Adventure Gear

How the PathWrangler and Formstack Partnership Changes the Lives of Tour Operators

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Today we announced a partnership with a fantastic company out of Indianapolis: Formstack.  So, what does Formstack do and why it is important to PathWrangler users?  In short, it could change how businesses operate in our industry forever.

First a recap: PathWrangler is a platform for creating, planning, managing and then sharing stories about your trips.  If you have the travel bug you’ll love it.  However, there is a whole separate layer to PathWrangler that is focused towards to those businesses and other institutions that have made it their business to run trips.  Our clients are tour operators, guides, educational institutions, schools, clubs and volunteer organizations.  The PathWrangler platform focuses specifically on collaboration around all the elements specific to running trips, selling them and then using them to help capture referrals.

While PathWrangler takes a huge bite out of the trip specific problems, those that run a business have other problems to solve that are specific to running any business.  In the two years we’ve been in business, we’ve received a lot of feedback from entities big and small who have said they struggle with a lot of business operations issues such as taking payments, gathering personal information from clients (like medical information, dietary preferences/restrictions), getting waivers signed, applications filled out and even requesting post-trip reviews and feedback.

We are getting into the stage of the digital age where people are starting to show physical symptoms (anywhere from a mild tic to a full-on pouring sweat fever) when PDFs and Word Docs show up in their inbox.   In  this age we can use technology to upload and share photos with the world from our phone, make purchases with the click of a button and know the exact number of times that our favorite Facebook poster’s children have eaten and taken bowel movements.  Whether good or bad, this has made the tolerance for having to download an attachment, print it out, fill it out by hand, scan it and send it back almost an act of hostility.  Not only do these issues cause tension for clients, those who have to manage the operations on the business side are engaged in an endless cycle of self-abuse.

Formstack solves all of these problems.  Not just a couple.  Not just many.  ALL of them.  Not only do your clients have a single place where they can go to interact with you about their trip, all the operational elements you require to get them going is right there as well.  Formstack is designed to automate this collection process and, if you have other tools like CRMs, Accounting Systems and payment processors, it plugs right into those systems so you don’t have to do a thing.  Those who run trips for a living can go about doing more of what they love and doing less office work.

So, here is how it works. Firstly, you need a PathWrangler Premium Entity account (you can get one here).  This account is your business’s dashboard, where anyone who helps to manage your company can build trips, interact with clients, create libraries of your past trips, and capture referrals that come in from people interacting with their friends and family that have gone on your previous trips.  This page, along with all of your individual trips, are integrated into your social media channels as well as your website, so you can distribute them more widely and sell more of them.

Located within this Entity page is a tab specifically for Forms.  Through this page, you can sign-up for Formstack (they offer a 14-Day trial for new users).  You’ll log into Formstack separately to build and manage all of your forms.  By linking PathWrangler with Formstack, all the forms you create for your business are here for your clients in one place.  They never have to send you another email, attachment or homing pigeon ever again.

Here are some links to all the different types of forms that you can build in Formstack.  If you have a more evolved business with other tool sets that you use to manage your business, here is a link to all the different technologies that Formstack integrates with and how to link any of them to your third party apps.

PathWrangler and Formstack together have just given travel industry the biggest leap in technology since the invention of the airplane.   No more wasteful business processes, double/triple/quadruple data entry, offline transactions, email attachments or waiting around the fax machine.  In fact,  you can take your scanners and fax machines out into an isolated location and beat them into pieces with a bat (send us photos, if you do this, please!).

If you have any questions or would like some further information on how we can help you change the way your company does business, contact us via our cool Formstack contact form below: CONTACT PATHWRANGLER HERE!

IT’S HERE! Plan, manage and sell your trips in one platform

The new and improved PathWrangler is here!  With one CLICK, you can sign up and put this integrated travel planning and selling solution to work for you.

PathWrangler helps you run better trips & grow your business.

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PathWrangler Testimonial: Indiana University Outdoor Adventures

We received a testimonial from a client yesterday that knocked our socks off.  Tyler Kivland is Program Coordinator (which basically means he’s the guy that runs it) at Indiana University Outdoor Adventures.  It is such a cool organization.  They are supported by Indiana University, however they support the community and offer all kinds of great trips, gear, activities and, most importantly, Leadership Programs to develop the next generation of those serving the Outdoor Community and beyond.  it isn’t just for Indiana University students, they also support their surrounding community.

Here’s Tyler explaining exactly how PathWrangler is taking their organization to the next level:

If I could describe Pathwrangler in one sentence I would say that it is “A dynamic approach to trip planning, execution, and customer retention.”

