Online Booking Pages – Soft Launch

Two weeks ago we soft launched our new online booking pages.  Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been adding back features, tweaking the layout, fixing bugs, etc.   The new design and code represent a massive step forward as the booking process is MUCH simpler, deploys a MUCH better user interface and works spectacular on all mobile devices. We are already seeing a 20-30% increase in online bookings since the new pages launched.

The booking page is a five step process:

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The form alerts guests if any fields have been missed and also features some handy formatting components which make it super easy to enter phone numbers, credit card data, etc..

Step 4 of the current booking process displays your cancellation and deposit policies, as well as additional information about the damage protection products (if offered).    This will be replaced very soon by a mobile friendly version of your rental agreement.  Guests will easily be able to read and (for users of the digital signature module) sign the guest rental agreement BEFORE completing the booking.

In the current implementation the rental agreement is displayed after the booking is complete.  As mentioned above, soon the rental agreement will be moved within the the booking page itself.   The old digital signing process was not mobile friendly so we weren’t comfortable inserting it into the booking page.  The new process will be mobile friendly and should not impede the online booking in anyway.

Once the booking is complete, guests are taken to a post purchase page where the guest can view additional next steps instructions, as well as be given the (optional)  opportunity to purchase travel insurance.

2016-08-19_10-02-52The text at the top can be set within Lodgix at settings > online booking text.

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And finally a guest invoice number is displayed,  as well as PM contact information and offer a print friendly icon for the guest to print the booking request for their records.

Customization Options

Within settings > online booking theme, within Lodgix,  there is a new box for the more advanced users to enter CSS to customize the look and feel of the page.  While this option offers much more flexibility than our previous booking pages, we will be rolling out more options in the coming weeks which will allow the use of company logos, the choice of several premade templates, etc..

The objective is to give the user the ability to match the look and feel of their booking pages to that of their website. Previously this was not possible.

 

New Online Booking Page Update

It’s a big project to recode and redesign a new process and framework from scratch – however progress is being made!
A screenshot of the new ONE PAGE booking process is below.  We still have lots more work ahead of us, but much of the real nitty gritty work is done!

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Current Projects Update

Our two primary development projects have made significant progress since our last update.

Online Booking Page Redesign

I’ve seen the first online booking page redesign / recode test pages and can’t tell you how excited I am to get rid of our current pages.   Those pages continue to work well, however the design is dated and the mobile experience very sub par.   The new pages are responsive,  utilize the latest in buttons / icon designs and offer a great deal more flexibility.   It’s just a really big deal to flush the old code / design and usher in the new.   We still have several weeks of development of testing left, but great progress has been made!

I might have some screenshots next week Monday.

Merged Rates / Rules

An incredible amount of work has been done as we work to consolidate a the rates and rules setup for each property into one interface.  An immense amount of automated testing is being done to assure that all quotes and bookings from all services (booking calendars, WordPress users,  API users, channel users, etc) work as before with no downtime or discrepancies.

There will be huge interface differences which will be rolled out incrementally, however all guests should notice no difference in the rates and rules being used in quotes and bookings.  This update will only make property setup and maintenance MUCH easier, as well as make future coding MUCH easier and efficient on the development side of things.  It’s a much much needed update and one that I can’t wait to have behind us!

More soon!

Current Projects

The last 12 months have largely been spent rearchitecting large portions of the application.  This can be extremely time consuming, even for some of the best developers in the world. Recoding and refactoring the backend, while simultaneously launching a new front end framework requires a lot of man hours.   The good news is that we are currently working on two projects which will update two very important components of the application and will be very visible once launched.

Online Booking Pages

The Lodgix online booking pages have not been changed since the launch of the company in 2008.  Much is required of the interfaces and much is required of the code powering those pages:

  1. Mobile friendly.  Super important to have the pages make booking as easy as possible on phones and tablets.
  2. Simplicity.  A move to a one or two page booking process is essential.
  3. Skinning.   Lodgix users need much greater flexibility in skinning the look and feel of the Lodgix booking pages to match their website.
  4. Customization.   The ability to add / edit fields in the booking form, as well as to make certain field mandatory are super important.
  5. Design.   Updated, fresh design to make the booking process easy and simple on all screen sizes.
  6. Integration of new travel insurance partner.  Optional ability to offer travel insurance during the booking process.

and much, much more.

We are two weeks into the development process.  I should have some screenshots available soon!

Merged Rates and Rules

Lodgix currently has separate interfaces to setup nightly, weekly, monthly and per person rates.   Then we have separate interfaces to setup minimum night stay, arrival day and departure day rules.  All of that property setup can be time consuming.   Yes, we offer property cloning, rate / rule copy, etc..   However even with that, adding and updating rates / rules requires too much time.

Our new interfaces will allow all rates and rules to be setup on one page and will make the updating of those rates / rules for future periods a simple component of the universal property interface.

This project has been in progress in various stages since the summer of 2015.   The next stage will be an interim stage, still using our old display framework, but merging all current rates / rules.   The backend code will be completely new, but we will utilize the old display framework to ease the transition and testing to a completely new property setup process.

I expect we’ll start testing the new code in a couple of weeks and then perhaps a couple of weeks after that we’ll launch it to the production server.   So barring any huge fires, possibly a June 1 launch of the interim interfaces.   We’ll then move immediately to begin coding the new interfaces which will make things all nice and pretty and even more simple!

Imagine being able to say, “i’d like all my properties to reflect a 10% increase for 2017” and then making one change, applying it to all properties and five seconds later, all of your rates are 10% higher in 2017.

Or perhaps demand is running ahead of last year and you want to make an adjustment to your primary season pricing for all remaining available dates by increasing rates 5%, click a button, make the adjustment, apply to the correct dates and to individual or all properties and wah lah!  The change is complete.

This will set the stage nicely for more advanced automated yield management in the future!

New WordPress Plugin User Interface!

Our WordPress plugin was recently refreshed with an exciting new user interface.   The new interface is responsive (works great on mobile devices) and it provides real-time feedback to setting changes.

Previously if the icon set was changed, or one of the many display settings were tweaked, the site would have to be regenerated and then opened in your browser to view.  This process could be time consuming.

The new process displays a sample design of the affected design on the settings page.   As you make changes, the sample design updates to reflect the changes.  This will allow rapid tweaking and exploration of all the many menu driven design options offered within the plugin.

Here are some screenshots of the new interface:

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