If all the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey, you’re probably California dreaming. And why not? With dozens of accommodation, tour, rental businesses and wineries across the state, Checkfront is helping to lead the way in customer driven online bookings.
Just like the great California Gold Rush of 1848, business owners in the tourism and rental industries are flocking to Checkfront to bring their online booking presence into the 21st century.
Technology has come a long way since the Gold Rush days and California is home to some of the top tech companies in the world. As our lives become busier and busier, the need to operate a business while on the go is becoming more and more important. Just ask the good folks at Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma, db Autosportif, University of Surfing and San Francisco’s very own Local Tastes of the City Tours, all of whom are utilizing Checkfront’s iOS app for managing bookings and even processing credit card payments while out of the office.
The incredible support we received in the initial set up of our Checkfront reservation system was crucial to the success of the project
With more than a quarter of smartphone users in the US owning an iPhone, it only makes sense that many Checkfront clients are also utilizing Apple’s Passbook facility, which allows a user to add their booking confirmation to the Passbook app on their phone. As the user approaches their destination, their booking automatically pops up on the screen ready for check-in.
Db Autosportif are an example of one such business and their partnership with Checkfront is continuing to flourish.
“Checkfront has really managed to take an element of our business off our minds” said Danielle Stroble.
“Now that our customer can complete the reservation process directly through our website, we can focus on our relationship and provide the best experience for the client. The incredible support we received in the initial set up of our Checkfront reservation system was crucial to the success of the project, allowing us to move forward with our launch much more smoothly.”
Posting prices in the booking window has much improved the communication with prospective customers, saving time spent on the phone and engaging in negotiations
Facebook, who also call California home, is another platform that Checkfront has integrated with in recent times. In fact, businesses can not only embed their booking portal directly into their company website, but they can also embed one in their Facebook Page too. With all these amazing features at their disposal, it’s no surprise that Checkfront’s customer base is buzzing with more bookings than ever before.
B. Bryan Preserve are a great example of a company which fully utilizes the technology and features available through Checkfront with their Point Arena based African wildlife reserve.
The reserve offers accommodation and daily tours to its guests through Checkfront’s seamless booking portal on the company website.
“Posting prices in the booking window has much improved the communication with prospective customers, saving time spent on the phone and engaging in negotiations”, said Judy Mello.
The iOS app on both the iPad and iPhone has proved invaluable when managing bookings on the go, as well as Checkfront’s integration with Google Calendar for viewing bookings without being logged in to Checkfront.
Integration with the popular payment gateway Stripe has also enabled the reserve’s customers to serve themselves and allow the staff to spend more time looking after the animals and running day to day operations.
I paid for the first year of Checkfront in the first 24 hours of use, without having to pick up the phone
It’s a similar story over at the University of Surfing in San Francisco. Being a popular attraction in the Bay Area, the company phones were constantly ringing off the hook. There must be a better way? Well there is, and business owner Matt Cole came across Checkfront via a simple internet search. He took the 21 day free trial for a spin and hasn’t looked back.
“I paid for the first year of Checkfront in the first 24 hours of use, without having to pick up the phone…” said Matt. “We haven’t answered the phone in something like seven months!” he went on to joke.
Like many business owners these days, Matt offered Groupon based discounts which inevitably led to a dramatic increase in the volume of incoming sales calls. Thanks to Checkfront’s built in voucher redemption system though, Matt was able to record a message on the company voicemail pointing customers to the website where they could quickly and conveniently redeem their code in order to purchase a surfing lesson.
And there you have it. As California has moved from Gold Rush to Urban Rush, Checkfront continues to embrace new technologies and move to the forefront in online booking facilities, providing our customers with exciting new innovations and profit boosting self-serve tools.
On the west coast of Ireland, Galway’s rolling hills open up to Rusheen Bay, a scenic inlet that’s ideal for learning flat water sports like kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing. If you look out over the bay between April and September, you’ll likely see the Rusheen Bay Windsurfing School leading instructional sessions for kids, families, corporate groups or hen/stag parties.
The bookings are updated seamlessly, paid in full and require about 5% of the previous admin time… Checkfront’s support is A1
Considered one of Ireland’s most popular windsurfing schools, Rusheen Bay recently recognized the benefits of offering online bookings. Prior to the 2013 season, the school booked sessions via a PDF form that customers printed and mailed back with a cheque. “It was a little Stone Age,” comments Danny Mulryan, Director/Owner of Galway Bay Watersports Ltd., which runs two watersports schools: Rusheen Bay Windsurfing and Paddle on the Prom.
Like any other fundamental shift in business processes, the school had its hesitations. “We started off with the fear that an off-the-shelf booking system would never work for our business,” says Danny. “But the virtually instant support from the Checkfront team has educated us that their system can be easily adapted, or on some occasions our way of thinking was changed to make our new system work.”
What used to be a nightmare of forms, cheques and lists of outstanding payments has transitioned to an online booking system with iPhone alerts via Checkfront’s mobile app. “The bookings are updated seamlessly, paid in full and require about 5% of the previous admin time,” says Danny. Rusheen Bay also uses Checkfront’s PayPal add-on to collect payments. “Over 25K of revenue in three months and we never had one problem,” he says.
Although Checkfront customers span many industries across over 58 countries, they have at least one thing in common: Support is a key factor in successfully implementing any online booking solution. “Checkfront’s support is A1,” says Danny. “We have enjoyed working with the support team. They are keen to take feedback on board for future development and also seem to take a personal interest in helping the smallest of customers.”
With dozens of Hawaii-based customers, Checkfront celebrates the diverse mix of ecotour operators and vacation rental companies. The Hawaii Ecotourism Association defines ecotourism as “nature and culture-based tourism that is ecologically sustainable and supports the well being of local communities.” Hawaii’s islands have a natural abundance of adventure and eco-friendly opportunities like no other.
This article highlights just some of the customers who trust Checkfront for online booking and reservation management.
We outgrew our spreadsheets with the increasing demand for our services and high service level expectations from our customers.