As an organization that staffs upwards of 50 trip leaders at a time, Pathwrangler makes the trip planning process better and easier to learn. The overall benefit of Pathwrangler seems to be that it allows a trip leader to begin a dialogue with trip participants, organizers and leaders before the group ever meets for the trip. Participants can ask questions, share their excitement, and stay up-to-date on any trip developments with ease.

I’ve always supported the idea that a trip should start as soon as a participant signs-up, if not sooner. Pathwrangler allows just that. For example, each summer I bring a group to Quetico Provincial Park for a 10-day canoe expedition. It is vital that I make sure each participant is packing the correct type of gear and that they have a passport in their hands. Pathwrangler’s personal gear checklist allows me to track the progress of my group without having to make phone call after phone call to each participant. Furthermore, the conversation feature allows me to answer important questions once rather than each and every time I make a call or send an email. And if someone new joins the group they can easily catch up on all the action without me having to send them a copy of every email that has previously been sent.

Pathwrangler takes all the components of trip planning and collects it into one dynamic space.

One of the more useful benefits, from a management position, has been the itinerary feature. This is because the interactive nature of the itinerary and map simply cannot be matched on paper. The technology allows us, as an organization, to pinpoint the exact location of each activity and allows the participant a more accurate depiction of where they will be traveling. We are currently using the itinerary feature as a sort of travel action plan for several of our spring break trips which aids in managing the risk inherently involved in any outdoor adventure.

I’m excited to see where Pathwrangler will go next. It has already begun to change the way our leaders approach trip planning and I see it becoming a necessary tool for our program in the future. The more I learn about the site, the more excited I get. It has truly taken trip planning into a new era.

PATHWRANGLER NAMED HONOREE AS PART OF OUTSIDE’S ACTIVE TRAVEL AWARDS

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA | MARCH 12, 2013 PATHWRANGLER has been selected by Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, as a recipient of its second annual Active Travel Awards.  PathWrangler was honored as an Honoree. The full list of award winners will be published in the April issue of Outside magazine, available on newsstands March 12, 2013, and at Outside Online.

To select this year’s awards, Outside tapped our global network of correspondents, who spent months on the road traveling from the Philippines to Switzerland to Namibia and then some, to report a definitive roundup of the best new adventures, secret paradises, mountain epics, stunning beaches, airline deals, gorgeous islands, and more. The result is 42 fresh trips that we guarantee will change your life, plus smart travel strategies, the best travel gear, and five exciting new frontiers.

PathWrangler is proud to be awarded honoree of Outside Strategies to “Plug-In.”  With all these beautiful destinations and incredible activities to do, PathWrangler is the tool that brings it all together and makes these dream trips a reality. 

Outside magazine has long been one of the world’s most trusted advisors for active and adventurous travelers,” says Outside Editor Christopher Keyes. “In addition to truly award-worthy destinations and travel providers, this year we unearthed a handful of amazing new frontiers in active travel. Our annual edit franchise honors the year’s best trips, hotels, lodges, luggage, islands, and new destinations that will be an invaluable travel resource for years to come.”

Simply put, PathWrangler makes creating experiences and telling those stories easier than ever before.  Planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. It is maddening to get everyone and everything prepared. Our web app brings the conversation together in an interactive place designed specifically for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts to dream and organize their trip together, and then share their stories after.  Over 100 Tour Operators, Outdoor Clubs and Outdoor Wilderness Programs and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts are using PathWrangler to run better trips and share them with their friends.

In celebration of the Outside Active Travel Awards, PathWrangler is offering its award-winning product for free in preparation for a new premium rollout in the upcoming months.  That means unlimited trips and users for any individuals or business that sign-up now.  Please sign-up here to take advantage of this offer.  Please contact us at info@pathwrangler.com if you’d like any help in getting you or your organization started.

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About Outside

Outside is America’s leading active lifestyle brand. For more than 35 years, Outside has covered travel, sports, adventure, health, and fitness, as well as the personalities, the environment, and the style and culture of the world Outside. The Outside family includes Outside magazine, the only magazine to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, The Outside Buyer’s Guides, Outside Online, Outside Television, Outside Events, Outside+ tablet edition, and Outside Books. Visit us on www.outsideonline.com and www.facebook.com/outsidemagazine.

Contact PathWrangler

For further press inquiries or other requests, please contact CEO Doug Heinz at doug@pathwrangler.com and 415-309-2242.  Please visit us online at www.pathwrangler.com, www.facebook.com/pathwrangler and @pathwrangler.

Share Your Adventure with the World

A year ago, we created the first way to build your own adventures and organize them with your friends, clients and associates in one, central, integrated place on a map.  Six months ago, we built a way for everyone to tell their own stories and share photos with each other.  After doing this, we made all kinds of enhancements to the product that made doing all of these things easier and better.

