The story of Itinerary Booking all started with our customers who were asking for a solution to booking multiple guests at the same time. They wanted to simplify the online experience. Previously, guests had to go through the booking flow multiple times, once for each treatment for each guest, and we envisioned a model that would do it more naturally.

So we modelled our user experience online after the experience a guest would have while booking with an agent over the telephone. We thought that that would be the most natural experience. Our development process always starts with us modelling customer needs, and then going off and finding something that provides for them, looking for alternatives where no matches exist. This process served us well when we developed the Card theme.

We needed to find a way to let small groups or individuals with more complicated requests do what they would do over the phone: tell us about everything they wanted, and get a considered, optimized solution.  We looked around for some evidence of this elsewhere, and we found one or two solutions that, in our opinion, had it half right. No one has a solution that delivers the package we envisioned.

We pitched the interface to one of our larger clients, a major multinational hotel chain with several brands, and they liked it a lot, giving us the impetus to build it.

One of the hardest parts was figuring out how to build it, how to do it well for larger groups; it was pretty trivial to hammer out a solution that would let one person book multiple treatments and many people each book one treatment, but combining the two was much trickier and needed to use some of the science from computer science. But we stayed with it, and were able to define a solution that if fast and accurate for up to ten guests and up to ten treatments per guest – limits we consider to be beyond anything our spa customers would need to support. Guests now have the ultimate workflow allowing them to book arbitrarily complex itineraries for a range of group sizes – all coordinated by the system to locate the best times and treatments to keep the group together. It seems like magic and it’s pretty close to it.

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David Andrews is President of Ryatta Group, and lead developer. He has extensive experience with a variety of systems, and wields a mean pair of BBQ tongs.