Eka Canoe Adventures offers sailing and snorkel tours off the Kona coastline aboard their historically accurate 40ft Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Wa’a Kini Kini. They invite guests to paddle, sail or simply kick back and relax as the Eka Canoe crew shares generations of knowledge through the Hawaiian art of storytelling.
“We outgrew our spreadsheets with the increasing demand for our services and high service level expectations from our customers,” said Sarah, when asked about the company’s decision to work with Checkfront.
If the open ocean is your playground, you’ll be torn between a manta ray snorkel adventure, sunset sail, historical sail or a Kealakekua snorkel. With this variety of tours, it’s easy to see how a business like Eka Canoe Tours benefits an online booking solution like Checkfront.
If you’re on the Big Island and taking in an Eka Canoe adventure, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Jade from The Hilltop Legacy and Oceanfront Legacy has two beautiful private vacation rentals with amazing views and a short five-minute walk to the many shops, restaurants and museums that downtown Hilo has to offer.
So far, you’ve had an adventure on the tropical seas, and relaxed in some of the most beautiful accommodations that Hawaii has to offer. But what about doing something truly unique? Bet you haven’t planted a Koa Legacy Tree before! Hawaiian Legacy Tours is the only place in the world you can do such a thing.
Take the three-hour Grand Tour to plant your very own tree, visit lush nurseries and learn about the historic Umikoa Trail. Along the way, you’ll enjoy stunning, panoramic views of the Hamakua coast. As you share a fulfilling experience with your family in surroundings like these, it can be easy to forget that you’re benefiting the planet.
Located on the slopes of Mauna Kea, this historic site was once the personal koa forest of King Kamehameha the Great, the first King of Hawaii. Fortunately, some of the old growth koa trees still thrive. These rare trees grow in Mauna Kea and are being utilized as a seed source for all Legacy Trees.
The sun is shining and the surf is up… It’s time to hit Maui! The second largest Hawaiian island, Maui is a hotbed of activity for vacation goers and extreme sports enthusiasts. Sherry and her team at Lahaina Accommodations have been in business on Maui for over 20 years. They offer friendly prices to accommodate anyone who is planning a Maui vacation with a variety of stunning properties, walking distance to all of Lahaina’s historic district and the beach. “I wish I had explored booking systems earlier,” Sherry comments.
John Browne from Maui Beach Boys attributes his business’ 2013 growth to providing his inventory online. “Using an online booking system tripled my profits last year,” he says.
Maui Beach Boys is one of Maui’s first surf schools. Maui Beach Boys’ instructors are fun and friendly, and promise to teach you to surf on your very first lesson. Go on, you know you’ve always wanted to try it…
Using an online booking system tripled my profits last year.
Over on Oahu, marine biologist Barbara Whitman Howell, of Under the Sea Hawaii, has incorporated Checkfront into her business strategy and is open for bookings. If you haven’t experienced the breathtaking sight of a whale breaching, or had the opportunity to swim with sea turtles, this might be the activity for you.
Speaking of dry land, who loves a good museum or historical tour? At Pearl Harbour Tours you’ll find both.
“We provide a wide selection of tours, from Pearl Harbor’s museums and memorials, sightseeing at the islands beaches and lookouts, to an entertaining look into the ancient beginnings at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Content Management System (CMS) integration with Checkfront was effortless and helped us to launch quickly,” says Alex.
Eric from Hawaii Turtle Tours makes use of TripAdvisor to follow up with automated review requests sent out from his Checkfront account. He uses the Checkfront plugin on the company Facebook Page to take bookings directly through the popular social media website.
Kayak Kauai offers a wide range of services from surf to turf. John and Minguel Godinez set up shop in Kauai and widely explored the Hawaiian Islands after a remarkable paddle from Seattle to Alaska. During that five-month expedition, they logged more than 1,000 miles while they paddled, talked, and argued about starting Kayak Kauai. They founded the company four years later after a few more island adventures.
If you’re itching to get out on the water, the wonderful folks at Kayak Kauai will ensure you do it safely while maximizing the potential for fun, fun, fun in the sun!
We’re happy to announce our latest integration with RightSignature. RightSignature is a fast and convenient way to to get documents signed without waiting on paperwork. Customers have several options when signing a document including signing directly on their smart phone.
Our RightSignature add-on allows you to present a digital copy of your terms of service, booking wavers, agreements or other documents you require a real signature on. Customers will be asked to sign a document at the time of booking and it will be stored digitally along with the rest of the booking details.
Collecting digital signatures significantly reduces your administrations, streamlines your booking process and centralizes your data. Signed agreements are one click away when viewing a booking on Checkfront and all documents are stored in a secure cloud environment.
Signatures can be legally binding and are compliant with U.S. and International e-Signature Laws The Federal E-SIGN Act, UETA, and other laws around the world define legal e-signatures.
To enable RightSignature, you first need a RightSignature account. You can sign-up for a free trial at rightsignature.com.
You’ll want to create a template to use with your bookings. See creating templates in RightSignature for a video tutorial.
Once you have your template ready to go in RightSignature head back to your Checkfront account. Goto Manage / Add-ons and search for RightSignature. To connect the add-on click Activate and follow the authentication instructions.
Once connected you’ll need to select the template you created in RightSignature within the add-on setup.
When a new booking is created customers will be asked to sign the configured template. When the document has been signed it will be attached to the booking. Clicking on the link in the invoice will allow you to view or sign the entire signed document.
Your template should only have a single signatory, however you can (currently) also specify an additional CC field to copy the document to the end customer.
The following table contains fields merged in from the current booking. Note these fields must be present in your booking form.
To set it up, simply create “merge fields” in the RightSignature template builder matching the field names in the left column. These will automatically be filled on generation.
|code||Unique id of the booking|
|summary||Details of booking|
|date_desc||Descriptive date of booking|
|customer_name||Full name of customer|
|customer_address||Customer street address|
|customer_region||Customer state / province|
Customer Spotlight: Blacktop Candy’s
Take a moment and imagine Route 66 stretched in front of you for miles, blue sky overhead. For many, this is the roadtrip of a lifetime. Now imagine the opportunity to make the historic trip in a meticulously restored American classic car.
