Reel Deal Anglers
When Rhett Bain, a military veteran, was laid off from his construction job, he needed a way to support his budding family. A lifelong fishing enthusiast, Rhett accepted a job at a popular guest ranch in Moose, Wyoming, where he worked as a freshwater trout guide. In 2002, he founded his own business, Reel Deal Anglers, in Jackson Hole. The company offered niche experiences like private-water and ranch fishing to like-minded sportsman. Even though his focus was specific, Rhett was up against some well-funded competitors, and he knew he had to do more to stand out. “We were using print ads to get our name out, but we also saw that the internet was taking off,” he said. Rhett started exploring different ways to go digital, but he had a hard time navigating the intricacies of the web. “In the beginning, I used to pay 30 or so different sites for advertisements, and most of them were a waste of time, effort, and money,” said Rhett. So, in 2011, he started using Google tools to grow Reel Deal Anglers’ online presence and to better attract both local and international clients.
Ever since Rhett set up a Google My Business account for his business, Reel Deal Anglers has been noticed by fishing enthusiasts all around the world. “Being readily visible on search is important for us because, when people are looking for something online, they go to Google,” said Rhett, who also uses Google My Business to showcase his stellar customer reviews. Google Ads helps Rhett ensure that he reaches even more adventurers, whereas Google Analytics gives him a better understanding of his clients.
Today, digital makes up 100% of Reel Deal Anglers’ advertising budget. The company books more than 500 trips annually and has doubled its net profit in the last year alone. Google Ads has contributed to 10-15% of its growth so far, and the return on investment continues to grow. “Google has rewarded us with our reviews and our online presence. It’s like my sales guy is out there all over the world,” said Rhett. As his business continues to thrive, Rhett remains committed to paying his success forward. “I’m a veteran, so I do a lot of work with various veteran charities,” said Rhett. He regularly donates to local therapeutic horseback-riding centers and rehabilitation facilities. Over the next few years, Rhett hopes to strengthen his business’ presence in other Wyoming markets. “Google tools let us market all over,” said Rhett, “so that’s what we’re going to continue doing.”
BrushBuck Wildlife Tours
30 employees during peak season
Ezra Peters, his wife, Amber, and her brother, Adam Lackner, were young military veterans in 2007. The couple served in the U.S. Navy, and Adam was a U.S. Marine who had been deployed to Iraq. As civilians, they wanted to work for themselves, leveraging the focus and discipline they learned during their service. Together, they founded BrushBuck Wildlife Tours, living on a budget so tight they thought twice before ordering fries with their burgers. Their goal was to stand out in the local tourism industry by being prompt, professional, and courteous. The first season they led fewer than 50 wildlife tours with two vehicles. “At first, we thought this might be our first and last season, but we became the number one company in our area within a very short time,” Amber recalls. “We changed the expectations for a tour guide here in Jackson.”
The trio knew how to generate leads locally, but attracting customers from outside Wyoming was a bigger challenge. “It was a good moment for us when we started using Google AdWords,” Google’s advertising program, Adam says. “AdWords lets us have a presence with people who are booking six to eight months before they get here, especially for our multi-day tours.” AdWords now accounts for about 60 percent of their sales. Google Analytics helps the trio understand and track website traffic, and Google My Business gives potential customers the opportunity to check out reviews and photos. Adventurers considering a tour can also watch dozens of videos on the company’s YouTube channel, which Adam calls “a very powerful tool.” Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and other G Suite tools help everyone stay in touch and on time.
Today, BrushBuck Wildlife Tours offers domestic excursions to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Denali National Parks, and international tours in Africa and South America. They escort 7,000 to 10,000 people annually in 10 vehicles. In addition to creating a great customer experience, the founders are dedicated to spreading their work and training ethic. Adam concludes, “We’ve started to build a culture like a Marine Corps platoon or a Navy unit here. You start to work together in ways that really you don’t see in a whole lot of businesses. Anybody can be a good guide on eventful days, when the bears and the wolves all come out. I want our guides to get five-star reviews even on bad days.”
Dave Hansen Whitewater & Scenic River Trips
Dave Hansen Whitewater & Scenic River Trips has shared the beauty and adventure of Jackson Hole for 50 years. The business started off as the hobby of a die-hard outdoorsman, Dave Hansen, who enjoyed taking his friends on occasional river rides. Over the years, Dave and current owners Bud Chatham and Kelly Kaiser transformed the business into a full-service provider of whitewater escapades and scenic cruises. “We do trips for people from four years old to 100 years old, however young at heart they might be,” says General Manager Kyle Vosmus. Unfortunately, as an outdoor company, they don’t lead these exciting river trips all year round—they’re at the mercy of the weather. That’s why, for Kyle, growth has always meant one thing: more control over the business.
With the help of Google tools, control is just what Dave Hansen Whitewater gets from their online storefront. AdWords, Google's advertising program, puts the power back in Kyle's hands. “AdWords is a jackpot. The name recognition on the Internet is great. It helps us attract visitors from well outside the state,” Kyle says. “And with Google Analytics, we know where people are coming from, how they're seeing us, as well as how many people are booking with us.” The company also uses G Suite tools to collaborate faster, coordinate better, and work smarter. “That really helped us big time,” he adds. From planning guide assignments to keeping track of gear and equipment inventory, the web is helping them build a superhighway to the great outdoors for Wyomingites and visitors alike.
Dave Hansen Whitewater continues to grow and evolve, as more plugged-in adventure seekers explore an unwired way of life. The company now shares the Jackson Hole wilderness with over 20,000 customers annually. Thanks to the success they’ve enjoyed, they’re able to donate nearly 1,000 free trips to local middle school students each year. “I love being on the river, and I love sharing it with people,” says Kyle. “It changes their lives. That’s my favorite part of this job.”
Snake River Angler
Snake River Angler gives 20 guided trips every day
As a descendant from a pioneering Wyoming family, Will Dornan founded Snake River Angler in 1997 in the tiny town of Moose, near the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. The business grew to become a full-service outfitter, offering guided fishing and scenic float trips along 13 area rivers. “To introduce somebody to the river and to fishing and being outside is something that is super important to us,” says Manager Jake Ragsdale. They opened a second location in 2006, on the square in nearby Jackson, complete with a retail store. “It's really a one-stop shop if you want to fish here.”
Snake River Angler gradually evolved from a two-person business with an old-fashioned, paper-based booking system into a modern digital operation with online booking. They maintain an efficient website and a strong social-media presence. They also use a variety of Google tools to help run the business. Jake particularly relies on Google Analytics to help him understand what people do on the site, so they can keep their website humming and productive. “We're looking at all this data to figure out different marketing strategies,” he says. “We’re constantly growing and figuring things out, which makes it really fun and also a challenge.” They depend on Google Maps to direct visitors to the store, while Gmail and Google Calendar make it easy for the staff to communicate and stay on schedule. They also use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to connect with potential customers looking to plan a trip to Wyoming.
They now have customers from all over the United States and around the world. This seasonal business grows from seven or eight employees in the winter to about 35 during the busy summer tourist season. Jackson residents have twice voted them the Best Fishing Outfitter. “We support the community, and it's really nice because the community supports us as well,” Jake says. “It’s a great life. Our guides fish for a living, float down the river, and share their knowledge and passion with the tourists,” he says. “And we get to be in Jackson, which is a pretty good perk, too.”