Jet Boat Company Races Up The Trip Advisor Rankings With Wherewolf

In the destination resort of Rotorua on New Zealand’s north island, New Zealand River Jet has been making waves in their rise up the Trip Advisor rankings. The increase isn’t from luck, it’s the result of an improved customer experience and implementing their new digital check-in software from Wherewolf to automate guest engagement says General Manager Tony Brooks.

“When we launched Wherewolf, we were 8th in our category and 15th overall for activities. Today, we’re the #1 boat tour and water activity in Rotorua and 4th in all overall activities,” Brooks said. “That’s money in our pocket.”

Tony Brooks

Rising in the online rankings of Trip Advisor, Google, and other platforms is a primary opportunity for operators to grow their business. As more and more consumers use online tools to make booking decisions, being at the top of the results can directly impact what activities the travelers will purchase on their holiday. In high-traffic, high-competition destinations, the difference between being in – or out of – the top ten can mean thousands of dollars to the company’s bottom line.

Brooks worked for 10 years in the Corporate Sales and Marketing world before venturing into tourism 5 years ago. When he joined New Zealand River Jet in October 2016 as GM, he saw numerous opportunities for improving the business and tackling their ranking.

Building Your Rankings

“If you want to be at the top of Trip Advisor and other ranking sites, your whole operation has to be 5 stars to get a high rating. From the presentation of the business and the equipment you use, to the quality and energy of the staff,” Brooks advised. “Every detail counts – and so once I had the confidence of the owners about the changes I was making, they started letting me make investments in technology – and the first was Wherewolf.”

The company swapped their paper waiver forms for a digital liability waiver on an iPad. The guest signs with their finger, allowing the company to eliminate pen and paper.

Staff member

Customers arrive onsite and are greeted by staff and handed an iPad to fill out a digital liability waiver, while also submitting critical marketing data including an email address from every adult guest. “They pick up that iPad instead of being handed a clipboard and they say ‘wow that’s cool,’ and I admit, that’s a great way to start the experience,” Brooks said.

Other operators who see it in action want it too. “We had a bungee crew walk-in for a staff activity who couldn’t believe that they didn’t have it at their business,” Brooks said. “They immediately saw that we don’t have to handle any more paper and that the all the data can be collected into our database automatically. It’s just easy.”

Automatic Email Follow-ups Trigger A Response

Once the guest leaves, Wherewolf automatically sends each guest a follow-up email thanking them for their visit and providing a direct link to Trip Advisor, Instagram, and Facebook pages to provide a high rating. Because that email is sent immediately after the visit, guests are riding the “high” of the moment when they check their emails – and are more likely to provide that positive rating.

Staff are now free to focus on customer upsells, speeding up the check-in process, and overall guest satisfaction. They no longer have to manually input data or deal with piles of paperwork. The automation of email follow-ups means that customers are engaged immediately, not when the staff gets to entering emails off a paper form.  “There’s no doubt that we couldn’t have made inroads in Instagram and Trip Advisor without Wherewolf,” said Brooks. “It paid for itself in the first three months of use.”

Know your Customers and Get Smarter advertising via targeted marketing

Wherewolf’s digital guest management software gives jet boat and other adventure tourism operators with an easy-to-use dashboard to view customer details, analyze marketing data, and track long-term trends.  The Dashboard’s marketing analytics tools give Brooks an easy-to-consume overview of who his customers are and where they come from.

“In our gut, we knew Australia was big for us. After the first three months using Wherewolf the data confirmed it.  We took $30,000 of our marketing budget being spent toward New Zealand-based advertising and reinvested it to building relationships with agents on Australia’s eastern seaboard. The results have been incredible – and a direct result of knowing exactly where our customers were coming from,” Brooks said.

“From a marketing value, I now know who my customers are, where they come from, their age group, demographics, etc. I have all the essential information I need to make the right decision so I can allocate my marketing budget,” said Brooks.

“I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want this for their business?” questioned Brooks. “It just makes sense if you want to give your owner(s) a better return on investment. That’s what they hire someone like me to do.”

You can learn more and make a booking with New Zealand River Jet on their website.