AGAPI - Making boating life hassle-free with a digital book-and-boat platform

The scope of the project
Amphp
Docker
Event-Observer pattern
Mondido Payments
Nexmo
nginx
PHP 7
PostgreSQL
Ubuntu
Links
https://agapiboating.com
Solution
E-commerce

AGAPI - Making boating life hassle-free with a digital book-and-boat platform

Background

Creating a better boating user experience has always been the primary mission of Agapi founders Peder and Alejandra Levinas Asplund. Founded in Stockholm in 2006, what started as a charter and innovative boat design company soon evolved to include a pioneering boat-sharing concept that allows people to enjoy premium boating life without the hassle of having to own and maintain a boat themselves.

«We truly believe there is a movement towards non-traditional forms of having and using a boat,» says Alejandra. «This puts new demands on the boat retail industry…Boaters will always want to have access to the unique freedom that only boating can deliver, and a growing number of us also want to enjoy boating outside our home waters.»

In 2015, a new pilot project was initiated called Agapi Club. A boat-sharing subscription service that gives members access to premium and hassle-free boating life in different waterways around the world. Early feedback was positive, and they knew they were onto something brilliant. But before they could bring the sharing economy to the boating industry, Agapi needed to develop the best possible booking experience. And this is where FastDev came in.

Challenge

When Agapi came to us at FastDev, they were running an interim solution for Agapi Club which required manual booking in an iCalendar. They were ready for an upgrade to say the least.

The assignment was to develop a digital booking platform that would allow Agapi Club members to easily search for information about different boats, locations, and available dates. And then book a boat, pay for it, check-in and check-out, and report any issues that come up along the process.

The initial idea was to model the platform after the traditional experience of booking a hotel room for one or more days. However, soon after initial development, Agapi Boating realized that it was too limited for Agapi Club members. To offer a truly flexible boating experience, they wanted to give members the option to not only book a boat for a number of days, but to even book a boat for a few hours at a time.

Building the platform from scratch a second time around required our development team to think differently. How could we build a platform that supported all of the complex booking functionalities while keeping the user experience as smooth and effortless as possible?

Development Process

Step 1

Combining our experience in developing booking systems with Agapi’s vision and insight into the boating lifestyle, we worked together to experimentally refine the subscription model and strike a happy balance between complexity with user experience.

Step 2

Once a plan was in place, we developed a new platform from scratch, implementing the latest requirements including the possibility to book boating for days or hours, all within the same calendar view. As part of the whole user experience upgrade, we also designed and built a new website in parallel. Development was done in close collaboration with Agapi’s founders, who had the chance to experience progress firsthand and give feedback every step along the way.

Step 3

Finally, to pave the way for future scalability, we integrated the Mondido payment system which supports different currencies, member credits, and a cash points system. Money and booking also needed to be adapted to allow franchisees from different countries to add and integrate their own boats, harbors, and members within the same Agapi Club system.

Results

Agapi Club was officially launched in 2017, and has been expanding ever since. Today, Agapi Club has grown from a handful of members to hundreds—and continues to grow by 100-200% per year.

“We are impressed by Fastdev’s fascinating commitment to our development,” says Peder Asplund, Co-Founder and CEO of Agapi. “They have tried and tested the service themselves and understand the importance of user-friendliness. With Fastdev, we have obtained a solution that we did not think was possible to achieve.”

The booking calendar shows all available slots in real-time, with filters based on location and boat type. It’s possible to switch between day view and three hour time slots for booking within 48 hours. When preferred dates for a given boat are unavailable, Agapi Club members have the option to enter a booking queue. An SMS notification is automatically sent if dates do become available.

Agapi Club members can choose between different boat models, depending on the size of the boating party and recreational needs.

The administrator dashboard allows admin users to view reports on member activity, as well as boat usage statistics. Admins can also view feedback submitted by Agapi Club members from the dashboard, and be alerted if something goes wrong.

But the development journey isn’t over yet. Committed to constantly improving the Agapi Club experience—especially as Agapi Club continues to scale—our team at FastDev continues to collaborate with Agapi on a regular basis. We have eliminated the burden of keeping the platform updated and running. Instead, Agapi is able to focus their efforts on creating the best possible customer experience while only paying us a monthly fee for the backend system.

“Working with Agapi is always an interesting and dynamic experience since they are first-movers in their industry,” says Lennart Källbäck, CEO of FastDev. “We’re happy to be along for the ride!”

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