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Adapting the way we work at Anytime Booking HQ

Adapting the way we work at Anytime Booking HQ

Leaner, quicker, smarter

Agile at Anytime

We’ve come a long way since our humble beginnings with only one developer. As the Anytime team and user community has grown, we are adapting the way that we work.

Like many startup businesses, we have gone through something of a step change in the past few months.

Our challenges

As the system and user community grows, so do the questions on how Anytime can help our users to process and manage their bookings. Whilst we remain focused on camping and holiday businesses as our core offering, the level of feedback and feature requests have been fantastic over the years.

We manage hundreds and thousands of lines of code. We write new code, we revisit old code and find new ways of improving it, and we clear out bugs in the system when they appear. We juggle feature requests that come from customer discovery as well as those borne from our own ideas about better ways to design the software, whilst keeping up with the ever changing requirements of the internet. All of these need to be balanced. We also need to think about the impact of development on all our customers and on our communication in terms of sales, marketing, training and updating our knowledge base.

We welcome Agile

Agile is an umbrella term for a spectrum of work flow practices that all follow the same principle of working in small cycles known as iterations (usually two weeks).

Anytime adopted Agile this year with the help of a Cornwall based Agile business coach, Matt Hosking. Utilising Agile means we try to match our team’s capacity to work with a predetermined and time estimated set of tasks that the team here have all agreed need to be completed within that iteration.

Adaptability

It works for us as it’s a lightweight, efficient, but constantly moving workflow methodology. It allows for flexibility along the way – as there can often be setbacks, especially in the digital age. Agile allows us as a team to accommodate change at any point in the iteration or development process, yet still feel that we are moving forward and able to deliver value in short yet meaningful loops.

Before every iteration takes place, we move to our board. We review all our candidates, suggestions from our user community, and our backlog. Our backlog is development to the system we know we need to do.

Every card on the board is a story, a story of development on how it improves the Anytime community. These stories vary by the scale of the works required to update the system. We have epic stories that take us months to complete, down to short stories that can sometimes take a few hours.

Within every iteration cycle, we look to balance the variety of stories to keep the workflow moving forward.

Every morning we stand up to review our progress within the current iteration; pushing all new code to a testing account for the team to learn and review.

Quality Assurance & Testing 

Because Agile breaks our workflow into two week chunks, we are always testing as we go, leading to high-quality releases. If something isn’t quite ready, we will push it back into the next iteration; not done means it isn’t shipped.

Not only are we are continuously planning, testing and deploying code, we are then retrospectively reviewing the success of the past iteration. This means we are also always measuring our processes and eliminating time wastage.

Speed to market

Your requests, or user stories, become as real to us as they are to you. User stories form the backbone of the Agile plan. We assess them, size them up and prioritise them just like any other wish list.

We work out how many tasks we can get done in our two-week iteration and plan them in, a prioritised to-do list drawn up by a team with a drive to get things done. This means we can always react and pivot quickly which leads us into very regular development and release cycles – adding more value to you.

User feedback is immediate

With software as a service in an online environment, both delivery to, and feedback from, the market is immediate. The emphasis on getting shippable features or system enhancements into your hands frequently means the whole Anytime project is guided largely by you, the market. This keeps our software relevant but equally as important, it increases the possibility that together we’ll find the next big thing, that killer feature to keep us all ahead.

Change in development cycles used to be a no-no. But now we review progress daily in a brief morning meeting or stand-up. With stand-up, we have the chance to let our team mates know if we have any blockers to our workflow, and how we might break through them to keep focused and on track. We constantly inspect and adapt to change, always ready to modify what we are doing – it’s never too late.

A bonded team

Getting things done becomes a process involving every individual at Anytime. Everyone has a voice, everyone is empowered, everyone has opportunity to contribute to the task at hand. It also means that we are all accountable and motivated. It is a truly strategic and collaborative environment with everybody interacting daily with business direction.

So, behind your software that you use every day there are real people breathing life into it, discussing your request round a candidate board, moving it into our agreed backlog or prioritising it into the next iteration of work, then executing, testing and releasing it.

The really cool thing about working this way, is that we avoid the burnout rate so often associated with the software industry and every two weeks you get something of value.

Our emoji magnets on the board don’t always represent the emotions we experience towards the development work we are working on! 

The future is bright

We are constantly working hard to improve our service to you and we have some new and exciting projects that we are currently planning for the New Year and beyond. These include designing and deploying a new availability chart, working on the UX look and feel of the admin area, improving speed and building relationships with OTAs to help you collect more bookings.

By working in an Agile way we believe it will provide us with the best working environment to deliver these changes.

Will you be providing mild camping next season?

Will you be providing mild camping next season?

A new camping industry trend has been identified by VisitScotland and is set to roll down the length and breadth of the British Isles over the next few seasons.

Dubbed ‘mild camping’, it is a type of camping for people who want to experience the wild outdoors but in a safer environment. It sits somewhere between wild camping and the kind of experience you’d get on a traditional family campsite. So rather than hanging off a cliff edge somewhere by yourself hoping for the best, you might be pitched in a wild field with the landowner within reach for greater security. It provides a down-to-earth, exhilarating experience without the worry.

