, “That’s boring!”
So, I got her on the bus. I walked away and thought to myself, little does my seven-year-old daughter know that this is the most exciting time for me. I see impressive cruise ships, extraordinary destinations, but this is my passion. This is what I love talking about and being part of.
Have I mentioned I’m not a programmer? And that’s going to be a significant theme in this presentation.
My degree is in business computer information systems. I have some basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and database applications. I learned on Microsoft Access and I can’t wait to get entirely away from that. And again, I’m not a programmer.
So, how did I begin using Caspio?
Back in 2007, I had a simple task to accomplish for my company. We had cruise line promotional rates that we needed to get online. These rates were stored in a Microsoft Access database and updated weekly.
At the time, there were no APIs to the cruise lines. They were pretty much sending us file feeds that we were storing in Microsoft Access.
So, I said, “Simple task, Microsoft Access. There’s an online version of that.” I quickly discovered that was not true.
After several failed initiatives, I felt there had to be a better solution.
Let me elaborate on some failed initiatives. I had to set up SQL servers online and purchase separate SQL licenses, then hired programmers. I used an application called Microsoft FrontPage that had connectivity to a Microsoft Access database. Do all of you remember Microsoft FrontPage?
I went through all these gyrations and just kept on banging my head on the desk, asking, “Why? Why?”
Then came my savior, and it was like this music playing and angels coming down from the crowd.
I googled “Microsoft online database.” Many of you probably did that. I signed up for a Caspio trial account.
I immediately recognized the potential. Wow, there’s a minimal learning curve, easy deployment, and a phenomenal support team. It just blew me away.
The task that I was trying to accomplish for over a year, and kept failing at, I was able to accomplish in about a week, and I was just blown away.
At the end of it, I did something huge. I threw myself a party! After completing the task, I closed the door in my office, and I celebrated. That’s how wild my life is.
I told you I’m going to embarrass myself a lot through this presentation, and that’s my honesty.
I’ll ask all of you: in your work or personal lives, you’ve all probably had that one hallelujah moment. You’ve hopefully had many hallelujah moments.
I have that quite often with Caspio.
As I’m driving home from work, I come up with an idea, and I say, “Wait a minute, I can do this with Caspio.” And my mind starts racing.
Caspio empowers me. It allows me to dream big.
Fast-forward 12 years to 2018, I no longer use the original application that I built with Caspio. I don’t need it anymore.
Now we’ve built hundreds of applications for 50 different tasks. We’ve grown our companies so much over the last 12 years, thanks in part to Caspio. We realized that Caspio can handle so many more tasks than we could ever dream of.
I was talking to Frank at the Fireside Chat yesterday. I asked, “Frank, when you started your company in 2000, could you envision it where it is now?”
And Frank answered, “Yeah, I believe so, to some point. You know, businesses evolve.”
I had a dream when I started with Caspio in 2007, right when I realized this is the application for me. My long-term vision was to move all my back-office operations to Caspio.
I’m getting close to that point. Now, about 50% of our operations are managed through Caspio. Our CRM applications, lead management tools, scripted follow-up emails, and loyalty clubs. We’ve built hundreds of applications.
Did I mention I’m not a programmer?
You don’t have to be a skilled programmer to build incredible applications; Caspio is going to do all the heavy lifting for you.
This is a corny line, but I believe that if you can dream it, you can build it with Caspio. There are no borders or barriers. And that’s what I love about Caspio. I consider myself a creative person, but the problem is that I don’t have that technical skillset. And Caspio, to me, has allowed me to dream big.
The product continues to grow and evolve, and this is a major reason I love Caspio.
Do you recognize this email? I get hundreds of emails in a given day, and I’m sure all of you get bogged down with emails. This is my favorite email to receive; I’m like a kid on Christmas day waiting for it.
I get this email, and I cannot wait. After the release notification comes out, I start going on the Release Notes page a few days earlier, thinking, “Have they done anything? Have they given me a sneak preview of the release?”
Have any of you done this?
All right, then I’m embarrassing myself again.
I do this, and the reason I do this is every time a release comes out, I know Caspio’s going to empower me to create more. That’s what I love about this product.
Your company, Caspio, is listening to all of us about what can be used to improve the product, and I find that great.
The people are the best. And this is a shout out to the gentleman right over there, Napoleon.
My first experience with Caspio in 2007 was when I set up a trial account. I called Caspio, and I spoke to Napoleon. He was probably banging his head on the desk as he spoke with me; I probably kept him on the phone for about 45 minutes!
I asked him a series of questions, and he was able to answer most of them. But I remember stumping him with one question. And he said, “Well, I’ll look into it.”
So, the weekend approached. It was Saturday and I was with my wife or girlfriend at the time, I’m not sure. She’d probably kill me if I don’t remember that time period.”
