When we restarted our cycling sessions in 2021 after lockdown, we introduced a booking system so that we could deliver our sessions within COVID-19 guidelines and keep social distancing measures in place. Once the legal restrictions were removed, we continued to run our sessions in much the same way as we felt it was safest to do so, especially considering many of the people we work with consider themselves vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. That means we’ve been taking bookings for our cycling sessions via email for over a year now, and we thought it would be a good time to look back at what we’ve learnt and share some news about how we are planning to move forward. 

When we started pre-booking sessions it was a necessity brought on by the reality of operating during a pandemic. Along the way, it has presented us with an opportunity to rethink how best to run our cycling sessions, whilst making sure we maintain the friendly, high quality and person-centred approach that has always made Wheels for Wellbeing’s sessions so valued. We were able to take the time to really look at the systems we use to support our sessions because, around the same time that we reopened our sessions, we secured COVID recovery grant funding. This funding was specifically aimed at building new IT systems to help us to respond to the challenges the pandemic presented to us. With this funding, we’ve been working with a team of web developers to overhaul and redesign our user database system. We’ve also asked them to create an online bookings system for our cycling sessions. After lots of hard work this new system is very nearly ready to launch!  

A screen shot of a web page for cyclist registration. Two photos overlaid with text the top reads Have you registered yet?

A preview of our new online registration page

We’re very excited about this new system and the benefits it will have for us and, most importantly, for our participants.  

We are hopeful that for our participants the new system will: 

  • Be a clear and accessible way for participants to know what sessions we have available and how they can join in and get cycling! 
  • Give participants more control over booking their sessions, allowing them to choose their own timeslots and highlight which type of cycle they would like to ride at a session. 
  • Allow participants to update their personal details and the details of their supporters.  
  • Make sure participants feel secure about how we handle their personal data. 

For us, the new system will: 

  • Allow us to plan our sessions around the specific needs of those who will be attending.  
  • Increase our ability to evidence the success of our sessions, so we can show our funders and potential funders how popular and important Wheels for Wellbeing cycling sessions are!  
  • Help us to have a clearer picture of how many people are attending our sessions and how to allocate our cycles and resources  
  • Ensure we are capturing, storing and using personal data safely and efficiently.  

As ever, feedback from our participants is really important to how we plan and design our service. So, we asked participants to give us feedback regarding their current experience of pre-booking sessions. We were happy to find that most people felt booking ahead was a positive change. 

Specifically, people highlighted that the following things have been an improvement: 

  • The sessions don’t get too crowded. 
  • Having an appropriate cycle ready and a good amount of cycling time. 
  • Feel secure knowing in advance that they have a slot booked. 

Of course, the system hasn’t been perfect and we are the first to admit it’s been a steep learning curve! 

Some of the things people said they would like to be improved about our booking system were: 

  • Being able to know more clearly if the time/date they wish to attend is available 
  • Being able to book for more sessions at a time 
  • Have an easy way to know if their session is booked 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be getting a few participants to test our new online booking system and provide us with feedback about the usability and accessibility of the system. This will be fed back to our web developers, so that they can make final changes to the system and get us ready to launch it (and rest assured that if anyone doesn’t have the internet, we will agree a bespoke way for them to book a cycling session)!  

Watch this space for more updates! 

A screen shot of our online booking page - screen shows upcoming sessions available, my cyclists and other information about booking a session

Here’s a sneak preview of our new online booking portal!

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