It is almost anti-glamping, the other end of the scale. No marked-out pitches will be necessary, electrical hook-up will be a no-no, campfires a must. Mud won’t be frowned on, facilities can be dressed down and basic. The phenomenon opens a new world to landowners, holiday parks and campsites already in business or those starting out. It lends an opportunity to re-evaluate land stock, rebrand, or launch a business in a more environmentally sustainable way.

In an age of increased digital immersion and fast-paced living, the desire among consumers to escape to the simplicity of the great outdoors is staggering. Some are turning their backs on holidays abroad completely in favour of camping among the undulating hills and hedgerows of our fair isle. This gives the camping industry both the need and the opportunity to continually diversify, which is good news for camping businesses and good news for us. Mild camping is a new craze within the industry but it most certainly won’t be the last.

If you are a camping business looking for an online booking system to get you connected to the right marketplace and with the functionality to keep your business up with the changes, sign up to Anytime Booking now. We are the camping people.

Announcing our new channel partner in the world of camping

Announcing our new channel partner in the world of camping

Anytime Booking loves to support all things camping, so if you run a holiday park, glampsite or campsite, we can now give your customers another avenue through which to find their dream outdoor holiday with you by teaming up with the amazing Caravan Sitefinder.

Caravan Sitefinder is an online travel agent (OTA) based in Edinburgh that allows holidaymakers to search over 3,600 campsites, caravan parks and holiday parks around the UK. They are a huge, powerful resource to tap into. It’s simple really. Guests are searching their site to book their holiday, so it’s a good idea to make sure that they find you quickly and easily.

What does this mean for Anytime Booking customers?

·       You can easily increase your visibility in the touring, caravanning and camping markets

·       Use a targeted channel through which to increase your bookings

·       They will help you sell any empty space

·       Enjoy a 2Way sync which updates pricing, availability and booking information

If you are a current customer and want to be an early adopter of this exciting new offering, give us a bell so that we can give you more information to help you decide if you want to connect to this sales channel.

If you are new to us and want to sign up to Anytime Booking in order to take bookings through your website and via Caravan Sitefinder or any of our other channels, such as Pitchup, Tripadvisor or Rentals United, please contact us on support@anytimebooking.co.uk.

Come and see us at the Cornwall Business Show 2016

Come and see us at the Cornwall Business Show 2016

Anytime Booking will be exhibiting at the Cornwall Business Show on Thursday 17th March 2016 at the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge.

Whether you are a current customer or you are looking for an online booking software to suit your holiday accommodation or activity centre business, please come along to talk to us, we will be delighted to see you.

We can offer you a walk-through of our software or give you general advice on booking management and connectivity. Come and find out what we can do for you.

Find us at stand 59 between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm. Catch us while you can!

2016 is set to be the most connected year yet

2016 is set to be the most connected year yet

 

Business is booming in UK tourism

The UK tourism industry is worth £127 billion today, with £13 billion being pumped into the outdoor holiday accommodation market by people looking for adventure and an authentic holiday experience.

The boom of the ecotourism, staycationing, glamping and festival trends, and the rise in cottage industries and the diversification of farming have all contributed to substantial growth in the market we service.

Are you providing a good user experience?

Expectations of holiday makers are higher than ever, with over 60% of them expecting to be able to research and book a holiday online, using laptops, tablets and smart phones. If they cannot book online they are likely to look elsewhere, reiterating the importance of holiday parks, touring parks and campsites in having a web presence complete with an online booking system.

Holiday makers are also more likely than ever to be influenced by OTAs (online travel agents) such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com, so connecting your business with such portals will increase your connectivity and conversion rates.

With Anytime Booking on side, we have all of this covered, so booking a holiday with you will never have been so easy. What’s more we will save you time and money in administration.

Where is Anytime Booking now?

We’ve come a long way since we launched our booking management software in April 2012 and our journey has been truly amazing!

As 2015 drew to a close, we could happily say that we: 

⭐️ have 173 holiday accommodation businesses using our software around the UK, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sri Lanka
⭐️ have processed 137,686 bookings totalling in excess of £37 million since launch
⭐️ have added multiple feature-rich innovations and updated our software to be a responsive, mobile friendly booking process for your customers

We wish you all a very prosperous new year ahead. Please do get back in touch with us if you think that Anytime Booking can help you to grow your business in 2016. Ping us on support@anytimebooking.co.uk or request a demo at https://www.anytimebooking.co.uk/demo/.

 

Linking with Prop-Sync: More Exposure, More Bookings, More Holidays

Linking with Prop-Sync: More Exposure, More Bookings, More Holidays

Here at Anytime Booking we’re all about saving accommodation providers time and money. If you already use our booking management system, or are thinking about joining us, rest assured that we work hard to keep you connected with the channels that work for you to drive your bookings.

In this context, we are very happy to announce a new channel management partnership with Prop-Sync, which will enable you to share availability with Farm Stays UK, Away With the Kids, Let’s Go to the Country, Stay in a Pub and more, removing the hassle of manually updating availability every time a booking is made.

Channel management like this has significant benefits.

  • You will save a lot of valuable time as website updates are automated without need for manual intervention.
  • As everything is done automatically the chances of errors are greatly reduced and overbooking is virtually eliminated altogether.
  •  You will enjoy greater numbers of bookings as you take advantage of other websites essentially doing the marketing for you.

Want to get connected? Contact info@anytimebooking.co.uk for more details.

For a list of all our channel management partners, see https://www.anytimebooking.co.uk/channel-manager.