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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!

3 Simple Ways To Use FareHarbor To Communicate With Customers

Travelers today are used to instant gratification – they like the power to book from anywhere, at anytime – and they’ve come to expect the same when it comes to customer service. When a problem or question arises, they want proactive help and instant answers.

We designed the FareHarbor system to help you seamlessly communicate with customers, delivering answers to potential problems before they even arise. Here are the three easy ways you can use FareHarbor to take both your customer service and customer communication to a whole new level.

Send Text Reminders to Groups & Individuals

Take the stress out of last minute changes, shifting weather conditions or day-of reminders by sending text messages to individual customers or entire availabilities, directly from your dashboard.

Using your daily manifest, you can contact every customer on any one availability with just a few simple clicks. Your manifest includes a list of customers broken down by day, by tour and even by guide. Use it to shoot off a reminder to that one late arriver, or let the whole group know you’re excited for their tour.

This feature is especially helpful when sending important information – like updates on weather or meeting location – since the messages go directly to the customers cell phone.

Send Automated Confirmation Emails

Using email addresses collected from the checkout flow, the system can automatically send confirmation emails after a customer completes their booking.

If you offer multiple activities, you can design each individual email flow to have its own content and send timing. This means you can easily change the meeting time or location to match the tour, or add relevant information like a reminder to wear comfortable shoes or bring their own snorkel gear.

Send Follow-Up Emails With Automated Review Express

Meet your new favorite time saver. Our partnership with TripAdvisor enables FareHarbor users to automate their follow-up emails through a service called Automated Review Express.

Amp up your standard follow-up ‘Thank You’ with a fully customized, automated email sent directly from TripAdivsor. The service connects to your FareHarbor dashboard to access your daily manifest and delivers follow-up emails after each tours’ completion. Your email template can be endlessly customized with your copy, your branding and your logo.

In addition to whatever content you add to the body of the message, the email will encourage the customer to leave a TripAdvisor review on their recent experience.

On average, businesses using the service observe a 33% increase in reviews on TripAdvisor (data was for hotels). Meaning, you can collect more reviews, and polish up your customer service all at once.

Friday Features: Permissions, Manifest Filters, Campaign Blackout Dates, & More

Happy spring! Check out what’s new at FareHarbor these last few months with the return of Friday Features.

Fine-grained control over what your users can do

Custom user permissions

In March we released custom user permission groups, which allow you to control what your users can see and do in the Dashboard.

Permission groups can control both what your company staff can do, as well as your affiliates who might also be using FareHarbor. This means that different users will only have access to what’s relevant to them, keeping your information more secure and your company more efficient and accurate.

Groups are customizable to fit your needs; just let us know if you need a new group added or an existing one changed.

Filter manifests and calendars

https://fh-sites.imgix.net/sites/278/2016/04/15180436/filter-manifests.jpg

You can now filter manifests, making it easy to narrow down the list of bookings to only the ones you need. Filter by contact name, check-in status, number of customers, amount due, even custom fields.

We also added a new filter menu to the Bookings calendar. In addition to all the old options, there’s now the option to filter your view to only availabilities with a certain number of spaces left. It’s great for quickly finding open availabilities for larger groups:

New filter menu

Plus, all of these new filter options can be saved with your custom manifest or calendar, so you can come back to them any time.

Campaign blackout and valid dates

campaign blackout and valid dates

We also added options to include valid or blackout dates for promotional and discount codes. This is especially helpful if you only want codes to be redeemable within a certain date range, or if you want to exclude certain dates like holidays. You can even make a code valid or invalid dynamically based on a number of days before a tour starts.

Check out the help page to learn more about how valid and blackout dates work.