Whether in a teal and white 1955 Chevy Bel Air hardtop, a maroon 1967 Chevy Camaro, a red 1964 Corvette Stingray convertible – or another of Blacktop Candy’s upgraded classic cars – you can make the road trip of your dreams in an unbelievable classic car. Blacktop Candy’s, based out of Cary North Carolina, is an American classic car hire company that’s owned and operated by former U.S. Marine Scott Shinn.
Scott’s business venture began after he took a trip west on Route 66. As Scott stopped and talked to travelers from around the world, the same theme kept emerging: “Wouldn’t this be an awesome journey in a classic car… just the way it would have been 50 years ago?”
It didn’t take much research to realize that no such opportunity existed unless you already own an expensive classic car and are willing to pull it out the garage and drive it cross-country. So Blacktop Candy’s was born and now travelers worldwide can drive the same historic road in the same classic cars that took the the Okies west and returning WWII veterans east.
Checkfront provides seamless integration with my website and required very little development cost to set up.
Scott’s primarily serves international clientele so it’s vital for Blacktop Candy’s to offer secure, reliable online bookings. For this reason, Scott uses Checkfront as the booking engine. Clients can choose their car and trip (west or east), then secure their reservation online with a credit card.
According to Scott, “Checkfront provides seamless integration with my website and required very little development cost to set up. There is not an “exact fit” product for my business, but with the help of very responsive customer support, we put together a forward facing solution that is professional looking and performs exceptionally. And, the price is right!”
About Blacktop Candy’s
Travel enthusiast world-over migrate to the U.S. annually to experience the unparalleled freedom and nostalgia of driving Historic Route 66. Blacktop Candy’s offers Route 66 Holiday travelers the unmatched opportunity to make the 2541 mile road trip in a meticulously restored and carefully maintained American classic car.
Take the driving tour of your dreams behind the wheel of a pristine vintage American car! Our self-drive road trips ensure you get the American driving tour you’ve always wanted!
Visit Blacktop Candy’s online: http://blacktopcandys.com
For many of us, airport parking can be stressful. Does the lot provide a shuttle, and will it leave in time for you to make your flight? Which lots are full, and which ones have availability? How much will it cost, and will you have the right amount cash?
ExpressPark, based out of Philadelphia, answers all of the above questions with their online Checkfront-run reservation system. You can reserve your airport parking spot in advance with a deposit of only one day. Because ExpressPark accepts all major credit cards, there’s also no hassle when you leave the lot.
ExpressPark’s North lot went live with Checkfront in September of 2012, with the other two nodes (South lot and SmartPark) following shortly after. If online reviews are any indication, ExpressPark’s booking solution has been a success:
The ability to make a reservation in advance has eliminated the only stress we ever had parking at ExpressPark.
“The ability to make a reservation in advance has eliminated the only stress we ever had parking at ExpressPark. We have been parking at ExprressPark for years and we were always a little worried they would be full when we arrived at the airport, but not anymore…”
“I have used ExpressPark North many times. First time with the new reservation system this time. I like it a lot.”
“This was our first try at your place. All things were excellent, we shall return to north lot esp. because of reservation policy and great service.”
“I made a reservation because I had a very early flight. The van was ready when I arrived at the lot and the driver was very courteous. When I arrived back from my trip and got my luggage I called the phone number on the card and the van was there in less than 5 minutes. Would use [ExpressPark] again.”
“With all the hassle at the airport, ExpressPark gave us one less thing to worry about. Quick and easy reservations online (good rate), Easy pickup at parking lot and quick pickup on return. Staff was very nice. Will use again.”
“This is the second time we have used the ability to reserve a parking space. It’s easy and you get a better parking rate. We have told our friends about it too.”
The ability to take reservations has also benefited ExpressPark from an operational standpoint. They can staff at levels that coincide with the number of reservations arriving or leaving on a given day and time, and can plan their shuttle trips to minimize their customers’ waiting time.
Start your trip off with ease using ExpressPark, the best-kept secret for airport parking at the Philadelphia International Airport. In business since 1998, ExpressPark is located next to the airport, directly adjacent to the runways on the south side of the airport in Tinicum Township, Delaware County.
We offer conveniently located airport parking at sensible, low daily rates. There are only a few tried and true things you can be sure of today. Tried and true things are the ones that count! The good news for our customers is ExpressPark is one of them. ExpressPark, Inc. is a sister company of Smart Park Inc., winner of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Customer Service Excellence Award 2007 and the Friends of the Delaware County Women’s Commission Employer of the Year 2007. In 2010 ExpressPark received the Smart Growth Award from the Delaware County Transportation Management Association for its sustainable building concepts of its newest location, ExpressPark – South Lot. This year 2013 Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Small Businesses of the Year Award given to both Expresspark, Inc. and Smart Park, Inc..
Visit ExpressPark online to make a reservation: http://www.expresspark.net
Customer Spotlight: Urban Pirates
Baltimore’s #1 Trip Advisor Activity Company Boosts Bookings by 40%.
When you’re growing your tour business, efficiency is essential in maximizing profit and expanding your market. The difference between managing a labour-intensive booking model and automating your bookings is significant.
Urban Pirates have found their buried treasure in automating and mobilizing their booking systems with Checkfront.
Ranked #1 by Trip Advisor in activities in Baltimore, Urban Pirates runs regular Family Adventure cruises and Adult ‘Bring Your Own Grog’ voyages as well as hosting frequent corporate group events, birthday parties and family reunions aboard their ship, the Fearless. In 2009, Urban Pirates welcomed 18,000 passengers aboard but found that their phone and hand-written form booking model was labor-intensive, expensive, and would require additional staff to scale their operations. Adam Sahhar, aka General Manager, aka Capt. Peppercorn, agrees, ”Booking automation is essential to grow the business. In particular, the repetitive calls inquiring about the ships availability can now be easily answered by the customers themselves through our online booking page and it gives them the ability to book it simply online. Our crew can now focus their efforts on customer engagement and promotion of the business.”
