Arctic Reservations

Arctic Reservations

Our Blog

New Feature: Check-In View

We recently launched a new feature for tracking guest arrivals, whether they have a rental or a reservation. For outfitters with many simultaneous activities or large groups arriving, the check-in view provides a clear and concise location to see all upcoming activities, review status information and record when guests arrive.

Check-In View

The system is well suited to both tablets and computers. Each open copy of the check-in report stays synchronized, so if a group checks in with one employee, all other employees will be able to see that the group has arrived and is ready. This enables staff to establish multiple check-in “counters” within the office or at the put-in location. Each staff member can keep tabs on who has arrived and when trips are ready to launch by monitoring when all reservations have been marked as checked in.

In addition to providing a streamlined tool to track arrivals and begin trips or rentals, the check-in view highlights important notes for activities as well, such as missing waivers or any outstanding balance. This way, during the check-in process, staff members can collect any missing requirements and information from guests before the trip begins.

And the whole setup is highly customizable, as with many features in Arctic. The check-in view can include custom columns, activity notes and even be broken down by activity information, such as pickup location.

Overall, we hope this new tool will simplify guest arrival for busy day-trip outfitters and rental operations, making it easier to quickly check in guests and ensure that all information has been received and processed for each guest.

If you want to enable the check-in view on your installation, contact support.

Transitioning with Zen: Upgrading to Version 2

Alright everyone, break out your yoga mats, assume the lotus position, close your eyes and take a deep breath. (Ahhhh……) Now while we are cool, calm and collected, let’s talk about transitioning to Version 2.

Step 1: The Test Installation: Let Everyone Take a Spin

Upgrading is exciting because of all of the new features that have been added to Version 2 but it is not something that should be taken on lightly. While many of  the day to day operations are the same, there are several little tweaks that can throw you off your groove and have you longing for the comfort and familiarity of Version 1. The Test Installations are perfect for introducing you and your reservationists to the new look and feel of Version 2.

Realizing that several of you want to upgrade during your slow seasons so you are working with a diminished staff, it would still be good, if your lead reservationists, at the very least, were given a chance to look over the new system. Since Arctic is web based, your team could easily take Version 2 for a spin in the leisure of their own homes or maybe just spend an odd day at the office getting acquainted with the system. You can even have a “Version 2 Upgrade Party”, where you bring your staff in, just for a day or two, to play with the Test Installation. All of the existing log on’s for you and your staff will continue to work in the Test Installation, so no extra configuration is needed on your part to allow your staff access to the new version. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to maintaining your Zen when upgrading to Version 2.

If you upgrade without allowing your staff to familiarize themselves with the new system, you could find yourself and your staff in a potentially stressful and frustrating situation post upgrade. As an owner, while you are concerned with the day to day operations and how they function, many of you are more interested in the new administrative features available in Version 2, like the business groups, customized forms and reports, being able to track inventory, etc.; so you spend your time looking at how to set up these great new features and creating a game plan for implementing them for your business. However, it’s easy to overlook of the day to day responsibilities like taking reservations in the system, so you are unaware how  the few tweaks to the reservation and rental creation process are going to affect your reservationists. Things like how to merge invoices, how to create a group-mode reservation properly in the new system, how to add a rental to a reservation, how to find rental availability, etc. are all features that have been revised in Version 2 and are all things that can disrupt daily operations and create stress for you and your staff if not properly anticipated. Giving your reservationists the opportunity to get acquainted with the Version 2 will ensure your staff are confident and ready for answering calls and questions from guests and will lead to a smoother transition to Version 2

Bottom line: Save yourself and your staff some stress and give everyone a turn to play with the Test Installation. You won’t regret it.

Step 2: The “?” is your Friend

Even though, it is only a Test Installation, you can still ask questions about it and contact Support. You can even access Guide Documents to help you get acquainted with the new system. To use these in Version 2 you will see a “?” in the blue tool bar as shown here:

Support Menu

Make sure everyone knows how to access the Support Menu and the Guide Documents and knows they can ask questions as they explore Version 2.

