Call of the Wild Adventures, Inc. (“COTWA”) and clients have continued to reap the benefits of the partnership with Pathwrangler. Although Pathwrangler is intended primarily to enhance the client experience and streamline communication for tour operators, Emilie Cortes, President of Call of the Wild, discovered another invaluable component to managing trips with the online trip management system – crisis management.
When the unprecedented California Rim Fire started on August 17, 2013, only 20 days before COTWA’s annual Yosemite High Country Day Hiking Trip, it jeopardized the trip before participants had even arrived in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. PathWrangler served as a central communication point where the COTWA team updated clients on fire containment efforts, road closures, ever-changing threat of smoke hazard, and possible complete park closure. Additionally, the team was able to alleviate clients’ fears by communicating a Plan B itinerary, and clients were able to commiserate together about the unfortunate situation. Ultimately, the Rim Fire became the third largest wildfire in California’s history, but the trip was uninterrupted and ran smoothly as originally planned.
Just one month later, COTWA was scheduled to run the Zion & Bryce Day Hiking Trip on October 13, 2013 when the U.S. federal government shutdown began on October 1, 2013 and all national parks were closed. Once again, COTWA used PathWrangler for streamlined communication to update clients on the status of the government shutdown as well as details of a Plan B itinerary. On October 12, 2013, one day before the trip was scheduled to begin, the Utah state government voted to fund the reopening of the federal lands in Utah to the relief of those affected by the shutdown. Amazingly, Zion and Bryce National Parks reopened, and this trip also went off as originally planned.
Several clear lessons emerged from these two crises:
- The PathWrangler online platform was essential for streamlining communication in a time of crisis so that all stakeholders had consistent information simultaneously.
- Transparency with clients and personal communication was the key to success in both situations. Dialoguing with clients throughout the crisis enabled COTWA to quickly address concerns, strengthen client relationships, and ultimately transform a disastrous situation into a memorable experience with those clients becoming great advocates.