Jeff runs a tight ship when he sails the Cat O’ Nine Tails catamaran on Brisbane’s waterways. But a few months ago, he found himself sinking – in paperwork!
Cat O’ Nine Tails Cruises has many regular cruises. The main business comes from tours that explore the rich history of St. Helena Island Prison, Queensland’s maximum security prison from colonial times.
But there are no boring history tours on the Cat O’ Nine Tails. The tour guides are also professional actors who mix education with entertainment, bringing the colonial period to life. As former teachers, some of their best days have been when Jeff and his wife take a large crowd of primary school kids on a day trip to the prison.
But Jeff had a big problem. He was out all day running tours. He had to switch between servicing customers in person whilst simultaneously taking new bookings and answering enquiries over the phone.
“I had to be available almost 24×7 on the phone for people to book and I’d have the phone diverted…”
Getting customer details (and especially payment information) over the phone was a hassle on both ends.
“I had to take bookings, write it down and then transcribe it, creating a pile of paperwork I had to go through. I had to carry a little book with me all the time to take notes. There were often errors in email addresses, and then I’d have to make calls to fix it up.”
This was far from an efficient process and his customers weren’t shy about letting him know it wasn’t ideal for them either. They wanted to be able to book his tours online.
“We were getting feedback from customers who wanted to book online but couldn’t…”
“We were getting feedback from customers who wanted to book online but couldn’t because we didn’t have a facility. I think people these days seem to be more confident booking online than making a ‘phone call. People are used to doing stuff online now and it seems to be the preferred way of operating. Having an online booking system also looks a lot more professional. ”
Jeff realised that something had to be done.
“It could have become a serious problem because there are so many things you can do online. It’s competitive out there. Customers might think, ‘it’s too hard’, and look at another activity they can book online instead, so it was a growth problem for my business. I was listening to my customers and thinking, ‘how are we going to solve this?’”
Jeff looked at several online booking vendors, but found that the hidden costs were making them an expensive option.
“We’d been through a process with a number of companies, but we had to use PayPal or set up a new merchant service which is all extra cost.”
“The one thing that put us off custom developing is the online merchant service…”
He also considered developing custom-made software, but found that it was far too pricey for his business.
“The one thing that put us off custom developing is the online merchant service. I spoke to some programmers about writing our own program, getting a shopping cart, having to deal with banks for a merchant service – it was very complicated. The procedure was going to take a lot of time and money. Once we had it all set up, we wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee, but still we would’ve had to have it maintained so there would be fees anyway.”
When Jeff was contacted by Rezdy he decided to take the free trial.
“At other places I would have had to set up a shopping cart and merchant facility – it’s a major job just to get started – but with Rezdy I started within minutes. It was just a really simple process.”
Since then, Rezdy’s online booking system has been providing Cat O’ Nine Tails with an easy way to take bookings through their website, which works for his business.
“The pricing felt right!”
“We set this up in November 2012. It fulfilled all my needs and the pricing felt right, it was something that I could work with. The other systems I looked at would cost thousands to set up. To try to do all the things that Rezdy does for us wouldn’t have been financially viable at all.”
With a simple online booking system that is specially designed to meet the needs of tour operators, Cat O’ Nine Tails was able to drastically reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks associated with taking bookings because customers can self-serve.
“Since we’ve had it up I’ve probably only done 4 bookings over the phone.”
“Since we’ve had it up I’ve probably only done 4 bookings over the phone. Nowadays I just pop the answering machine on and all the bookings come through Rezdy.”
Jeff loves how easy Rezdy is to use, and how easy it is to update his offerings.
“I can put up a special event and people go straight and book it without having to call me. I can now tell them where to go and set up another catalogue for them to go and book online so it gives me that flexibility too. I can put up and take tour offers down when required.Having that flexibility has worked well for us and it would work well for people in the same sort of business”
Additionally clerical errors are reduced as customers browse, select tour availability, and enter their details by themselves.
“I like the clarity of information we get. Now the client puts in their information and it’s in our database. It’s all there in black and white.”
As the booking system is online, Cat O’ Nine Tails can keep their doors open 24×7. As people pay at the time of booking, this has really helped with their cash flow too.
“I like the straight monthly fee instead of having to pay every time someone makes a booking. I paid a yearly fee upfront which saved me some more money. Within the first week, we got back double what we paid out for the year’s fee!”
“Within the first week, we got back double what we paid out for the year’s fee!”