By Rezdy — 26 Aug 2014
Shannon O’Brien is the Owner and Managing Director of Sydney Harbour Kayaks. As Australia’s largest full service kayak and ski centre, they offer kayaking tours, rentals, lessons and products. Their kayaking tours journey across harbour waters and protected coves, led by experienced guides who share stories about the area’s natural features and intriguing history.
This unique journey offers sights that are only visible from the water. Paddlers coast past beaches, cliffs, stunning houses built on impressive inclines, and relatively untouched bushland.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Shannon about his experience switching over to Rezdy and why using an online booking and online scheduling system helped his business.
Can you summarize the points of frustration that you faced?
Well I think it was just that we had a large amount of bookings that were always coming through – and we probably manage about 15-20,000 customers per year for rentals and tours. You have to push more of them to automated ways of booking, otherwise you need so many more staff because phone calls are always going out of control.
So I think when we came to Rezdy, we still get a lot of business, but there’s probably triple or quadruple the amount of people who now feel comfortable about booking online. And I think even better than that is for our staff to process a booking with the phone calls, or when somebody comes into our store, it’s so much faster, and the user face for staff I think is just as friendly as the user face for the public – that’s probably the main reason why it increased so much.
“There’s probably triple or quadruple the amount of people who now feel comfortable about booking online…”
What were the implications for your business if you hadn’t managed to fix that problem – was it serious?
No it’s not serious, but I think it’s more based on efficiency of staff, growth of the tours, and just being more and more automated. So we could have managed, but it’s pretty nice when you come into work and there’s a dozen bookings that people have made when they’re at home and the money’s already in your bank account, and all you’re doing is processing a financial transaction, and it’s there. You don’t have to touch anything, unless somebody has got a tour query linked to their booking and it’s a quick phone call. So the speed and efficiency has been quite nice to see.
We had a custom system, so we started working with the developer and trying to at least give them the ability to change and to make sure their user face was a little bit simpler. I think we knew that prior to going to Rezdy that the way that the customer interacts through your website had to be looking really clean and friendly – the same presentation as if somebody walks into your store or walks into your business to see you – as if your website had a uniform to it, there’s a friendly face there.
The Rezdy program – although you’re not looking at a human – you’re looking at a very clean layout. It’s simple, clicking on the date, clicking on the product, and then that gives you confidence to say, “well, we’re obviously now going to a very secure payment gateway.” So with the combination of Rezdy and the good gateway, there’s complete peace of mind for any customer, so they’re more willing to click more times – and freely – instead of waiting til the morning and phoning the company for that reassurance.
So you settled on Rezdy in particular as a solution to your problem – why was that?
We looked at quite a few systems out there, and we had a good referral from some close friends who have a tour business who use Rezdy as well. Then we actually phoned every kayak tour program in Australia who were with Rezdy – and there are probably about 5 or 6 – so we had pretty long discussions with every business. Everyone was at least above average in their praise of the software, and I think now with some of the changes over the last few months, they probably would be even happier.
Our businesses are all quite similar – our scale is probably a little bit larger, but the booking program is pretty much the same. So for our style of businesses it worked well, and to have that reassurance from other business – that definitely played a big factor.
“We’re more efficient in terms of the amount of people booking directly, so that allows staff to be doing other activities.”
So for me, the main overall package that it has – staff work well, very few mistakes get made, and it’s easy.
Only the fact that we’re more efficient in terms of the amount of people booking directly, so that allows staff to be doing other activities. Whether we’re getting more bookings onto our products based on just having a nice booking system – that’s too hard to quantify, but we at least know that there’s a large amount of online purchases that we get – we didn’t have that before, and our tour numbers are growing at a very good pace. So you can probably be confident that it’s heading in the right direction, without having a deep analysis of the entire business structure.
I think the biggest thing would probably be the glossy front end for the customers – it’s clean, it allows for your website to almost have a smile to it in front of the customer. From clicking on the tour product, to finding a date of the tour, to paying, is seamless. I think it makes your customers pretty confident that you’re a good business, and then in turn saying that it’s the start of what would probably be a good tour, lesson, or rental, so it starts that process.
“There’s a large amount of online purchases that we get – we didn’t have that before, and our tour numbers are growing at a very good pace.”
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