Camping is a way of life for many Canadians. From sitting around a campfire under a starry night sky to venturing off into the uninhabited wilderness, it’s one of the best ways to spend time in the great outdoors. So naturally, people who come to Canada wanting an authentic Canadian experience decide to give camping a try.
But camping isn’t exactly convenient for everyone. For travelers arriving by plane, the excess baggage fees make it difficult to pack camping essentials. On top of that, camping in Canada can be intimidating with its rugged terrain, dangerous wildlife, extreme weather conditions, and campground policies — especially for those who’ve never gone camping before.
That’s why Rent-a-Tent Canada launched in 2007 — first in Vancouver, British Columbia and then in Banff, Alberta. By offering complete camping packages and info — including high-quality tents, folding chairs, a propane gas stove, and more — people without gear or know-how could still have the ultimate camping experience.
On the Rent-a-Tent Canada website, they just choose a suitable camping package for their group size, add any other rental needs, and make a booking. Rent-a-Tent then gets everything ready for pick-up or delivery. And if they don’t know where to go, what to do, and how to stay safe, Rent-a-Tent also shares camping ideas and advice.
As you can see, Rent-a-Tent Canada makes it easy for new campers to rent camping equipment and explore the Canadian Rockies and West Coast. But it hasn’t always been this way — not for customers, or the Rent-a-Tent team. We talked with Anthony Clark, owner of Rent-a-Tent Canada, to find out what the rental process looked like before online bookings, and what it looks like now.
“My company went from no booking system to an amazing booking system, so my favourite feature is Checkfront.”
Owner, Rent-a-Tent Canada
Multiple steps for one camping rental
Rent-a-Tent Canada already had a website up and running that made it possible for people to discover them. However, when it came to renting the camping equipment, Clark says, “the process was long, convoluted, and it took approximately an hour, an hour and a half, per booking.”
After a customer found what they were looking for, they put in a rental request by filling out a booking form — which got fielded manually. Someone from the team would respond with a generic email quote they tailored to the customer’s specific needs. If the customer accepted, they’d draw up a rental agreement with an itemized list of everything included.
For payment, again, it was a manual and time-consuming process. Along with the rental agreement, Rent-a-Tent Canada would send the customer a payment request made through an external payment provider. Only once the customer paid was the rental process complete.
Of course, multiple booking steps didn’t complement Rent-a-Tent’s mission of providing a hassle-free camping experience. At any point, customers could become frustrated, change their mind and drop off before paying. And for Rent-a-Tent Canada, that meant they were putting in a lot of effort for a sale that wasn’t guaranteed.
Rent-a-Tent Canada needed a seamless booking experience; something that allowed for instant rentals and payment. But they didn’t want to lose the personal touch of their brand with automation. So Clark set out to find an online booking solution that could support both.
Searching for the right booking system
Coming from a background in computer science and web development, Clark says he was somewhat critical in regards to what he wanted in an online booking system. There were a few specific factors he was looking for, and he wasn’t going to take the decision lightly.
For starters, it was essential to have the opportunity to grow, so that the business wouldn’t get pigeonholed into anything. With a tiered pricing structure, there’d be room to scale up continuously. Rent-a-Tent Canada could reach certain levels of success and always have a plan to match their needs.
Besides a fixed fee, functionality was also a key factor — how much Rent-a-Tent Canada could get out of the system. Whether it was adding integrations easily or customizing email notifications, Clark wanted a booking platform that served their business best.
Most of all, Clark hoped to achieve a unified and seamless booking experience. From browsing to checkout, he wanted customers to feel like they interact with Rent-a-Tent Canada the entire time. “It’s very important to me to not have that detached booking experience — like you’re being sent somewhere else to make a transaction,” Clark says.
Seeing Checkfront benefit his colleague in the above ways led to Clark’s final decision. Checkfront checked off the right boxes — making it the best booking platform for Rent-a-Tent Canada.
A seamless booking experience with Checkfront
Since moving to Checkfront, the rental process became a whole lot easier on both ends. Remembering back to the first booking they received, Clark says, “after being used to doing so much work to get a sale, to all of a sudden getting a notification on my cell phone saying ‘there’s a new booking’… it was fairly magical.”
In terms of usability, his staff finds Checkfront to be very intuitive, and there’s not much of a learning curve. If they need to find a customer, they just click on the spyglass in the corner and type in the customer’s name. And if they need to edit a booking, they go to Add Item or Change Item. The dashboard is simple and easy to navigate.
But the best part is that they can book a client in no time at all. That’s because customers can rent on their own. In just a few steps, they can choose their camping package, select necessary add-ons, and pay for their rental. “Our revenue increased 15-20% just for the fact that people could hit the pay button and not do the back and forth. That’s huge; that’s a huge percentage.” Clark notes.
All the while, Rent-a-Tent Canada maintains its brand consistency. Throughout the booking experience, the customer never feels like they leave the Rent-a-Tent Canada website. And with custom email notifications, they still get a personalized message about their camping rental. It’s the look and feel of Rent-a-Tent Canada from start to finish.
“What we do hear repeatedly from our current customers is that the entire process of finding us, finding what they want, right to the checkout, is very easy and they’re always saying, ‘the website is amazing, it was so easy to book.’ We hear that all the time.”
Owner, Rent-a-Tent Canada