Mount Hermon Adventures Zip Tours
Zip Tours

Zip Tour Switches to Xola; Manager Says He'd "Do it Over Again"


For close to a decade, Steve Brown has been managing zip lines and challenge courses far and wide. But when the opportunity arose to take a position at Mount Hermon, a Christian conference center with a zip line and aerial adventure course, Brown seized the chance to move closer to his family in Santa Cruz, California.

He’s a “natural fit” when it comes to operating canopy tours, but Brown has still run up against his share of challenges in his last two years with Mount Hermon. One of the biggest thus far was transitioning his zip tour away from its legacy reservation software to a newer, more seamless system.


When Brown landed at Mount Hermon, his first executive action was to learn his tour’s reservation system. On his own, he pored through every nook and cranny of the software. His first reaction: “Wow, this is really not intuitive.”

“Ever since I started using it, I just thought there’s gotta be a better way,” he attests. “It took me a good week of being in and out of it before I really felt comfortable with everything.”

But at the time, Brown knew of no suitable software alternatives built for tour businesses like his. The best he could do then was bite his lip. If learning the software was a lonely and arduous process, training his staff on making reservations was even more of a pain in Brown’s neck.

“It took at least 16 hours before someone felt fairly confident in it,” Brown explains. That meant for two, full, work days, new staff lagged behind as they stood over veterans’ shoulders. This also incapacitated fully-functional reservationists as they coached the rookies on a number of scenarios that they might face in the complex platform.

There were so many “what-ifs,” Brown notes, that when it came to training staff, “you had to walk through everything step-by-step.”

“Everyone that looked it at from the get-go thought, ‘this is more complicated than it needs to be,’” he says.

Brown and his staff weren’t alone in their sentiments, either. The booking process was just as undecipherable for Mount Hermon’s guests. Upon landing on the canopy tour website, visitors had to navigate through five different screens–before they even had the option to checkout online!

Once someone did initiate the checkout, the process remained obtuse. Customers had to fill out twenty fields before the tour could be purchased.

With a process this lengthy, it was no surprise that Brown and his staff received calls from confused patrons attempting to reserve a tour online.

“Xola sent out some of their team to train our staff and be there on our launch date,” Brown explains, “which made a pivotal difference in showing me that they cared.”

The Bigger Picture

Mount Hermon had high hopes for Brown. The organization hoped to expand its adventure offerings and the ease with which staff and customers could make a reservation was considered paramount to Mount Hermon’s eventual success.

When he started, the software’s intricate, step-by-step processes seemed mere nuisances. But as Brown and his staff flew headlong into high season, he realized Mount Hermon couldn’t possibly scale with this booking system in place.

In the month of July alone, Mount Hermon had 20 days where it served over 100 customers. One day the tour had as many as 166 guests come through its course. Brown estimates that each reservation took 5 minutes to complete on average, and checking people in was no simpler, either.

“There were probably five, six, or seven different things you had to click through before completing a reservation,” Brown comments, “the process just took too long.”

Mount Hermon’s convoluted booking software started taking its toll on Brown’s staff. He watched as his reservationists dealt with the “mental headaches and stress that was in the old system.”

It was as if the booking system managed his staff more than his staff managed it. They constantly had to be on their game if they wanted to provide an error-proof reservation experience. But in doing so, they couldn’t also “focus on the guests that were coming in.”

Brown realized all these problems stemmed from a simple truth: “the system wasn’t fully set up and built for [Mount Hermon’s] needs.”

With his old booking system, scaling Mount Hermon would be an uphill battle.

A New Way

Learning the previous system had taken so much time and energy that he and his staff did fear switching systems to an extent.

But Brown could see that his old system couldn’t help him achieve his growth goals. More than worrying about switching systems in the short term, Brown zeroed in on Mount Hermon’s long term success. Given a streamlined system that allowed fewer opportunities for error and shortened reservation-taking from five minutes to just a few, Brown knew he could expand the canopy tour.

Brown had dreams for what a reliable, streamlined system might feel like. “It has to be simple and intuitive enough that I can show somebody once…and they can feel pretty confident,” he explains.

It wasn’t a tall order, but Brown simply wasn’t getting that with the older, convoluted booking software. Until now, Brown had known of few booking softwares built for tour operators, but as he looked around at other companies, he discovered plenty of new alternatives.

“Now’s got to be the time for us,” he resolved.

Success With Xola

These days, Brown is no longer worried about a booking system holding Mount Hermon back from its goals. With Xola, the possibilities are limitless.

Xola proved that from day one by supporting Mount Hermon’s transition to a new system, and it has continued to go above and beyond since.

“Xola sent out some of their team to train our staff and be there on our launch date,” Brown explains, “which made a pivotal difference in showing me that they cared.”

He adds, “Especially in a big transition like we just did, to be able to have those answers and problems solved really quickly means that at the end of the day, we’re not frustrated that we changed reservation systems.”

Brown can see his staff’s confidence that was so lacking with the old system. His newest hire learned Xola in no time. “She’s off and running and doing great,” Brown asserts, “that showed me that the system was clear and simple enough for her to use and intuitive enough that there weren’t all those extra questions.”

“Xola has simplified everything,” Brown says, “our staff is saving huge amounts of time making reservations, and on top of that, it’s easier for our guests to checkout online.”

Even Brown has recuperated control over his time. Before, questions about the old software system derailed his day. Now, there are fewer areas of confusion and Brown can address questions at record speeds.

“When I go to answer a question for a staff member, it’s quick and straightforward as opposed to a longer, drawn out answer,” he says. “That’s helped a lot with time savings.”

Between the boosts to Mount Hermon’s efficiency and the support that Brown and his team have received, switching to Xola was so easy that he’d “do it over again.”

“One of the big things we’ve come to appreciate is the service,” he attests, “we didn’t expect it first, but that would be a huge reason why I’d tell someone to switch to Xola.”

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