Step 3: Make a Game Plan

Another benefit to the Test Installation is that it gives you a great way to tell what is going to need to be adjusted or created to get everything working smoothly after the upgrade to Version 2. The Test Installation will have import notes that will point out any problem areas with the data transfer that is going to happen during the move from Version 1 to Version 2. Look over all of these notes as some of these notes will have to be addressed after the upgrade. Also look over the Transitioning Guide that we send and the Getting Started Guide in the Support Documentation. As you explore the Test Installation, make notes and send us feedback on anything that looks funny or different. A lot of times, there are things we can do, such as adapting our import scripts to address your specific needs during the final upgrade. But we can’t do that if we don’t know about the problems before the upgrade so be sure to communicate with us. Remember, the “?” is your friend. :)

All of these things are the tools you will need to create a good game plan for the final upgrade. Make a list of the things that will need to be adjusted and/or created to get you up and running after the upgrade and prioritize it. Having a plan like this will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

The upgrade is a two part process. The first part is importing all of your data into Version 2 and the second part is getting all of that data squared away and settled nicely; and don’t worry, Nathan and I will be there to help you get everything settled.

Also as part of your game plan, make a list of the new features you want to take advantage of in Version 2 and prioritize it as well.

Step 4: Stabilize First, then Re-structure.

Many of you are excited about upgrading to Version 2 for all of the great new features that you will have access to and they are all amazing, but trying to add them all right after you upgrade, is not a good idea. During the upgrade there will be some upheaval and adjustments that need to be made to your data to make it fit into Version 2 perfectly. There will also be things that will need to be edited or created to get you back to a stable working environment where you and your staff have all of the tools you need to run your business on a day to day basis. Trying to implement new features simultaneously is not a good idea. This will only add to the stress of upgrading. Remember, your business functioned the way it was set up in Version 1 and with the few tweaks and creations you need to do to get your data squared away, it will also do so in Version 2 as is. Take time to get acquainted with the new system before trying to add the new features. For most companies, a couple of weeks will suffice to get everything tidied up from the upgrade and get you and your staff comfortable with the new system. The amount of time it takes to get stabilized and comfortable with the system will be directly proportionate to the amount of time you and your staff spent looking over the Test Installation and preparing a game plan for the tweaks and modifications that will be involved in the final upgrade. (Have I mentioned how important playing with the Test Installation is? :) )

Once the transition has stabilized, then using your game plan as a guide, start adding the new features you want to take advantage of. Do this slowly and take them on one at a time. With many of the new features there are going to be things you need to consider before making the changes because you have existing reservations in the system. For instance, if you are going to start using the add-ons feature for your trips, you will need to be aware that you will have to make adjustments to your existing reservations once you implement this feature. Having a plan for how you want to accomplish this so that you know you won’t loose any data or miss anyone is going to be key to making the process a smooth one. Also approaching this slowly, one trip type at a time, provides a staggered way to learn about and experiment with the new features, without requiring manually reviewing all upcoming reservations.

Again, remember the setup you achieved in Version 1 will continue to function post-transition, so it is not imperative to implement all of the new features available in Version 2 at once, especially, if you are running out of time before your reservation season really starts to kick in. If you don’t get everything added before you get too busy, you can still work to add these features slowly as you have time or you can put them on hold until business slows down again.

Step 5: Take a Break and Breath; It will all be O.K.

Following the advice in Steps 1 – 4 will definitely help you maintain your Zen during the upgrade process but there are still going to be times when you feel overwhelmed. When that happens, take a break and breathe. When you are more centered, come back at it and don’t forget, Nathan and I are here to guide you through the process. We are happy to walk you through demonstrations on the Test Installations before you upgrade and to offer advice and guidance on how to go about getting settled into Version 2. With some planning and communication, you will find that the upgrade process goes smoothly and with a minimal amount of stress. However, if you approach the upgrade lightly without really preparing for it, it can be very stressful and frustrating. Version 2 is amazing and you and your staff will love it, but, as with any new relationship, you have to get to know it for that to happen.

