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Brittany Ferries BETA site

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2 hours ago, JohnMustow said:

Did just as you requested and made my booking on the Beta site however another rat bit me in the bum. My credit card is renewed on 1st Jan and the booking was for July so you cannot secure the booking. We could pay the deposit but then the card would no longer be valid. Phoned BF they sorted it as usual but had to pay all upfront. Not much can be done about that I suppose but it is all the little gremlins that creep in.

I've had that in the past when booking a holiday on the phone, I was told to phone back when I had the new card, so they could take the balance when required.

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40 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

An app would be a useful way to get rid of tickets they could be used for all their current purposes and to open cabin doors along with other potential onboard uses.

That would mean having 2 systems on board for all the doors, not everyone use their phones for everything, you would need a ticket system as well.

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7 minutes ago, Solo said:

That would mean having 2 systems on board for all the doors, not everyone use their phones for everything, you would need a ticket system as well.

You wouldn’t you could have it as a QR code on the phone and print them on paper tickets thus requiring a single scanner on the cabin door.

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22 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

You wouldn’t you could have it as a QR code on the phone and print them on paper tickets thus requiring a single scanner on the cabin door.

So you would still have to print tickets at check in as now, plus all the door locks would have to be changed to read the QR code.

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3 minutes ago, Solo said:

So you would still have to print tickets at check in as now, plus all the door locks would have to be changed to read the QR code.

It’s called future proofing,it won’t be long until even BF go almost paper free , I would be surprised if the new ships don’t have QR readers on the cabins it’s a far more reliable system and probably cheaper to run than the current system.

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I was going to say it could be done as locks are renewed or on the new ships but it would mean running 2 systems for different ships, I didn't travel enough when they changed the locks last time to see what happened during the change over.

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2 hours ago, neilcvx said:

and probably cheaper to run than the current system.

I think that the current system is quite efficient, apart from the Etretat where one has to queue up at the desk to be given the code for the cabin !

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9 minutes ago, David Williams said:

I think that the current system is quite efficient, apart from the Etretat where one has to queue up at the desk to be given the code for the cabin !

More to do with the printers required adding all that information to a bit of paper on a magnetic strip with a QR code all you need is a normal printer, and in theory it should be more reliable.

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You cannot assume that all customers will be digitally savvy. Many will still need something physical to stick in the door to open their cabin. That is likely to continue for some years at least.

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8 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

You cannot assume that all customers will be digitally savvy. Many will still need something physical to stick in the door to open their cabin. That is likely to continue for some years at least.

My point was that you could still have that you would scan a QR code on your phone or on your printed card just like you would scan a tin of beans at a self service checkout, it’s a way of holding more information than on a magnetic strip and more reliable.

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I understand where you think it will go Neil but whilst you still have to print a card there is no gain, the card already carries the information needed, door code, Club Voyage membership etc.  Be interesting what Millard thinks about this, are they likely to bring this in soon or are they looking at it.

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It’s just the way things are heading to be honest magnetic strips are dated technology and if BF don’t need the complicated printers for them and just a normal printer then there’s a saving already , plus printing 10 or 20 % of cards instead of 100% of cards is a time and money saver , it’s the way the hotel and leisure industry is heading and the change will happen eventually.

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On 02/10/2018 at 13:26, JohnMustow said:

Did just as you requested and made my booking on the Beta site however another rat bit me in the bum. My credit card is renewed on 1st Jan and the booking was for July so you cannot secure the booking. We could pay the deposit but then the card would no longer be valid. Phoned BF they sorted it as usual but had to pay all upfront. Not much can be done about that I suppose but it is all the little gremlins that creep in.

Unless I am mistaken, on our current/old website it is not possible to make a booking with a card which expires before the balance is due to be paid.

On our new Beta website it is possible to complete the booking under these circumstances providing the customer agrees to pay the full balance early. Although I must admit we need to look at make the messaging clearer about this. I hope enthusiasts will agree however that this is a step in the right direction.

In addition to this, what I would ultimately prefer is to allow the customer to pay the deposit only with the understanding that they must provide valid card details before the balance is due and if they fail to do so they risk losing their booking and their deposit. Perhaps we can add a tick box in this scenario with detailed information, and of course the usual emails which follow to remind them. These are the options which should be offered by our reservations team.

