Zip Skamania Zip Tours
Zip Tours

Zip Line Recovers More Than $50,000 in Business with Sleeker Booking Software

Origins

Despite having spent twenty years cultivating a knowledge of the ski and construction industries, Shayne Large never pictured himself with a career in zip lines. But when the opportunity arose to build Zip Skamania at a destination resort in Washington, he realized that he had the perfect mix of recreation and engineering expertise to oversee the new project.

Since 2013 when the course opened, Large has served as Zip Skamania’s Manager of Operations. Since day one, his primary focus has been to provide a smooth and seamless experience for his guests; from their first impression of the tour, to their final zip.

Challenges

That first year for Large was all about learning on the fly. He and his Assistant Manager Jonathan Johnson had all the challenges of a new business ahead of them: publicizing the tour, keeping their staff busy with guests, and maximizing the marginal profit of each outing.

Large knew that if he was going to juggle these responsibilities and offer a memorable experience for his customers, he needed help: booking software. But before long, he worried that he had simply opened up another can of worms.

“It was sticky; it was cumbersome,” he notes. He felt as if he was paying thousands of dollars for software that offered little more than dressed up spreadsheets. In fact, he routinely backed up all his data on Excel in case his booking system dropped the ball.

His reservation system didn’t promote efficiency. The time he needed to spend managing his tour and staff was instead spent managing his software.

Trying to fix the system’s issues proved fruitless. He found that the company took more of a “Better luck next year” approach to his suggestions.

With the challenges of building a new business and managing his booking software, Large’s time was precious. Did he want to spend his time on the course, with his guides, making his tour better, or trying to manage his booking system?

“The product is excellent and the customer service is top-notch. That would be reason alone for choosing Xola over another company.”

The Bigger Picture

His system’s clunkiness and unreliability were merely symptoms of a larger problem: it was slow.

The online checkout was so cumbersome that a majority of Skamania’s customers elected to book over the phone instead of online. This burdened the staff with a flood of unnecessary calls. Johnson would routinely spend six, eight, even fifteen minutes simply taking a reservation over the phone.

“Things seemed redundant, the booking process would drag on,” he says. “We’d have to wait for a whole new page to reload just to complete one step.”

Especially as Large and Johnson were growing a new business, their time was money–a lot of money.

“We were losing customers because of the lack of mobility [in the system] and the difficulty in the booking experience,” Large laments.

It was no small sum. Their booking software’s slowness cost them an estimated $50,000 to $80,000 worth of bookings over the course of that year.

Worse yet, as Zip Skamania lost bookings left and right, Large had no advocate at the software company to whom he could turn.

A New Way

By the end of his first season, Large realized that the success of his business hinged on increased efficiency. Keeping his staff chained to their phones to capture reservations simply wasn’t scalable. He needed a system that made it easy for his customers to book online. For the ones that would call regardless, spending six to eight minutes on every reservation wasn’t going to cut it.

On top of a faster, more streamlined system, Large needed a software company that would listen to him when he ran into obstacles. If they wanted to reach their full potential, he and his staff at Zip Skamania couldn’t go it alone for a another year without a dedicated, technical partner.

Success With Xola

Large couldn’t have dreamed of a better solution for Zip Skamania than the one he found with Xola.

“We were all absolutely relieved when we got on Xola,” Large says, “it’s super, super, easy.”

Large recaptured invaluable time that he had been spending dealing with his old system. Now, he or Johnson can book someone over the phone in two minutes instead of six or eight.

In addition to less time spent per phone booking, they’ve also experienced fewer calls than before. Even with an unchanged website, Large estimates that Zip Skamania’s online booking volume “easily doubled” between his first and second year in operation.

It’s been over a year since the switch, but the results haven’t slowed. From April to July this year, Zip Skamania’s online bookings have grown to 44% of its business–an increase of over 100% when compared to his days without Xola. All in all, Large has been pleased by what he’s seen to be “phenomenal growth.”

Compared to Zip Skamania’s earlier system, Xola is easier to use from both its customers’ and the staff’s perspectives. That simplicity contributes to even greater productivity by allowing Large to cut down on software training for his staff.

When he can’t be on reservation duty himself, all Large has to do is give his staff “a little 5-minute speech” to prepare them.

Apart from the growth and the time savings, the thing that stands out the most to Large is Xola’s dedication to Zip Skamania and its ongoing needs. “I didn’t know how good the service was going to be when I signed on,” Large explains, “once we got rolling, the direct responses we got to our suggestions were stellar.”

“The product is excellent and the customer service is top-notch. That would be reason alone for choosing Xola over another company.”

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