Gotham’s New Coodie Fighting Heroes: Kicking Butt & Taking Names

Before this year, we thought about germs but not like this. And who ever thought there would be such a thing as a nation-wide toilet paper shortage? I mean seriously. 😳 But I digress. . . .

In this new world that has been rudely thrust upon us, we are all looking to maintain our fight against the nefarious coodies that have wreaked so much havoc. For you, as outfitters that has meant changing how you do business and one important aspect of that is how to reduce as many “touch” points as possible. 😷

To help kick coodie butt, we added a new superhero to our lineup. The new hero is unassuming and mild mannered like all great superheroes but packs a pretty good wallop. If you have been watching our Twitter feed, you saw its arrival heralded as a way to achieve contactless check-ins. That’s right, Batman has entered the building. 🦇

Our new Batman is a button that adds a QRCode to the Check-in page for any reservation or rental that has missing details, i.e. waivers or registration forms. The code can be scanned by the primary customer of the reservation or rental to access their guest-facing site from their own mobile device where they can complete any missing forms needed for themselves or their group.

The beauty of this is it is 100% contactless, simply show the check-in screen to the guest with their QRCode exposed and voila, they have access to their guest-facing account on their own device. No need for you to offer your own devices or paper and pens to get the guests to complete their forms. Think of all the touch points you just saved. Not to mention how many trees. You get to be coodie free AND environmentally conscious. 🤓 Go QRCode Batman!

If the reservation has multiple forms missing, the primary guest can either pass around their device to their adult group members allowing each of them to complete their own forms. Or they can invite their other group members to register which will allow those guests to complete their forms on their own devices.

While the guests complete these forms, you can ask them to step aside and check-in the next guest. Since the forms are on their own devices, the guests don’t have to stand at your check-in desk to complete them which will give you the ability to spread out check-in stations to help with social distancing.

Our QRCode Batman makes the Check-in page its very own Gotham. Keeping tabs on and rounding up all of your wayward guests until they are safely checked in and ready for adventure.

(If you have never used the Check-in Feature before, you can find out more about it here.)


While the QRCode is the Batman of our superhero alliance that delivers the knock out punch for the contactless check-ins, we can’t forget the other members of this powerful team, Robin and Batgirl aka. the Before Trip – Missing Details and Before Rental – Missing Details email triggers.

These two side kicks hang out in the Batcave tracking down any guests who might stray from the straight and narrow, saving as many as possible before they get to Gotham’s streets for Batman to round up.

When properly deployed, our trusty entourage make Batman’s job easy, keeping the number of guests he has to save at the last minute to a minimum.

By repeatedly reminding guests who are missing forms, i.e. registration or waivers, to complete them before their arrival, Robin and Batgirl can rescue all but the worst procrastinators among your guests.

The more you deploy them before your guests arrive the more likely you are to reduce the number of guests Batman has to handle.

In an ideal world, Robin and Batgirl will save the day before you ever get close to Check-in. But, they can only do that if you allow them to exercise their greatest power, the power of nagging.

That’s right. Nagging. Robin’s and Batgirl’s job is to nag your guests into submission. But the full extent of their powers is only spent upon those die-hard procrastinators who just refuse to even think about completing forms before their arrival. This means there is no need to worry about their powers adversely effecting the guests who were brought into line with a single reminder because these guests will then be spared from further attention. Batgirl and Robin will only focus on those guests who have not completed their forms.

You can read more about deploying the power of the Before Trip – Missing Details and the Before Rental – Missing Details email triggers in our blog post “The Great Procrastinator Hunt“.  It explains the full extent of the power available to these two triggers and how to make the most out of them. Remember their greatest power is the power of nagging so deploy them often.

Like all great alliances, our superhero alliance is strongest when they work together. You get the most coodie butt kicking benefits by using them as a team.

Batman shouldn’t be tasked with trying to get all of your guests to complete their forms on the day of their arrival. Let Robin and Batgirl help reduce his workload by sending them out among your guests before they arrive. You can even let them wield their power on the day of the guest’s activity by setting the triggers to go 0 days before. Never underestimate the power of a good nag. 😎

If you keep the alliance strong, you will have won a major battle in the war against coodies and achieved a contactless checkin that is efficient and effective.

It’s Spring Again!

It is that time of year again when we roll out several new features. The first feature being launched this spring are the new Collapsable & Conditional Form Fields. These fields will allow you to keep certain fields hidden until the heading is clicked or to keep certain fields hidden unless a specific answer is received from another defined field. For some of you this is really going to improve your guest registration process as you will be able to control the questions asked based on the answers received. On the backend, the Collapsable fields are going to be great for keeping your backend forms more streamlined by allowing you to only expose certain fields when they may be applicable and otherwise have the hidden under a nice section title. This feature takes only a little time to describe but it will greatly change and improve the way you manage your forms in Arctic. To read more about the new Collapsable and Conditional Form Fields check out the support documentation.