 

Six Months In

We launched Arctic Reservations version 2 a little over six months ago, and it’s been an amazing six months. We were thrilled to welcome a number of new outfitters into the Arctic community at launch time, and they eagerly took to the new version. With their feedback and support, we refined and polished the software.

Version 2 was our chance to reflect on the first seven years of Arctic and redesign the product from the ground up to be more flexible, more powerful and easier to use. For guests, version 2 introduced a fully redesigned checkout process for online bookings that has greatly increased conversions by further simplify the online shopping experience. In addition, we tried to create a more versatile platform so we could quickly adapt to new needs and implement new features.

Already, outfitters have used version 2 to process almost $5 million in transactions and have provided over 50,000 guests with amazing adventures and experiences. We’ve broadened the horizons in terms of outfitter diversity, adding campgrounds, hotels, aquariums, sea kayaking, zip lines and more. And in the midst of this busy season, we have launched a number of new features for version 2. Since launch, we have introduced the following features:

  • Arctic Retail – a full featured point-of-sale terminal, as well as management options for tracking vendors, purchase orders, and more
  • Gift certificates – with the ability to issue and track gift certificates and customer balance
  • Package management – an extremely versatile package management tool where you simply define what qualifies as a package, and then Arctic looks through your calendar to find all possible packages… no need to define each individually
  • Two new report builders – use a spreadsheet interface to layout and format reports like rosters, trip summaries and more, as well as a pivot table interface to aggregate and analyze data for trends
  • E-Check payments – accept electronic checks and ACH transfers online
  • Powerful new programming interface – to help integrate Arctic with other products, we’ve added an API that allows developers to connect, manipulate and update data in Arctic Reservations (see our open source implementation)

These features just scratch the surface of what is possible in version 2. Currently, we are testing new features and will be rolling out many new ideas over the coming months. And we look forward to helping more of our version 1 customers transition to the new version during their off-season.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make Arctic Reservations version 2 such a success. We can’t wait to share what’s next.

Version 2

For the last 18 months, we have been hard at working reimagining the features and functionality of the ideal reservation and customer relations management system. Based on over seven years of experience working with outdoor adventure companies, we wanted to create a new version of Arctic Reservations that truly addresses the needs of adventure outfitters. There are many challenges to managing scheduling and inventory in the industry, such as sharing inventory across trips and rentals, managing permits and compliance, running multi-location businesses, filing waivers, communicating with guests, etc. Arctic Reservations has long been a leading tool for the industry, but we thought we could do it even better.

Version 2 represents that labor come to life. We have worked to create a new version from the ground up that is even easier to use, but able to rise to the complex challenges that many outfitters have to tackle on a day-to-day basis. The new version introduces many powerful features, including:

  • Manage independent business units through one installation. Finances and configurations are kept separate, while reports and data can be run across the whole organization. User accounts can be specific to one business group, meaning reservationist will be able to easily manage the reservations relevant to their focus.
  • Customize forms and reports to add and remove fields as you see fit. It is possible to tailor Arctic Reservations to your exact business needs.
  • Remarkable new design editors. Customize the look and feel of the guest-facing website and emails in seconds – no coding needed.
  • A powerful new inventory engine that allows you to manage and allocate your limited resources across all sectors of your business: tours, rentals, lodging, retail and more. In addition, rental inventory can now be shared with trip inventory, so that you can better manage your scarce resources.
  • Accept online rentals of rooms and equipment.
  • A full retail POS interface and e-commerce store (coming Spring 2013).
  • And much more…We can’t wait to share the hundreds of new features. Email or call to setup a guided tour.

Today we have started setting up the first version 2 installations for some new and for some existing customers. Over the coming weeks, we will be revising the software, creating a public demonstration installation and working to transition more of our existing customers over the new version.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us to schedule a guided tour.

