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FareHarbor’s CEO on Company Culture: “Do Whatever It Takes”

02/04/2016 04:24 pm ET Whether a start-up or an established company, all businesses struggle with the best ways to create a productive and fulfilling environment for their employees. How does a business instill the right culture that gets results?

FareHarbor, which provides software that simplifies online bookings for U.S. and international tour and activity companies, has done just that. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine ranked it #4 for mid-sized company culture, basing its award on… Read more from The Huffington Post

Faces of FareHarbor: Jane

Jane Feiereisel: Director of Customer Support


Jane Feiereisel

This is Jane. She hails from Chicago but has been a proud Coloradan for 8 years now (Go Buffs!). She loves the outdoors, but her real happiness comes from the company of anything furry and with a tail. Other serious passions include biking, ice cream, and managing the best customer support team in the industry!

What do you love to do when you’re not at work? Exploring the Denver restaurant scene or getting out to the mountains, whether I’m hiking, biking, camping, or snowboarding. If I’m not doing that, you’ll find me planning my next trip!

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? The best vacation I ever took was my most recent one to Colombia. Everything about that country is amazing- the people, the food, the diverse geography. It is still relatively undiscovered by tourists so there is an amazing opportunity to get a genuine sense of their culture, and how their history has shaped the country today. I’m happy to make recommendations next time you get me on a support call. :)

Describe your perfect pizza. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pizza that wasn’t perfect! I love pizza, and would be happy if it was the only thing I ever ate. The most perfect pizza I’ve ever had though is my brother’s homemade deep dish Chicago style pizza. Cheese please!

What makes FareHarbor different from any other company you’ve worked at? The team! I’m so lucky to be surrounded by the smartest, most dedicated team in the industry. Whether we’re pulling all nighters to get a new company live or sending boxes of cookies to our clients, we’re always looking to go above and beyond for each other and our clients.

The energy around our office on a daily basis is unreal; we all love what we’re doing and want to share that with our clients.

What’s your favorite FareHarbor stoke story? For me it’s the positive feedback we hear from clients everyday that gets me the most stoked on FareHarbor. I love when clients tell me that FareHarbor has grown their business, or that they’re able to spend time out and about because they’re not tied to the phone all day taking reservations.

Describe your job at FareHarbor in three four words. Can’t stop won’t stop!

AdWords Tips For Tourism Businesses

Our Client Strategy & Marketing Team loves AdWords. Like really, really loves AdWords. So much so, that they recently took things to the next level and became Certified Google Partners. This means they’re officially recognized by Google as AdWords experts, having proven they have the experience and know-how to advise on successful marketing campaigns for tourism businesses.

Jenny Hadden

Need help reaching AdWords nirvana? Our experts are offering their favorite tips and tricks. Let’s dive in:

Putting time and work into your website to make it attractive, readable, and navigable is one of the best things you can do to improve conversions and rank better on search.

Many business owners want to jump into paid advertising, but it’s more vital that your website has a great user experience first before you move on to advertising. If it’s too difficult to find info or even the ‘Book Now’ button on your website, then 70% or more of your visitors will bounce off even if you brought qualified people to your site who might have been a good candidate to buy!

Work on having a quality, mobile-optimized website first, then launch targeted and retargeted paid advertising campaigns to receive qualified leads who will be ready to buy when they land on your site!

Jenny Hadden, Lead Marketing Analytics Associate, Client Strategy & Marketing Team


Ali Gourley

When starting your first AdWords campaign, it’s important to choose relevant and specific keywords. One of the most helpful tricks I have learned, is to keep this table in my back pocket when creating AdWords campaigns. The table describes the modifiers you can add to keywords to increase your reach or make your keywords more specific.

I recommend that clients start specific so that they can ensure their ads are relevant to the search terms potential customers are looking for. After data is gained about these specific keywords, you can broaden your search terms and continue testing. It’s important to track how your keywords are doing and make changes appropriately.

Leveraging Keywords

Ali Gourley, Project Coordinator, Client Strategy & Marketing Team


Charlie Dunn

Tip #1 – Utilize Ad Extensions

When advertising on the Google Search Network be sure to utilize Ad Extensions to increase click-through rate and in many cases ROI.

Here’s a tid bit from Google about this:

If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with greater expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher ad position than the other.

For the tourism industry, particularly effective ad extensions include location extensions, review extensions, site link extensions, and callout extensions. (All image examples below are from Google).

Location Extension

Location Extension

Review Extension

Review Extension

Sitelink Extension

Sitelink Extension

Callout Extension

Callout Extension

Ad extensions can be included at no extra cost to the advertiser. You are charged the same cpc for extension clicks as if someone were to click on the headline of your ad with no extensions.