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Going to keys/doorlocks - Hilton already have a system whereby you can either use a plastic room key, or you can check-in on your phone and use and app/bluetooth to act as a key...

... and it's terrible. I gave up and got keys instead. 

What I would say is that just because something's possible it's not always a good idea. Boarding cards as keys appears to work well and does not rely on passenger technology or their ability to use it. Particularly in the event of last minute changes there's no guarantee the passenger app would be updated to reflect changes (which may need them to refresh it or rely on a data connection).

Yes, there's an environmental saving to be had printing less cards etc, but you also need a stable system that works reliably given you're effectively acting as a hotel that's receiving hundreds/thousands of guests all at the same time several times a day.

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I wouldn’t pass judgment on something on one bad experience, it was an idea I was posting and I would presume as we move towards a cashless and paperless society the technology will improve, the data on the app wouldn’t have to change the reader would just gather the info from it in a different way.

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15 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

I wouldn’t pass judgment on something on one bad experience, it was an idea I was posting and I would presume as we move towards a cashless and paperless society the technology will improve, the data on the app wouldn’t have to change the reader would just gather the info from it in a different way.

It was enough to put me off. Not trying to dismantle your idea, just give a view on it. The logic on the app needing to change would not necessarily be for control of the lock (which would be in BF's control to reprogramme to accept a fixed user id/token off the app), but presumably, the display of cabin number etc to the user if there had been any changes there.

There's added complexity for bookings with more than one cabin since at the moment individuals are only assigned to cabins at check-in where there are multiple ways of doing it. In this case you'd need to have communication from check-in to the ship and with passenger devices to ensure the right people had access to the right cabins. 

There are all sorts of possibilities, I'm just not entirely sure what would/wouldn't work in this scenario where you're dealing with high volumes in short times or the initial costs of developing a solution to cover all the use cases.

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So - we already have ticket-less travel (the document which BF sends us that is called a "Ticket" has no validity itself, it is merely an itinerary. There is no need to print it out - the only information on it which is relevant to BF is the booking reference, which if you don't have when you check-in it means that they have to search for your booking by name or reg no.).

However as we know, at check-in each passenger is provided with a unique boarding pass, and one is provided for each vehicle too. The vehicle boarding pass (the hanger) is used to make sure that the vehicles being loaded are being loaded onto the correct sailing, and have the correct number of people inside. So first problem with going paperless - how do BF make sure that these checks are possible?

Balearia may have a partly workable solution for this. With them you have to check-in for the crossing online before reaching the port, and one option is to load the boarding passes onto your phone (as opposed to printing them out on your printer). When you join the queuing lanes, a member of staff checks your passes, and if they aren't right you have to go to the desk in the terminal to get them sorted. I will be trying out my mobile phone boarding passes on 1 November, and will report back (if anyone's interested!).

The issue of cabin keys is not applicable to Balearia however  - if you have bought a cabin, you have to queue up at the information desk on board to collect a physical key, which you have to return on arrival. Then again - Balearia tend to sell something like a couple of dozen cabins on their sailings, as opposed to the hundreds on BF. 

 

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On 02/10/2018 at 12:44, Millard said:

Just want to thank everyone for their feedback so far. There has been some interesting insight shared as well.

If there is any more appetite for it, I would like to encourage more enthusiasts to set up and try the new free account feature. For those of you which are Club Voyage members, you can log in and experience the new account features as well. It should show you your future bookings, but also allow you to shortlist holiday properties, save ferry itineraries and generally provide a better experience.

This area of the new website is something we hope to grow and improve going forward.

I would very much like to know what your opinions are of what we have so far and whether or not it actually works. Also, to some extent, I would like to know what you would like to see from this in future.

Millard, I have spent some time playing on the beta site, generally I am ok with it, as said before I prefer the new way of date selection, however the cabin selection is awful. The current way of comparing available cabins is so much better - you may want to put a default filter of not showing the disabled and pet cabins and just have a further option that displays them

Re the saved itineraries, I like that and do actually compare options normally before booking, however the price shown should be the total after Club Voyage / Etretat discounts and a save button should be on the pricing page.

The link to the pricing page is confusing as it says enter passenger details, however it is really a link to the price.

