Urban Kayaks
Aaron Gershenzon, Co-Owner
30%

increase
in bookings

 

100%

increase in
TripAdvisor & Yelp reviews

10

man-hours saved
per week

About Urban Kayaks

After working at a kayak tour and outfitter in Chicago to help pay his way through college, Aaron Gershenzon figured he could build a bigger and better company with the help of his brother and a longtime friend. He and his team went to work, and Urban Kayaks was born. The crew launched out of a downtown location in 2011 and started showing customers the beauty, architecture and history of their home city while paddling the Chicago River.

Five years, three additional locations and a new online booking partner later, Gershenzon and co. take more than 25,000 people on their urban kayak adventures every year.

The Problem

The team started out running the business with a simple calendar application and a telephone for taking reservations. They quickly realized that they needed something more streamlined to handle their growing business volume, so they signed on with an online booking system.

That first system didn’t quite meet their expectations. “It was really difficult to use,” Gershenzon said. “It was designed more for shopping than for tours.” But on the bright side, the experience taught them exactly what they wanted in an online booking system. “We knew we needed more front- and back-end automation, and we also wanted customization options, and a partner who was willing to listen to us and work with our specific needs.”

“We researched the biggest companies in the activities space,” Gershenzon said. “Most online booking flows were a bit clunky and kind of ugly, but Peek caught our attention right away.”

The Solution

One of the first things the team noticed about Peek Pro was its simplicity. “It’s absolutely the easiest to use for us and our customers. We get people complimenting us about how simple it was to book, and we’ve seen our online bookings grow because of it, probably by about 30%.” Gershenzon said. “And the interface is gorgeous,” he added. “Our brand is extremely important to us, and Peek Pro’s customization seamlessly integrates with our site to stay on brand through the entire booking flow.”

An increase in volume usually equates to a workload increase, but not after the company put Peek Pro’s accessible automation to work. “We automatically get email weather updates,” Gershenzon said. “When we have to cancel a tour because of bad weather, we can notify everyone who booked with just a couple clicks. That saves us at least 30 minutes every time we cancel a tour, and we have to cancel between 50 and 70 tours a season.”

Gershenzon praises the Peek Pro mobile app for additional efficiency boosts while running tours. “For example, our check-in area is 200 feet from the dock, but the app keeps both areas updated on everybody’s status in real time so everything is prepared perfectly without having to run back and forth,” he said.

According to Gershenzon, Peek is also helping the company build awareness and a stronger online reputation—Urban Kayaks currently holds 4.5- and 5-star ratings on Yelp and TripAdvisor, and ranks in the top 5 in their category on both sites. “Our customers automatically get emails asking for reviews,” Gershenzon said, “so with zero effort on our part, we more than doubled our reviews, and our rankings keep climbing.”

Gershenzon wasn’t shy about giving Peek Pro a rating himself. “An A+,” he said. “Even beyond all the features, Peek’s customer service is on point. We love Jill [a member of Peek’s Partner Success team]. She’s great to work with, and always knows how to address our needs.”

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