Tip #2 – Utilize Bid Adjustments

Taking advantage of your analytics data and leveraging bid adjustments is a great way to increase ROI. Bid adjustments allow you to show your ad more or less often depending on when visitors are likely to convert.

Bid adjustments can be set for dimensions like time of day, device type, or geographic location. Google recommends starting with bid adjustments around +25% of the max cost per click, however each advertiser will need to evaluate their own budget to determine what bid adjustment is appropriate.

– Charlie Dunn, Project Coordinator, Client Strategy & Marketing Team

We’re Google Certified To Bring You AdWords Success!

We have something shiny and new to show you!

PHOTO: Google Partner Badge

See that badge right there? We earned it. We are now officially a certified Google Partner.

The badge was awarded to our Client Strategy and Marketing team – a team dedicated entirely to (you guessed it!) enhancing our clients’ online marketing and digital strategy. The certification acts as an official stamp of approval from Google, demonstrating that we’re trusted to consult on AdWords advertising to increase online tour bookings and improve brand awareness.

How FareHarbor Earned Its Google Partner Status

PHOTO: Author Jenny Hadden (far right) with the Client Strategy & Marketing team

The badge cuts straight to the chase. It signifies we’re a Google business partner proven to have happy, healthy clients on the AdWords marketing channel. To qualify for the certification, we first needed to pass a series of tests and requirements to prove we had mastered the product. Google then performed an in-depth audit of our account, ultimately awarding us with an Above Average rating.

In addition, every member of the team passed the AdWords multi-test certification exam. We rocked advanced exams ranging from Fundamental, Display and Search to Video and Mobile Advertising. Going forward, we’ll be required to annually retake the tests to prove our continued knowledge.

The goal is keep us both relevant and innovative. Paid advertising requires both, as it’s an art and a science. Creative text and copy mix with real data to tell us what resonates with an audience. Understanding and using data better than any other tour booking company is what sets us apart.

AdWords Report Card

Here are some of the stats that helped us earn our status as an official partner:

• We’ve seen as much as a 300% return on ad spend (ROAS) in one month.

• A client who spends thousands on ads had an average click-through-rate (CTR – the ratio of people who clicked on an ad compared to the total number who saw it) grew from .97% to 4.43% after the first month of working with us. Their cost-per-click (CPC – the amount you pay for someone to click an ad) decreased by 13% in the same time period.

• Monthly we contribute to a combined $25,000+ in online revenue assisted by AdWords.

• A client, prior to working with our team, had been losing money on Adwords. We advised on how they could restructure their work and in 2 months, ROAS improved to 200%, CTR increased from 1.66% to 3.41% and their CPC decreased by 10%.

adwords_graph

And we’re just getting started!

A Guide to Upselling For Tourism Businesses

Mastering the art of upselling is a matter of offering something of true value to a customer already making a purchase. For tour operators and activity businesses, this poses a unique opportunity since in tourism, the product is the experience. The best opportunity to upsell is by offering an item – a branded glass, photo package or experiential add-on – that elevates the experience. Done right, you have the potential to both increase customer satisfaction and raise your bottom line. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving.

Stay Within The Check-out Flow

On average, eCommerce conversion rates in the travel industry hover between 2% – 4%. When you have a customer sitting in your check-out flow and committed to making a purchase, it’s essential that you make good use of their time. They have the credit card out, their mind is set. This is your best opportunity to enhance their purchase with an additional sale.

If you have merchandise you prefer to sell in-store, don’t neglect the online check-out. Offering guests a bundle package or discount on later purchases, much like Yazoo Brewing does with their $17 for $25 “Yazoo Swag Voucher,” is a great way to secure a future purchase. Strike while the iron’s hot, and seal in purchases on one single screen.

Keep It Relevant

The check-out flow should feel cohesive. Always align the product or add-on you’re looking to upsell to the customer’s initial purchase. If you’re selling multiple activities, offer a product that’s most relevant to the activity the customer is booking. Think critically about what would enhance their experience. While a photo package works great for a zipline course, it’s an unlikely option for someone going on a brewery tour.

Choose wisely. Remember that while the item needs to be relevant and exciting to the customer, it also needs to be cost effective for you as the business owner. Opt for popular items that are simple to distribute.

Limit Options

As the notorious jam study taught us, choice is fun, but it’s not lucrative. The study was simple. Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper took jam samples to a local grocery store, setting up one table with 24 samples of jam, and the other with a limited selection of 6. While more people stopped to taste jam at the table with a larger selection, fewer people made a purchase. In the end, the limited selection drew in more paying customers.

Why? Because having to decide between 24 flavors is far more challenging than choosing between 6. This concept is alive and well when it comes to your online check-out. Minimize the friction of making a purchase by offering only one or two extras. The goal is to make sure the upsell is as simple as a single click.

