European Cruise Operator Reduces Admin Costs by 20% through Digital Payment Solution

In Case Studies by Ulrike

“Through the implementation of Central Billing we have achieved significant improvements in the booking and expense process,”

Executive Summary

In 2016, one of Europe’s largest cruise operators decided to introduce two digital initiatives: a centralized hotel booking tool with an integrated payment solution. The company invested in these tools to drive adoption and reduce its accounting team’s administrative work. It chose HRS as its partner and after the first 22 months, the partnership has made a number of keys achievements, not least in a 50% reduction of finance-department processing time, savings of more than 7% through HRS discounts and ‘best-buy’ principle, and a strong increase of hotel program adoption, from 50% to 70%.

The Company

Founded 165 years ago, one of the largest cruise operators in Europe is headquartered in Genoa, Italy, and provides cruise holidays in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America.

Challenges and Objectives

The cruise operator had a clear goal in mind from the outset: Enable a centralized solution to streamline and optimize booking and accounting processes and achieve optimal results in efficiency and quality. The initiative would, it was anticipated, reduce the high processing costs that arose from a lack of standardization – as well as reverse the low adoption of its corporate booking tool.

To help its cruise client reach these objectives, HRS provided a wide range of services starting from rate loading, a web-based booking portal, full integration with the existing Online Booking Tool (OBT), and a Central Billing payment solution (for transient). The payment solution is set to be implemented soon for Meeting & Groups with Meetago.

How we Helped

The HRS solutions enabled cruise company staffers to seamlessly search and book their hotels, while payments are handled centrally through virtual credit cards (HRS partnered with AirPlus for the payments solution). Thanks to this integration, and HRS’ comprehensive hotel portfolio, the company’s hotel-program adoption rate rose from 50% to 70% percent in one year.

Other departments also gained immeasurably from these initiatives: Because invoices are digitalized and collectively provided to the finance department, Central Billing has reduced the number of creditors and simplified the accounting process.

“Through the implementation of Central Billing we have achieved significant improvements in the booking and expense process,” explains the company’s Director Guest & Corporate Travel Services Department. “Time-consuming administrative steps have been automatized, and travelers and the finance department can now focus on more value-added tasks.”

Thanks to the higher adoption rate and the streamlined and standardized process, the level of detail in the available booking data was significantly increased and has simplified VAT reclaims. After this successful pilot, HRS and its client are looking to implement the payment solution in more markets.


  • Processing time in the finance department reduced by 50%, and costs by 20%, through standardized processes and improved data quality.
  • Easy VAT reclaim through improved data set.
  • An optimized traveler experience.
  • Recorded savings of more than 7% through HRS discounts, and the best-buy principle.
  • Strong increase of hotel program adoption from 50% to 70%.
  • Increased transparency through accurate reporting on hotel expenses.