Nestled off the west coast of Canada is an archipelago called Haida Gwaii. With remote wilderness, unspoiled shorelines, and diverse wildlife, it’s a destination that attracts adventurous and nature-loving travelers. The main draw, however, is the ancient Haida villages in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. Since this heritage site is only accessible by boat, Moresby Explorers takes visitors there and other extraordinary spots for a unique experience.
First established in 1988 by two loggers, Moresby Explorers offers multiple services that show the historical and natural wonders of Haida Gwaii. There are multi-day boat tours that include a peaceful night’s stay at a secluded floating lodge. They’ve got a Bed and Breakfast to enjoy before and after the excursion. And for those who like exploring independently, there’s a small store to find the right gear and transportation assistance to save on paddle time. It’s a one-stop shop for any explorer at heart.
Today, Oliver Popley co-owns Moresby Explorers with his teammate, Alex. After guiding with them for a couple of years, he fell in love with the beautiful location, family-like work environment, and Haida Gwaii community. When the company went up for sale, Popley saw it as the perfect opportunity to take over.
During the transition, he and Alex received invaluable mentorship from the previous owners — which was vital for understanding such a complicated and multifaceted business. However, with a background education in adventure tourism, and years of experience with other adventure companies, Popley had some ideas in mind for Moresby Explorers. That included increasing efficiency by taking bookings and payments online.
Running multi-day tours on paper
Before Checkfront, Moresby Explorers had a paper-based system in place. To schedule all trips, they used a large paper calendar on the front desk. There was a little box of cards that kept notes about each booking. And email was the primary way they communicated with guests. While it worked for them at the time, this booking process involved a lot of back and forth correspondence, sending and receiving documents.
On top of that, they didn’t have a convenient online payment option. For in-person payments, they had a countertop machine, and when it came to pre-bookings over the phone, they had to type in the card details manually. Although they found secure payment processing with Helcim, it still required a bit of extra work on their end.
All of these small administrative tasks added up over time — which proved to be an area of inefficiency. To tackle this, Moresby Explorers decided to incorporate automation into office management. And switching to an online booking system that integrated with a third-party payment processor was the solution.
Freedom to try before buying
Popley started with a Google search when he set out to find a suitable booking engine. Landing on a review site with a list of options, he went through every single platform by jotting down notes and setting up meetings. Of course, he immediately liked Checkfront because he could try it out without having to book a demo first.
“I didn’t like the thought of having to explain to somebody over the phone how our business works, and then have them design the system for us. Our business is complicated, and there are many variables.”
Co-owner, Moresby Explorers
With Checkfront’s 21-day free trial, he had time to become familiar with the dashboard and set it up the way he thought was best for the business. “Having a middle man for that would have been challenging,” Popley adds. While figuring out a new system can be daunting on your own — like going on an independent kayaking trip in an unfamiliar environment — he found Checkfront to be very intuitive.
Plus, when he had questions, he could get answers by looking in the Knowledge Base or contacting Support. “I get the most detailed, to the point, answers. Someone just being like, ‘hey, here’s a video of me doing it.’ That’s way better than having it explained in an email.” Popley says.
Once they had everything up and running, it was time to choose a payment processor that integrated well with Checkfront. Understandably, Popley didn’t want to continue using Helcim if it meant having to send a separate invoice manually. Although the platform was initially appealing for its variable rates, he decided to go with Square because it was easy to use and automatically synced payments with Checkfront’s bookings.
Increasing efficiency with Checkfront and Square
Together, Checkfront and Square have smoothed out the booking process for Moresby Explorers. Instead of spending time on repetitive and tedious tasks, they can rely on both systems to handle everything required for completing a booking.
Moresby Explorers also finds Checkfront useful for managing their multi-day tours. Although Popley prefers getting to know guests over the phone, he loves that Checkfront’s booking form provides a similar experience.
For instance, they can still encourage guests to plan ahead by prompting them with specific questions. Along with gathering essential information, they can ask, “When are you doing your orientation with Parks Canada?” or “Which ferry will you be taking?” Since Moresby Camp isn’t the easiest to get to, the ability to sort it out online provides peace of mind for both parties.
Moresby Explorers is thrilled to take bookings, accept payments, and collect guest details all at once. Moreover, Popley says he loves the booking widget on the dashboard, using the search bar to quickly find guests, and getting a weekly booking report from Checkfront.
“It’s really refreshing to receive an email that a booking is already created. We have all the information, they already paid a deposit, and they answered certain questions that are usually quite hard to get from people.”
Co-owner, Moresby Explorers