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Do you want to know how you can deliver superior guest experiences for the customers of your tour or activity business? The key is to remind your customers of their experience - with a positive memory of the day and your brand. 

When you remind past customers of their experience, you are more likely to get repeat bookings. And when customers share their photo memories with their friends/family it will generate new social referrals for your business.

So, how exactly can you remind your guests of their positive experience? That’s exactly the question Ryan O’Grady, Founder and President of Fotaflo, answered in a recent Q&A published in Authority Magazine.

Ryan O’Grady gave five steps for creating a “Wow! Customer Experience”:

  1. Create a positive, customer photo worthy experience, that’s worth remembering. 
  2. Capture and provide memories for your customers.
  3. Remind customers of their positive memory at your business.
  4. Thank your customers and ask for a review.
  5. Regularly bring forward positive outcomes to your team.

Want to learn more about these five best practices and how they can help your business build a wow customer experience? We’re sharing the Authority Magazine Q&A below.

Or, book a Fotaflo demo today. We would love to discuss how your business can improve its guest experience through the use of a seamless and user-friendly photo and video marketing platform. 


This article was originally published by Authority Magazine on September 10, 2021.

Ryan O’Grady of Fotaflo: 5 Things a Business Should Do to Create a Wow Customer Experience

An Interview With Orlando Zayas

Remind customers of their positive memory at your business. There’s many ways to remind customers of their experience at your business and the premise is that instead of sending marketing media of your brand, about your brand, from your brand, instead you remind past customers of their experience and their memory of your brand, along with including your marketing content. The best way to do this is to send emails or text messages that include the customers’ photo memories of their experience at your business that you captured. Instead of creating a newsletter with content you create that needs to appeal to a wide demographic, you simply send a past customer their captured memory of their positive experience with your business. By doing this you can not only attract repeat business with the most engaging marketing media (a memory), but past customers are generally more likely to re-share their photo memory, generating new social referrals to your business long after they visited.

As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan O’Grady, Founder and President of Fotaflo.

Ryan O‘Grady has 13+ years of expertise in digital photo and video solutions for the tours, activities, and attractions industries with specialized knowledge of the benefits of photo and video referral marketing.

Ryan specializes in assessing the photo and video solution needs of clients and has worked with hundreds of businesses around the world to maximize their social word-of-mouth marketing impact through photos and videos.

As a pioneer in the adventure photo and video industry, Ryan loves to share his knowledge and is a presenter at many adventure conferences throughout the year.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Growing up I decided that it was my lifelong goal to travel the world and film. I was fortunate to realize this dream early in life, when I was 26 I traveled the world filming motorsport adventures for a television show on the Outdoor Channel. I was fortunate to film some incredible experiences, including flying through the most northern ice fjord from a helicopter in Greenland, snowmobiling in Siberia, ATVing along the White Nile in Uganda, taking an open ocean boat crossing from Miami to Bimini in the Bahamas and jet skiing through the fjords of Norway.

It was during this time that I realized I needed new life goals. I identified a problem, that the tourism operators we worked with, were providing once in a lifetime memories, but none of their guests were receiving photos to remember these experiences forever.

So the idea for Fotaflo was born, to provide a software service for any tour, activity or attraction business to be able to easily provide photo and video memories to their guests. Out of equal parts naivety and persistence, here we are, over 10 years later, helping tourism businesses grow their referral and repeat bookings by providing their guests with free photo and video memories of incredible experiences, memories that are broadly shared and now will serve as a lasting memory of the business that provided them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Early on I believed that Fotaflo could benefit every type of tour, activity or attraction business. After my first year of successfully operating in one type of tour (a Zipline tour) I decided to expand to 6 different verticals in one summer. I tried setting our software for a golf course, jet ski rental, an adventure park, a summer tubing business and the zip tour. I quickly realized the differences between taking a product vertical in one market, or branching out horizontally when the service failed in everything but the zip tour. It was a humbling experience and was doomed from the start. However, I learned, targeted Zipline tours exclusively, was first to market and grew quickly, internationally in that vertical. Now, ten years later, we’ve matured where we work with something like 50–60 different styles and verticals of tours, activities and attractions, so I’ve finally learned how to move a product horizontally, however it was a frustrating and costly lesson when I was first starting and almost broke me.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

