Athabasca Glacier IceWalks
Columbia Icefields, Jasper AB
Tours and Activities
KEY FEATURES USED
✅ OTA Channel Manager
✅ Online Booking Engine
✅ Agent Portals
Since 1985, Athabasca IceWalks has been the leading provider of Glacier guided interpretive hikes. IceWalks’ mission is to safely navigate guests into the landscape of the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies.
Through skillful storytelling, IceWalks’ friendly and knowledgeable guides take their guests on an epic stroll, sharing the history of the glacier and surrounding glacially carved landscape, and creating an experience of a lifetime.
IceWalks was originally founded by Peter Lemieux, an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) ski guide and natural history interpreter working with Parks Canada. Over the years, the Tourpeneur and Solo Guide has scaled his team of 1 to 5 experienced guides.
IceWalks made significant developments with operations, sales, and marketing to complement the team’s growth by bringing Zaui reservation software to help with its digital transformation in 2011.
How Zaui Reservation Software Helped IceWalks
Prior to engaging with Zaui, Icewalks’ tours could only be booked through Jasper Adventure Centre. Phone bookings were often challenging due to spotty cellular coverage in the area. And in order to book, guests were required to walk or call in. Payments were initially limited to cash, then later extended to credit cards. With sales and marketing, most visitors discovered IceWalks via word of mouth and print advertising distributed to local businesses and adventure centres.
Soon after implementing Zaui reservation software, IceWalks saw the immediate value add, especially with increased efficiency and enhanced customer experience.
Zaui offered several key advantages, including:
✔️Full visibility into schedules and manifests: Goodbye to excel printouts. IceWalks’s guides have complete visibility into booking manifests, tour assignments, and the day’s logistics, including the number of tours running, guest details and more, all detailed online from Zaui Core (Back Office).
✔️Easy cancellations and rebookings: Outdoor tours come with an element of unpredictability, and cancellations due to weather disruptions are common. Zaui’s online booking system has been instrumental in helping IceWalks manage bookings and cancellations. Notice of cancellation and options to rebook can be easily sent to guests to inform them of the latest changes.
✔️Seamless Agent Sales: Having a robust online reservation system like Zaui on its side means that IceWalks is positioned to work seamlessly with sales agents without the hassle of phone calls and outdated availability. Agents are provided with a direct affiliate link to log into IceWalk’s portal and book on behalf of guests. To save the team from the headaches around reconciling payments, agent commissions and payouts have been pre-configured in the system.
Zaui reservation software and IceWalks have built a solid working relationship over the years and well through the pandemic. Having been at the helm for almost three decades, Peter decided to pass the torch to co-guide Corin Lohmann to usher in Athabasca IceWalks’s next chapter.
Shifting Gears: Building New Tour Products and Diversifying Sales Channels
With the ongoing pandemic continuing to disrupt the global travel industry, the team at IceWalks recognized the need to adapt its sales and marketing strategy.
Prior to COVID-19, IceWalks’ guests were predominantly visitors from Europe and the US. The suspension of international travel meant that IceWalks would now need to shift its focus towards local visitors on the hunt for a unique outdoor adventure.
1:1 Enablement and Training: Zaui’s Customer Success Team designed a custom training plan further supplemented by webinars and tutorials to get the new owner fully up to speed on Zaui reservation software, and to ensure all system, activity and pricing configurations were set up for smooth operations and a successful season ahead.
As part of its direct booking strategy, Zaui’s Customer Success Manager worked closely with Corin to integrate the new Online Booking Engine with the new site.
Corin saw the opportunity to lean on technology to not only stay afloat but also position IceWalks competitively. The pandemic downtime proved to be an optimal period for IceWalks to thoroughly review its digital presence, tour offerings, and sales and marketing initiatives.
As a new owner, figuring out the booking management system and marketing the business can be a learning curve. Thankfully, we have a booking system and a support team we can count on. Our Customer Success Manager, Taylor, has been integral in the success of this year; any system-related channels were quickly answered and worked through.
Corin Lohmann, Owner/Guide
Access to OTA Channels (Tripadvisor, Viator): Direct bookings have always been a priority, but IceWalks looked to diversify its sales channels further and tap into the world of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). With the help of Zaui reservation software’s OTA channel manager, IceWalks is able to sell its tours through global marketplaces like Viator, Tripadvisor and reach a larger audience, score more bookings, and build its reputation via customer reviews.
New Products: Private and Indigenous Tours: To broaden its offerings and attract guests seeking educational and personalized experiences, Indigenous Led Tours, and Private Tours were added to the 2021 tour lineup.
IceWalks partnered with Zuc’min Guiding’s Tim Patterson, an Indigenous Interpretive Guide and Educator. The tour is perfect for those seeking an authentic and meaningful opportunity to experience the great outdoors while deepening their indigenous knowledge.
The second offering is a private experience geared for those who opt for a personalized group or a solo experience to take in the awe-worthy landscape.
More Channels, More Sales, Smarter Operations
It has been so rewarding to see success with these sales channels and bringing exposure to Ice Walks glacier tours. It really has made us wonder if that revenue would have been made in the past!
Corin Lohmann, Owner/Guide
It’s safe to say that Corin has hit the ground running in his first season as IceWalks’s new owner.
In early Spring 2021, Corin successfully launched the redesigned and SEO-optimized icewalks.com, which has also been integrated with Zaui’s booking engine. These efforts have directly translated into bookings, a significant increase of 60% compared to the previous years.
The integration with Viator has also been a win. Since integrating with Tripadvisor/Viator, IceWalks has seen an additional 10% lift in revenue from June-September compared to previous years and has accumulated a number of 5-star reviews from this past season.
When asked about what’s currently in the works, Corin shares, “Right now, I’m focused on preparing our bookings for the next season and exploring channels to help attract local bookings, not just international visitors.”
He also sees major opportunities to incorporate promo codes in upcoming marketing campaigns, build digital waiver notifications, integrate with free sales channels like Things to do (once available for tours and activities), and partner with the influencer community.
There’s certainly a whole lot to do, but considering IceWalks’ momentum from this past year alone—the team at IceWalks is on the fast-track to accomplishing all that and more with Zaui in its corner 💪
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