Our crew can now focus their efforts on customer engagement and promotion of the business.
When Urban Pirates adopted Checkfront in 2010, they processed 22,000 passengers. Checkfront enabled the reservation desk to stay open 24/7 and in turn delivered 8,000 new reservations using fewer resources. Guests who chose not to speak with an agent could conveniently complete their reservation and would receive confirmation via email. Since 2009, the adventure cruise company has grown their business by 40% without increasing labor costs.
About Urban Pirates
Sailing the waters of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor since 2008, Urban Pirates is owned and operated by Cara Joyce who was determined to bring local families and tourists an amazing swashbuckling adventure in Baltimore’s beautiful inner harbor. Inspired by her children’s love for all things pirate, and her love of gatherings with good mateys, she and her crew created a unique and engaging experience fit for buccaneers of all ages. In 2012, Urban Pirates celebrated their 100,000th customer and took out over 35,000 passengers in 2013.
Customer Spotlight: StayTofino
Multiple properties and multiple booking calendars?
Managing bookings for your vacation rental properties doesn’t have to be cumbersome, especially when you’re always on the go. Just ask Jason Watts, owner/operator of StayTofino. Jason uses Checkfront with iCal to manage booking calendars for StayTofino’s seven properties so that even when he’s out in the office, he’s able to access his calendars and reservations on his mobile devices.
StayTofino manages and rents short-term vacation rental properties in Tofino, one of the most scenic locales on Canada’s west coast. Since Jason leads a busy life, and is regularly away from a solid internet connection, he often relies on 3G service to conduct his online business. For this reason, he requires the ability to manage bookings from a mobile device, and a booking solution that can synchronize with multiple calendars.
The number one reason we chose Checkfront is the excellent customer service.
Jason chose Checkfront as the booking platform for the new StayTofino website. “The number one reason we chose Checkfront is the excellent customer service,” says Jason.
Functionality was also a key criteria. Jason uses iCal, a portable calendar format that is supported by most calendar software, mail clients, and smart phones, to synchronize StayTofino’s booking calendars with Checkfront. He then uses his iPad to manage bookings when he’s away from a wireless connection by tethering the iPad to his iPhone. Qbix Inc.’s Calendar Plus app gives Jason individual access to all of his bookings at a glance.
Bully Creative designed and built StayTofino.com, and integrated Checkfront with the new site. According to Jesse Campbell, a founding member of Bully Creative, “As a web design consultancy, we’re constantly challenged with integrating new and different technologies at the demand of our clients and their audiences.
“Checkfront was a natural choice for us on the Stay Tofino project. Leaning on the API, we were able to boil in some features that added usability without sacrificing the design we hoped to achieve. Integrating the booking portal went really smoothly, too. We felt supported throughout the process, and the end product is a solid implementation of the tools and resources they’ve made available.”
StayTofino provides expert vacation rental property management with your best interests and convenience in mind. You have choices when it comes to promoting your vacation rental property in the Pacific Rim area. StayTofino delivers results that you can count on, advertising your rental home across a large network. We focus on peace of mind for you, and an amazing rental experience for our guests.
For more information, visit StayTofino.com or http://www.facebook.com/StayTofino.
We’re happy to announce support for Authorize.Net CIM (Customer Information Manager). Authorize.Net is a popular payment processor for credit card payments. CIM allows you to rebill a customer without the need to re-enter the credit card. This means you can add items post-booking and charge the customer as needed.
CIM works by tokenizing the customers credit card. When a booking is created and payment is applied Checkfront stores the payment token (not the actual credit card details). If you need to adjust the amount later or add a new item to a booking Checkfront will send the token to Authorize.net and re-bill the customers credit card.
Please note you need to subscribe to CIM separately with Authorzie.net. Authorize.net charges an additional $20 per month for this service, however there is no additional charge from Checkfront.
The Authorize.net CIM module is currently a seperate add-on in Checkfront than the standard Authorize.net gateway.
If you are currently an Authorize.net / Checkfront customer you’ll need to deactivate your the existing Authorize.Net module in Checkfront, and configure Authorize.Net CIM with the same credentails.
You can setup Authorize.net CIM in your Checkfront account under Addons / Payment Gateways / Authorize.net CIM. You’ll need to supply your API credentials and activate the addon.
Please refer to our Authorize.net setup guide for further setup instructions.
To learn more about Authorize.net CIM see Payment Data Tokenization on Authorize.net.
Do you capitalize on a potential customer’s website visit by turning their clicks into bookings, regardless of whether they used their smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac to find you? Does your mobile booking experience reflect the great service your business provides on a daily basis?
Responsive Website Design and Booking System
It’s no secret: More consumers than ever are using mobile devices to book accommodations, tours and rentals. But mobile devices – particularly smartphones – introduce unique display and checkout issues for operators who offer online bookings. When the Pointhouse at Sargent Bay redesigned their website, they addressed these challenges by deploying a responsive layout and sourcing Checkfront for the booking engine.
Responsive website design automatically provides the optimal website layout based on the device that a customer uses to access the website. For example, if a customer accesses a website using their smartphone, a responsive design might incorporate mobile elements (sliders, toggle switches or select menus), scale images down to fit the screen, or increase the size of buttons so they’re easier to click with a fingertip. This approach also tends to increase a website’s performance by removing or resizing design aspects that increase load times (e.g. large images).
The Pointhouse chose Checkfront to provide booking inventory and management within their modern WordPress design. “Checkfront integrates with many different payment, service and developer add-ons,” says Heather Newman, one of the Pointhouse’s owners.
When a guest books a stay at the Pointhouse using a tablet or a smartphone, Checkfront’s booking system automatically displays a mobile-friendly layout that includes:
I feel that I have a relationship with Checkfront based on the support I’ve received and the interest they’ve taken to help us build our business. They have a great, responsive team.
