New Geo Polygon Tools

A short interview featuring (Developer) Dawid and (Performance Marketing Specialist) Carl. The topic of discussion is recently launched tool that helps us easily manage new destinations for properties on HouseTrip.

Interviewer: Salim Hamid, interviewees: Dawid Sklodowski, Carl Hallard

SH: Hi Dawid, introduce yourself to our readers.

DS: Hey, I’m Dawid Sklodowski. I’m a Developer here at HouseTrip.

SH: Recently your team developed a tool that allows us at HouseTrip to enhance our geographical database with new areas. It’s a very interesting concept, so what made you choose this project?

DS: It seemed like a really interesting and challenging project; one that allowed us to play a little more with Google Maps, draw with Javascript, utilise geometry algorithms and work with scaling our backend asynchronous processing.

SH: What was the initial problem that needed to be solved?

DS: Our different studies have highlighted how rural destinations are massively attractive to our travellers - there are plenty of people within our target remit who are interested in going on rural or coastline holidays, not just big cities. HouseTrip offers them the chance to do this, since these more remote places don’t usually offer many hotels.

Geographical locations in our database are provided by a third parties and they only contained administrative locations. We were lacking a healthy supply of informal regions, which are often not even mentioned on maps or in official administrative structures. To allow our guests to search for informal destinations, we needed to first add them to our database.

SH: How did you solve the problem? Not even having the regions marked out on a map is a pretty serious roadblock.

DS: Exactly, so to be able to add those entities to our geo structure we needed a tool that allowed us to draw an area on the map and then save it as a new destination.

SH: And what tool did you use to implement drawing areas on the map?

DS: We used the Google Maps JavaScript API which allowed us to draw and edit polygons on the map. When the polygon is saved, our backend asynchronous processes examine the polygons and generate a list of every HouseTrip property within that area. The algorithm first looks for all of the properties within the smallest rectangle which can contain drawn polygons and then, for each of these points, it is checking whether they are outside or inside the polygon.

Lake Como An example of the polygon boundaries for Lake Como, Italy

After all of the properties are assigned to a new area, a landing page for that destination is automatically generated. This allows our marketing team to drive new traffic towards the page and efficiently smoke-test the new location.

SH: In regards to property reassignment, how were you able to ensure that our current systems would be capable of handling such additional loads?

DS: We drew a polygon that covered the whole of France as a measure of testing the impact it would have on the performance of our job workers. In a short while, our servers managed to successfully load and process all 50,000+ properties we have in France without affecting other jobs running on the servers.

SH: Who are users of the tool you’ve built? Did you take into account their opinions while developing it?

DS: It’s being used by members of our Business Development and Marketing teams. During development we were cooperating with them closely and showing early versions to get their feedback on a regular basis.

SH: Our guest today is also Carl Hallard, Online Performance Marketing Specialist Host. Carl, how easy was it to use the tool?

Carl Hallard: Very easy. It was very fast and efficient, enabling us to address demand for new destinations in a few clicks. After drawing a polygon, a landing page for each language was automatically created, and our guests could travel to their favourite beaches, mountains and rural destinations in minutes.

SH: How did you measure success? And on that note how successful was the product?

CH: Measuring the success of this project was pretty straightforward; if the new feature did its job it was a success, and if it didn’t, it wasn’t! The new polygon tool enabled guests to access new destinations, and generated additional/incremental bookings that we just wouldn’t have generated otherwise.


SH: Dawid, how successful was the project from technical point of view?

DS: As we can see, HouseTrip users are happy, and so far we haven’t had a single problem or performance decrease caused by this new feature. Thus I believe it was a success.

SH: Thank you guys for this interview.

CH: Thank you.

DS: Thank you.

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