Grand Canyon Resort Corporation
High-Altitude, High-Speed Success: HughesNet Keeps a Grand Canyon Business Connected
The Grand Canyon Resort Corporation (GCRC), wholly owned by the Hualapai tribe and located in Peach Springs, Arizona, is no stranger to the tourism industry.
Since 1988, GCRC has welcomed millions of visitors each year to tour sites like the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and has grown to comprise the Hualapai Lodge & River Runners organization and Grand Canyon West, in addition to the Corporation’s main office. As business and revenue grew over the years, it became increasingly important for GCRC to streamline communications at its 10 sites across the area—which presented significant challenges, considering that the Grand Canyon West location, a tourist site on the Canyon’s West Rim and home of the Skywalk, for example, had no Internet connectivity. To provide reliable connectivity effectively and securely for all 10 of its sites, GCRC turned to Hughes in early 2009 for a private network solution. With HughesNet® Private Networks, GCRC now enjoys the benefits of an enterprise-grade IP solution employing state-of-the-art equipment and end-to-end network data security, keeping all its locations securely “in the loop.”
In 1988, the local Hualapai Indian tribe, which has occupied the land since 1883, purchased the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation—a conglomerate organization that coordinates all sales and reservations for the nearby lodge, river rafting company, and Grand Canyon West. To further increase tourism in the area, the Hualapai built the Grand Canyon Skywalk in 2007. The Skywalk is a glass, horseshoe-shaped bridge that enables visitors to walk beyond the canyon walls at Grand Canyon West, suspending them 4,000 feet above the riverbed and providing a true bird’s-eye view of the incredible gorge.
As business continued to boom for the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation, it became increasingly important for all business operations and locations to share information, ticketing data, and software, both quickly and securely.
“Originally, we were using a very expensive T1 line to get broadband connectivity since our main office in Peach Springs is located way beyond the reach of cable or DSL,” said Ken Zachreson, IT manager for GCRC. “But we still had a problem getting connectivity to Grand Canyon West and, later, the Skywalk.”
The GCRC corporate office also uses a ticketing solutions provider based in Pennsylvania that both records and collects admission information and revenue from Grand Canyon West. “The problem,” said Zachreson “was actually sharing that data and software updates with Grand Canyon West so everyone could be on the same page. If we wanted to continue to bring in revenue and have accurate books, we needed a way to communicate easily and quickly.”
To remedy their situation, GCRC selected a broadband satellite provider that claimed to offer reliable, high-speed connectivity and private networking for multi-site businesses at a low cost.
“Our main problem with the first provider we chose was that they only offered us a limited amount of throughput each month. Once we had achieved our monthly allotment, we’d be charged for each additional megabit,” said Zachreson. “Needless to say, that wasn’t such a ‘low cost’ solution after all.”
Room to Grow
In late 2008, with the number of Skywalk tickets quickly increasing, GCRC sought a more efficient, cost-effective solution.
“I began researching broadband providers in the area and what I found was that it seemed everyone was reselling the HughesNet service from Hughes,” said Zachreson. “I decided to go right to the source and began a series of very fruitful conversations with the Hughes sales reps.”
Zachreson noted that, aside from the success of resellers in the area, one thing that drove him to Hughes was their experience working with small businesses, large enterprises, and government organizations alike.
“The technology was both more advanced and easier to use than anything we’ve ever had before,” said Zachreson. “I was really impressed with the reputation of Hughes and the fact that their private network solution had no throughput limit like other providers. It truly gives us room to grow.”
Originally, GCRC purchased HughesNet Business Internet simply to get broadband connectivity. After consulting with Hughes, Zachreson learned that the addition of a HughesNet Private Networks solution would perfectly fit their need for connecting the multiple business sites.
HughesNet Private Networks offers flexible design configurations, specially designed for organizations like GCRC that have a variety of sites with varying bandwidth requirements. The service plans also include speeds of up to 8 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream.
HughesNet Private Networks also offers 24/7 technical support, state-of-the-art encryption, and firewall protection technology, so Zachreson doesn’t have to worry about the security of sharing reports or sensitive data with his accounting department.
High-Altitude, High-Speed Success
Today, all ten GCRC business locations are connected securely through HughesNet Private Networks.
“We can now share our ticketing software easily among locations, which has also allowed us to get our local call center in the loop,” said Zachreson. “HughesNet Private Networks and high-speed Internet access service have been the ideal solution. Other businesses located beyond the reach of cable and DSL should know that it’s made our business run more smoothly and more effectively and has ultimately saved us a lot of money.”