Arctic Reservations

Arctic Reservations

The Inside Scoop on International Transactions

Ok, so many of you have had this come up at least once. You have an international customer who tries to either book or pay their invoice online and their cards are declined. This may have even happened when you try to process the transaction through the back end making life really frustrating for you and your international guests especially when you can’t figure out why and you are 90% positive you have been told that Arctic is internationally friendly, capable of handling international phone numbers and addresses. So you start thinking you were bamboozled and Arctic isn’t internationally friendly. It’s an Isolationist who only likes US citizens and is screwing up your business with your international guests. All of which is accompanied by a choice selection of expletives, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Can I get an amen?

Well, I am here to set the record straight. Arctic is not the evil villain of this story. Your payment gateway is the one who is thwarting your international transactions. Arctic is, in fact, capable of accepting international addresses and phone numbers. Arctic provides the gateway with all of the information needed to verify the card. The problem, when processing international payments, is that your gateway fraud protection settings are most likely set to reject transactions where the address and zip code cannot be verified.

“Wait a minute!” you shout with brow furrowed in frustration, “I entered the correct billing address for the card into Arctic, so what’s the deal? Why is the card still being declined?”

The other side of the problem is that certain regions don’t allow or support address verification. Germany and Australia tend to be common culprits.  Most gateways can work with some international regions, but there is just nothing to do for the countries that either for legal reasons (consumer protection) or technological reasons (different credit card infrastructure) can not validate addresses. So, when you have address verification as a requirement for your fraud protection settings on your gateway, the unverifiable addresses will be declined every time.

To fix this issue, you should contact  your payment gateway provider and discuss changing your fraud protection settings to allow for transactions where the address doesn’t match or can’t be verified. You may be able to negotiate a little higher rate for those instances where this happens, as is the case with international transactions, and a lower rate for the instances where they are able to successfully verify the address for the card being used. Once you have your fraud protection settings adjusted with your payment gateway provider, your international transactions should start going through without a hitch and you will once again be merrily singing, “It’s a Small World After All”. :)

 

 

 

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Arctic announces on-site consultation service!

That’s right folks, you heard it here first. Arctic Reservations is offering a brand new service to all of our clients: on-site consultations. Inspired by the success of our annual Arctic Summit and feedback from a handful of outfitters, we now offer the ability to work with Arctic’s team in-person and on-premises.

Having worked with several dozen outfitters across North America, we are excited to take the knowledge we have gained and apply it to new companies and new challenges. We believe that strategic use of technology can streamline office processes and help grow your business through marketing and online sales. All this enables you to focus on what you love most — providing amazing experiences for your guests. Our on-site consultations are designed to help you realize this goal.

Our new on-site consultations are beneficial for a range of needs, whether your are new outfitter setting up and configuring a new Arctic installation or a seasoned Arctic user seeking to implement new features and functionality such as online reservations. This service can also be used to help you hone your existing setup to further capitalize on Arctic’s many benefits and features with the aim of increasing efficiency and improving customer service. On-site consultations provide the opportunity for you and your staff to work one-on-one with an Arctic team member. This close collaboration allows for in-depth training, sharing of best practices and targeted feedback about the unique challenges that your business faces. We will also be able to gain a first-hand of your business and infrastructure and be able to offer our insight and guidance regarding putting Arctic to work for your needs in the most beneficial way possible.

Each on-site consultation will be built around your goals. All we need from you is an idea of your desired outcomes for the consultation (for example, staff training, setup assistance, etc.) and when you would like us to come. We will help you determine a realistic duration to achieve the goals and provide an estimate of costs for the on-site consultation. Should you accept the proposed consultation, an Arctic team member will make travel arrangements to visit your office and spend time in the area working with you and your staff to achieve the goals.

If you are interested in an on-site consultation with one of the talented and amazing Arctic techs, feel free to call us at 601-ARCTIC-9 (that’s 601-272-8429) or email us at support@arcticreservations.com and we will be happy to provide you with an estimate.

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.

 

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.

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

Season Three

As it is now entering peak season time for many rafting companies, it is exciting to announce that this is the third season that Arctic Reservations has helped different rafting and adventure companies manage their reservations, trips, customers and billing. And although the blog has been quiet recently, the software has been anything been static. There have been new features and new reports introduced, as well as new modules developed and many improvements to the interface for the software.

But the blog has been neglected, so over the coming few weeks, I will aim to write posts highlighting many of these (already older) new features.

With our third season underway, I would also like to personally thank our existing clients for their feedback. It has all helped craft Arctic Reservations into – at least in my opinion – an exceptional reservation management program. And, in addition, there are still many ideas yet to be implemented, giving us a clear development road-map for the software for the coming seasons. It will be exciting to see what comes next…

If you haven’t tried out Arctic Reservations, let me encourage you to take a look through our demonstration version.

WebFest: First Place

The Arctic Reservations Software has won first place in the commercial category for this year’s WebFest Competition. WebFest is a USC sponsored program that gives awards to the best projects in four different categories. This year marked the most submissions yet, so the announcement of first place comes as quite an honor. Thanks to all our great customers for your excellent feedback and suggestions!

This was back in March… I was waiting in hopes that they would update their website to show the winners for the different categories, but it does not seem like its going to happen for a while.

New Sales Website

>

Our new sales website went live today. Just the design that is. Some of the pages still need to be tweaked and updated. The new design is much more graphic and, in general, pleasing to use (I think). As part of the change, the blog now matches the rest of the sales website design. Please note that the blog URL has updated to: arcticreservations.com/blog. The old URL will continue to redirect visitors for the time being. In addition, this means the feed has moved to arcticreservations.com/blog/atom.xml. If you are using the feed to get the latest news, make sure you update your subscription, as the old link will be taken offline eventually.

Notes: The pricing page has been removed. Information on pricing can now be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section.

We would love to hear your comments on the new design.