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Tour and Activity Businesses: Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

The New Year is officially in full swing, meaning there’s no better time to put your 2017 goals into action. To help you decide exactly what those goals should be, we asked a few people from our team to weigh in on how business owners can ensure this year is one of their strongest years yet. Here’s what they came up with.

Get your site the green HTTPS lock.

green lock Especially on websites where a transaction is being made, customers are learning to look for the green HTTPS lock at the top of their browser. This lock is enabled by a form of security technology called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). While the FareHarbor booking process is 100% secure without the addition of SSL to your site, it acts as a visual indicator that your business is a trusted online merchant.

On top of building trust, adding SSL to your site can help boost your search engine optimization efforts. Much like your customers, Google has learned to trust sites that have added SSL and tends to rank them more highly.

Is your site missing the green lock? Adding SSL to your website is a simple process that can be easily be done with the help of your web developer or through your hosting management. If you are a FareHarbor client, you can read up on website security and adding SSL here.

Collect more reviews.

review express

Research shows that 92% of consumers read online reviews, and 90% say their buying decisions are influenced by what they read. By these numbers, nearly your entire online customer base depends on reviews of your business to help them decide to book.

Ready for the best part? Review sites are free for your business and the customer. That’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool that can increase site traffic and sales with nothing more than a little elbow grease. While offering an epic tour and remarkable customer service is always the best way to encourage reviews, there’s also a few tricks to the trade.

Here at FareHarbor, our favorite way to collect reviews is by connecting to TripAdvisor Automated Review Express. Once you’ve connected your business to the program, your customers will receive an email at the conclusion of their activity that comes directly from TripAdvisor. The automated email will encourage customers to leave a review about their experience – and it’s quite good at getting results.

As a FareHarbor client, adding Automated Review Express couldn’t be easier. You can simply email us at support@fareharbor.com, and we’ll take care of the process for you. Otherwise, you can sign your business up for the program via TripAdvisor.


If you choose not to use this service, we still suggest sending a follow-up email that encourages customers to review their recent experience. This can be done manually, through an email automation service, or through your FareHarbor Dashboard.

Get organized.

custom calendars fareharbor

Every interaction with your customer should be considered a valuable touchpoint on their end-to-end journey. So while checking-in guests or fielding questions about meeting locations may seem like a routine process to you, it’s much more than that to the customer.

In fact, 84% of customers report getting frustrated when their guide or agent doesn’t have the necessary information. And 13% of those frustrated guests claim to tell 15 or more people when they’re unhappy, while 72% will tell 6 or more people when the experience was positive.

So the question is, how to get organized? For FareHarbor clients, we suggest setting up custom calendars and manifests to ensure that the information you need is quickly and easily accessible.

With a custom calendar, you can save a set of filters and display options to create a Bookings view personalized for you. This allows you to drill down by activity, get a quick view of all tours with available seats, or see tours that a certain staff member is assigned to. Spend less time searching through bookings and more time focusing on your customers.

Custom manifests work in a similar way, allowing you to add columns, filter information, and summarize data to create a daily snapshot of your activities. With a custom manifest, you can quickly see which guests have not been checked-in or who still have a balance due, check email statuses, create a summary of custom field answers, and much more.


Use one or both tools to ensure that all the details that matter are just one click away.

Bottom line

All of these tips are designed to improve a different piece of the customer journey. Whether it’s the first impression or the last, they all present an opportunity to make the experience great. Put them into effect, and watch customer satisfaction and revenue rise.


PBN’s Best Workplaces: #1 in Small Business

Last night, our Hawaii office joined Pacific Business News for their annual ‘Hawaii’s Best Workplaces’ award ceremony. The food and company made it a five-star event early on, but the highlight of our night came when FareHarbor was awarded the #1 Best Workplace in the Small Business category.

best workplaces 2

The award was granted based on employee surveys and a review of office culture. Our close knit team was a natural fit, as they’re experts when it comes to balancing hard work and a good time. Hours of head-down productivity are always paired with sunset beers, ‘family’ dinners or midday ocean swims. Of course, being in tourism also helps, as its one of Hawaii’s most vibrant industries, and we get to work with incredible people and businesses on the daily.

“Hawaii is our headquarters, our home and where we got our start, and the hundreds of tour operators we serve in this market have become our staunchest supporters and our friends. I’m very proud of what our Honolulu office has accomplished and I’m delighted to see our business, our employees and their work ethic recognized by this important award.”

-Lawrence

We’re incredibly proud of our Oahu team for creating an culture of dedication, growth and best of all, family. Now to celebrate!

A special thanks to our teammates for making FareHarbor all that it is. And also to Pacific Business News for the fantastic event and great honor.

50 Miles of #DWIFT

It’s no secret that we’re all about the #DWIFT (Do Whatever It Takes) at FareHarbor. In fact, it’s become more than just an acronym for our team – it’s something of a lifestyle.