- Mobile-optimized date selection.
- Larger buttons to choose desired accommodations and packages.
- Tabbed navigation so the guest can view only the information they’re looking for.
These details provide the guest with a booking experience that is just as refined as the accommodations that the Pointhouse provides.
“I have had great support from Checkfront to work out the kinks particular to our accommodation business. I know I’m not fully utilizing all that Checkfront can do to help me streamline booking operations but even what is set up so far has simplified my life,” says Heather. “I feel that I have a relationship with Checkfront based on the support I’ve received and the interest they’ve taken to help us build our business. They have a great, responsive team.”
Integrated Workflows and Effective Marketing
While the Pointhouse’s relationship with Checkfront helps them manage their bookings, Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) shares some of the marketing aspect of the operation with Sunshine Coast Bed and Breakfast, Cottage Owners Association (SCBBCOA). “VRBO does a good job of catering to their target market, which is vacation rentals. SCBBCOA covers the BB end,” says Heather. A responsive website design with Checkfront integration, together with VRBO and SCBBCOA’s targeted marketing, have provided an effective combination for the Pointhouse.
About the Pointhouse at Sargent Bay
Fans of architecture and interior design as well as nature lovers will appreciate the Pointhouse B&B and Aerie guesthouse as much for the thoughtfully imaged spaces as the magical locations.
Completely rebuilt in 2012 with a new guesthouse, both the architecture and the landscape reinforce the natural beauty of the striking oceanfront setting. Vast expanses of glass, natural light and breathtaking views create an intimate connection with the beautiful Sunshine Coast scenery. The focus is on appreciating the rugged beauty of the West Coast with the five star comforts of an exclusive resort.
You can be assured of a warm welcome, local knowledge and friendly, personal service throughout your stay all the while enjoying the privacy of your own living space and intimate getaway.
We’re happy to announce that Checkfront has reached a significant milestone, processing over $100 million (USD) in online bookings since we launched the platform three years ago.
Beyond patting ourselves on the backs, this is a great occasion to celebrate our customers’ success. It’s a pleasure to work with so many amazing entrepreneurs from around the globe.
With Checkfront, you can sea-kayak with orcas or ride a pirate ship in Baltimore. If you’re more of a night person, you can take a food tour in Bangkok or battle zombies in Vancouver. Not into Zombies? How about a helicopter tour in New York, a wine tasting in Napa, a zip-line on Oregon, or maybe a remote getaway in Tofino BC or Ipswich UK? These and many other businesses around the world have helped shape Checkfront and their growth has contributed to this important milestone.
A special thanks to our amazing support team for helping both small and large businesses bring their booking operations online. At Checkfront, we operate out of Victoria and Vancouver, BC, Canada, but we also work with talented international partners to make Checkfront the best online booking system and keep our service running smoothly.
We believe that Checkfront is a great service that can help operators more effectively run their business and ultimately grow their customer base. It’s our mission to provide a scalable, end-to-end booking solution that customers and operators alike find useful and easy to use. As of today, our customers are in 70 countries, and using 29 currencies and 14 languages. We have more than doubled our business each year since 2010.
Thanks to all of our customers for celebrating this milestone with us today. We have a lot more in store for this year and look forward to sharing our new and exciting developments as we move along together. Please continue to send us your feature requests and stay tuned through our update center.
Interested in what our customers have to say?
See the full press release below:
Vancouver BC, September 18, 2013
Checkfront, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based booking services, announced today that the platform has reached a significant milestone, processing over $100 million (USD) in online bookings since it launched three years ago.
Checkfront is a cloud-based booking system that tour, activity & rental businesses use to manage bookings, centralize administration and sell their services online. Checkfront’s turn-key system snaps into a business’ existing website by integrating with popular web platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Facebook, and includes a built-in payment processing platform that integrates with a wide variety of payment gateways, including PayPal, Authorize.Net and Stripe. Businesses can manage real-time bookings and inventory using Checkfront’s secure back-office business management application or the Checkfront mobile booking apps for iOS and Android.
“This is an exciting milestone for us,” says Jason Morehouse, Checkfront’s co-founder and CTO. “The last twelve months in particular have been consistent record months for us both in merchant volume and new clients. We are seeing more high volume businesses choose us over commission-based providers, and emerging businesses choose us for our ease of use and small business support.
“Checkfront has grown 100% year over year. We expect continued and accelerated growth as more businesses consider cloud-based tour operator software to replace legacy systems and take advantage of mobile bookings.”
With customers in 70 countries, Checkfront supports 29 currencies and 14 languages. Checkfront’s fully-managed system includes automated updates and backups. It delivers maximum reliability by operating on a distributed network with data centers in five geographically diverse locations including the United States, United Kingdom and Asia. Their customers cover a wide range of service-based businesses within the tourism, hospitality and rental industries.
For more information about the Checkfront platform, visit checkfront.com or call 1 (800) 559-0985 / (604) 229-2633.
We are very happy to announce support for the WePay payment processing platform. WePay is a popular payment processor currently available to US Merchants. It allows you to offer your customers the ability to to pay in part, or in full at the time of booking and fully integrates into the Checkfront back-office app.
One nice feature that WePay has is the ability to store and re-bill a customers credit card as needed. For instance if you currently charge a deposit in Checkfront, you can complete the payment, and / or add to the booking without needing the credit card details again.
WePay has no set-up fees, no minimum terms, a hassle-free sign-up process, and daily settlements. It’s priced competitively at 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. There are no monthly fees, or extra fees for refunds.
Checkfront currently integrates into WePay by way of their direct payment method. This provides a seamless checkout for your customers, and fully integrates into the Checkfront back-office app.
- Virtual Terminal
- In-App Refunds
- Integrated Checkout
- Live / Test environments.
