How Au Diable Vert Grew their Business with Checkfront

Exploring the great outdoors is something we can all appreciate. And while some people prefer a remote wilderness camping experience, others seek out the creature comforts of rustic cabins.

No matter what side of the country you find yourself on, the natural beauty and majestic landscapes of Canada are enchanting. And one place, in particular, makes a point to share this magic with its guests.

Joining me from Au Diable Vert, Julie Zeitlinger and Jeremy Fontana share how they use Checkfront for activity and accommodations bookings at their wilderness retreat in Glen Sutton, Quebec.

As Jeremy says, “the best way to consider us is kind of like a provincial park. We have 565 acres on the south side of Mont Sutton, which is a ski area in Quebec, very much a wilderness site. The whole site accessible only on foot.”

Established in 2005, this property started off with a few summer cabins, offering camping and kayaking. And having been a Checkfront customer for the past five years, this family-run business has experienced a lot of growth over the years. Did I mention that they’re dog-friendly?

We’ll dive into how Julie and Jeremy use Checkfront to power their business, connect with customers and stay on top of bookings even when they’re not on site. Plus, they share that because of Checkfront, they were able to take their first vacation in over ten years.

Treehouse at Au Diable Vert

Improving their booking process

While they already had a website, initially, Julie says they were looking for something that could act as a Customer Service Manager as well as an online booking system.

They needed a platform that could handle their cabin and campsite bookings as well as kayaking in hourly increments.

On-site, Au Diable Vert offers a large network of private and regional trails for guests to explore and hike. They also operate as a farm with a herd of highland cows on the premises and host a range of exciting outdoor activities.

With 32 rustic cabins, they needed a system to help manage bookings for both activities and accommodations on site.

Julie says, “Before, we would take everything by phone or by email, and then call people back. We had a pretty good booking system, but it wasn’t online. And, we looked for someone who would work directly with our payment provider, who could do a custom gateway for us and who also was in Canada.”

Cue Checkfront.

“We went from phone and email bookings to all online. We can even turn off the phones. We have taken advantage of Checkfront doing a lot of the work for us.”

Julie Zeitlinger

Owner, Au Diable Vert

Adding online bookings

Starting on one of our paid plans, Au Diable Vert opted to use Checkfront to accept accommodation bookings online.

One of the biggest benefits Julie noticed was how it freed up time spent on the phones, enabling their team to take more bookings.

She explains how, in the morning, “typically I will probably just go into the system and check my customer calendar to see what’s come in overnight, which is always fun. And get the staff organized for the day, [and see] if there have been major changes in terms of bookings, which can happen overnight, especially in the busy season.”

With the majority of activities being off-grid, Julie will print the daily booking list to see where to allocate staff on the 500+ acre property.

Jeremy adds, “the fun thing is that we can concentrate more on marketing efforts and other things. We do not have to spend any time anymore on the phone taking bookings.

The benefit for Julie and Jeremy is how Checkfront has automated booking, invoice, payment and reminder email notifications. For example, if there’s a detour or update they need to share with guests, they can “program the SMS and send it out to all customers coming that day.”

Understandably, flexibility and reliability are key for what their booking system needs to be able to handle.

The value of having a flexible booking system

As a wilderness centre that operates year-round, over time, Julie and Jeremy started evaluating new revenue opportunities. Eventually, they added in a canopy cycling ride, VeloVoyant offering trips every half hour.

Most recently, they started selling seats to their weekly planetarium show, Observes Etoiles, which drew attention from National Geographic and attracts guests from around the world.

Understandably, having a single system accessed by multiple people on your team can be hugely beneficial for a business with many moving parts. For Julie, Jeremy and their staff, an online booking system made things much more efficient.

People are now much better prepared when they show up and credits Checkfront with providing customers with essential information.

Jeremy mentions using all of Checkfront’s features for everything in their business — including accounting, daily staffing needs, tourism reporting and even taxes. Julie credits the value of emails and digital waivers through Checkfront in reducing surprises and questions from guests upon check-in.

“It’s quite a flexible system, which allowed us to grow from like a family two-man show to quite a few staff with quite a few different locations in the park. We use the system for lots of activities.”

Julie Zeitlinger

Owner, Au Diable Vert

How the business grew with online bookings

With customer numbers growing each year, Au Diable Vert decided to take advantage of unlimited bookings with Checkfront.

Julie reflects on how “once we had a certain volume of bookings and reservations… we switched to the Enterprise side of Checkfront. There’s a lot of different ways that we use the system and think that’s where your Customer Success specialists come in. And that’s where things get really helpful because you get to basically form a very good relationship with one person.”

As a result of having a dedicated account specialist, Julie credits the Checkfront Customer Success team for their support. She continues, saying “I’ve creatively greatly improved our site and our booking, And there are even other things that run in the backend, like with our new website, there’s an availability button, which interfaces in real-time with Checkfront’s online bookings.”

What does all of this mean for Au Diable Vert? With Checkfront, they have an online booking system that’s able to scale and support them as their business grows.

Wildnerness Camping at Au Diable Vert

Why use Checkfront for online bookings

Julie finds value in Checkfront with being able to automate bookings, online payments and customer communication.

Having reservations come in where everything’s pre-paid and booked online has become a huge time-saver for the team at Au Diable Vert.

Jeremy likes how, “Everything’s pre-booked online, everything’s prepaid online and it’s a huge time-saver for us. And it allows our customers to go online whenever they want and, and book whenever they want. And the other is that we’re, doing more and more different things.”

One of the most notable points Julie adds is how Checkfront, for them, is, “not just a business management system, but a customer management system.”

Some of the benefits they’ve both shared include how Checkfront has:

  • allowed them to spend more time with customers
  • created a flexible booking system
  • improved customer experience
  • opened up bookings 24/7
  • reduced workload
  • saved time

“It’s amazing how the business has grown. And to be honest, that hasn’t really been the focus to just grow, grow, grow. We’ve taken more pleasure in doing interesting things and building interesting things.”

Jeremy Fontana

Owner, Au Diable Vert

As you can see, Au Diable Vert runs a large, multi-faceted business through Checkfront — enticing guests to stay on their property and savour the experience of the outdoors.

And the best part? Checkfront’s online bookings allow them the freedom to check-in remotely, run their business from anywhere and even enjoy some time off.

Highland Cows grazing the hills at Au Diable Vert

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