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Vacation Labs Blog

A lot has changed since our servers crashed last year

November 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

A lot has changed since our servers crashed last year. Our data centre charges growing by 300%. We moved into a new office. And our team grew by 5x (3 people to 15 people, FWIW)!

Over the last three months, we’ve been working furiously behind-the-scenes to make our product powerful, yet simpler. Today is when we start rolling out the result of this hard work – starting with our first set of changes – a complete revamp of the tour creation wizard.

The problem

Responding rapidly to customer feedback in our initial days, we had ended up with a user interface, which, while functional & powerful, was very intimidating. Form labels were either too confusing, too verbose, or worse, both. Much like TV remote controls, rarely used settings & “knobs” were given prime real estate on the screen.

So, we took this important part of our product back to the drawing board to see what we could simplify, remove, or re-design.

Multiple product types

Pressing “New trip”, now, does not launch you directly into the wizard. You need to select a product type first. This allows us to set intelligent defaults and change the wizard interface to be more relevant to the chosen product type. For example:

 

* A short tour/excursion will assume that you need to provide start & end **times** for each time slot in your schedule, whereas, a multi-day tour will assume that you can do with just the start & end **dates**

* A short tour/excursion will have “nouns” set to tour, departure, and passenger, whereas, a lesson will have “nouns” set to course, class, and participants.

There are many such tweaks which make the tour creation wizard easier to use.

Overall visual refresh

The first thing that you’ll notice is how much shorter the new forms are. We’ve moved all help text and verbose instructions to tooltips. Not sure what a field does? Just hover on the small question mark against it.

Simplification of rates

Instead of showing all pricing options for all tours, we now show only those that are applicable. For example:

* Short tours will be able to define per-person and per-group rates

* Long tours will be able to define twin-sharing matrices and accommodation based rates

*We have decided to pull back the twin-sharing pricing matrix and component-based pricing, till the time we polish and relaunch them. In case you’d like to use them in their current form, drop us an email. We can enable them for your account.*

Special rates & capacity for individual time slots

You no longer need to define tour variants just to have different rates for different seasons, or to have a special rate for long weekends & holidays.

You can now do it easily while opening time slots:

Or, by clicking on an existing time slot:

 

Simplified settings

We’ve fussed over every word on the new “Settings” tab. Fields have been logically grouped together, and rarely used settings have been hidden unless needed. This tab has received the maximum visual relief with all the help text moving to tooltips.

There is a ton of spit & polish that has gone into this, which we are sure you will notice. Or, probably not. As they say, the best design is invisible.

We’re always looking to improve. So, do give us a shout-out if you feel things could be made even better.

Online Direct Bookings for Tour Operators :

September 16, 2015 | By | No Comments

How to tap into the digital marketplace to boost total sales.

A recent study revealed that the majority of US consumers believe that to get the cheapest airfare, they should book directly from airline websites. The same holds true for similar business that typically work with booking agents. When it comes to booking a tour, many customers will check a tour operator’s website before finalizing their purchase. Chances are, they’ll also check social media outlets and sites that post ratings and reviews. This means not only are they searching for the lowest price, they’re also searching for the best value. Read More

Launch: Revamped tour creation wizard

September 7, 2015 | By | No Comments

A lot has changed since our servers crashed last year. Our data center charges growing by 300%. We moved into a new office. And our team grew by 5x (3 people to 15 people, FWIW).

Over the last three months we’ve been working furiously behind-the-scenes to make our product powerful, yet simpler.

Today is when we start rolling out the result of this hard work – starting with our first set of changes – a complete revamp of the tour creation wizard.

The problem

Responding rapidly to customer feedback in our initial days, we had ended up with a user interface, which, while functional & powerful, was very intimidating. Form labels were either too confusing, too verbose, or worse, both. Much like TV remote controls, rarely used settings & “knobs” were given prime real estate on the screen.

So, we took this imporant part of our product back to the drawing board to see what we could simplify, remove, or re-design.

Multiple product types

Pressing “New trip”, now, does not launch you directly into the wizard. You need to select a product type first. This allows us to set intelligent defaults and change the wizard interface to be more relevant to the chosen product type. For example:

  • A short tour/excursion will assume that you need to provide start & end times for each time slot in your schedule, whereas, a multi-day tour will assume that you can do with just the start & end dates
  • A short tour/excursion will have “nouns” set to tour, departure, and passenger, whereas, a lesson will have “nouns” set to course, class, and participants.

product_type1

There are many such tweaks which make the tour creation wizard easier to use.

Overall visual refresh

The first thing that you’ll notice is how much shorter the new forms are.

comp41

We’ve moved all help text and verbose instructions to tooltips. Not sure what a field does? Just hover on the small question mark against it.
leadtime-comp11

bookingconfirmation2

Simplification of rates

Instead of showing all pricing options for all tours, we now show only those that are applicable. For example:

  • Short tours will be able to define per-person and per-group rates
  • Long tours will be able to define twin-sharing matrices and accommodation based rates

rates-singlengroup

We have decided to pull back the twin-sharing pricing matrix and component-based pricing, till the time we polish and relaunch them. In case you’d like to use them in their current form, drop as an email. We can enable them for your account.

Special rates & capacity for individual time slots

You no longer need to define tour variants just to have different rates for different seasons; or to have a special rate for long weekends & holidays.

You can now do it easily while opening time slots:

calendar-openslot1

Or, by clicking on an existing time slot:

calendar-editslot

Simplified settings

We’ve fussed over every word on the new “Settings” tab. Fields have been logically grouped together; and rarely used settings have been hidden, unless needed. This tab has received the maximum visual relief with all the help text moving to tooltips.

settings41

There is a ton of spit & polish that has gone into this, which we are sure you will notice. Or, probably not. As they say, the best design is invisible.

We’re always looking to improve. So, do give us a shout-out if you feel things can be made even better.

 

 

07 May

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Getting started with PayPal in minutes

May 7, 2015 | By | No Comments

We’ve supported PayPal for a while now. When you first create your account with us, we enable our OWN PayPal account for you to get started quickly. Read More

2014 – The Year Our Servers Crashed!

January 5, 2015 | By | One Comment

2014 was a “get your act together and focus” year for us. At the end of 2013, we winded down all service-projects that were “helping us bootstrap” (bad idea in hindsight; a topic for another post); and entered 2014 with a small round of funding to help us pay our bills while we went about building our product. Read More

01 Oct

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Introducing Mailchimp integration with Vacation Labs

October 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mailchimp has always been a handy tool for email marketing. Its free for upto 2,500 email subscribers and is great tool for tour operators who want to keep their customers up-to-date with their upcoming tour schedule and promotions. Read More