To enabled the WePay extension login to your Checkfront account, and navigate to the Add-ons area. From there you will see a list of available payment modules. Select WePay and click the Connect with WePay button. This will link Checkfront to your WePay account without having to worry about suppling API keys or tokens.
It’s highly recommended that you do an end-to-end test of your checkout before putting your site live. To do so, follow the setup instructions above and check “Enable test mode”. Creating a transaction as a customer and check to see that it shows up in your Checkfront account as paid, and within WePay. If you don’t have a website to test on yet, use the hosted booking page (eg: https://yourcompany.checkfront.com/reserve/) to test.
Test Card Numbers
You can use the following test credit card numbers when testing your WePay checkout:
You can use a any CVC code, and an expiry date in the future. For more information see testing WePay.
* Always remember to take your account out of test mode when you are finished.
We’re happy to announce integration the Constant Contact email marketing platform. Constant Contact is used by more than 500,000 small businesses to build and deliver e-mail campaigns. You can design, send, and track emails with a simple set of tools, and an easy to use interface.
E-mail marketing is a great way to stay connected with your customers. Last minute deals, sessional newsletters, and VIP offers can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.
To get started you first need a Constat Contact account. There is a free trial available on www.constantcontact.com, and they offer competitive pricing based on the number of customers on your list(s).
You can enable the Checkfront / Constant Contact integration in the Add-on section of your Checkfront account. A single click will request your authorization and connect the two applications. You can then select the list to subscribe customers to.
Once activated, when a customer makes a booking they’ll be given the option to opt-in to a mailing list of your choosing. If you take phone bookings you can also ask customers if they’d like to be added to your list and add them while making the booking.
You can further map specific fields used in Checkfront to custom fields in your mailing list. This can include the last booking date, special notes or other information collected at the time of booking.
You can see in the activity log, or the log view while viewing a booking when a customer has been subscribe via Constant Contact.
Already setup? See: Six Simple Tips to Increase Your Online Bookings.
We’re happy to announce integration with Apple Passbook for Checkfront, supported by our new mobile reservation interface.
Passbook is an application from Apple designed to store membership cards, tickets, coupons, and reservations — similar to a digital wallet. It’s great for customers because they don’t have to carry around hard copies and information is automatically kept up to date on their phones. For merchants it can be a big time saver and provides a great end-to-end booking experience.
How does it work with Checkfront?
When a customer adds a Checkfront booking to their Passbook, it stores the reservation on their iPhone or iPod. As a customer nears your location on the day of their booking (based on your longitude and latitude), the electronic ticket automatically pops up on their phone. Upon arrival, you can can scan, validate and check-in the customer using the built-in bar-code scanner in our native Mobile Apps (iPhone, iPad, Android). This is all communicated to your central system, in real time.
As an added bonus, if the booking is changed, the details are updated automatically in the customers phone. Your paper receipt can’t do that can it?
Passbook is made available in Checkfront as an add-on and is available to all accounts at no extra cost.
Learn more about Passbook from Apple.
Try a demo of our new mobile booking interface (mobile device required) https://demo.checkfront.com/reserve/.
Learn about more updates in our v2.8 release.
Do I need an iPhone to process bookings stored in an Apple Passbook?
No. You can use our Android app to scan the barcode on the customers phone, or just type in the booking id into the Checkfront admin to locate the booking.
I don’t see Passbook on my iOS device.
Passbook is available for iOS 6 and later on the iPhone and iPod. There is currently no support for the iPad.
Is there an Android equivalent to Passbook?
There is an unofficial app called Passwallet that can be found in the Google Play store.
I prefer paper only. Can I disable Passbook?
Yes, just visit your add-on section in Checkfront and disable Passbook.
Having a booking system to both manage your bookings, and extend self service bookings to your customers is a no-brainer these days. It puts customers in the driving seat and reduces your overall administration, allowing you to focus on your business.
Consider these numbers for businesses on checkfront.com:
38% of bookings made on Checkfront happen outside of normal business hours.
37% of bookings on Checkfront are made by customers.
58% of website visitors arrive at your site to book, price & check availability.
Here are six simple things you can do to increase your online bookings, and ultimately your revenues (yay!).
1. Shout It Out
Just having a booking system won’t do. It’s important that visitors to your website immediately know that you accept online bookings, and know how to get there. Remember, the majority of traffic to your website is there to check your availability, pricing and / or book your service. Don’t make it a scavenger hunt!
Have a clear call to action (BOOK NOW!) visible when arriving at your website. Because visitors can arrive at different parts of your website, a book online button should be clearly available throughout your website — not just your home page.
2. Reach Out To Past Customers
Return customers are the least likely to need a phone call or email correspondence before making a booking. Make sure and let your existing and past customers know that you now accept bookings online. Don’t assume they will just find our next time they arrive to your site.
Tweet, and update your Facebook page: “Hey! You can now book online with us 24/7 at www.example.com/reserve/”.
If you have a mailing list, don’t bury the announcement in a newsletter. Send out a dedicated e-mail campaign that lets customers know you can now book online.
Thanks for your past business with us. We are pleased to now offer the ability to check availability, pricing and book online directly from our website!
If you book online with us in the next 30 days, use the coupon code NOWONLINE and receive a 10% discount.
Book Online Today at: http://www.example.com/reserve/?discount=NOWONLINE
3. Change Your Voicemail
If you get a lot of off-hours calls or have a call queue for your reservation number, make sure to mention you can book and check availability online, along with the website address. You’ll be surprised how much your time on the phone drops off.
“Thanks for calling MyBusiness. We are currently on another call or out of the office. Did you know you can check availability and make bookings from our website? Book online now at http://www.example.com/reserve.”
4. Reward Self Service
Taking bookings by e-mail, phone and fax is expensive. It can be frustrating for customers and expensive for your business. Consider rewarding your customers who book online with a small discount or other incentive.
A coupon code is a great way to track the source of a booking. For instance, mention a specific coupon code on your voice-mail and another one in your mailers. You should be able to draw a direct correlation to the discount offered and the money saved by automating the booking.
