Kaituna Cascades

Pete Lodge

Owner - Kaituna Cascades

“100% would recommend PicThrive & Wherewolf to other tour operators - I almost don’t want to recommend it because it’s too good and want it all for myself!”

A PicThrive & Wherewolf Success Story

Kaituna Cascades is an owner-operated whitewater rafting company based in Rotorua, New Zealand. They are proud to be the original company to explore and open up Rotorua’s mighty Kaituna River and the legendary 7-meter waterfall. Although they provide a world-class experience and are well known for their level of service, the team at Kaituna Cascades has worked hard to continue to be leaders in a highly competitive market.

Since taking over the business a couple of years ago, owner Pete Lodge and his business partner Blue decided to take the already iconic outfitter to the next level. By streamlining their photo sales and liability waiver processes with PicThrive and Wherewolf, they were able to:

     ✔  Decrease manual labor.

     ✔  Cut down on costs.

     ✔  Increase guest visitation.

     ✔  Provide a better experience to their guests.

as well as...

     ✔  Become the #1 rated rafting company on Tripadvisor for New Zealand.

     ✔  Achieve 73% higher photo sales revenue than the average tour operator in their region.


Kaituna Cascades previously sold photos to guests on USB sticks and collected liability waiver information on sheets of paper. Although this was the way the company had been operating for years, owner Pete Lodge knew that both these processes needed to change as they caused operational pains, including:

     ✘  Long wait times for guests after their trip.

     ✘  Lost sales opportunities from guests leaving without purchasing photos.

     ✘  Delayed guest satisfaction and a sub-optimal experience due to old technology.

     ✘  Corrupted USBs and unusable customer data collected on paper.

     ✘  Over 400 hours of lost staff time per year doing manual work.

Long wait times and lost sales.

Burning each USB took between 2-5 min to burn, meaning that large groups of guests were sometimes waiting upwards of 10-20 minutes before they got their photos. Some guests would not want to wait for photos and would leave without purchasing. Every guest who left without purchasing photos was a lost sale, as Kaituna Cascades didn’t have a way to resell after the fact. In total, the lost sales opportunities represented thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year.

Delayed guest satisfaction.

Guests who did receive photos on a USB couldn’t immediately access them because they needed a compatible computer. They had to wait until they returned home to share their memories with friends, and by then the thrill of the adventure had waned.

Additionally, guests would sometimes call back when the USB they took home turned out to be corrupted and the photos were unviewable, forcing staff to spend upwards of 15-20 minutes per guest re-sending those files and causing customer frustration.

Lost time.

Adding to the USB burn times during daily operations, staff would have to back up all the photos to a hard drive at the end of the day, adding an additional 20-30 min of work to an already exhausting day.

At the same time, paper waiver processing and storage was a hassle:

  1. They were only able to collect very basic information that had to be reviewed waiver by waiver.
  2. At the end of a long work day, they had to spend time filing papers and if they needed to pull any important information, it had to be done manually as it was not easily searchable.
  3. The antiquated waiver collection process did not allow trip leaders to quickly review critical information pertaining to the guests’ specific needs like pre-existing health conditions. Also, this information could not be easily used to aid their marketing efforts.

Both staff and guests were being inconvenienced, leading to a sub-optimal experience for the guest and lost marketing opportunities for Kaituna Cascades.

All of the daily manual work caused by USBs and managing waivers represented over 400 hours of lost time per year.

The Challenge

Taking over the business was a big investment and a huge commitment for owners Pete and Blue. Both knew that if they wanted to succeed, they had to make the best use of their time and resources. Together, they made the decision to upgrade their photo sales and liability waiver processes to the 21st century, and they did so by partnering with PicThrive and Wherewolf.

Eliminating lineups, saving time and prioritizing guest satisfaction.

They were able to get set up with PicThrive in a matter of hours, without any upfront investment and no disruption to their operations. The platform allowed staff to send photos to guest’s phones instantly via email and text with the click of a button, which eliminated lineups from guests previously waiting for USBs.

Excited rafters could walk away with a Kaituna Cascades branded gallery on their phones in less than a minute, allowing them to instantly share their adventure with their family and friends back home. The last experience at the outfitter was smooth and pleasurable for a tourist on a tight itinerary.

Corrupted USBs became a thing of the past - No more extra costs, wasted time, or dissatisfied guests.

Staff had peace of mind that they no longer had to back up files on a hard drive at the end of each day or spend time filing waivers. PicThrive provides unlimited uploads and free storage of photos and videos, while the Wherewolf platform keeps all of their waiver information securely stored in the cloud, ready in an easily searchable database in case they ever needed it.

While Pete and Blue focused on running their operations, the Wherewolf team focused on building a custom fit waiver app for their business. This app ensured that guests could walk up to an automated kiosk and, in a couple of minutes, provide staff with all the info they needed to tailor their rafting experience to their needs.

Cool fact: during a call between Pete and the PicThrive and Wherewolf teams, a guest exclaimed “Easy as!” when asked how they found the waiver process.

The Solution

Increasing sales.

Kaituna Cascades utilized the PicThrive-Wherewolf integrations, one of which allowed them to identify those guests that bought photos on site and those that didn’t. Guests that didn’t buy photos on site were automatically connected with the online photo store for the opportunity to buy online. On a weekly basis, they were getting multiple sales from guests that left without purchasing on site. This amounted to thousands of dollars in recovered sales opportunities.

Based on industry data collected in 2018 in the Asia Pacific region, Kaituna Cascades is now achieving 73% higher photo sales revenue than the average tour operator.

Becoming the #1 rated rafting company on Tripadvisor for New Zealand.

In order to capture guest information more efficiently, Kaituna Cascades utilized the automated Wherewolf waiver kiosks where guests entered their own information autonomously. The kiosks captured every guest’s email address and an automated follow up was sent to all participants moments after their rafting experience. Those emails included important follow up details, like a link directing guests to the company’s Tripadvisor page. By making it easier for guests to share the details of their experience, Tripadvisor reviews increased. This resulted in an increase in Kaituna Cascades Tripadvisor position, which in turn resulted in an increase in future bookings.

The Wherewolf automated tablet app allowed the Kaituna Cascades team to capture detailed liability waiver information much more efficiently than before. They were now able to quickly identify guests with special needs and accommodate their requests, as well as gather detailed customer data into an easy to use dashboard. By identifying how guests found out about their business, their age, their preferences, and other data points, Kaituna Cascades was able to more easily target the best marketing channels and be more effective at promoting their business.

The Kaituna Cascades branded galleries they were selling through PicThrive aligned their branding and messaging with the memories guests were sharing. By allowing guests to share their photos immediately after a trip, writing reviews and referring people to their business was made even easier.

Through more targeted marketing efforts and branded photo galleries, Kaituna Cascades was able to become the #1 rated rafting company on Tripadvisor for New Zealand!

All in all, Kaituna Cascades remains at the forefront of innovation and technology adoption in their industry. They are a true testament that you can provide a classic, 5 star experience, while at the same time adapting to the new technological landscape.

Want to do the same?

See how your operation can start saving time and earning more.

PicThrive is the leading photo/video sales and marketing platform for tour and activity operators. It makes photos and videos fast, easy, mobile & more profitable for tour operators.

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