So naturally, when Davis Cutter, one of our awesome Account Executives in the Needham office, decided to run a 50-mile race and come in first place? We couldn’t help but brag a little. Here’s the inspirational story from the man himself:


“Why?!” It’s the main question I’m asked when I tell people that I willingly signed up to suffer. Admittedly, it’s a fair question. There’s a million reasons to not run 50 miles, and I think about them everyday. You can probably guess the usual suspects: the time, the heat, the cold, the sheer distance, social sacrifices, solitude, discomfort, and work/training balance. Even the simple prospect of defeat is daunting enough to say, “maybe next time.” Yet, in the end, they’re all merely excuses – just reasons never to toe that starting line.

So, let’s not dwell on the reasons one can’t or shouldn’t. Instead, let me tell you why I did.

There comes a moment in every endurance race that looks something like this: My hands are on my knees, chin to my chest, and I’m exhaling in exhaustion, frustration, and fatigue. No matter where my mind wanders—to the beach or even my desk at work—I always return as the same, stagnant puddle. Something grabs my attention, perhaps the blister on my heel or a scratch on my knee.

It’s the quintessential pose of failure, a brief moment between steps where there’s a clear choice: move forward, or quit. But, there’s a silver lining. You see, I’ve already made up my mind long ago, and I’ve been preparing for this moment since I decided to sign up for the race. Before I know it, I’m running again.

While some see this as a “breaking point,” it’s really the heart of discovery.

To give some background, I decided I was going to run a 50 mile race about a year ago, when I ran the world’s highest marathon in the Himalayas. Since the race was in such a remote location, the majority of runners were local children from Ladakh, a mountainous region of Northern India. As I ran with my GPS watch, electrolyte drink, and pen-scribbled pacing goals on my forearm, the local kids were blazing past me, smiling, wearing their only pair of run-down sneakers. This wasn’t a race for them, it was a social event! So, when I saw a massive banana fight among a group of runners at mile 23’s aid station, I hissed with disappointment. This wasn’t what a marathon “should” look like. Are people actually enjoying this?

I realized two things during that race: 1. Challenging things can actually be fun, and 2. The majority of physical hardships are won mentally. Even though the race was difficult and at high altitude, I survived. It was time to go bigger, and longer. From that point on, I prepared to my mind and body, (mostly my mind) to run 50 miles.

And then before I knew it, I achieved my goal. It took me 10 hours and 23 minutes on slippery roots and rocks, mostly in the dark, but I ended up coming in first place. More importantly, I had fun.

One of my best friends paced me the last 25 miles, and now we have a great memory to share over a beer (particularly the moment where I broke down from dehydration and yelled at him that we were lost running in circles). My parents were even at the finish line at 1am — cheering in the rain. And my colleagues at FareHarbor have been overwhelmingly supportive, motivating me to achieve even more — both professionally and athletically.

So, when you arrive at that moment, staring at the ground, watching sweat drip from your nose to your feet — you’re faced with a decision. Either you quit, or you keep moving forward.

I’ve always been a firm believer that challenge breeds excellence. Whether it’s an emotional, physical, or all-encompassing wall, you always end up better on the other side. For me, running is a therapeutic challenge, a means to push to the limit, keep pushing, and then push some more.

Running isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. We’re not all runners here at FareHarbor, and the team ranges from surfers to mountain bikers to cross-fit heroes. We’re all just trying to be better in our own ways.

The Key To Room Escape Success? Know When The Experience Starts.

Every room escape company knows that great products equal great games. They design, build, test, iterate, and maintain their rooms, because that’s where the money comes from. Right?

It’s true: room escape companies live and die based on the quality of their games. However, far too many companies forget that in order to play that brilliant game, players first need to find the company, purchase a ticket, and then get to the facility.

To make sure you don’t cause friction in these pre-game and pre-purchase steps, focus on creating an easy, positive experience for the customer long before they step through your door.

Remember that the customer experience begins as soon as their interest is sparked. A poor booking experience or a weak website can either sour a player’s experience before the game begins or dissuade a player from even booking in the first place.

Sound all too familiar? Here’s a few easy tips to make sure your players are already loving your business before you say ‘Go.’

Website Must-Haves

Your company’s website is the primary customer touchpoint before the game begins. It should inform and comfort potential players and always encourage them to purchase tickets.

Your physical address

This should go without saying, but every single room escape company website needs to have their physical address in a large, readable font on their homepage and contact page. If a player can’t find your facility, that’s the first red flag.

Game details

There’s a certain amount of intrigue that comes with hiding details from players before the game begins, but it’s more important to effectively manage expectations.

Is your game scary, sexual (there are a few of them!), or too challenging for players with mobility, hearing, or vision impairments? Make it clear who the game both is and is not for. Define your audience early to help people self-select into the right game.