David

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Maybe it's just me, but the 1st time I tried it today, with a Holiday and Ferry booking for our usual hotel in Potes, Cantabria, I couldn't get the location field to recognise either the town or region; it kept auto-filling somewhere in France with POT... buried in the address.  I tried Spain, but after pressing Search, it defaulted to France?  Now I know BF are  aFrench company.... but?

And why do geeks call "Beta" sites Beta?  I assume they/ve not read George Orwell, but why the Greek word for B?  Cos it's not as good as Alpha (A)?

Edited by AlexMac
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I tried this site a month ago. Who are they kidding. Themselves I think. As you are booking after entry the page scrolls to the top so you have to scroll down to get to next field. The page to choose cabins is a major, major step backwards as it requires constant scrolling. The existing site all options available on screen to make choosing easier. I still cant get my PC to provide return options when booking despite choosing the return option at the outset.

Does anybody from BF look at these?

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1 hour ago, cjersmith said:

I tried this site a month ago. Who are they kidding. ...Does anybody from BF look at these?

Yeah- I've now tried the Beta website on a laptop (my comment above referred to a smartphone) and it's not much better- I agree all your comments above and the fast auto-scrolling series of pointless wallpaper pics of random bits of France and Spain at the top of the screen made me seasick (maybe their idea of a VR joke?) .

The worry is that when good managers hand over marketing to the geeks to modernise for the sake of it (or for an imagined younger demographic who they mistakenly think can't cope with reading and need big images and big fonts?) the rest of the business tends to suffer- look at the classic UK retailer Marks & Spencer who constantly ask me to rate their website, but cannot maintain stock of basic clothes in our size, and constantly run out of the staple groceries and budget wines we buy every week.

But the core BF business (the ferries and holiday offer, especially in Spain) and the customer care are so good, that we will keep travelling with BF as we have for the past 25-30 years despite the geek take-over!

Edited by AlexMac

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1 hour ago, AlexMac said:

Maybe it's just me, but the 1st time I tried it today, with a Holiday and Ferry booking for our usual hotel in Potes, Cantabria, I couldn't get the location field to recognise either the town or region; it kept auto-filling somewhere in France with POT... buried in the address.  I tried Spain, but after pressing Search, it defaulted to France?  Now I know BF are  aFrench company.... but?

And why do geeks call "Beta" sites Beta?  I assume they/ve not read George Orwell, but why the Greek word for B?  Cos it's not as good as Alpha (A)?

Good feedback, thank you.

We use the term beta because that is after the alpha version which is usually hidden from public view (ours was).

If you're interested, read on for how it typically works.

In developing just about anything there is an alpha version which is 'usually' at early stage development and is not ready to share outside of the teams involved developing it. After this is usually the 'closed beta' stage which is for when the website/game/app or whatever it is is ready to share with people outside of the development teams but only a select number and/or specific set of people, for this we invited a some Club Voyage members to look at it in our office and then colleagues throughout the business. Because there are only a few people viewing the site we didn't have to worry about things like performance or suffer too much embarrassment when things did not work. Following this is 'open beta' which is the stage we are at now and where we sort of open the flood gates and invite anyone to have a look - this means the project is nearing completion but feedback from a wider audience is critical as is stress testing.

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5 minutes ago, Millard said:

We use the term beta because that is after the alpha version which is usually hidden from public view (ours was).

Millard has stated the original IT definition, however as a lot of people have moved to Agile development which means you don't specify the software before you write it you can end up in permanent Beta mode. A number of UK government websites are permanent Beta websites !

Edited by David Williams
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1 hour ago, cjersmith said:

I tried this site a month ago. Who are they kidding. Themselves I think. As you are booking after entry the page scrolls to the top so you have to scroll down to get to next field. The page to choose cabins is a major, major step backwards as it requires constant scrolling. The existing site all options available on screen to make choosing easier. I still cant get my PC to provide return options when booking despite choosing the return option at the outset.

Does anybody from BF look at these?

A month ago? It's only been available to try for less than 3 weeks.

Have had mixed feedback about the cabins step. A lot of negativity towards the amount of scrolling, shall have to look at that.

I am aware of this issue with missing the return. Thankfully this is only on specific device/browser combinations (still a huge issue to be fixed though).

I work for the BF web team and I look at these posts if that is what you mean?

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