5. Update E-mail Signatures, Flyers and Business Cards.
You will continue to get requests for pricing, availability or just general questions via email. Put your booking page url in your signature so customers know where to go once their questions have been answered.
Anywhere you have previously listed your email address or phone number, add a direct link to your booking page. For example:
Book Online (Save $5.00): www.example.com/reservations
Make sure to update any other media you circulate that has your phone number, including rack cards, business cards and advertisements.
6. Engage Your Customers – Regularly
Continue to use social media, mailing lists and your marketing efforts to steer customers to your booking page. Seasonal campaigns work great as do last minute deals.
Make sure you are collecting e-mail addresses (opt-in), following your customers on twitter, and encouraging them to like you on Facebook.
If someone has booked with you, send an automated follow up email thanking them, asking for feedback and providing links to connect to your social media pages.
Other helpful resources
- 10 techniques for an effective ‘call to action’.
- E-commerce tracking with Google Analytics and Checkfront.
- Accept bookings of Facebook.
If you market your business via Pay Per Click PPC advertising with Google Adwords, you’ll want need to track your conversions. Obtaining Return On Investment ROI information for your online campaigns is perhaps the most important factor in evaluating the effectiveness of your online marketing initiatives.
There are a lot of resources available online to help you with Google Adwords. We do highly recommend you consult a a qualified Adwords expert, and / or do plenty of research before diving into pay-per-click. A finely tuned campaign can have an immediate positive impact on your revenues. However a poorly tuned and monitored campaign can be disastrous, and costly.
Setting up Google Adwords Tracking with Checkfront
Setting up Adword tracking with Checkfront is easy. First login to your Google Adwords account. Navigate to Tools and Analytics / Conversions and Create New Conversion.
You can name the new conversion “Checkfront Booking”, or something else that helps you identify it. Make sure it’s a Web page based conversion (default). Clicking next will bring you to the conversion settings. Be sure that https is selected, and leave the Conversion Value blank.
The final page will allow you to email your tracking code, or view it. You’ll want to view it to obtain the conversion id. This is a unique id that identifies the conversion. The conversion id is located in the code under “conversion_id = 932993232″. Copy this number and supply it in the Adwords Setup in Checkfront.
The Adwords extension is in your account under Manage / Extend / Add-ons / Google Adwords in Checkfront.
Once activated in Checkfront, new customer bookings will be sent to your Adwords account along with the value of the transaction.
Please note the tracking status in your Adwords account will remain Unverfied till your first successful conversion.
If you don’t currently use Google Adwords, but are still interested in your conversion rates, have a look at our Google Analytics integration.
We are happy to announce version 2.0 of our API. This release includes significantly more functionality over its predecessor. Developers can now build applications and integrations that have unrestricted access to the Checkfront platform.
New features include:
- Secure and transparent authentication via OAuth2.
- Ability to query availability, create bookings and add customers.
- A SQL based interface for querying and manipulating data.
- Automated instant event notifications.
- Updated documentation, libraries and sample code.
Open Source PHP SDK
To accompany this release, we have made available a PHP SDK as an open source project hosted on Github. The SDK is a turn-key tool kit for developers that takes care of authentication mechanisms, and provides ready access to core resources of the API.
Technically, the possibilities are (close to) endless. Some starting ideas are:
- Import scripts for external databases or services.
- Custom front-end widgets and integrations.
- Custom reports.
- Integration into third party applications.
* For more information on version 2 of the Checkfront API, please see our updated Developer API Documentation.
Version 1.0 moved to Legacy
Version 1.0 of our API will continue to be available, but we encourage all developers to build on the new platform, and update existing integrations when possible. There are no immediate plans to retire the 1.0 API.
(v1.8.8) We are pleased two announce two new updates to Checkfront:
Till now, all internal customer communications have been by way of automated e-mails via the notification system. This has proven an efficient way to streamline invoices, receipts and follow up emails.
There is however occasion where you need to quickly email a customer a note, and or updated booking details.
You can do this now by clicking on the “E-mail” button in the sidebar while viewing a booking. This allows you to supply a note, and optionally include an updated version of their booking receipt or invoice.
For maximum e-mail deliverability, please see our SPF setup guide.
Previously you would create “Agent Accounts” to give other people access to login to your Checkfront account to create bookings, view reports and configure the system. This included three privilege levels: Agent, Manager and Administrator. Each of these had specific per-defined roles in the system.
For clarification, we have done away with the term “Agent”, and replaced it with “Staff” accounts. This has been moved from Manage / Company / Agents, to Manage / Accounts in our main navigation.
Now when you create a new Staff Account, you can individually select what parts of the system you would like them to have access to, and furthermore what actions they can preform (for example preform refunds, and add notes). This provides a much greater control over the system, and allows you to tailor the requirements of each of your staff.
To better service our customers based in Asia-Pacific, we’ve expanded our localized cloud services to the region. This includes service to: Japan, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Singapore.
The new state of the art hosting facility is located in Tokyo Japan, and includes all of the services available in our other locations, including: automated backups, industry leading security, and lightning fast performance.
We understand that network reliability is essential to your business. Once fully migrated, Asia / Pacific customers should see (even) faster response times when using Checkfront. This also reduces the likelihood of network related issues, and solves some access problems for customers in mainland China.
Existing customers in Asia will be migrated from the US network center within the coming days. Please note there should be no interruption in service. If you are in Asia but would like to continue to be hosted out of the US or UK, please file a support ticket.
There is no premium for for our Asia Pacific location. Pricing for this location is the same as our other facilities.
Note: you can determine what data center you are in by logging into your Checkfront console and going to Manage / System.
If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
Remember: Checkfront operates in 14 languages including Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog and Thia.
We’re please to announce integration with Salesforce — the worlds most popular CRM.
This add-on is available in your extension area, and provides the ability to automatically create new customers (or update existing ones) in Salesforce when a booking is created via Checkfront.
This will ensure your customer records are kept in sync, and you can take full advantage of the many advanced customer management tools of Salesforce.
