Ridgeline Adventures

Wherewolf Gives Ridgeline Adventures A Paperless, Efficient Operation

The South Island’s alpine high country is home to iconic scenery and farmland that has helped make New Zealand world-famous. Yet when visitors arrive, it’s actually very difficult to access these remote, rural landscapes.

That’s where Ridgeline Adventures comes in.

Mark Orbell’s agro-adventure tourism company offers guests a unique opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of a working farm in the spectacular hill country surrounding Wanaka, New Zealand, via private 4WD tours.

“At Ridgeline, we take our guests on farm safaris through West Wanaka Station,” he explained. “It’s the second largest property in the area and closed to the public, so we’re incredibly privileged to have exclusive access to showcase this property.”

Ridgeline Adventures gives visitors an authentic taste of rural, alpine farming life in New Zealand.

“Our tours give customers a chance to go behind the scenes of a real farm,” says Mark. “It’s not a tourist farm, what you see out here is absolutely authentic everyday farming life.”

Business is booming and using technology, including Wherewolf, has helped Mark stay ahead of the rapid growth.

Humble Beginnings

After working as a guide for numerous local operators, Mark got the bug to create his own adventure tourism business.

“When we started out, agro-tourism businesses were all staged,” Mark said.

Mark Orbell, owner of Ridgeline Adventures, stands by one of his 4wd vehicles on a hill in West Wanaka Station on the South Island of New Zealand.

“I wanted to provide something different, something really authentic. When I found West Wanaka Station, I realized from the first time I drove through that not only is it authentic, but it covers all the scenery that people coming to New Zealand expect to see, but don’t normally get to.”

And so Ridgeline Adventures was born.

Eventually, the company grew so busy, Mark and the team realized it was time to start incorporating technology. They needed to work smarter, not harder, and use software to handle the customer data side of their business.

Prior to using Wherewolf, Ridgeline Adventures didn’t have a customer database. “We had some information in our bookings calendar, but we weren’t collating it into an easy-to-use database,” Mark said. “We did everything on scraps of paper and spreadsheets. When it came to gathering information on our clients, well, we just didn’t have time for that!”

So, Mark brought Wherewolf into his business to save staff time and eliminate paperwork.

Paper isn’t scalable for a growing business

With Wherewolf, customers can arrive for their tour and be handed an iPad, where they quickly fill in their registration information and sign a digital waiver before the trip begins. The Ridgeline team no longer has to deal with stacks of paper or manually enter data.

For Mark and the team, removing paperwork from their processes has been a real win.

“Eliminating as much paper as you can is awesome – both from an environmental standpoint and for time-saving,” said Mark. The app automatically adds data to Mark’s customer database, which he and his team can access from a tablet or their desktop computers.

“To be able to draw that information out from the software and have a database of information on our customers has made a massive difference to our business,” said Mark.

Know your customers

“We now have a much better idea of who our customers are,” Mark said. By having access to this data through the Wherewolf Dashboard, Mark and the team can identify sources of business, determine who his customers are. As time goes on, this data accumulate to identify trends that will help him advertise to potential customers.

Customers overlook one of the many river valleys winding their way through the alpine of New Zealand’s South Island.

During the check-in process, the Ridgeline Adventures arrival app lists safety warnings that the visitor must accept the risk for, with a checkbox for each item. “Our Wherewolf app has made it so much easier to cover off health and safety procedures because it really does put the onus back on the customer,” Mark continued.

“The app has our customers tell us about any medical conditions which could possibly affect them on the tour. If they’ve ticked the box that says ‘yep, we’ve got no problems,’ and then they go out and have a huge heart attack, we’ve covered our butts because we’ve done as much as we can.”

“In the app, visitors sign that they’ve read and understood everything that we’ve told them and that they have told us everything about themselves that might affect us on the trip,” said Mark. “Before we had Wherewolf, it was a verbal thing over the phone, or it was included in the booking information from agents, but there was nothing really tangible.”

“Not only does Wherewolf help with that but it gives us peace of mind, both with health and safety waiver signing and also with data collection,” Mark said.

What’s next?

The integration of technology is relatively new for Ridgeline Adventures as a company. “Wherewolf is only the software programme we’re using so far, apart from our booking system and of course some social media, it’s still pretty early days for us,” said Mark.

In terms of future development, Ridgeline wants to continue delivering an incredible customer experience, while carefully managing their growth. “We want to be a sustainable company, both from a business perspective and in an environmental sense as well,” Mark said.

“We don’t have grandiose aims to conquer the world, we just want to stick to our knitting and ensure that the product we’re delivering is exactly what we started with: authentic experiences in the beautiful places. We provide what we say we will, and we’re meeting expectations for our customers. It’s all about professionalism and authenticity for us.”

Learn more about Ridgeline Adventures and book a trip through the backlands of Wanaka on their website.

This article was written by Jo Percival, a freelance writer based in New Zealand. You can reach her at [email protected].

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