Items without color, size or price variations make excellent add-ons. For example, if you’re running a distillery tour, forgo offering t-shirts and instead offer a one-click product like a branded glass.

Bonus: FareHarbor clients enjoy an added bonus when it comes to upselling. If the customer booked their experience online or was booked manually through the backend, their payment information is safely and securely encrypted in the PCI compliant cloud. At any time during the tour or activity, you’re able to accept payment for upgrades or extras by simply pulling up the customer’s information and adding the charge to their stored payment information. Accessible from any device, you can sell add-ons from anywhere with just a few simple clicks.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group

What’s the price tag for three days of hands-on training from coastal paramedics, professional big wave chargers and zonal specialists? There isn’t one. (Except, maybe, having the cajones to want to get in the water with 40-foot walls in the first place.)

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG Training

Started in 2011 by big wave surfers Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen, the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group runs an annual three-day ocean safety summit on the North Shore of Oahu. The organization was founded after the devastating loss of the duo’s close friend and fellow big wave surfer, Sion Milosky, who suffered a fatal wipeout while chasing massive swell at Maverick’s.

For Danilo, it was an eye-opening loss. “I was there with him, and I knew there were ways we could have prevented that loss. There were things we could have changed to avoid it.” This conviction eventually grew into the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group – and a personal mission for Danilo.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_teaching

BWRAG’s first meeting took form as a modest training in a barn on Kohl’s farm, where they reviewed CPR and basic safety protocols. It was a solid start, but Danilo envisioned something greater. He wanted “to push it a little more, do a little more training into really radical life saving.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This was all happening around the same time that big wave surfing began gaining real momentum, so pushing it to the next level felt natural. The surf community was stoked to have a venue to promote better communication and preparation in the water.

Fast forward five years, and BWRAG now hosts hundreds of surfers, connecting them with experts like Brian Keaulana, one of the pioneers of ocean safety in Hawaii, performance freedivers, paramedics and local professionals. Held this year at Turtle Bay Resort, the three-day summit offers extensive training in all forms of high risk management. They methodically break down potential risks and worst case scenarios, analyzing the mechanics of different breaks and how each reacts to powerful swell. From apnea training to wave forecasting, participants are educated on both preventative and emergency procedures so if the time comes, they’ll have the tools to save not only their own life, but someone else’s.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_CPR Training

Although the majority of the summit focuses on mental and physical training, participants are also briefed on the latest life saving equipment, from Jet Skis to inflatable vests. Industry experts come out to demonstrate how to efficiently use modern life-saving technologies, making it easier for participants to properly utilize them in tough conditions.

Danilo notes that, “Already a bunch of our friends have been saved by this movement. Everybody is starting to be more ready to react when things go wrong.” But despite all the positive feedback, he constantly feels like they could be doing more. BWRAG is always looking for opportunities to grow, working to offer a deeper education, more targeted trainings and larger summits that can reach more surfers. After all, the ultimate goal is to do more than run a successful summit. The dream is to create a full blown safety fever – a movement that brings a sense of risk responsibility to everyone involved in big wave surfing.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_apnea training

BWRAG doesn’t charge for the summit, they aren’t chasing money or recognition. They’re simply working to minimize risk in the sport they love. The best way to do that? Any of them will tell you. “Train hard and have all your equipment prepared. The only way you can feel ready and relaxed is to feel prepared.”

We’re honored to have partnered with the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group as a 2015 corporate sponsor. For more information on the organization, please visit BWRAG.ORG.

Faces of FareHarbor: Christi

Christi Ughetta: Customer Support Guru


Christi Ughetta

Meet Christi. Her last career was as a travel agent for musicians – rumor has it, tech companies are the new rockstars. She has eight years experience in extreme customer service, and specializes as the in-house DJ. Three years ago, she moved to Denver from NYC, and it was one of the best decisions of her life.

If you were a Star Wars character, which would you be and why? I would be Yoda. He’s short, green and all knowing. He’s an OG Jedi.

What’s your favorite Star Wars moment? I’m a big fan of Chewbacca and have always loved his friendship with Hans. So anything Chewy is good with me. Rrrrrrr-ghghghghgh!

What do you love to be doing when you’re not at work? I’m a huge music fan so you can usually find me out and about at a concert. I also have a degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership, so I enjoy being outside hiking, kayaking, bike riding… the list is endless!

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? It’s a tie between Thailand and Costa Rica/Panama, both during 10 day jaunts. I enjoy a no stress vacation where no plans are made prior to departure, and I have to figure it all out when I get there. You always hit some roadblocks along the way, but getting through them is when you truly learn about yourself.

Describe your perfect pizza. I’m from NY so I like a thin crust, margherita pizza made with fresh ingredients. I’m a strong believer that the secret is in the NY water.

What’s your favorite FareHarbor stoke story?
I feel like there are too many to recall just one. My favorite thing is to finish a conversation with; “I get it! That’s so easy,” because I feel the same way.

