Wine Tasting on the Bay

Melissa McDowell, Owner


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About Wine Tasting On The Bay

Melissa McDowell and her husband, Kevin, saw an opportunity to share their passion for wine with others in the San Francisco Bay Area. “We met a lot of people who wanted to go to Napa for wine tasting, but didn’t always have time to leave the city. We decided that San Francisco Bay needed a wine tasting specialty cruise, so we visited several of our favorite wineries, bought a few good wines, and started Wine Tasting on the Bay.” The McDowells opened Wine Tasting on the Bay in 2012, after taking over the business and the boat from a friend.

Wine Tasting on the Bay is a family-owned business dedicated to providing a unique, intimate and personalized San Francisco experience to their guests. They offer several cruises, including daytime and sunset wine tasting cruises, private cruises, and McCovey Cove game charters.

The Problem

Before Peek, McDowell used an internal system that required her to manually respond to every customer who booked. “I responded to every single booking, whether through email or by phone.”

Though it was difficult to respond to every customer, McDowell was hesitant to try online booking, preferring a more hands-on approach. “Back in 2012, when we were still a new business, a Peek employee came on one of our cruises and told us about Peek and asked if we would be interested in their software. I wasn’t ready yet, so I declined.” However, as her business started to grow, it became more and more time consuming to keep up with a manual reservation system. She became ready to make the switch to online booking.

Luckily, another opportunity to try online booking arrived. “Last year, a different Peek employee came on a cruise with us and asked if we wanted to try Peek. Someone immediately followed up with us. Then, Herbert installed and taught us the system.”

Since she’s busy maintaining the boat and researching wines, McDowell was also interested in marketing tools that would grow her business’ positive online reputation, and bring her more customers, without the extra work or money.

The Solution

Since making the switch to Peek, McDowell now saves over 1,000 hours per year in administrative tasks, including sending emails and making phone calls. “I can actually take a day off every week! I have more time to focus on maintaining the boat or doing things I enjoy, like attending wine tastings,” she said. “I’ve also noticed that fewer people call to ask questions because all the information they need is in my booking flow.”

She especially loves the flexibility Peek provides. “I can easily reschedule, cancel or clone bookings. I love that I can move customers around in my schedule without much effort.” With Peek’s mobile app, McDowell can manage her business anywhere, even out on the water. “When I’m on the boat, I don’t have to be tethered to my website. This is extremely helpful, since there are only two of us who run the business.”

Peek also gives McDowell the marketing tools she needs to promote her business, without lifting a finger. With Smart Reviews, McDowell captures more reviews, which lets her build a strong online reputation. “From when we opened in 2012, to now, the number of reviews we’ve received has increased by 95%. Smart Reviews makes it easy for our customers to leave reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp.”

Using Peek’s Abandoned Bookings feature, which automatically reaches out to customers who don’t complete the booking flow, McDowell has an 11% recapture rate. “I don’t even have to do anything!”

As more and more people turn to online booking, McDowell is happy to be ahead of the curve. “While we’re still able to connect with customers on the phone or in person, especially if they have very specific needs, Peek also helps us appeal to the customers who don’t necessarily want to call to book–customers who want to get information quickly and immediately, through text or email or booking widget.”

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