Online Travel Agent (OTA) Travix takes off with Google Apps for Work

Editor's note: Today we hear from Jan Castelijns, Head of Systems Engineering and IT Operations at Travix, a global online travel technology company that sells low fare flight tickets to 2.5 million passengers from 28 countries every year. Founded in 2011, Travix has rapidly built up a network of 500 staff in seven offices worldwide. Read why they chose Google Apps as the IT infrastructure behind their rapid expansion.

When Travix started out in 2011, it was through the merger of three companies. We gained strength from that diversity, but we also inherited three corporate IT systems. So the first thing the CEO asked me to do when I joined was to find one system we could use across the whole company. He recommended Microsoft Office 365, but implementing it was more demanding than anyone had expected. Months into the process, I went back to him with a realistic projection of the time and resources necessary to finish the rollout, and a recommendation that we put the project on hold. The hunt began for alternatives. That’s where Google Apps came in.

Google Apps is perfectly suited for an expanding global business. We have offices in Amsterdam, Oosterhout, Berlin, Bangalore, Singapore, California and London, and in all of these places, Office 365 required infrastructure modifications before implementation. By contrast, Google Apps was ready to go right out of the box.

Our corporate IT systems need to be quick, reliable and safe, with a minimum of costs and management overhead. Google Apps costs less to implement, less to maintain and allows greater contractual flexibility than Office 365. Because Google Apps is also entirely cloud based, we don’t need to install servers, as recommended in the hybrid server-cloud Office 365 solution. In fact, Google Apps allowed the decommissioning of 10 existing servers, each of which is priced at $3,000.

Rolling out Google Apps took just six weeks. g-company led training with one-on-one sessions for executives, small workshops for staff and even presentations over Hangouts for our Bangalore team. But key to our rapid deployment were the “ambassadors” – staff prepared to support their colleagues when Google Apps went live. After setting up our systems engineers on Google Apps, I sent out a Form for people to register as ambassadors and the response was overwhelming: 104 people signed up for 50 positions. This was a clear sign for us that our people were willing to embrace this change and make this transition work.

At Travix, we already worked with other Google products in particular fields, like Google Analytics and Google Adwords in marketing and Google BigQuery and kubernetes in engineering. Now we have Google Apps for everyone.

Staff here have become very enthusiastic about Google Apps, as they see how the tools fit into their working lives. Gmail, Calendar and Hangouts let staff stay on top of their work anytime, from anywhere. Rather than book meeting rooms through a separate app, now everything is on Calendar, saving time and hassle. Drive has been organically and rapidly adopted across the organisation, and Forms has been a huge success that we didn’t even plan for. Instead of starting a gigantic email thread or using a free survey tool found on the internet, we now use the simple Forms interface to get swift feedback, with answers fed directly into Sheets for analysis.

Hangouts in particular has changed the way we communicate, whether through the efficiency of instant messaging or by working more closely with colleagues abroad. Hangouts on Air allows staff in other offices to participate in our CEO’s presentations in Amsterdam, and because the stream is recorded, engineers in Bangalore and California can watch it too, despite the time difference. Collaboration between team members no longer requires a kind of “email ping pong” and stressful version control. We can just open Hangouts and Drive and go through a document together, whether an engineering design in Docs, a marketing product plan on Slides, or details of a tender on Sheets.

A growing global technology company demands an IT solution that works in any location, on any device. On top of that, it has to be cost-effective, easy to maintain and ready to use in short time. It’s my job to provide that for my colleagues. With Google Apps, that’s exactly what we’ve got.