Describe your job at FareHarbor in three words. Happy, good times!

8,000 Feet Above With Reno Tahoe Helicopters

A visit to their office is a full sensory experience. You’ve got the crisp scent of pines, the brisk mountain air, still calm of the winter morning – and then of course, there’s the booming Italian ballads. Trust us. It’s surprisingly fitting.

Reno Tahoe Helicopters_FareHarbor

Owned and operated by Claudio Bellotto, an ex-Italian Air Force pilot and senior cruise ship officer with an epic sense of humor, Reno Tahoe Helicopters offers a lot more than just a view from 8,000 feet above. Eleven years ago, when Claudio first came to South Lake Tahoe, he found the only viable option for viewing the famous Lake was with two feet on the ground. So he bought a helicopter and some office space at the Lake Tahoe Airport, and opened the doors of Reno Tahoe Helicopters.

Reno Tahoe Helicopters_Lake Tahoe Airport

Today, while Claudio and his team, fellow pilots Clint and Carl, operate tours on a daily basis, the business has grown into a one-stop shop for all of South Lake Tahoe’s aerial needs. They’ve been chartered for everything from helicopter skiing and aerial marksmanship training, to filming documentaries with National Geographic. Scouting missions for wildlife and lost persons also frequent their schedule, as well as the occasional wedding proposal. (They’re running a 100% success rate for “I do’s,” if you’re in the market.) For passengers that aspire to become pilots, they also run the Altitude Helicopter Academy, a full service pilot school that specializes in high altitude and mountain proficient training. The intro into Italian opera course is included at no extra charge.

Reno Tahoe Helicopters_FareHarbor_South Lake Tahoe

On our visit, we talked business with Clint and Claudio until they couldn’t resist sharing some of their favorite views. After a quick fuel check, we were on our way to meeting everyone’s favorite member of the family, the Robinson R44 Raven II.

Outfitted for three passengers and a pilot, the aircraft offered panoramic views from every seat. As we buckled up and slipped on the craft’s noise cancelling headphones, Clint began smoothly flipping switches and radioing out calls before gently lifting the helicopter off the ground. In seconds we were gliding through the mountainscape, heading towards the lake’s crown jewel – Emerald Bay.

Reno Tahoe Helicopters_FareHarbor_Lake Tahoe

When we hit 8,000 feet, the knowledge started pouring out. Clint talked us through the lake’s history, pointing out sites like Fallen Leaf Lake with it’s live, underwater forest, and the stone Tea House of Fannette Island. We peppered him with questions, while he joked about the questions passengers asked, and reflected on the challenges of running a business affected by seasonality. All the while, he never missed a beat, seamlessly navigating over the lake and past the peaks of Mount Tallac.

When it finally came time to go, we were on the verge of signing up for the academy ourselves – partially so we could get back in the sky, but mostly so we could hang with Clint and Claudio again.

Thanks for being a part of the FareHarbor family!

Hawaii Business: The Tour Starts Here

December, 2015. FareHarbor launched on Oahu less than three years ago, and today its software simplifies online bookings for 1,200 U.S. and foreign tour and activity companies… Read More From Hawaii Business

First Snow Of The Season

Summit County, Colorado was gifted a snow storm last weekend, and our Customer Experience team couldn’t resist capitalizing on the mountains being open.

Heavy winds and substantial snowfall had shut down I-70 from Denver to Silverthorne, which put ski resorts out of reach for several hours mid-day Friday. Once the accidents were cleared from the road, Pat and I made our way up to meet Anders, who was already waiting for us in the mountains. The road conditions were brutal, and after two hours of slowly chugging along the highway we finally made it to Dillon, CO to hunker down for the evening.

Snowboarding_breckenridge

Saturday morning on Copper Mountain, the skies were clear, the sun was out and after a balmy 3-degree Fahrenheit morning, it warmed up to an agreeable 30-degrees. It was still early season, so only a few runs were open – but there was a lot of fun to be had.

We ran a few laps on the American Eagle chair before migrating to the American Flyer, where we met up with Nick (Client Onboarding) and Charlie (Client Strategy and Marketing). It was the first day back on the snow for most of us, so we shook off some of the summer rust with a few warm up runs. As our legs slowly got back beneath us, we hit some cruisier runs, hooting, hollering and bombing downhill chasing nothing in particular but having a great time doing it. After all, fresh snow, limited crowds and blue skies are a no-fail recipe for a good day on the hill.

Once our legs started to burn, it was time to think about how much more riding was left in our day. Which quickly set us to thinking about having a few beers at the lodge bar. It’s true that no day on the mountain is complete without it. We made sure to honor this tradition before finally calling it for the day.

All in all, it was a perfect early season day with a great group of people.