When enabled, a new account is created in Salesforce after a booking is made. A personal contact is created under the account, along with an event that is tied to the booking date and details. You can further customize this in your Checkfront setup.
To enable the Salesforce extension, Login to your Checkfront account, navigate to Manage / Add-ons, and select Salesforce. From there, click the activate button, and use the links provided to Install the Checkfront package in Salesforce, and Authorize the API.
To test your setup, create a new booking and set the status to Reserved or Paid. You should see the new data appear in Salesforce, as well as an entry and your activity or booking log.
Currently, to make use of this package, you must have an Enterprise, Unlimited or another account with Salesforce that provides API access. This add-on is available to Checkfront Pro and Plus users.
We’ll be adding further integrations with Salesforce, both within Checkfront, and in Salesforce. Please share any feedback you have to help us focus our efforts.
A common request to date has been support for Check-in (Arrival) and Check-out (Completed) statuses.
For starters, as of today you can modify the default status labels and colors under Manage / Layout / Statuses. While there, you may also notice there are some more options for customizing the invoice in the adjacent Invoice tab.
More notably, we have added the ability to Check-in and Check-out a customer while viewing their booking. Please note this is a new feature, and independent of the existing booking statuses (Paid, Pending, etc). Not making use of this feature will not change the operation of your system.
When viewing an invoice while logged in, you’ll now notice a “Check-In” button on the left-hand sidebar. When clicked, this will update the booking as “Checked-in” and add a note as the logged in agent. A Checked-in booking can be Checked-out by clicking “Check-out” in the same location.
When updated, an icon is added to the booking status label showing the Check-in (pin-drop), or Checked-out (checkmark) out icon. This can be seen in several reports throughout the system including the booking and availability report.
When used, you’ll have greater insight into your inventory availability, arrivals and no-shows. Look for more reports specific to Check-in and Check-out in the near future.
We are very excited to have won “Emerging Technology Company of the Year” at the annual VIATeC Awards last night in our home town of Victoria BC. The awards celebrate excellence and innovation in the booming technology sector of Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Checkfront was launched almost exactly a year ago with the idea of helping schedule based businesses manage, market, and sell their services online. We’ve come so far, in such a short amount of time, and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.
It’s a great honour to be recognized by our peers, and we are happy to be part of such a thriving tech community here in beautiful Victoria.
A special thanks to our small, but dedicated team, and of course to all of our amazing customers both locally, and around the world who have supported us. The best part about doing what we do, is being a part of so many interesting businesses, and helping them meet their goals.
A big thanks to Dan Gunn and VIATeC for hosting the awards. Congratulations to the other nominees and winners!
2011 VIATeC Awards
In February we announced that Checkfront merchants surpassed 3 million (USD) in online bookings since releasing version 1.0 of the system last June. Amazingly, we’re happy to report that this has climbed to just shy of 5 million. Hats off to our merchants!
The last 8 months have proven an amazing experience for us. We are ever so grateful for the continued support of our customers and those who have offered feedback along the way.
Latest And Greatest
In our never ending quest to build the best cloud booking application, there have been several notable additions to the platform.
Quick Invoice Edit
Quickly change existing bookings while viewing an invoice. Add new items, edit the quantity, dates, and manually adjust pricing.
Accept Bookings and Customer Love on Facebook
Version 2.0 of our Facebook App has been release and includes in-App purchases, integrated analytics and the ability to offer discounts instantly to customers who “Like” your page.
Preferred Columns in Reports
Select preferred fields to show up in your reports. Include custom fields as defined in your field editor.
Better Integrated Support and Billing
Support ticket history and subscription receipts are now available directly from your support portal.
New Chrome Extension
This extension takes advantage of additional caching capabilities, native browser notifications, and adds a quick launch to your Chrome startup page.
iCal Events in Booking Receipts
Include calendar event requests in email receipts, and offer customers the ability to add a booking to their personal calendar.
Where to Now?
Along side our continued efforts to refine the existing feature set, we’ll be turning our focus to our front-end integrations. This includes brand new plugins for WordPress and Joomla!. We’ll also be making available some new front-end add-ons focused on customer engagement.
We will be making more tools available for developers looking to build custom integrations with our API, such as our PHP and Rails SDK.
Amazing Rates from VersaPay
Although available on the platform for a while now, we wanted to take this opportunity to welcome Versapay as an official partner of Checkfront and integrated payment processor.
VersaPay focuses on ecommerce and tourism businesses to offer tourism related services like seasonal closures and mobile processing. VersaPay is pleased to offer preferential re-negotiated rates to Checkfront customers starting with 1.89% MDR*. See here for more information or call Call Peter Fitzpatrick at 866-999-8729.
- The Checkfront Team
You can now change the default columns displayed in various reports within Checkfront. If you have custom fields defined using the field editor, these will also be available for selection.
When viewing a report, you can click on the checkbox located in the top left of the table header (the leading column). This will bring up a list of available columns and allow to you save them as your account default.
Please note ALL fields are shown when exporting a report in a format other than PDF (Excel, CSV etc).
This feature is not currently available in all of our reports, but will be rolled out across most of them the coming weeks.
Thanks for the continued feedback and suggestions. Happy Friday!
Somewhat overdue — you can now quickly edit pricing, dates and other booking parameters, as well as add / remove items to an existing booking directly from within the invoice view in Checkfront.
To edit a booking while viewing an invoice, select the “Edit” tab. To change a given item, click the “Change” button beside the item you like to modify, or click “Add” to create a new one. This will bring up a dialog that will allow you to adjust the item as required. To change the item completely, click on the item name to bring up a select box of items available during the requested date.
When adjusting the date, a (familiar) popup calendar will appear to showing you the dates available for the selected item, and supplied quantity.
The item pricing, availability and rate will automatically be updated as you modify the booking. If needed you can also override the rated price by changing the calculated subtotal manually.
This is the first of several improvements in managing bookings post-creation.
As always, feedback is most welcome!