Decrease Paperwork with Electronic Waivers

With an increasing number of guests completing their registration forms online these days, many outfitters have been similarly seeking to move waivers and agreements into an automated electronic format. Arctic Reservations has long offered the ability to get guests to complete their trip waivers online, but we have often recommended using this in conjunction with paper waivers. Due to increased demand for electronic waivers, we have been in contact with some of the large industry insurers to discuss the exclusive reliance on electronic waivers. We are happy to announce that you can now greatly simplify the paperwork and compliance demands by taking advantage of the new e-waiver module in Arctic Reservations.

The e-waiver module offers the following safeguards:

  • The program complies with the requirements of the U.S. Federal ESIGN act, and most state regulatory requirements (please contact us regarding your specific state).
  • Each electronic signature is stored in an encrypted, date-stamped format that is uniquely linked to the original customer.
  • The system can handle waivers for minors, as well as allow users to opt for a traditional paper waiver at any time.
  • All completed waivers are securely stored and are fully retrievable for at least seven years.
Implementing this new module can be a great benefit to office efficiency, as it decreases paperwork, decreases storage space and allows you to expedite trip starts.
Existing customers who are interested in exclusively using electronic waivers should speak with a support representative to learn more about the e-waiver module and the necessary implementation steps.

Arctic Photo Kiosk

Arctic Reservations started with a product for guests to exchange photos following their trip. Capturing and sharing photos of the beautiful and exhilarating moments of a trip allows guests to walk away with a tangible reminder of their experience. Today, we are returning to that original focus by adding a new product to the Arctic family. I am pleased to introduce the Arctic Photo Kiosk software.

The existing photo sharing features built into our reservations have been tailored to multi-day tours, while our latest product aims to bring photography functionality to day-trip outfitters. The Arctic Photo Kiosk software is designed to monetize trip photography by offering a comprehensive solution for processing, organizing and presenting photos to guests.

Throughout the day as guests go out on adventures, let your photo staff and/or guides capture magic moments. Feed these photos into the Arctic Photo Kiosk software, which will touch up, resize and group photos. When guests return from their adventure, they can browse photos either at on-site kiosks or once they return home through a special photo e-commerce website. They can select single photographs, or whole sets, to have digitally delivered, printed or burned to CD. The software will manage everything from initial upload of photos through order fulfillment, including offering comprehensive reporting and extensive customization.

Our on-site hardware makes uploads blazing fast and can power touchscreen kiosks, where guests can browse photos as soon as they return from their adventure. Use HD television screens featuring teaser slideshows to get guests interested in their photographs.

Arctic Photo Kiosks also has a powerful backend, capable of handling hundreds of thousands of photos. We put a lot of effort into creating a robust framework that will enable us to rapidly develop new features both for the photo software, and down the road, in new products.

Arctic Photo Kiosks was initially deployed by a California-based outfitter in the spring, and we saw it’s success as hundreds of orders and thousands of photos were processed in the first months of their season. Today, we are excited to make the software publicly available. For more information, including features and access to a demo e-commerce page, head over to the new Arctic Photo Kiosk product page.

Keep All Client Emails in One Centralized Place

For the last three years, a highlight of my work at Arctic Reservations is facilitating our annual Arctic Summit. This one-day conference provides us an opportunity to connect with the outfitters who use Arctic Reservations. During the Summit, we share updates on features added over the last year and hear input for what new ideas and tools should be prioritized going forward. This input has been invaluable in making Arctic Reservations a intuitive, user-friendly, and innovative system.

At last week’s Arctic Summit, we highlighted new features such as the ability to further integrate Arctic Reservations with social networking sites (sharing reservations, photos, etc.) and new cost modeling tools to analyze operating margins and increase profitability. But we also walked away from the Summit with ideas on improving our system even more, ranging from refining the booking process to managing tasks associated with a trip.