And more

As always, we’ve made a lot of smaller fixes and improvements, as well as ongoing work on some big new projects. (More info on those coming soon.) Here are some of the smaller things we added lately:

  • A new item embed so you can put a grid of any of your FareHarbor items directly on your website. Let us know if you’d like to use it on your site and we’ll help you with the integration. New item embed

  • See a preview of what you can book from the flyout on the Bookings calendar. The numbers on the right (“12” in this example) show the maximum number of each customer type that you could book directly. flyout preview

  • Easily upload images or files when sending email

  • Large photos are now automatically resized in emails
  • Faster month, day, and agenda views if you have a lot of items
  • Faster access to your Affiliates list in Settings
  • Better messaging about overusing using campaign codes when signed in
  • Filter by availabilities with a certain headline when using the mass availability updater
  • Much more

15 Essential SEO Tips For Tourism Businesses

Tour and activity business owners, operators and marketers want to know more about a tiny little word that’s thrown around often: SEO.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of setting up your website to gain better visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The goal is to earn your website one of the top spots on Google and other popular search engines.

Done correctly, SEO can significantly increase your web traffic. But without fully understanding the process, it’s likely to produce little more than a headache. That’s why we’re here to give you the skinny on this packed word.

Main Takeaways:

  • Focus on high quality content – that’s the way to win.
  • Earn high quality links from authoritative sites linking to your company’s website.
  • Build a better website and book form experience. You want user time on site, book form conversions and organic search traffic to climb, and bounce rate to fall.

SEO Tips:

1. Submit your site to Google Search Console

A submission of your website through Google Search Console isn’t a necessary step to be seen in Google search, but a brand new site or a site with big changes can submit its URL directly to help the Googlebot quickly add your website to Google’s index.

2. Prove you’re secure with a https site

Having a secure https site, rather than an http site, is important for SEO. It’s a lightweight signal for now, but Google is only going to put more emphasis on the importance of having a secure website in the future.

Work with your website developer and your website hosting platform to make this happen.

3. Measure success with Google Analytics

SEO isn’t all about ranking. A better way to measure SEO success is to look at your Google Analytics account and see if organic traffic from search is increasing, and making you money. (PS – here’s how to automatically track sales sources and conversion metrics in Google Analytics from online bookings with FareHarbor.)

4. Optimize meta descriptions and titles

Meta descriptions and titles don’t have an impact on search ranking, but they do affect your site indirectly. Use them to entice a searcher to click through to your page’s results instead of elsewhere. And, guess what: click through rate is Google’s #1 ranking factor in 2015.

5. Value intent over exact matches

The days of filling your website with exact match keywords are long gone. Instead of matching keywords typed into the search bar, Google now matches the searcher’s intent with the general intent of your page.

Google looks for synonyms related to your target keywords. By using synonyms and related terms, it matches your end goal to the searcher’s end goal. If it finds your page to have relevant and quality content, Google will send the searcher to you.

6. Write clear, succinct headlines

Write a stellar headline – somewhere between 4-9 words – to inform people, not search engines. Present your most important concepts upfront and close to the top of the page. Remember, you’re optimizing your page for users first and foremost, which means that you want to tell them ASAP on what your page is about through a clear headline.

7. Stay away from keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of filling a webpage with as many keywords and meta tags as possible. While this technique worked in the early stages of SEO, it’s now a prohibited practice and will negatively affect your SEO.

8. Stick to the basics on your homepage

Your homepage doesn’t need a lot of content, but it does need some. Your homepage content should be lengthy enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located, your value proposition, and what visitors should do next (book a tour!).

Visitors should leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed — and definitely not confused.

9. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity

You don’t need a whole bunch of web pages. That’s not necessarily better. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity of pages.

10. Think critically about user experience

Good user experience is a requirement. Google uses website engagement as a part of their ranking algorithm. Use your Google Analytics to ensure your site has a fast page load time and an average of at least 2.5 page views per visit.

11. Utilize alt text for all your site’s images

Optimize your images using alt text and descriptive image file names to boost your page relevance.

12. Make sure it’s mobile-ready

This one’s a no-brainer. You must have a mobile optimized site. Websites that aren’t mobile optimized saw an average of 5% decline in organic traffic in 2015. Work with a website developer to make sure your site is mobile-ready.

Off Site SEO Tips:

13. Create a solid Google My Business account

Local SEO is a new player in the game. Verify and optimize a Google My Business Account with a brand and location page. Looking forward, Google will continue to take steps to show the best local content in search results.

