Cape Canopy Tour Reaps the Benefits of Wherewolf To Run A Smooth Zipline Operation
Just an hour’s drive from the buzz of South Africa’s second biggest city Cape Town, Cape Canopy Tour takes visitors on an unforgettable adventure through the Scenic Elgin Valley.
Safely harnessed, they soar along ziplines over green gorges and pristine rivers, zooming through the rugged Hottentots Holland mountains in the Cape Nature Reserve. In small groups, guests slide along eleven steel cables, some over 300 metres in length and more than 100 metres above the ground. The zip lines connect 13 platforms constructed on the cliffs and mountain slopes.
After ten years of planning and hard work, the business opened in 2014 and has quickly become a success. Soon after launching, Lonely Planet named Cape Canopy Tour the second best new attraction in the world. The recognition was a major boost and they quickly jumped to attracting 20,000 visitors annually.
While other operators would wonder how to keep that momentum going, Managing Director Ryan Larkman isn’t worried. He and his leadership team have a detailed customer database that tells him who his customers are, where they come from, which marketing is drawing them in, and more. These insights allow Ryan to focus his sales and marketing efforts.
Where did that data come from? More than a year ago, the zipline tourism business upgraded their guest check-in and management process to use Wherewolf.
The Problem With Paper
A major drawcard for Cape Canopy Tour visitors is the chance to enjoy a previously inaccessible area without having an impact on the environment. But when the business launched, paper was a part of every check-in.
“We used to use a lot of paper. All our guests signed an indemnity form at the start and a feedback form at the end,” said Ryan. That’s thousands of pieces of paper every year that South African law insisted we had to keep for at least three years.”
“It was a container load. It was horrible!”
Sustainability plays an important role in Ryan’s business and he’s enthused about the paper savings – and the power of digital waivers versus paper.
“In the past sometimes people would scratch something out on our paper forms or wanted to make some exclusions,” Ryan said. With the digital Wherewolf form they’re unable to make any changes, which removes legal worries. “Everyone signs a standard set of clauses that our attorneys want us to include.”
Another challenge for Ryan under the paper-based system was finding details of previous guests who he wanted to get in touch with again. He can now search by a guests last name and look up all of their details in seconds through the Wherewolf Dashboard.
Ryan has also saved hours of time. “I like everything to be electronic, so I used to scan all our paper indemnity forms and put them in Dropbox [for digital storage]. So that was a bit of a nightmare administration wise.”
Every Member of the Staff is Using Wherewolf
Each of the 35 permanent and 20 seasonal staff now use Wherewolf on a daily basis – from the guides who welcome guests in the parking lot with an iPad in hand, to the digital check-in, to having guests sign the digital waivers before they head on their tour.
The app is used throughout the whole organization. Receptionists, staff who take lunch orders, and managers who utilize the data collected by Wherewolf use it to stay on top of their various tasks.
Wherewolf has also changed how Ryan’s team collects marketing information. Their check-in app makes gathering critical customer data part of the welcome process, so guests aren’t thinking about giving away personal info.
That data is giving Ryan a more complete picture. “We now ask questions such as ‘where did you hear about us?’ as part of the compulsory indemnity form. This is instead of a voluntary feedback form at the end of the tour,” he said.
Now all data is in one place and can easily be used together with an external marketing tool like MailChimp and Cape Canopy’s photography platform, Floodin.
“Being able to streamline all our processes is a big aspect of growth. We’ve launched successfully and now we’re working on improving our systems and that’s why we use Wherewolf.”
Setting Expectations on Safety & Physical Requirements
The app also helps Cape Canopy Tour deal with another challenge many tour operators face – expectations. A lot of problems arise if people don’t know what to expect when they come on the tour.
Each user acknowledges safety risks as well as physical requirements to complete the ziplining course.
“Our tour includes a one kilometre walk at the end, and we use Wherewolf to ask ‘are you fit enough to walk up one kilometre steep terrain?’. In the past we had occasional negative feedback with some people saying, ‘nobody told me that we had to walk out’.”
“That wasn’t correct, but now we have this question on the indemnity form and they have to check it. So they know what to expect and when they go on the tour there’s less comeback.”
Ryan is so happy with the Wherewolf app that he has recommended it to the entire group of Canopy Tours South Africa.
The Cape Canopy Tour is the latest addition to the Canopy Tour South Africa brand, which also operates in Tsitsikamma, Magaliesberg, Karkloof, Drakensberg, Magoebaskloof and Swaziland’s Malolotja Reserve. Most of them have added Wherewolf to their business too.
The recommendation to his peers is easy, guests also love to see the app.
“They love that it is paperless and ecologically friendly. They like seeing that their names are all ready to go and they can just click and sign.
“Their first impression is that of a slick organisation and that has definitely improved our feedback and rankings,” he said. “They love that we’re so well organised.”