It’s cliché, but there’s too many people to mention that I’m grateful for, including family and other incredible professionals who have volunteered their time to support me, however, I’m incredibly grateful for one person in particular: Cheryl Breukelman of Epiphany Coaches for helping me through some challenging times. I was very dejected when I met Cheryl, we just won a pitch contest that included a cash prize and a prize for executive business coaching, yet personally I was really struggling. I had spent the last 4 years developing a very expensive hardware product, it wasn’t going well and I really didn’t believe I earned my role as CEO. Cheryl slowly helped me build up my confidence within my role and belief in myself. I truly feel great about the balance of my personal and professional life and my role in Fotaflo. I can’t recommend professional coaching enough, it has really helped me develop as a leader within my organization and serve my peers to support my team’s professional growth. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without this coaching.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

I believe most business owners realize that referral and repeat business are essential in building stable and consistent business growth. Great customer service has a direct and measurable consequence in earning media benefits than most contributes to referral and repeat business.

So I like to relate the importance of customer experience to the most affordable, the most trusted and highest performing marketing media available to any marketer; Earned Media. This is the media marketing and benefit we earn from our customers or through PR. If we fail to deliver great customer experience this will be reflected in our reviews, in negative conversations in social channels and we likely won’t gain PR, at least not favorable PR that helps our business.

Now imagine the contrary, where we rock our customer experience, where customers are regularly making favourable comments about our business in reviews, or posting positive content, reaching our target audience with a trusted endorsement of our business. Social word-of-mouth marketing in the form of user generated content presents the greatest opportunity for any business to grow and this all starts with a great customer experience.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

I think it has a lot to do with apathy, right? Let’s be real, every business starts with the intent to provide the best customer experience, but over time it’s easy to let this slip and forget what it takes to consistently deliver a memorable experience. We serve the tourism industry with clients that serve hundreds of guests per year and others that serve a couple hundred thousand more. I presume that when we are serving so many people, it’s easy to forget that every one of our customers is important, every one of them has the ability to walk out our door and positively impact the purchase decisions of others to either support our business or detract from our business success.

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

Definitely, competition is good, it keeps us honest, doesn’t it? And many business owners are competitive, so I believe healthy competition helps us to implement positive practices that support our customer experience.

Earned Media, in the form of reviews and social word of mouth activity, is definitely an external pressure. If our business is constantly receiving poor reviews, or if people are talking badly about it, that really motivates us to get better. On the other hand, I believe positive feedback is a huge motivator and can keep us passionate about the experience we provide to our customers. Hearing from our customers on why the experience we provide is meaningful and positive to them is a constant reminder of the importance of the experience we need to provide day-in and day-out.

Reviewing positive earned media on a regular basis, sharing it internally with our team and recognizing team members who’ve received favorable reviews can help our team focus on the importance we all play in supporting the customer experience.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

Fortunately, through the hard work of our collective team, we have a great net promoter score (NPS score) and regularly receive favourable reviews of the experience we provide. One client in particular, Abyss Scuba Diving in Sydney, Australia, comes to mind. As a progressive marketer, the owner of Abyss Scuba Diving understood that he needed to intervene in his business to continue to grow. After 9 years giving away photos to customers through Facebook, he found Fotaflo, made the switch to our software, explicitly followed our recommendations and best practices ( exhaustively built by my team over years of dedicated work) ,within the first 3 months grew his bookings by 40%, this extended for a year, where he was 37% up on the year. Obviously he was thrilled and it was really cool for us because this was so unexpected and unique in the Australian Dive Industry that PADI Asia Pacific, the primary member driven certification body of scuba diving, took notice, performed a competitive analysis in Sydney and found that Abyss was exclusive in their growth with the only variable being introduced was Fotaflo.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

What we learned from this was the importance of compliance with our best practices. Previous to Abyss we often let our clients use our software however they wanted, but it was an obvious lightbulb moment where we then understood how important our best practices were to the success of our new clients. From that point forward, we’ve been explicit and very forward with new clients in adhering to our practices to gain the best results. Sometimes this is met with apprehension or resistance, but we know and have data to prove that following our recommendations leads to the best results and we are unapologetic in directing new clients to follow our procedures because we know that’s how we help them the most.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Create a positive, customer photo worthy experience, that’s worth remembering. 

We work primarily in the experiential economy with tours, activities and attractions that inherently provide a life memory as part of the service they provide. Naturally, people want to capture photos and videos of themselves at these businesses. When a business provides a memorable experience where their customers capture media of themselves, customers will in turn and naturally share that media, reaching the target audience of the business that provided the experience with a trusted endorsement of the business. I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t naturally provide an experience that your customers want to remember, manufacture a positive experience worth remembering. That could relate to the design of your store, or the way your staff interacts with your customers, some type of fun activity you provide, or by providing your customers with something unexpected, maybe some free product or service. By manufacturing an experience, it turns into a memory, memories captured in photos or videos naturally get shared, which earns you media benefit from your customers.

