Managing Meals & Lodging: THE NORTH CASCADES INSTITUTE

“We love working with Percolator! They know our database so well, which is a consequence of time and intentionality. When we ask questions, they have answers that we might never consider.”

Paula Berg, Development Coordinator
North Cascades Institute

About North Cascasdes Institute

Since 1986, North Cascades Institute (NCI) has helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. By helping people of all ages experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, they inspire people to care for and protect it. NCI operates the Environmental Learning Center which serves as a base camp for enjoying the surrounding wilderness, as well as an educational facility for youth programs, conferences and retreats, and an M.Ed graduate residency. Each year, NCI serves thousands of youth and adults and is an invaluable resource for the Pacific Northwest.

The Problem

NCI is an outdoor/environmental nonprofit that also does hospitality and event planning. Hosting trips at NCI’s Environmental Learning Center requires collecting and sharing information about trips and participants between program staff and facility staff. The kitchen operation is especially complicated as they prepare hot and cold meals at multiple price points for NCI’s many guests.

Information for meal planning was stored in Salesforce, but access required knowledge of reporting in Salesforce. Everyday kitchen staff relied on an admin to pull a report of meal counts and dietary restrictions. These reports were finalized in the morning so they couldn’t account for day-of changes or last-minute registration changes. As a consequence, the reports were often wrong, which was frustrating for kitchen staff and participants.

NCI placed participants into rooms with a drag-and-drop calendar system that Percolator built years earlier. The system was popular among staff, but the technology we used to build it was aging so it was ready for a refresh.

The Solution

For meal planning, we designed a (fun and fancy!) custom report that automatically pulls detailed information from program and participant records and breaks it down into meal counts. NCI put an iPad with Salesforce access in the Kitchen, so staff can access the report at the time of meal prep.

We redesigned the drag-and-drop system using lightning web components, Salesforce’s new development tool. We made two views of the calendar (rooms in the context of a single program and lodging overall for a given timeframe) so it could be useful for both the program and housing staff.

The Results

The changes have improved life for NCI staff and participants. In the kitchen, harmony has been restored. The custom report gives kitchen staff an overview of meals for days or weeks and also a detailed breakdown of individual meals. They access the meal planning report right at the time of meal prep so they see the most up-to-date information without any need for an admin.

For housing, the drag-and-drop system is well-liked among staff and makes registration very easy for program leaders. There are lots of useful and exciting features, like visual icons to represent common participant requests, the ability to manipulate room capacity, and automatic syncing to participant records when room assignments are made on the calendar.

Check out screenshots of the projects:

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