Simply more bookings. What’s new in the Upper 6?

That’s already the sixth version of the popular booking system Upper. What does it mean for us? First and foremost, the room management shall be much more effective now, the sales will boost and the booking process itself is to become much easier. Yet, there’s much more to come in the July Upper!

If you know the previous version of the Upper system, you will certainly notice that there have been some visual changes implemented – yet, this time they are not that revolutionary. Our programmers have introduced more than 2 700 modifications, re-typing more than 20 000 code lines! 
What kind of changes are they and why are they the way they are? During 14 months of the previous system’s work we had asked for the feedback a few millions of guests, booking stays in more than 1500 hotels. Later, designers, marketing specialists, UX specialists, programmers and testers got into action. 
During the project phase we analysed dozens of booking scenarios and prepared many graphic variations. Finally, we have chosen those ones which suited the case the most and started implementing the system, testing it for more than 2 months on real hotels and guests. In this way, we have managed to introduced some extra changes which we had not recognized previously. 

What barriers have been removed from the new system?

NO FREE ROOMS AVAILABLE

What discourages the most? Quite surprisingly, not a high price but the lack of free rooms during the booking process! If on the hotel website there was a button of „quick reservation” without a calendar, the system used to check only the coming hotel day, which was most often booked already. The guest did not understand why there’s such a message if they have not managed to choose the stay period yet. The new Upper version has solved this problem. If the system does not receive the preferred dates of stay from the website, it will ask for them itself. Only after it has got the date, it will start searching for free rooms.
Here it goes:

It may happen, though, that there are no rooms available in the period our customer is interested in. The new Upper has taken this thing into account. It no longer shows that complicated availability calendar but offers two alternative dates of stay. Our algorithms suggest such dates which are as close to the guests’ preferences as it’s only possible.  

If neither of the choices suits the customer’s needs, they can always come back to the full availability calendar, which has been altered as well:

 

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The previous calendar suggested stays of the same length as chosen first. And if a guest has to change the arrival / departure date, they may also change their plans as to the length of stay. The new calendar no longer makes the process complicated.
Through presenting of free rooms we can also solve the problem of constant unavailability. It results from the fact that in some periods the availability is split between two or more rooms which makes them unbookable as the result. What is more, the calendar is much clearer as far as any availability restrictions (minimal and definite number of hotel days) are concerned. It also shows the dates when only departure is possible. That’s why the error messages show much more rarely now – and if they show, you can easily choose another satisfying date of stay. 

BOOKING STEPS 

New Upper consists of three steps only:
Step I – choice of room and offer, 
Step II – choice of extras,
Step III – personal data and payment.

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If the offer has no configurated extras, the process is even shorter and consists of barely two steps! 
Yet, reducing the number of steps is not the end here. Previously, the system demanded your personal data already during the second phase. So, the guest was at loss because they thought it’s already a kind of obligation although they do not know the final price ad offer yet – these extras were visible in the third step. It was especially troublesome for the hotels which treat important offer factors as extras (e.g. breakfast, baby crib in the resort hotels). Moving the personal data to the last step makes the guests feel more engaged in the booking process because filling the data form is now the final step when they already have the vision of a pleasant stay in mind. 

TRANSPARENCE OF THE SYSTEM

The system is now more „skinny”, let us say. We checked what customers need in case of given views as well as renewed the interface with all its elements. 
Some of them are no longer there (switching from the booking view to the list of offers), others have been hidden (e.g. booking summary). But there are also brand new elements such as information about available payment methods – visible already in the 2nd step. 
Thereby, we have more space for the most significant elements. The 1st step shows more rooms and offers. The 2nd step is more transparent as far as extras are concerned. And finally, the 3rd step concerns personal data and payment method. The changes regards not only the booking process, for the summary view is different, too. 
Look how many room variations are there in the Upper 5 and Upper 6:

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The mobile views are new as well. What we aimed at was presenting rooms and offers better, simultaneously providing the customer with more information to compare, should they have any doubt as to further decisions.

CHOOSING OF THE DATE AND ARRANGEMENT

The components allowing guests to choose dates of stay and number of people have been re-designed completely. Some of the potential clients could have been surprised that the calendar does not disappear after they have chosen the arrival date, forcing them to choose the departure date, too. The Upper 6 made this problem barely visible. 
Furthermore, the new calendar does not allow you to choose the dates which would lead to an error (e.g. departure before the arrival, dates exceeding the offer time or not taking minimal/definite length of stay into account). All the issues are now explained with special messages.  
Choosing of the arrangement has been altered, too. Depending on the hotel, it may be a list with the most popular arrangements and option of the full choice indicator (city hotels) or full indicator allowing to choose any acceptable arrangement (including multi-room ones).

Arrangement choice

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Advanced arrangement choice

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OTHER CHANGES 

We have re-designed the logic of multi-room bookings. The new Upper 6 first „locates” guests in the rooms, and only then chooses concrete variations. It suits the real attitude towards the multi-room bookings. 
We have written most texts and messages anew. Now the guest gets shorter, more precise and more transparent information so that there is no doubt as to what to do next. The system has been enriched with amongst others messages encouraging guests to complete the booking, and the payment methods are presented already in the 2nd step.
The transaction protection is different, too. New texts make guests easily understand if they are required to make an advance payment (especially in case of preauthorisation), what they are supposed to do in the next step (e.g. commissioning of a traditional transfer) and what they are to expect (confirmation). We have also integrated the newest payment gateway eCard.

WHAT’S NEXT? 

Upper 6 has been tested by a dozen of various hotels, each of them representing a different type or category. The tests have started at the beginning of May. In the second week of July we have begun to switch our customers to the newest version. It has 100% functionality of the older one, yet has been enriched with much more. The Development Director Waldemar Antonowicz says - “Switching all the customers to the new system is barely the beginning of all the changes to come. Soon we want to introduce new sales functions to the system, which are supposed to optimize the conversion factor and enlarge the attractiveness of direct booking made at the hotel. Our teams are working also on the brand new management system Center, and in a short time we will implement the new version of Channel Manager Upper CRS. Profitroom is engaged in other new projects, too, which are supposed to show at the end of the year to complement our offer.

 Maciej Janas, UX Designer w Profitroom