Tips, comfort, and encouragement

Those of us who spend a lot of time around room escapes aren’t weirded out by the concept of paying strangers to lock us up in a giant puzzle. We’re a bit desensitized to the fact that the basic description of an escape room sounds like what Batman villains create to stop the Caped Crusader.

Understand that people might be afraid of the concept behind your business. Some don’t like the idea of being locked up; others are worried about claustrophobia; still others might be nervous they won’t be smart enough to contribute.

Your website provides a great opportunity to kill some myths about your game. Use it to:

  • Explain how your emergency releases and exits work.
  • Give players a sense of how open your game is.
  • Provide tips and help your players realize that communication and teamwork are far more valuable than math, logic, and booksmarts. (For some ideas, check out Room Escape Artist’s Player Tips.)

“Buy now” buttons

Make purchasing tickets easy and clear. Nothing is more frustrating than having players that want to give you their money, but are too confused by your website to figure out how to pay you.

Every single page on your website should have a “Buy Now” button on it that links directly to the page where players make purchasing decisions.

The Who, What, Where & When

Different customers will always prefer different communication channels. Make sure you’re available for open and easy communication, no matter what their preference. At minimum, you should be easily contacted via email, phone, webpage submission, Facebook, Twitter.

You should check and respond to each of these daily, if not more regularly. After all, you might only have one shot to help your customers with their purchase decision before they turn to another room escape or an entirely different activity.

Map & review sites

Although it might feel like there’s too many to count, it’s important that your business is properly listed on all – yes, all – of the big mapping and review sites. This includes:

  • Google Maps
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing Maps
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor

You should also send your company’s information to the Escape Room Submitter, which will get your company listed on a number of different room escape maps and lists.

Once you’re listed on these sites, verify that the pins are in the correct place. The first puzzle of your game should not be finding your facility.

Create enthusiasts

As teams of players come and go from your facility, it’s easy to forget how much effort it takes to get a group of adults in the same place, at the same time. Do your part to make it as easy as possible for your players to find, book and arrive at your game.

Once they’re there, all the hard work you’ve put into creating an awesome room escape experience will speak for itself. Between a seamless booking experience and exciting room escape, you’ll create a group of passionate repeat players that’ll support long term success.

Make it easy to love booking with your company; then focus on the fun part – the games – and watch your business grow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This post was written by our friends over at Room Escape Artist, experts in all things room escape, including reviews, products, design and players tips. Visit their site, www.roomescapeartist.com, for helpful posts, recommendations and industry news.

You can also find them on Twitter, @RoomEscapeArt, or Facebook. Give them a follow!

The Aloha Tour

When two of our team members decided they wanted to travel the country in a renovated Sportsmobile, we saw an opportunity to connect with our clients and get back to our roots. Here’s the story behind the Aloha Tour:

The past year has been quite the whirlwind. We added dozens of new features, introduced the FareHarbor app, and have been growing nonstop. In fact, as of today, our team is over 100 people strong, and we’re working with almost 3,000 of the nation’s tour & activity providers.

It’s crazy to think it was hardly over three years ago that we were a modest five-person team. Back then we worked intimately with our first and only client, spending long days on the deck of their catamaran, learning their business inside and out. Their office was our office, their clients were our clients, their success was our success. It was a true partnership.

Fast forward to today and we’re still working closely with that very first client, although now we do so from our own offices (a bummer for us, since you really can’t beat an ocean front desk). We’ve gone from face-to-face meetings to phone calls and email threads. It’s safe to say that some things have changed.

But then again, some haven’t.

We’re still a family-run business, built from the ground up on the North Shore of Oahu. And we still aim to make all of our clients feel as our first one did – like they’re the only one.

While it’s exciting to be growing, there’s a part of us that misses the old days. With today’s culture of tech, software and instant communication, so many of our client relationships end up being entirely virtual.

As a Hawaiian-born company, that’s not what we’re used to. Meetings in Hawaii are almost always in-person, and it’s common for us to know the business owners personally. It makes the people we work with feel less like clients, and more like our friends.

It’s time we bring that personal touch to the mainland. We want to shake more hands, talk more story, and put a face to a few more of the awesome people we work with.

When two members of our team decided to move into a Sportsmobile, we saw the chance to do just that. World, say hello to the Aloha Tour.

Over the next couple of months, two of our own will be touring the Northwest in their renovated camper van. After months of outfitting their rig with all the adventure necessities – solar power, mobile wifi, gear racks and storage – they’re ready to hit the highway.

Colton (Account Executive, West Coast) and Becca (Brand Marketing Manager) will be stopping in with FareHarbor clients as they go, getting us a step closer to the days when we had the privilege of meeting all our partners face-to-face.

If you’re in the Northwest and interested in saying hello, getting an in-person training, scoring some FareHarbor swag, or just sharing a beer with two people traveling in a van, we’d love to add you to our route.

In the meantime, you can see where we are and who we’re visiting by checking back here, or on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

We’ll see you soon!