Lost Coast Adventure Tours provides shuttle and guide service for hikers in Northern California who are visiting the world famous Lost Coast trail along the Pacific Ocean.
The trail is remote, hard to reach, and there’s no cell or other services along the 24.6-mile trail.
When I first met Owner Blu Graham, he had no control over his website.
- The hosting account was owned by his previous developer.
- He wasn't able to make even basic changes to the website
- His potential customers couldn't get the answers they needed to buy without calling on the phone or sending an email.
- Customers would ‘reserve' a shuttle spot via phone and pay cash on arrival, meaning cash flow was spotty and no-shows resulted in lost revenue opportunities and empty shuttle seats.
Their outdated website meant it was hard to gain traction over their much slicker competition, even though they had insider knowledge of the trail and preparation needed to safely complete the hike.
Goals for the Project
- Allow customers to book their shuttles online
- Take online payments and allow customers to sign or download legal waivers
- Create an interactive site that helps customers prepare for their trip.
- Create a detailed FAQ to help customers prepare for their trip and reduce customer support load on staff
- Easily upload new photos and make changes to the site
Once I received the project application, the first conversation we had to have was about budget. Their budget was wildly out of line with the complexity and goals for their website. I let Blu know up front that, although I was sure I could help them, I couldn’t continue the conversation unless they were open to addressing their budget gap.
Blu chose to keep going so we proceeded to a month-long Discovery process that involved digging into the details such as:
- How the company worked
- How the website could support their day-to-day operations
- Who is their target audience
- What is the customer journey from visiting to booking a shuttle to hitting the trail
- What content would be needed to facilitate the customer journey
- What technical support they would need once the site was live.
I knew from painful past experience that clients can sometimes be the biggest barrier to a successful project so I set firm boundaries and required Blu to meet several times with a professional copywriter who was able to take his expert knowledge of the trail and craft it into engaging website copy and a detailed FAQ page.
We worked on the project for three months during the off-season and launched on time and on budget in time for the start of the 2017 hiking season.
Now Lost Coast Adventure Tours has a modern website where customers can find out everything they need to know to safely plan their trip and then book a shuttle within minutes.
- Visitors can browse the photo gallery of the trail, and read the extensive FAQ to prepare for the trip.
- New customers receive an automated email with all the important details such as remembering to bring or rent the required bear canister and getting a trail permit
- The Trip Planner and FAQ pages gave the site an SEO boost to be more easily found by silicon valley tech workers looking for an escape to nature.
The new website included:
- Discovery and planning
- Custom Design
- Email marketing and CRM setup
- Customer segmentation
- Website training and support
Benefits of the new site include:
- Stable cash flow with pre-payment for every booking
- Higher visibility with increased SEO to put them in front of the 10,000 people who travel to the Lost Coast Trail each summer
- Peace of mind knowing their new digital assets are protected and monitored by a team of professionals
My phone has stopped ringing and that's a good thing. Most of the time, I'm out on the trail and don't have time to answer questions and play phone tag with customers. My staff manages the website and prints shuttle manifests for the drivers. We had to hire two new drivers and add two more shuttle times to keep up with demand.
Our look to the public is like night and day. Overall, our customer service is way better.
~ Blu Graham, Owner
240% Revenue Growth in 12 Months
The benefits of the website were immediately felt by the team, but the company also benefited. Revenue more than doubled in the 2017 season compared to 2016. With this new foundation in place, the Lost Coast team is well positioned to keep streamlining their business for future growth and profits.
This is what the Lost Coast Team had to say about their new site:
The new site is awesome. I had to pull my drivers aside and say, “hey this is what we look like on the website, this is what we need to look like when people show up. It set an expectation for us – we look like a big business.
I told Blu This is the best investment that we've made for this business because it's turn-key. We walk in [when the season starts] and turn the computer on and the business is already running. And that is invaluable to have. All we have to do is come in, get warmed up, and show up to shuttle people.
We really appreciate that you guys are there to answer our questions and are quick to respond when we have questions about how to use the site.
~ Janna Kay, Operations Manager
It's so much easier for me, I can just say, visit our website, it's self explanatory.
~ Sylvie, staff member
The Karvel Digital team continues to support Lost Coast with technical website support and maintenance to keep their new site working smoothly. In the 2018 season, we helped develop new functionality for booking their new guided hikes service, and we continue to offer marketing support such as managing their Active Campaign account and creating new automated follow-up campaigns.