For this week’s blog post, we’ve invited CTO Zach Snow to talk about one of FareHarbor’s biggest projects to date, Advanced Reports. Read on for a peek into how we tackled the process (plus, check out Zach’s personal blog for the full technical details).
Where we started
Long ago, in the early days of FareHarbor, there were no reports. There wasn’t even a calendar! But as we worked onsite with tour operators in Hawaii, Colorado, and beyond, we began to think of new ways we could display booking data to help clients monitor their business.
Our very first report, now known as Detailed Bookings, was designed to provide an easy way for business owners to get their booking information into another format. From there, we developed a few different reports based on lodging, employees, and activities, so that clients could answer common questions (like, “How many sunset cruises did I sell last month?”) quickly and easily.
In late 2016, we realized that the time had come to revisit reporting once again. Our clients had an abundance of interesting questions to answer, and the existing reporting tools made finding those answers harder than they should be. Plus, many of our reports were actually very similar — one was grouping bookings by activity, another by employee, and so on, but all shared a similar structure.
We knew that we could build a tool that was more general and at the same time more powerful. And as a bonus, we figured we’d make them faster, too!
Asking (and answering) the big questions
So we dug in. We worked directly with a number of clients that were struggling to answer important questions using the existing reports, developing an understanding of what information they were trying to find and why they were trying to find it.
- We worked with Teddy Clements, Head of Onboarding at FareHarbor, to understand what challenges he faced when training clients how to run their business with FareHarbor.
- We spoke with Anders Hester, Director of Customer Experience, to get a handle on the challenges existing customers were facing, particularly around understanding tax reporting.
- We also reviewed the ways in which our existing customers were using reports, analyzing the data to determine which reports were run most, and in which ways.
Some of the most technically interesting questions revolved around payments. For instance, “How much money did I collect on Adult passengers this week?” This is a tricky question — if you have a booking with 2 adults and 1 child that costs $125.00 ($50.00 per adult, $25.00 per child) and you’ve only collected $50.00 on the booking so far, how much have you collected on Adults?
One answer is to prorate the amount you have collected across each customer (in this case, $20.00 on each adult, and $10.00 on the child). Another method is to apply the entire $50.00 to the first Adult on the booking. After researching with a variety of customers, and comparing to accounting software, we decided on prorating.
Our Product team asked and answered questions like these for weeks, with everyone on the FareHarbor team contributing a piece to the puzzle.
We worked around-the-clock to get it right. Even when the holidays came, and we all went our separate ways to be with family and loved ones, we couldn’t help but have reports on the mind!
Finally, the new and improved Advanced Reports
After weeks of hard work, the end result was a scalable design that can capture everything our previous reports could, but also go much further.
- We can now organize data by almost anything (activity, booking source, lodging, campaign, check-in status, etc.), whereas previously these groupings were limited to a few fixed options.
- Our ability to group data became much more flexible, allowing us to group by any number of options rather than just one or two.
- We can now filter on almost every aspect of a booking and its customers, letting clients drill into the exact data they need.
And even better, as we discover or create new things to filter on, new things to group by, and new data to show, we have a framework for extending reporting to those things quickly and easily.
Actually building the software was a whole nother story, which you can read about in detail here (part 1 of a 3-ish part series).
At the end of the day, we created the recently-launched Advanced Reports, a true team effort. It’s faster and more powerful than the reports it replaced, and it’s designed for growth. And most importantly, it has been a huge success for our customers, who run tens of thousands of Advanced Reports every week!