Today, we’re pleased to announce that you can now publish your trips, as well as your individual stories with the public.  We’ve integrated with Facebook so you can easily publish them to your friends and family.

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Benefits to You

PathWrangler is now almost seamless.  We can’t create the ideas for you, but once you get an adventurous idea, you can build it, invite others, organize together, share your experiences as they happen and then share them with the world.

For the Traveler: it is the best way to organize and journal your trip.  We make it easier to store your memories.

For Trip Organizers: not only is the the best way to organize the many trips that you run, but it helps you to get business.  As your clients/members share their trips with their friends, it is a way to get those crucial testimonials and word of mouth referrals naturally.

Share Your Trips Today

Start building and sharing your trips on PathWrangler today!  Please contact us if you have any questions.

We’ll be sending out more details around these exciting new features from some of trips and users that we find particularly inspiring.  If you want to submit a trip, contact and share it with us and we’ll put it up on our blog!

Living the Dream! An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Operating a Successful Adventure Travel Company

PathWrangler is pleased to announced the release of our free eBook, “Living the Dream: An Entreprenuer’s Guide to Starting and Operating a Successful Adventure Travel Company.”  This book was written by Christina Heyniger and myself and features Chunnie Wright and Mona McPhee.

So, what it this about?  Let’s take you to our first chapter:

“Do you want to build a successful adventure travel business? LIVING THE DREAM gives you a framework for not only starting and getting your new adventure company off the ground, but also how to operate and grow it with dazzling service. Inside this book you’ll find information about how to:

  • Get your business off the ground as quickly and inexpensively as possible
  • Focus your efforts on core business aspects
  • Provide outstanding service to your clients
  • Throw out big, clunky business plans or ideas that are too grand in favor of focusing on bite-sized problems
  • Quickly launch, modify and constantly improve your business to adjust to the market, client demands and economic realities

The book presents a series of steps that draw on the “Lean Startup” methodology created by Eric Ries and has since launched top web software companies and is being extended to numerous other sectors. We are combining our experience with Lean Startup with the know-how and experience of people who have created and built leading adventure travel companies to bring you this adventure travel start-up manual.

Benefits to You

“In the old days, adventure travel was only for a very limited number of highly adventurous people. Nowadays everyone is into adventure travel. Anything out of person’s comfort zone is called ‘adventure travel.’ The whole industry has just skyrocketed. At the same time we have a huge amount of competition, much more than in the past.” – Tony Neubauer, Myths and Mountains

LIVING THE DREAM will explain how you can build a competitive adventure business with a distinctive personality. The methods presented will challenge you to embrace the challenges of a limited budget and turns those limitations into an advantage. Being small and agile isn’t a stage of your business, it is a mindset that lets you provide much better personal experiences to your clients.

Following the steps in this book will help you organize your adventure travel startup, get clients in the door and run better trips.

LIVING THE DREAM challenges you to be opinionated. Forgo being all things to all people and build something that has a distinct image — one that you’re proud and excited about, and that stands out from the crowd.

Who LIVING THE DREAM is Written For

If you are

  • An adventurous type who is tired of the day-to-day slog in the office, who has always wanted to start a business that allows you to explore your passion and work with great people around the world;
  • Currently operating an adventure business you would like to improve, perhaps by streamlining your operational activities or standing out more effectively from your competition;
  • Overwhelmed with the costs of adopting, creating and keeping up with the technology required to stay current in today’s online world;

Then LIVING THE DREAM is for you.”

More to come.  Stay tuned!

Why Tech Companies Suck at Adventure Travel

This week, the Adventure Travel Trade Association held its annual World Summit (ATWS) in Lucerne, Switzerland.  For the uninitiated, the ATWS brings together over 600 delegates from 55 countries whose business is, wait for it, adventure travel.  Media, tour operators, destinations, government tourism boards, agencies, technology companies and even a guy who drove his solar powered car around the world advocating for clean technology.

Everyone comes together to see what we can do to support our industry as a whole, while building relationships with others that can support our individual businesses.  For PathWrangler, we primarily seek out tour operators and adventurers who want to manage their trips better and improve the bond between them and the clients who buy their products.  So, the purpose of this post is show how it looks like from a tech company’s perspective coming to this conference and what I’ve taken away from it.  In short, I feel that tech companies currently, have failed in adequately addressing the needs in of our industry.

Technology has had a difficult time finding any real traction with Adventure Travel providers.  Previously, in my time at OpenTable, I saw the restaurant industry move from paper and pencil to 1’s and 0’s in a way that has forever changed the industry.  While the adventure travel industry is clearly in the digital age, they’ve been using 1995 technology to run their businesses and interact with their clients and also sell their trips.