The next features that have been added this spring are some exciting new email options. First, we have added a “Shipping Confirmation” email template that you can now send to e-commerce guests with their tracking details.


Also on the email front we have added Rental Item placeholders. The new Rental Item placeholders will allow you to access specific rental item information within a guest’s rental to provide them with more detail about the items they have rented. These new rental item placeholders are found in the “+Add Placeholder” menus of Invoice, Rental Details, and Order Confirmation email templates, as well as in the Before Rental & After Rental email triggers.

Along with the new Rental Item placeholders, there is also an new Advanced Logic placeholder that will allow you to cycle over all of the items in a rental to provide specific rental item information to your guests for each item they rented. The new Advanced Logic is available in all of the same templates and triggers where you will find the Rental Item placeholders.

We are also announcing beta testing for our new Trip Form feature. The Trip Form feature is an entirely new feature that will allow you to create any forms you would like to have completed by your staff in regards to your trips. These can be pre or post trip forms and can be completed by any user in the system with “User” access or above. Responses can only be viewed by users with “Super User” access or above. If you are interested in exploring the new Trip Forms as a beta tester, please contact support and we will be happy to provide you with additional details.

And as always, if you have any questions about the new features or need anything else, please feel free to contact support we are always here to help.

Authortize.Net Disables ECC

For all of our Authorize.Net users, we recently were made aware that in late June 2019, Authorize.Net disabled Expanded Credit Capabilities (ECC) for all of their users.

What this effects in Arctic is your ability to process unlinked refunds for credit card transactions that are older than 90 days. ECC must be enabled on your Authorize.Net account in order to process unlinked/blind refunds for credit cards.

According to Authorize.net you can re-apply for ECC using the following steps via Authorize.net

The following is from Authorize.Net directly and explains the process for reapplying:

To apply for Expanded Credit Capabilities (ECC):

  • Click ‘Contact Us’ at the top of your page
  • Click ‘Support Cases’.
  • At the top of the page, click ‘Support Cases’ again.
  • Look under the section titled ‘Create a Case’.
  • Click ‘Apply for ECC’.
  • Agree to the terms.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Submit your request.

 

We are only enabling the ECC feature for merchants, who require this service, due to specific circumstances. So if you apply for ECC, please describe, in detail, the specific business policy, process, or situation, or the specific software requirements, that make this a required feature for your business, so that we can then further review the request.

 

Also in order to process your request, we will need one of the following items to validate your request:

  • Copy of a government issued identification card (Driver’s License, etc.)
  • Copy of IRS Form SS-4
  • Voided check showing the merchant name and account number
  • Copy of utility bill showing the merchant name and/or merchant address
  • Copy of a credit card statement showing the merchant name and/or merchant address
  • Notarized letter that properly identifies the individual submitting the request
  • Letter from a bank identifying the individual and listing the bank account number
  • A copy of Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization (and if non-profit, IRS proof of non-profit status

Please attach one of the above options to the application after you create it.

 

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact support and we will be happy to help.

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3. . .

Have you ever been training someone or even trying to look at a new configuration you put into place in Arctic for the guest-facing site, and wished and longed and hoped for a way to make test reservations through your guest-facing site that didn’t require a bloody payment? Have you silently cursed in frustration as you finally with great reluctance entered your own personal card details or that of the company to be able to complete a test purchase, then frantically rushed into the backend of Arctic to void the charge? Or worse forgotten to void the charge? 🤦‍♀️

Well, I’m gonna let you in on a little known feature that will end all of your testing misery and fulfill all of your wishes, hopes and desires. As an Arctic user you can test the guest-facing site experience all the way through checkout without needing to make a payment. 😱

We have a feature that allows any backend Arctic user to access the guest-facing site to make test reservations and transactions without needing to also process a payment. The feature recognizes the fact that you are an Arctic user and will give you an option to “Pay Later”.

No, I am not kidding. No, it is not witch craft. And no, it is not new. But it is easily overlooked.

How do you access this magical feature, you ask? Well, first you have to open a tomb, fight some scary, overly large scorpions and snakes, and then escape some enchanted booby traps to get to the secret chamber where the magic lamp is hidden. Once you find the lamp, you have to rub it three times counter clockwise. Trust me, you do not want to know what happens if you rub it clockwise. . . Oh wait. Those are the instructions for summoning a genie 🧞‍♀️. Sorry, about that. Wrong book. We need the book of Arctic secrets not the book on fabulous fantastical creatures and how to summon them.

