Drumbeat Charters – modernising paper ticketing systems
One thing we’re passionate about at Netgen is helping businesses to modernise their processes. So, when Drumbeat Charters came to us looking for a way to replace their handwritten ticketing systems, we were excited for the opportunity. At the time, the company was writing out all of their tickets for cruises and doing all of their passenger checks manually.
Drumbeat Charters has been around since 1989 and is well established in Hout Bay Harbour in the tourism sector. Their boat is well known in the waters around the cape peninsula, with their regular routes being out to the Cape Fur Seal colony on Duiker Island, the shipwreck in Maori Bay, and across to view the Chapman’s Peak cliffs.
Getting to know the business requirements
The first element required was a ticketing system that was a lot more up to date. Our solution was a mobile app and web portal that could be used to make bookings in the office and at the harbour. The company would be just as mobile as before, but far better connected when it came to monitoring bookings.
The next element that the business required was a way to log passengers on board each trip. This is a crucial compliance and safety requirement for every trip they take with paying passengers on board. The captain needs to know how many people are on the boat and who they are, as do the admin staff back on dry land. For this, we decided that the best way to operate would be to print out passenger tickets with a QR code on them. The staff can then scan each ticket as the person boards the boat using the same mobile app we’d already designed. The information is then uploaded to the system, meaning everyone with access to the system can see who is on board at any given time.
The final element was an administration portal. The team at Drumbeat Charters needed to be able to see what cruises were planned, how ticket sales were looking and ensure that ticket sales matched to their income records. With this overview of the business operations, it would be possible for the administrator to close off trips once they filled up, as well as add in new trips if there was a demand.
Our solution was a web portal that tapped into the ticketing and scanning system. Now, the administration staff could track peak times and slow times in the business. They could also confidently interact with travel agents who wanted to book group tours in advance. Everyone from the office to the harbour and even out at sea would be able to see what their bookings looked like and the planned cruises.
The impact of COVID-19 on Drumbeat Charters
All of this original ticketing systems planning started about four months before the pandemic hit South African shores and lockdown closed operations for Drumbeat Charters. Tour boats and similar operators were officially shut down by the government for a year and a half. It also didn’t help that 90% of Drumbeat Charters’ business came from overseas tourists who obviously weren’t coming to the country.
All work on the software project was halted until things started to open up again towards the end of 2021. We were incredibly happy to hear that Drumbeat Charters had kept their business afloat both literally and metaphorically. Since the planning work was all done before the pandemic hit, we were able to get going quite quickly with the software development. The entire system went live in January 2022 and has completely modernised how the company does business.
There’s still a long way to go to get the tourism industry properly underway again in South Africa, but we’re glad to have helped out such an iconic business in Cape Town. Drumbeat Charters has played a big role in helping to revive the Hout Bay Harbour tourism sector with the locals. They’ve also teamed up with a fellow cruise operator – Nauticat Charters. They’re sharing the costs of the software and working together to keep the cruises running, making things more viable until the international tourists start coming back.