New Zip Line Finds a 'Saving Grace' After Switching to Xola During High-Season
For over a decade, Monica Reid has been Brad McDonald’s “right hand” in various businesses across Kansas City. When Brad decided to establish Adventure Zip KC, then, it was no surprise that he chose Monica to be the General Manager.
Her favorite part about the job is seeing the transformation in each person that tries the zip line. “[Customers] show up and they’re nervous, but after their tour, they feel like they can conquer anything,” Monica says. It’s the same journey that she and Brad experienced as they opened Kansas City’s only zip line in 2013.
Just like zip liners about to take the plunge, Monica and Brad weren’t always sure what they’d gotten into. Even as a new company, thousands of people came in their first season, and Monica and Brad were the only full-time employees on board. When Monica reflects back on the beginnings of Adventure Zip KC, she can’t help but laugh a little. “Oh boy,” she sighs, as she remembers the reservation obstacles the company faced, “those days were long.”
“A lot of our frustrations came from the actual booking system that we used,” Monica notes, “it wasn’t user-friendly.”
Imagine what a customer-relations nightmare it would be if your high-volume, zip line company had to cancel a booking every time you wanted to make a change. Or consider how frustrating it would be if it took you “hours and hours” to set up discount coupons.
These problems created administrative headaches AZKC’s General Manager. Her booking system’s constant shortfalls meant “a lot of stress and lack of sleep” for Monica.
During these initial months, growing a brand-new business seemed more daunting than plunging off a 200-foot zip line.
“I said, ‘We need to do something else because I can’t keep going like this.’”
The bigger picture
Monica thought that these issues might simply be growing pains. They were in their first high season after all. She thought if she could just stick it out for a couple more months, they could address the system’s issues in the off-season.
That August, however, Monica hit a wall. “I finally broke down,” she remembers, “I said, ‘We need to do something else because I can’t keep going like this.’”
The challenges caused by AZKC’s booking software were not just ordinary obstacles. These problems actively undermined AZKC’s top priorities as a new business:
- Efficiently manage employee time
- Grow word-of-mouth
As Brad’s only “go-to” person, all administrative tasks fell on Monica’s plate. For at least the first few months, Monica estimates that she spent two to three hours per day managing the old booking system.
The software wasted Monica’s time and prevented her from streamlining operations and growing AZKC to the fullest. Core booking functionalities were cumbersome. Setting up coupon codes was a pain in the neck, and hindered Monica’s goal of spreading word-of-mouth. Adventure Zip KC needed Monica’s experience to help get off the ground, but its booking system was only getting in the way.
A new way
Before she and Brad started AZKC, Monica worried, “Would people show up and if they showed up, could [AZKC] handle masses of people?” People were coming, but the old booking system made them incredibly difficult to process.
What Monica needed was a system that would help her grow AZKC, not stand in the way. She thought that the old software company “understood [her] business and would help it,” Monica explains. “That just didn’t happen.”
Success with Xola
Monica found what she was looking for when she came across Xola. Despite being in the heat of high-season, AZKC saw the Xola demo, implemented the new system, learned how to use it, imported old bookings, and launched anew in under 12 hours. “Everything was so easy,” she says, “it was almost too good to be true.”
After months of dealing with a sub-par system, Monica was most struck by Xola’s flexibility. “Making changes is now so easy, it just takes one click,” she adds. Whereas she had been spending hours operating her old booking system, now Monica says that she “hardly [spends] any time at all” maintaining Xola.
Adventure Zip KC’s customers are happier too. “Since we’ve switched, a lot of the feedback that we’ve gotten is that it’s super easy to book a tour,” Monica says.
Xola’s clean online checkout is great news for Monica, who now spends less time on the phone. On an average day in high season, Monica was answering 75 to 100 phone calls a day. These days when customers call, Monica feels completely “confident about directing [customers] to the website to book a tour,” given Xola’s top-notch checkout.
With Xola, AZKC is now growing its word-of-mouth and channeling customer feedback to improve its offerings. One of Monica’s favorite features is the automatic review request. “Before, we were so busy that we didn’t have time to follow up with our customers,” Monica notes. But without feedback, AZKC couldn’t capitalize on its strengths or remedy its weaknesses. The review request allows Monica and Brad to internally collect suggestions that helped AZKC optimize its tours. Once they’re ready, they funneling reviews to TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Google+ and start to strengthen their word-of-mouth.
For Monica, Xola has been her “saving grace.” Her apprehension has subsided and ambition has taken its place. This year, she and Brad want to double the number of Adventure Zip KC’s customers.
After switching to Xola, Monica feels like someone that has just finished AZKC’s zip line course. She feels as if she can conquer anything.