14. Network with influencers in your industry

Backlinks are important. Link building with quality sites is still one of the top 5 most important ranking factors. Never pay for links. Connect with people in your area or in your space, organically requesting they add a link to their site about you on their partner page or in a blog post.

15. Keep your backlinks clean

Google knows if you have suspicious sites linking to you. Get rid of them, or you will see a drop in rankings. Monitor your backlinks in Google Search Console, then disavow any suspicious links pointing to your site.

SEO affects all corners of your marketing strategy, from website content and technical site makeup, to user experience and influencer marketing. But in the end, it’s about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query.

The better their experience with you – from your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listing and the quality of your content, to the user experience of your site and book form — the better your organic search traffic will be.


Many of these tips were inspired by a great article on SEO myths demystified for 2016.

FareHarbor Claims A Fast Rise As A Reservations Tool For Tours And Activities

September 08, 2015 From its start in early 2013, FareHarbor, which sells reservation software to tours and activities suppliers, chose not to be an aggregator or to have a direct-to-consumer offering… Read more from Tnooz

Understanding Your AdWords Quality Score

What is a Quality Score?

Your AdWords Quality Score is a 1 – 10 number given to each keyword in your ad campaign. It’s Google’s way of telling you how well it expects your ad to perform, and how likely it is to display your ad.

Each keyword’s quality score is calculated by estimating the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevancy and landing page relevancy. The more likely a searcher is to find the information they’re looking for by clicking on your ad, the higher your score will be.

Remember: Google is looking out for their customers, and only want to show the best, most helpful ads they can.

Where can I find it?

You can find your Quality Score by heading to the ‘Keywords’ tab on your AdWords dashboard. To get there, first go to the ‘Campaign’ tab, then click on ‘Keywords.’ Locate the ‘Status’ column, and hover above or click on the white speech bubble next to each keyword.

It’ll list your Quality Score, as well as your expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Each of these will be rated as either Below Average, Average or Above Average.

Why is it important?

Your final ad rank on Google’s search page will weigh your Quality Score against factors like the amount you bid, geographic performance and device targeting.

While your score isn’t the only factor that goes into your ranking, it can still affect anything from your ad position to your cost-per-click. The higher your score, the better your chances of your ad landing on the top of the search results page. In fact, a high Quality Score can land you on the top of the Google search page, even if your bid is slightly lower than the competition. Google will always choose a more relevant ad over any other option.

How do I improve my score?

Even top marketers struggle to achieve ‘Above Average’ ratings – but that doesn’t mean a high Quality Score is out of your reach. Here’s what you can do:

Tightly segment keywords within your ad groups.

Create ad groups that focus on three or less keywords. Identify a keyword that’s important to your business, then build an ad, an ad group, and any ad extensions around that specific word or phrase.

Use that keyword while creating your ad – in the headline, in the description lines, even in the display URL. Having your keyword exactly match the text within your ad will instantly boost your ad relevancy. Although it can be tedious, creating new ads for each unique keyword is the only way to consistently earn a high ad relevancy rating.

Match your keywords to the content on your landing page.

Make sure each ad group has its own unique landing page. Always use specific landing pages when you have the option. If your website has dedicated pages for each separate tour or activity you offer, you should never send an ad back to your homepage. Always direct it to the page that would be most relevant to the searcher.

For example, if your business runs whale watching tours by both boat and by kayak, you should create two separate ad groups, with two distinct ads and two unique landing pages.

Revist, restructure, repeat.

Your Quality Score can change over time based on your ad’s performance. While it’s tempting to set it and forget it, it’s important that you check back on your ad groups to audit their success. If you have keywords that aren’t performing, don’t be afraid to make changes or stop bidding on them altogether.

The bottom line:

When it comes to building your AdWords campaign, think quality, not quantity. While bidding on more keywords may seem like the shortest route to more customers, more conversions, and more revenue, it can actually slow you down. Create specific ads that link to relevant landing pages, and your Quality Score and ROI will start to increase.

Looking for more AdWords help? Check out our experts’ advice here.

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!