Upside Travel - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

Yes, I got my first computer, a Packard Bell PB500, when I was 13 years old and immediately began writing code in BASIC. Now I do my work in Swift using Xcode on a machine which can hardly be compared to that ancient thing. I’ve been professionally coding for about 20 years now with my most recent gig before Upside being at The Washington Post working on news app for the iPad and iPhone.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

Implementing the purchase flow, namely how do you give a user all the flexibility of selecting various combinations of flight, hotel, rental car and Uber in a 5.5” screen. I’ve used dozens of OTA apps in the past but never considered how incredibly complex the implementation was. It took some doing and we’re still tweaking it on occasion but we think we’ve got it.

Sean Soper from Washington D.C. Graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Purdue University. Developer with 10+ years professional experience architecting, building and maintaining production-quality systems and applications. Currently Mobile Lead at Upside Travel.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

Apple News for its personalization features and intuitive use of swiping. This allows rich interaction and feedback without any of the clutter. Agoda, an app focused on hotel properties in Asia, is another inspiration of mine. I love the power and flexibility they give you in their filtering of results.

How long have you been working on this app?

Just checked our git repo to verify this but the first commit was made on July 15, 2016, within a week of me starting. We released in March of 2017 to the App Store. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in just 16 months.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

The business traveler who works for a company with an “unmanaged travel” program. No travel department. No special software. No real support. Pretty much on their own to make plans. We call them DIY.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

Two things immediately stand out to me when I think about what makes our different from the competition. The first is our home feed, something dreamt up by our amazing design team. It’s a way not only for us to keep in better touch with our users thru the use of exclusive travel-related content but also a means of serving products and services that business travelers will find useful such as passes to airport lounges or coffee from whatever vendor is closest to your departure gate. The next item is our chat service. We’re not the first to bring chat to a travel app but nobody else out there can match our team of amazing Navigators who go out of their way daily to make things right whether it’s something as simple as changing a flight to calling ahead to a hotel to make sure everything is just as you expect it upon your arrival. They bring a human touch to an experience that I think others are trying too hard to sanitize.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

We’re going to continue to build on both our home feed and chat experiences by teaming up with more vendors while using machine learning to hone in on what it is our users want eventually getting to a place where we can start making predictions. Stuck in Denver with a delayed flight? We’ll know before you do and will find the Starbucks closest to your gate and send you a redemption code. And while you’re helping yourself to a cup of joe, our algorithms will be analyzing similar flight and weather patterns in the past to predict whether your temporary delay will turn into an overnighter. If that happens then we’ll have a Navigator proactively reach out and see about getting you a room at the Westin Denver hotel in the airport before you even know it’s an issue. Consider the app not as a standalone product but as a door into a host of specialized business travel services that Upside provides for its users.

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

Please reach out to us at ideas@upside.com and let us know what you’d like to see in the app, we’d love to get your thoughts.

Upside Travel

About App: Upside is the innovative, new way to buy business travel that helps save your company money on flights + hotel packages – and rewards you each time you book a trip. Just plug in your basic criteria, and our proprietary software analyzes every possible itinerary that fits your trip. It’s quick, it’s easy, and we do all the legwork. In less than 5 minutes, you’ll have your flights + hotel confirmed!

Categories: Travel & Local

Date: February 6, 2018

Developer: Sean Soper

About developer: Sean Soper from Washington D.C. Graduated with a degree in Computer Science ...

Website: https://web.upside.com

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