Monthly Archives: April 2023

How we use data to improve our product development

A few years back at Guestline, we decided to build our own payment integration, that we can offer to our clients with benefits to us and savings for the hotels.

The need for a new design

With the new integrations, we initially worked on the back-end part of the puzzle, but later on, we tackled front-end as well. Our current design had its glory days behind and we know we need to refresh it deeply. Let me show you a small part of the process, which is filling in card details in order to conduct a transaction. It happens when a client is making a reservation over the phone, and a receptionist is making an initial payment with given card details.

This design is far away from perfect and when it comes to the user experience it’s nothing that we came across in modern payment integrations. We knew that the first two steps could be merged together but what about the other two? Are they needed?

We need more data

We asked those questions to various people, starting from developers, through product owners and support, and ending with clients. What was the answer?

We probably don’t need this, but it has always been like that.

We knew we have to measure it ourselves and here is the part where we used Azure Application Insights. We added logging on every step to figure out how users use our application. This stuff can take time if you don’t have the data you need and you need to add measurements yourself. Nevertheless, after a few weeks, we had our answer.

As you see, 97% of times deposit is added and 98% of times, the user doesn’t print the payment confirmation. At this point, we were almost certain that we can make those steps automatic, but we needed to ask those few percent a question.

Why do you use out payment integration like that?

We jumped into calls to our clients and found out, that mostly they just did it as a habit, without any specific purpose. Having that certainty we decided that now, our payment process could be vastly improved.

Now we can merge the first two steps and make the last two automatic. The next thing we did was improve on user experience when filling in card details. Here is how it looked before:

And now the GuestPay version:

This is a single window that the user is going to see and the billing details will be prefilled from the reservation. The card type will be shown based on the card number.

Once the payment is completed, the notification will be shown to inform the user, that the payment was successful and the deposit will be auto-added.

Rolling out the change

Obviously, this is a massive change for the user, so it has to be introduced gradually. We introduced a feature toggle, that we can turn ON or OFF for each hotel separately. We started with just a few sites for a beta rollout and then based on users’ feedback, we added tweaks to the product.

We also put stress on how intuitive the new payment integration is and if the users can complete the payment without confusion or any guidelines from our side. We wanted to minimize the need for training and a potential rise of support calls regarding payments. This is really important when having around 4000 hotels using our product. Any confusion can bring hundreds of support calls, which we really don’t want to generate.

Once we had that confidence that the process works, we could switch more hotels and monitor how users use it. That is also the part where Application Insights came in handy. One of the metrics that were important for us is pay process duration.

We were able to reduce the pay process by half! From 79 seconds to 35 seconds on average. If we multiply that by the number of payments, we get 44 seconds * 29331 = 1290564 seconds, that’s over 358 hours every 7 days.

We were able to save over 51 hours of guest time every day.

That’s 51 hours of receptionist time that can be used to serve guests and 51 hours of guest’s time not spent on a call to the hotel. With hotel difficulties in hiring staff, every process that can be sped up or made automatic is essential.


When introducing a change in the legacy system, data collection is crucial. You can ask your clients for feedback but that would always be subjective. Statistics don’t lie, but you need to ask the right questions and interpret them correctly. Remember that a man with a dog has on average 3 legs each.

Gathering data to guide development change will improve your product utility. Getting feedback from the client is one of the hardest things to achieve, but with the proper measurements, you can generate that feedback yourself. This could answer the question of whether a change is progressing in the right direction or give you a hint of what needs to be closely looked at.

Building a bond with the company while working 100% remotely

My name is Michał and since I joined Guestline, back in 2019, I am working 100% remotely from my attic in Zalasewo in central Poland. This is my first remote job and frankly, I wouldn’t change it in any way. Today I feel a part of Guestline and I developed strong relationships with many of my colleagues despite the fact we saw each other in person just a few times.

Remote work is ingrained in Guestline

Guestline Ltd. is a British company, established in the middle-sized town of Shrewsbury over 20 years ago. It grew steadily developing its hospitality software and today it employs over 200 people, with 100+ working from home. A couple of weeks ago I asked my teammates to pin their workplaces on the map. Here is the result:

It turns out, that we are spread all over Europe and beyond! In my team of 10 people, we have daily meetings from Poland, Germany, England, Spain, and Gibraltar!

Most of us work remotely, even from towns that have a physical office. It’s your choice. If you are comfortable with working remotely, you can do it. Maybe that’s why getting used to the new normal wasn’t that big of a deal when the Pandemic happened. It was much harder for our customers, that had to close their hotels, but for us, mostly working from home — nothing changed.

There’s always time for a chat

In Guestline we tend to have a pair programming or mob programming session whenever needed. Those sessions are held in our Teams team channel so that everyone can participate. Some might think it’s a waste of time, but I have other observations.

Chewbacca team “stand-up” meeting

Working together actually solves problems faster, because more heads are involved. You get instant feedback and a brainstorming session is happening automatically. This results in fewer comments on the pull requests and faster feature development.

Also in every session, you share competencies across the team, because you can get involved in a topic that you have no experience with. With guidance from the team, you can complete the task faster and dispel any doubts.

This approach is great for the onboarding process. When a new team member is joining, he or she needs to learn a lot and get to know as many people as possible. Teams chats with cameras on, while working on a task, are perfect for that. Then you can switch after an hour, so the other person shares a screen and gets his hands dirty.

Spend time together

One of the good ideas that we introduced to our daily routine is to have an ice-breaking question at the beginning of the stand-up. One of the team members comes up with a question and we answer it one by one. Here is an example:

If you could learn one new professional skill, what would it be?

You could get answers like woodworking, bass guitar playing, or chemistry and as a result, you are slowly starting to get to know your colleagues. This practice is a starting point for chit-chatting while working. I must admit that through those sessions I developed strong relationships that are not based purely on work.

Me 🙂

Meet in person once in a while

Despite working remotely, we do meet a couple of times a year. Once every year there is a whole company get-together in Shrewsbury. The idea of this meeting is not only to see each other in person but especially to talk to each other. We have a rule that you have to talk to as many people as possible and learn a bit about his or her work. And you should not use your laptop for the whole day!

Guestline summer meeting

I was amazed at how many people I knew just from Teams calls or chats and that I was able to talk to everyone like a distant uncle and find out how much we have in common.

Apart from the big meeting, we have smaller ones in Poznań or Shrewsbury, with fellow Labs members, where we go out for something to eat and a beer.

For me, working remotely blurs the difference between countries, cultures, or weather, because in the end we all use English and work as one development team. This is a great example of how the Internet and Guestline bring people together from all around the world.


People are sociable creatures, we need each other to grow. We are not robots to solve tasks as soon as possible, we need appreciation, motivation, and a feeling that we belong somewhere. If an organization sees it and gives space for non-task-solving activities, pair programming, and chit-chatting, then it makes it possible. I think Guestline does it well.