Nub’s Nob is a ski resort in northern Michigan renowned for its snowmaking and snow grooming. While many people overlook the Midwest when it comes to skiing, Nub’s Nob has won several awards that no other Midwestern destination has ever won. We spoke to Ben Doornbos, assistant general manager at Nub’s Nob, about their operation, how he chose Cayan, the challenges of accepting payments in freezing temperatures, and the many ways he uses Cayan’s new Genius Handheld solution. 


Tell me a little bit about Nub’s Nob. Your site has some great history and informationbut how would you sum it all up

Nub’s Nob is a family-owned ski area in northern Michigan, and we specialize in two things here: snow making/snow grooming, and customer service. Those are really all we do.  

We’re an old-school, family-owned ski lodge, not part of a larger corporate entity. We don’t have overnight lodging or anything. It’s very simple here, just a family ski lodge, but we’ve won several national awards for snow making and snow grooming—and we’re the only Midwest ski area to have won some of these awards.  

We’re very proud of our product. We focus on quality. That’s what we do—keep it simple but high quality.

Before you switched to Cayan, what were you looking for in a new payment solution? Why did you think you needed to make a change? 
We were in the same boat as a lot of small businesses, where we had a POS that we were used to and really liked and had stuck with, but the EMV transition was on the horizon and the processor we’d been using wasn’t ready for that. So, it was important for us—as a business that focuses on quality—to find the best processor for the EMV transition.  

How did you find Cayan? 
It was a recommendation from our POS provider, Quantix—they work with ski areas, amusement parks, water parks, and places along those lines. They recommended that we talk to Cayan. 

Why did you choose Genius and Genius Handheld
The big thing was the customer service. Every time I called somebody answered the phone. We have some unique problems at the ski area, and a lot of our point of sale systems are outdoors, so we needed to find solutions for accepting EMV and card payments that were customer-facing but could handle being outside in the elements. We were not brushed off by Cayan’s sales staff—they took our concerns seriously and looked into ways to creatively solve these issues.  

How has Genius performed so far? Has it handled the elements well
We’ve been using Genius outside on the large Verifone terminals. We cover them up so they aren’t exposed to snow, but they’re still outdoors in the cold. They’ve worked excellent. A lot of our customers are wearing gloves, but with the large screen they can still easily press it as necessary. We were concerned at the start--we have temperatures here that reach -15 degrees, and we thought maybe we’d have a problem with the devices. But there hasn’t been an issue with them yet.  

Where are you using Genius Handheld
We’re using it in two places: in our bar—called Nub’s Pub—and at the front desk.  

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At the front desk, it can get very crowded, and we sell a lot of gift cards. With Handheld, instead of having a fixed point of sale there, it made sense to have the mobility of the device so that we can make those transactions happen in various places. Now it doesn’t have to be at one static location, and that’s been a big benefit for us as well. 

How has Handheld been working at your bar?  
The bar was one place we knew we definitely wanted Handheld.  

We have a very long bar in the ski lodge, and with customer-facing EMV machines we had to ask our customers to actually go visit a machine at either side of the bar rather than what they’re used to—which is, no matter where they are on the bar, they can just throw the card to the bartender. That wasn’t an option with the larger customer-facing machines that were in limited locations.  

We switched our bar to the Handheld system, and that’s been awesome. Not only can our bartender now charge a credit card anywhere along the bar, he or she can actually walk to any part of the entire room and charge a credit card, and that been a big step forward for us.  

You were part of the Pilot Program too, so you’ve had a lot of experience with Genius Handheld. What was your implementation experience like? 
It’s been great. Our bartenders—who have been here for many, many years—were a little bit leery of it at first just because it was new to them. But the feedback we’re getting from both our bartenders and our customers has been excellent. People love the fact that they can use their iPhones to pay and they can pay literally anywhere in the bar now. They can be sitting at their table and never even have to get up, and they can pay for drinks and food that way. Great feedback from our customers, and from the staff as well.  

Have you seen any differences in checkout with Cayan
We’ve certainly seen people using their iPhones to pay, which was totally new. And in our area, I’m not aware of any other small business that has that technology in place already. So people come here, and they’re impressed by the options they have to pay for things, and the simplicity of the technology.  

Cayan has enabled us to improve our customer service, and we emphasize service more than anything. It goes with our motto of being first-class and friendly. 

You’re using both Genius countertop and Genius Handheld. Have you found that the two work well together? 
They seem to work really well together. The interface is nearly identical, so if a customer interacts with a Handheld device it’s the same experience and screen as on the larger Verifone machines. The interface is not an issue, and people seem to intuitively understand it.  

The funny thing is, a lot of people think the EMV card reader isn’t working since at most businesses in our area, it’s not—but it’s working with us. 

When you were looking for a new solution, were security and breach prevention big concerns for you? 
Security was the impetus for starting this. We haven’t had massive problems with fraud, but you follow the news and you listen to the issues that some of the larger chains have had with fraud, and we feel like it’s our responsibility to do our due diligence and be ready for that EMV transition. We weren’t just going to sweep it under the rug and pretend it wasn’t happening. We wanted to work with a company that also took that transition seriously.  

Are there any benefits you’re seeing that you weren’t expecting? 
The first would be how many people are using smartphone payment, and how quickly that’s been adopted—that’s been a real plus for our customers. It’s a comment that we hear a lot from customers, that they enjoy using their smartphones and it’s so convenient 

The other thing is the use of the backend of the Cayan website, the Merchant Portal. It’s been much, much easier to use than other systems we’ve been familiar with, and it makes interacting with transactions much simpler than it used to be for us. 

Would you recommend Cayan to other businesses? 
Absolutely. The customer service, the creativity, the problem solving of the folks associated with the Genius Handheld program has been encouraging. They’ve been honest with us every step of the way and found ways to solve our problems, which are unique to our industry. They’ve been very responsive to all issues.  

As 2017 moves forward, what are your priorities? Anything you’re hoping for in your work with Cayan? 
We’re looking forward to continued innovation. We feel like we’re working with a company that’s going to be on the forefront of payment technology, and ultimately what we’re trying to achieve here is convenience for our customers. We want to make it easy for them to enjoy their time out in the snow and pay for everything associated with their day of skiing. Convenience and customer service is number one for us, and we feel like we’re with a company that takes that seriously.  

Find out more about the Genius solutions that have simplified payments for Nub's Nob. 

​​Customer Spotlight: How Genius Handheld Transformed Nub's Nob