Tech companies haven’t really been able to acquire a foothold in this industry.  There are aggregators who are trying to build the “Travelocity of Adventure Travel,” companies utilizing GPS technology to show where you are on a trip anywhere and anytime, social media integrators, and travel journals to name some prominent types.  From a purely technological perspective, there is some decent stuff out there, but if that is the case, why hasn’t anyone been able to get a significant foothold with actual users yet?

We tech guys feel that we are on the cutting edge of innovation, but our biggest failing is that we can sometimes get stuck in an echo chamber.  When we pitch our businesses to investors and to other tech people, we are told to format our idea in particular way, “We are the (blank) for (blank).”  Like, “We are the LinkedIn for Adventure Providers,” or “We are the Travelocity for Adventure Travel.”  People come to understanding of new ideas through things they previously understand and these elevator pitches are necessary to communicate easily.  However, what happens when the assumptions for tools made by previous companies are insufficient?

Since we’ve launched in March, Tour Operators have been expressing a lot of frustrations in dealing with tech companies.  They don’t think that people in our industry “get” what they do.  What I am witnessing are two people who go out on a date with common interests (tech companies want to build a business supporting the industry, Operators want cool technology to run their businesses better), but they are speaking two different languages and they have two entirely different agendas.

A Tour Operator’s main purpose is in enhancing the human experience.  Their vocabulary is filled with terms like “living,” “being alive,” “fun,” “life changing,” “natural”, while we are talking about “seemless integration,” “…click here and this happens…”, “mobile platform,” “widget,” “embedded,” and even worse: “robust.”  So, firstly, we aren’t even speaking the same language.  But most importantly, we have yet to build any technology that enhances the human experience that Operators are creating for people every day.

Some of our problems are inherent to who we are: tech people think in constructing frameworks.  We like formulas because they are easier to build.  If only people would behave like “x + y”, our answer of “z” would be perfect.  While process is important to any business, existing frameworks have fallen significantly short because they haven’t been able to prove they understand the language of the human experience in a way where the frameworks that we do create are ones that enhance people’s experiences and make the businesses that support them do it better.  In other words, techies feel that our existing formulas are sufficient because they’ve worked in other industries and verticals.

One of the speakers at ATWS recommended to auditorium full of Tour Operators, to paraphrase, “More and more people are using their mobile devices.  The way that you are expressing your current offerings are insufficient.  You need to change them so you can tap into this market.  People need to be able to book your offerings on their mobile device.”  While his reference about mobile usage was correct, his thoughts of why users haven’t adopted any of these aggregators/booking sites in a meaningful way is wrong.  Really, really wrong.  The current formula and frameworks that tech companies are offering are the ones that aren’t adequate.

While mass adoption of a particular tool set within the adventure travel will indeed require some new thinking on the part of adventure travelers and tour operators, it won’t happen until they feel like the new tool sets out there are doing something that can enhance the human experience in a meaningful way.

ATWS brings together an amalgamation of passionate misfits the world over.  However, these very people may be the ones that point those of us misfit geeks, who want to serve this community, toward building something that enhances the human experience far beyond just providing another plug-in or derivative product.

New TARPA Initiative: Real Adventures

One of the elements of travel that we keep hearing from clients and travelers is the need for authenticity.  At PathWrangler, we try to get you as immersed as we possibly can.  However, to be a true adventurer, we not only want to put you into the shoes of the indigenous cultures, we want to put you into the shoes of the pioneers of adventure and exploration.  What did it feel like to be Ernest Shackleton, Marco Polo, Dr Livingstone, Ferdinand Magellan, or Sacagawae?

Head researcher, Mikey Clarke reveals how we can bring your trip to the next level:

On your next adventure, there is an option to take our vitamin anti-pills for an extra bout of authenticity – these anti-pills helpfully leach nutrients from your body to let you experience the pleasures of scurvy, just like the old-time adventurers!  This is for the adventurer who will have none of this plasticky, tourist-trap crap.

Another example of how TARPA is leading the travel industry in research.

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Stay tuned for the big PathWrangler announcement (which is certainly NOT a TARPA program).

PathWrangler and Cat Juggling

Just got off the phone with a client who is running some amazing rafting trips.  I learned that path to enlightenment with PathWrangler is the following:

  • Phase 1: Cats wandering aimlessly; mewing, scratching, breaking things, ripping up carpet and, in some cases, hanging from drapes.
    • Get PathWrangler Account.
  • Phase 2: Herd Cats…herd happier cats.
    • Herding Cats becomes too easy and effortless.  New inspiration is needed.
  • Phase 3: Cat Juggling: xnectf_cat-juggling-from-the-jerk-1979_shortfilms

Tired of cats running rampant?  We make it all better.  Check us out!  I only hope Nathan Johnson doesn’t get to us first!