HIGH SEASON SWITCH: WHY DOLPHIN WATCH CHOSE XOLA IN BUSY TIME
The big picture
Dolphin Watch is a charter boat company that operates in the hyper-competitive tourism landscape of Key West, FL. Since the summer of 2014, Billy Litmer owns and runs the charter boat and snorkel outfit.
With fierce competition, Billy knew that customer service was one of the most important offerings that would set his tour company apart. Plus, Dolphin Watch’s tours are in a higher price bracket than others, so delivering top-notch service is crucial.
In short, Billy couldn’t leave any room for error (especially not during Key West’s busy holiday season). Unfortunately, the booking system he inherited was full of them.
There was no doubt in his mind: high season was the time to switch his booking system. It was critical for him to maximize holiday sales and improve the booking experience for his customers now, not in a couple months.
“The first introduction a customer has to my company is their booking experience,” he explains. However, when people tried to book a tour on his website they were redirected to a third-party site. The entire checkout flow produced uncertainty and skepticism.
But that’s not all. When Billy’s customers would book, they received confirmation emails branded with the logo of the booking software company, not his business. The whole booking experience was so unpleasant for his customers that Billy was “amazed that people booked at all.”
After several months, he tried another booking system, but it fell short of his customer service standards as well. The software “had embarrassing glitches in front of guests,” Billy remembers.
With Key West’s holiday rush upon him, these booking snafus were quickly becoming intolerable. Billy was faced with a question: should he switch to yet another system in the middle of high season, or wait until the January lull?
“I’m glad that I made the switch because it helped my busy season run more smoothly.”
A new way
Billy needed a system that could satisfy his dedication to customer service. Not only that, but he needed the switch to happen with lightning speed and meticulous attention to detail. After all, he was in high season and there was no time to lose.
Billy was looking for a system that prized the online checkout as much as he did because it’s the customer’s first impression of his company. He wanted brand control with confirmation emails and guest communication containing his logo and messaging.
Finally, he needed a system that would encourage customers to leave reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, so that he could use his excellent customer service to promote his business.
Success with Xola
“Xola takes something that would’ve been a headache with a different service and makes it a non-issue.”
Christmas came early when Billy switched to Xola. “Even before I had signed the contract, they had my site set up and had put thought into setting up the listings,” he remembers, “no errors or anything.”
Set-up speed paired with a meticulous attention to detail were both essential, because he was in the middle of Key West’s holiday rush.
“I’m glad that I made the switch because it helped my busy season run more smoothly,” he notes, “The Xola team put my interests first, even before getting the credit card number.”
What really convinced Billy, though, was that Xola’s commitment to customer service was just as strong as his own. “There are lots of small, insightful things that they’ve done that shows they’re thinking like their customers are,” he says.
It’s no surprise that Xola helped Billy provide the outstanding customer service that he was passionate about.
“Changing a reservation could be horrible… But with Xola, I can be on the phone with [customers] as I’m moving their arrival time. It takes me three seconds. Xola takes something that would’ve been a headache with a different service and makes it a non-issue,” Billy says.
With Xola in place, Billy is seeing results like never before. In just two and a half months, Dolphin Watch received 150% more reviews than it did in his previous 5 months as the owner. This helped Dolphin Watch leapfrogged its competition, going from the top 15 on TripAdvisor to the top 3.
Moving forward, Billy wants to take advantage of Xola’s easy-to-use system to experiment with different tour offerings. With a new boat in his fleet, he can “put trips online that might be a little more niche and see if people bite.”
“It’s simple with Xola… it adds confidence that I can figure out what will work best,” he explains.