Hearing two simple words “I do” is one of the best parts of Chuck Dixon’s job as pilot at Tulsa Helicopter. “Popping the question” is positively encouraged on one of Tulsa Helicopters popular Sweetheart or Deluxe Valentine Tours.
They are a helicopter services company, specialising in helicopter tours. With over 25 years of piloting experience, they also provide a flight school and charter service. Their tours are designed for tourists and locals alike who are looking to make their first helicopter experience a memorable one that they will cherish.
Tulsa Helicopter is a small company. Two of the three staff members are out running tours, with the third team member, Becky, back at base juggling the many duties involved in running the office.
“She was armed with a phone, pencil, and piece of paper in her hands at all times!”
One December day while deep into their Christmas flight tour season in 2011, Becky was in panic mode. She was taking bookings by phone, greeting clients and booking them in when they arrived at the facility and loading them into the helicopters. She was armed with a phone, pencil, and piece of paper in her hands at all times!
She was getting so many phone calls for bookings. She had no idea if there was enough ground crew, pilots and aircraft to service the demand. Finally, she called Chuck and said she was going to stop answering the phone for 15 minutes until he called back and confirmed they had the means to service their customers.
Each person was already working at full capacity, there was little more they could do without hiring more people to answer phones, or fly helicopters. Chuck summed up the situation well.
“Leaving Becky to take bookings over the phone wasn’t going to mean death to the business, but it was going to be a huge bottleneck to our being able to grow our business.”
“Chuck realised that there had to be a way to do things better…”
Chuck realised that there had to be a way to do things better. He needed a way to free up Becky’s time so she could focus on servicing customers when they were at the facility, giving them safety briefings, and getting them on the helicopters.
“I knew we needed something bigger than ourselves to handle our bookings. We’d built a service that people wanted, and only being the 3 of us, we weren’t going to be able to service as many people as we wanted unless we had the help of an online booking software.
Chuck knew that in this day and age, the ability to take bookings online was essential.
“We live in a world where people get on the internet often on their cellphones. If they can see our service and have the ability to purchase or reserve a booking right there from the convenience of their cellphone, they’re much more likely to do that than they are to make a phone call to make that reservation.”
Chuck began his search for an online booking system that would solve his problems. At first, Chuck tried out a Rezdy competitor that does not specialise in tours and activites. He found that though it worked fairly well, it was limited in terms of flexibility.
“We have unique business needs…”
“I realised that our pricing structure is something unique compared to most other industries. We’re not a hotel, we’re not a bus company and that’s what the general big online booking services seem to be tailored to. I realised ours is a much smaller and unique market.”
Chuck then talked to a custom software development company to see if they could build him a system that would work for his business. However, the software company took too long and failed to deliver what he was promised.
“I had searched for over a year to find a product that could do what we needed, I tried many…”
“I had searched for over a year to find a product that could do what we needed, I tried many, and paid several thousand dollars on one product but even after six months it didn’t do what we wanted. I had pretty much lost hope of finding an online reservation system that would actually work, and that we could afford!”
Chuck then found Rezdy and decided to give it a try. He’s been very happy with the results. Rezdy has provided Tulsa Helicopters with an easy, simple way to take bookings online that suits their business. The reservation system takes away much of the manual work that Becky was doing, so that she’s able to focus on servicing customers at the facility.
“Becky’s dedication to handling almost every clerical detail had gotten us to where we were, without a doubt! But one person can only do so much in one area! And make no mistake she “owns” this area of the operation! It’s her baby! So I knew Rezdy was going to have to be something she thought could work for her for it ever be an effective tool for our business.”
Tour availability and product questions are now answered through their website. Chuck loves the ease of use of the Rezdy platform.
“If we have an updated or new product, I can get onto Rezdy…”
“If we have an updated or new product, I can get onto Rezdy and as long as my creative juices are flowing with the product description, I can have it out on the internet within 20 minutes!”
Because Tulsa is prone to tornadoes, suitable weather conditions for flying can be difficult to predict. Having to constantly take and then refund payments to customers is something that Chuck wanted to avoid. It creates work but also can cause problems with cash flow.That’s why one of Chuck’s favourite Rezdy features is the ease of authorising a reservation without disrupting cash flow.
“Rezdy gives us flexibility!”
“Rezdy gives us flexibility for us to authorise the reservation with credit card information, so that if it does in fact end up being OK to fly and a customer decides to be a no-show, then their reservation is secured with a credit card and we can apply our “no show” cancellation fee from the credit card information they provided to us.”
Chuck was also impressed with how fast any technical issues were resolved by Rezdy’s customer service team.
“Becky called me one day saying there were some issues with the correct flight availability showing up on the website. I made a technical enquiry over the internet to Rezdy. In 2 minutes someone had called me saying the problem had been fixed. 2 minutes! That’s record response time in my book for fixing a technical issue. I’m sure we didn’t lose a single booking.”
In Rezdy, Chuck feels he has finally found an online booking system that suits his business’ needs.
“It’s affordable for just about any sized company, we are a small company so if we can afford it, pretty much any tour or activity operator can. I’m sure there are custom made solutions that would be tailor made perfect to our niche industry but I’m also sure they’re well out of reach financially, for a company of our size.”
Rezdy has made Tulsa Helicopters more efficient by taking over much of the manual, administrative tasks previously handled by Becky. This allows their 3 staff members to service more customers at the facility, without having to worry about missing potential customer bookings and enquiries.
“Once we were armed with Rezdy we knew we could design a marketing campaign…”
“Once we were armed with Rezdy we knew we could design a marketing campaign for our products much more effectively. We still took in a large amount of phone-in bookings this December as well, but now Becky enters them into Rezdy and it has made life so much easier.”
Tulsa Helicopters has also gained significant, real, measurable financial benefits as a result of using Rezdy.
“We were able to more than double the amount of people we were able to service, from 470 to 1000 in just a one month period! Last year, we thought we were so busy doing 26 flights on Christmas night, and this year, we had 59 flights in that same 4 hour period, and that was a big win for all 3 of us. Without a doubt we wouldn’t have been able to more than double our output that month without it!”
Chuck has found that although Rezdy is specifically designed for tour and activity operators, using it has enabled Tulsa Helicopter to dominate a whole other market.
“Tulsa Helicopter has contracts with the two largest power companies in the region to provide both regular and emergency power line patrol. So the addition of Rezdy has allowed us to enter into that market as a viable player, dominating the competition! We can see now that with the help of Rezdy it can play a much bigger role than we ever expected it could.”
“We were able to more than double the amount of people we were able to service, from 470 to 1000 in just a one month period!”