  1. Capture and provide memories for your customers. 

Most of the time tours, activities and attractions leave it to the consumers to capture their own memory of the experience. When (not if) a consumer shares their experience online, most often they don’t include the brand or business information in the share. When you, as a business, actively help your customers remember the experience you provide, by capturing a photo of them and providing it for free this adds service to the experience you provide and raises their perception of the value of your service. It also forces more, fun interaction between your customers and staff, which increases the perception of the experience. By actively doing this and delivering through email and text you can also capture customer contact information and have them opt-in to your marketing. You can also include your brand within the photos or media channels, to ensure that when your customers share their photo memories they are always promoting your brand to the audience they are introduced to your business. It’s really a win for your customers, staff, business and the new customers who’ll be introduced to your business in a fun and visual way.

  1. Remind customers of their positive memory at your business. 

There’s many ways to remind customers of their experience at your business and the premise is that instead of sending marketing media of your brand, about your brand, from your brand, instead you remind past customers of their experience and their memory of your brand, along with including your marketing content. The best way to do this is to send emails or text messages that include the customers’ photo memories of their experience at your business that you captured. Instead of creating a newsletter with content you create that needs to appeal to a wide demographic, you simply send a past customer their captured memory of their positive experience with your business. By doing this you can not only attract repeat business with the most engaging marketing media (a memory), but past customers are generally more likely to re-share their photo memory, generating new social referrals to your business long after they visited.

  1. Thank your customers and ask for a review. 

One of the best things you can do to create a wow experience is to authentically thank your customers. Better yet is to have your front end staff that interact with your customers, the people that are the face of your brand and business, thanking your customers. We encourage businesses to create a personalized video message that you send to your customers immediately after their experience with you, that includes a call to action for a review. This doesn’t work for all businesses and a prerecorded stock video thank you can work, but if your customers are valuable to you and you can find the time, have your front-end staff record a short video thanking your customers that follow this script, 1. Say thank you. 2. Mention one thing that’s unique to your customer 3. Say your name 4. Ask for a review. This video, is ideally included as a surprise along with the photos you’ve captured of the guest and are providing, has been proven to significantly increase the customer experience, leading to a direct positive impact on the quality and quantity of reviews.

  1. Regularly bring forward positive outcomes to your team. 

To build and maintain momentum in a wow customer experience your team needs to be reminded that the experience they provide to your customers matters. That there’s a positive impact on your customers when you provide wow customer experiences. If you are following the above tips you’ll see an immediate increase in reviews, including reviews where specific staff is referenced in a favourable review. Make sure to bring favourable customer reviews forward regularly. Share what your customers are saying about your staff and business to everyone in your team and thank your staff for the experience they provide your customers. Positive incentives for your team based on favourable reviews also work well and are easy to implement within your company.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

I believe I covered this above.

My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Forgive me as I sound like a broken record, but all retailers need to create or manufacture an experience for their customers that their customers naturally want to remember. I work in the tours, activities and attractions industry, so it’s foundational and inherent in these businesses as they naturally create an experience that their customers want to remember. However, if you don’t provide an experience worth remembering as part of your primary service or product, you can manufacture an experience. Consider what would make the best experience for your target audience when they’re shopping with you. What experience can you provide that would earn you media benefit in the form of UGC or social-word-of-mouth marketing, that your customers would naturally want to talk about and share. I feel that all of us have had experiences taken away from us over the last year and consumers will be looking to fill their lives again with memorable experiences. Make sure you are part of the experiential economy, otherwise you’re only separated by cost and will never win against Amazon and direct-to-consumer companies.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’m very passionate about my vision of free photo memories. I feel that any business that tries to charge someone for their own memory (e.g. roller coaster photos) is antiquated and I believe businesses have incredible opportunities to help their customers receive meaningful photos that elicit positive life memories. Capturing these memories creates a positive experience between the employees that provide them and the customers. These memories get shared, introducing new people to great experiences, meaning more people getting out and having great experiences. This also means businesses succeed by simply helping people receive great memories. Honestly, I wish any business that provides an experience worth remembering would help their customers remember more experiences, regardless of whatever product, service or software they use to provide this service. This is a win (customer), win (Staff), win (new customer), win (business) outcome that would positively impact so many people and that would give me incredible satisfaction.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Book a Fotaflo demo today and learn how our photo and video marketing solution can help your business grow.


Topics: Fotaflo News, customer experience


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