Ah, here we are, page 29.1, to access the guest-facing site and be able to skip payment, go to the “User Menu” with your name on it in the upper left hand corner just under the Fox and select “Access Guest-Facing Site.”

When the guest-facing site is accessed through the “User Menu,” Arctic will know that you are an Arctic user and will give you the option to “Pay Later” so you can complete all test transactions without having to provide an actual form of payment. I know, mind blow right? 🤯

Preparing for GDPR

Going into effect next Friday (May 25th), the European Union’s new data privacy law GDPR is helping to codify consumer privacy and data protection rules. Even if you have not explicitly heard the name “GDPR,” you have probably seen some of the fallout of this rule, as companies email out updated privacy polices.

Although you are not based in the European Union, these new rules likely impact your business. As a result, it is good to have an understanding of the impacts and what you may be required to do as a result of the rules.

GDPR rules apply to any business that collects information about citizens of the European Union. If you have any EU guests reserving online or providing personal information when inquiring, reserving or registering, these rules govern such data collection and use. But even for non-EU guests, the ideas and rules set out in GDPR are designed to codify privacy and security best practices. Such practices are a good roadmap for all customer interactions; adopting and applying these practices will help gain consumer trust and ensure that personal information is carefully managed. And as other regions adopt similar privacy safeguards (California has a ballot initiative that will be voted on this Fall), the GDPR launch provides a good opportunity to review your policies and practices.

Broadly, GDPR requires that companies:

  • understand how and where personal information is collected and stored
  • develop explicit data governance policies about how they manage such data
  • have clear privacy policies that enumerate data collection, retention and related policies
  • ensure that guests provide unambiguous, granular consent for data collection
  • maintain technological best practices for data transmission and storage
  • be prepared to share collected data, discontinue data collection, and/or expunge data on a person at her/his request.

A full list of requirements should come from a more authoritative source, but these are the basics. To learn more about some of the specific details, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has a good outline of twelve steps to prepare for GDPR.

And there is nuance to the above requirements as well. For example, MailChimp explains that pre-checked boxes do not count as consent. There blog post has other best practices for helping ensure that your email mailing list is compliant with these requirements.

Most of the rules and requirements are about company policy and governance, and so require outfitters to be careful and conscientious in how they collect and use personally identifiable information. But the rules also touch on a number of technological details.

Already, Arctic Reservations is designed to store information in a way that secures personal details, limits unauthorized use and defends against data breaches. For example, the software implements encryption and security best practices, access is controlled and logged, and security tools such as user permissions and two factor authentication are available to manage user roles.

We have begun rolling out updates to further assist with GDPR compliance. These updates will effect two areas in the software:

Customer records. GDPR ensures that individuals can request a copy of all personal information that exists, and can request that such information be deleted. A new option has been added when deleting a customer record to fully expunge data. This will remove all data regarding the customer, including even their name. Note that such an option should be applied with caution (especially with previous guests, as some information retention may be required for liability and insurance purposes); as a result, this option is only available to administrators.

Checkout and inquiry forms. The checkout form has been updated to explicitly reference agreement with the privacy policy, in addition to the payment terms and cancellation policy. Similarly, text has been added to other online forms including inquiries and registration. We recommend that outfitters add their privacy policy URL to Arctic, in the general section of the settings page.

Finally, it is worth reiterating the details of Arctic’s privacy policy. We do collect basic information on outfitters to ensure that we can provide service, issue invoices, etc. In addition, we aggregate anonymized usage information and statistics across all installations. This information helps us understand how features are used and prioritize future feature development. But we ensure that such information contains no personally identifiable information on your guests. Today, we updated our privacy policy to clarify these protections.

Note: This is our interpretation of GDPR and is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on this as legal advice or to determine how GDPR will impact your business. For comprehensive guidance, we recommend consulting with a legally qualified professional.

Arctic Natural Disaster Relief

At Arctic, we care about each of our clients and know that without you, we would not be the company we are today. We value the community you have helped us build and want to do all we can to promote the success of each member of that community. We understand  the challenges faced by small businesses and in particular those of  the outdoor tourism industry. The most frustrating of these challenges can be Mother Nature because she is beyond our control but can effect our businesses substantially. This is why we have decided to institute a plan to assist those of our clients who are taking a beating  from Mother Nature. No matter what the calamity may be, drought, wildfires, mudslides, flooding; we want to help those of you who have been negatively impacted by these disasters.

We offer natural disaster relief for those of our clients who have had the majority of their active season interrupted by a natural disaster. The program will give you options to help you through the aftermath of a rough weather year. If your business has been beat up by Mother Nature, please contact us for more information about our relief options to see what we can do for you.

 

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.