Anyway, my phone rang. I saw it was a California area code, so I picked up, and it was Napoleon on the phone. I remember thinking, “He’s calling me on the weekend.” And I was blown away.
He had the answer to my question from that weekday. And I thought to myself, “I’m not even a paying customer yet.”
Then I thought, “Wait a minute, if I’m not even a paying customer and this gentleman is giving me incredible support, then I can’t imagine what it’s gonna be like once I start becoming a customer.”
This level of customer service has been consistent for the last 12 years. Dealing with Napoleon, the entire team at Caspio, it’s an excellent support team.
How has Caspio changed my business?
It encourages creativity with no boundaries. Again, if you have that winning idea, you don’t have to worry about barriers of entry.
There is a minimal learning curve. The best thing with Caspio is that I’ve managed to train many of my staff members. My staff members have come out, and they’ve said to me, “We don’t have any database or any programming knowledge.”
And I’ve said, “Don’t worry, you don’t need to.” In a matter of two days, I’ve been able to train many of my staff members to build elaborate Caspio applications.
Now, rapid development. I don’t know if Paul is here, but Paul mentioned something yesterday: Don’t dilly-dally. I thought that was perfect. With Caspio, you don’t need to dilly-dally. You have an idea, you get into the application, and you rapidly start building.
Next is automation. I’m a big believer in automation, and it cuts down costs. I use scheduled tasks probably more than your company Caspio likes me to use them. Triggered actions are phenomenal. The announcement yesterday about tasks is incredible.
There is a reduced reliance on outside resources and I don’t have to worry about hiring outside programmers. I don’t have to worry about if they’re on vacation; it’s all done in-house.
There is also reduced reliance on internal hardware. We’re slowly migrating all our servers from our in-house office to have everything maintained in the Caspio environment.
Finally, gain a leg up on the competition with innovation. Again, if you have that idea, you don’t have to wait for six months or a year down to implement that project because then your competition may gain a leg up on you. You can rapidly deploy apps with Caspio.
These are just some screenshots of some applications we’ve built over the years with Caspio.
This first one is our agency intranet site. This allows our agents to look at their individual sales productivity. They can follow-up on all the individual bookings they’ve done for the day. They can see all their leads and their quotes.
There are also scripted follow-up emails. They can look at the current sales promotions, the latest memos, staff schedule so they can see who’s working that day, everything.
All these are available through several different Caspio applications, all in one particular DataPage.
Now, this right here is my baby. This is an email system we created with Caspio.
We partnered with several cruise lines that we now have APIs with. We told them, “When we’re talking to someone on the phone and quoting them a price on a cruise, you normally send them an email quote. It’s pretty much, here’s the price of the cruise, this is the cruise ship you’re going on, this is the destination that you’re going to.”
“Well, let’s dress up these emails a little bit more. Let’s make them more dynamic.”
We asked our cruise line partners, “All these products – the destinations, the ships, the cabins – they all have ID numbers associated with them. Can we pass the parameters from your applications to Caspio?”
In doing so, we’ve been able to pass parameters over to Caspio. In turn, my agents can send out these dynamic email quotes to customers with one click. Customers can view photos, customer reviews, and videos of the ship, as well as detailed itineraries.
When customers look at it, they say, “Wow, this agent must have spent 15 or 20 minutes or an hour putting together this email.” But it’s just a few clicks. It’s all automated.
We’ve created a loyalty club.
To us, our business is all about client retention, and we would never have been able to do this without Caspio. We encourage our customers to come back to us. One of the ways we encourage our customers to come back to us is that with every cruise they book, they earn points on their cruise.
We’ve built an application through Caspio where customers can view the points that they’ve earned for a cruise and then redeem those points towards discounts or future cruises.
We also have an online service center, where any customers that book a cruise with us can log in and manage their reservations. We realized over the years that there were several different tasks that customers were repeatedly asking us to do.
“Can you print out my documents?” “I need to change the spelling of my name.” And we thought, “Well, all these tasks can be managed in an online service portal.” So, we created this system to reduce the workload of our phone staff. Now, they can manage everything online.
This is recent. We created a training catalog in this recent app. We took all our documents and videos and have begun training new staff members. This was also built through the Caspio application.
By the end of Q1 2019, it is my hope and my desire that we will have approximately 90% of all our back-office operations moved to Caspio. This has been my long-term vision for the company, and this is something that we’ve been developing for the last year.
This is just a mock-up right now of our new booking CRM application that we’ve been building. Using several different APIs, we’ve been able to take our call analytics provider. So, whenever a call comes into our office, it automatically goes into Caspio.
All our email records through MailChimp and our customer reviews through Trustpilot all go through Caspio as well. Odysseus Solutions is the company that develops the APIs for our cruise line partners, and those are all integrated as well.
So, in closing, Caspio has transformed my business, and I thank everyone for listening to me today. I encourage all of you to don’t stop believing and dream big with Caspio. Thank you.