We were especially excited about the prospects of one of these ideas and have already implemented it for all the outfitters using Arctic Reservations. Since Arctic was created, it has kept a detailed email log for easy access to past customer interactions, but only those sent through Arctic Reservations. Now, outfitters can configure Arctic Reservations to also store day-to-day email exchanges with customers no matter what email service they use. Each customer record will have a thorough and detailed history of all interactions, helping outfitters offer exceptional service by tracking all customer feedback and requests. No longer will you have to switch between Arctic Reservations and your email client to look for a message received from a specific customer.

This feature is available on all Arctic Reservations installations under Email > External.

Thanks again to all the customers who attended the Summit. We look forward to implementing more of your feedback in the coming months.

Arctic Reservations at AOA Conference in Reno

Thank you to everyone who attended our webinar. For those who are still interested in learning how technology can boost your business, you can watch the recorded version at your leisure.

For those wishing a more personal and hands-on introduction to Arctic Reservations, we’ll be at the America Outdoors Association Conference in Reno next month. We’ll be in booth 404* providing demos, conversations and most importantly, some peace amidst the trade-show chaos.

For our outfitters currently using Arctic, please stop by! This is a perfect time to take advantage of our referral program. If you bring someone who would benefit from Arctic to our booth and they sign up, your account gets credited on your next invoice.

We also intend to come and cheer you on at the bowling tournament. Also, if you’re feeling extra sneaky, you might try and get us to play for your biggest rival. Three horrific bowlers will be available at the trade-show, and we know how to throw gutter balls like no one else. I’m just saying.

*If you were wondering if there was any connection between our booth number and the 404 “Not Found” error message you get on the internet, please note that we have a distinctly nerdy sense of humor. That being said, we promise you’ll be able to find us at the conference!

How can Arctic Reservations Serve your Business? Find out on November 1

Arctic Reservations was developed by a community of outfitters looking for a technological solution that worked for them and helped them provide amazing experiences for their guests. This community continues to guide the development of Arctic’s comprehensive software packages and we continue to provide intuitive, easy-to-use solutions to administrative and marketing challenges, big and small. Are you wondering if you might be a good fit for Arctic Reservations? Then join us on November 1 at 1:00 pm EDT and find out! We’ll talk about how technology can best grow your business, allow your guests to market for you, and free up your precious time. In addition, we’ll cover common mistakes outfitters make when implementing technological solutions. Many ideas we’ll talk about will be useful no matter what system you use or if you’re not quite ready to make the switch, so everyone can benefit from attending this webinar.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in cyberspace (and thanks to everyone who has already registered!)

Cheers,
Ronda
Director of Business Development

For Arctic Reservations, Fall is When We Start Heating Up!

So far, it’s been a fabulous year at Arctic Reservations and I want to thank all of our outfitters for the suggestions, comments and support you’ve given us. After working on Arctic for the past five years, I’m excited to have the opportunity to grow our community, build on the fantastic software we’ve created together, and enhance business and marketing practices so that you can continue providing amazing experiences for your guests. I have seen the role that technology plays in growing businesses, regardless of the economic climate, and we are continually incorporating new and useful technology into our products so that you are always on the cutting edge of business software.

I’ve brought on two wonderful colleagues so that, as we grow, our customer service, business development and product innovation will continue at the high level of quality you’re accustomed to. Ronda Ansted, our new Business Development Director, is skilled at streamlining processes and ensuring that technology works for people (and not the other way around). Bridgit Welch, our Marketing and Sales Director, has an impressive history of sustainably building a strong customer base, allowing us to build on our solid foundation. The three of us are gearing up for the American Outfitters Association conference in December, and planning a dynamic Arctic Summit for our core outfitters. At our Arctic Summit, you’ll get a sneak peak at upcoming features and learn how to best leverage our tools to your best advantage. More details to come…

In the mean time, check out our new about the company page to meet the team members in more detail.

Yours in adventure,
Nathan