Enhancing the USC Tailgate Reservations Platform With Bug Fixes & Improved Features
In 2019, the University of Southern California (USC) worked with Wizeline to design and develop a reservations platform to streamline tailgate bookings for home football games. After the successful deployment of the platform, overall bookings increased by 46%, labor time reduced by up to 75%, and the time to book group reservations decreased from 20-25 minutes to just a few minutes per game.
In addition to increasing tailgating-generated revenue and improving efficiency, the reservations platform helped foster a more family-friendly environment for tailgating.
Over the last two years since launch, Wizeline worked with USC to evolve the platform and deploy some new and improved features to provide a better experience for users, especially since the onset of the COVID pandemic, which caused multiple tailgating restrictions for USC.
Read more to see how the Wizeline Product Evolution team cleared 90 tickets to implement bug fixes, created new features in the platform, and helped USC manage tailgate demand during the pandemic.
Taking Inventory of Bugs & Ways to Improve the Customer Experience
While the initial USC tailgate management platform enjoyed many successes, the team recognized bugs in the application causing a reduction in the overall performance and user experience.
The Wizeline team started out by testing the entire application to take inventory. We discovered that the app had an abandoned dependency on a database connection that was failing and preventing the team from running any code locally. Unit tests were also missing for the backend modules of the application, reducing the overall quality of the application.
Finally, there were user-facing issues where PayPal payments were unsuccessful, and email confirmations for bookings weren’t sent in some instances.
The Wizeline team immediately jumped in to fix the bugs and improve the overall platform to meet users’ growing needs.
Clearing Tech Debts to Improve Application Quality
The Wizeline Product Evolution team began this phase of the project by finalizing the scope of work with the USC team, creating product documentation and completing a shadowing period for knowledge transfer from the development team.
When this was complete, the team got to work to achieve the following:
- Bug Fixes
- There was an error when the admin was trying to edit a reservation by adding a fee. A property in the frontend component came up empty from the database whenever an admin tried to add a payment to a reservation as this feature was not a part of the initial database modification. We changed the component behavior to accept the “null” value from that property, fixing the problem.
- We checked several dependencies for the app’s database and identified a compatible dependency with the knex query builder, enabling us to run code locally.
- After processing PayPal payments, the app failed to show a success screen to users. The issue resulted from two backend queries with a small error causing the success screen to be displayed only in the backend and not in the frontend to the customer. We permanently resolved the issue by changing the code for the database name from being hard coded in one of the queries and adding a try/catch to the backend functions.
- We built unit tests for the various modules of the application, ensuring the app’s improved quality.
- Some users weren’t receiving confirmation emails for their bookings. After troubleshooting, we discovered that USC recently started implementing additional security to their systems, causing a configuration change in the dependency to connect and send emails from the app. We created a script to send all the missing emails to visitors and a provisional email with a standard outlook configuration to solve this temporarily. At the same time, we waited for the USC IT team to complete the security update on their systems to deploy a permanent solution.
- Improved Features
- USC did not receive any warning from deleting or disabling the boxes with upcoming event reservations on the admin page. We fixed this by creating a component with a notification on the frontend and adding a new property to the box model in the backend to check the boxes for any active reservations and then show the warning on the frontend accordingly.
- AWS Cloud Infrastructure
- Wizeline monitored the AWS cloud infrastructure to fix bugs, review logs, and download dumps from the database. The infrastructure utilized AWS services such as AWS EC2, S3, and RDS. We also helped to increase storage from one instance to increase development capacity.
Before Wizeline came aboard, the USC team would take around 17 hours to plot a single game. However, since the Wizeline team implemented features like multi-select and purchase history to understand the past behavior of tailgaters, the USC team has saved a considerable amount of time. “Wizeline has been very hands-on, fixing problems immediately and getting resolutions way faster than I would imagine or expect,” said Erin, Associate Event Producer at USC.
The Product Evolution team also created business logic documents and updated the product documentation to help the USC team understand the product better.
How the Platform Unknowingly Prepared USC for a COVID-19 World
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USC team implemented some restrictions for tailgating on campus to reduce the risk of infection. The tailgating reservations platform has provided USC with the customer data and ability to plan tailgating events effectively, saving customers from a bad user experience should they show up when there’s no available space. Although capacity restrictions have reduced the number of actual tailgaters, the platform has greatly simplified the process, and USC has seen a massive jump in the number of reservations as the 2021 season has unfolded.
The Result: Better Application Performance & Increased Stability for Tailgate Season
Ninety tickets later, the USC team remains fully equipped to manage customer demand during the tailgate season and now enjoys a fully enhanced application with improved functionality. The USC team is still building a list of features to improve the tailgate mapping capabilities and expand the platform, making it faster, easier to use, and more efficient.
The Wizeline team continues to collaborate with the USC IT team to maintain a healthy application and implement new updates per the growing requirements from USC.