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Quote Building Tool for Yacht Charter Agents

Reducing the time to close charter sales for a concierge style experience


Borrow A Boat is a marketplace for yacht hire with 35,000 boats around the world. With the majority of clientele being returning clients looking to speak with a human first, the Charter Agents inside BAB required a tool that allowed them to move at speed and generate quotes to send out to customers.


As the Senior Product Designer and Product Owner, I was tasked to lead in the research and development of designing a Quote Builder tool. Working alongside the Front-end and Back-end developers to develop a working solution within the technical limitations.


The primary goals for the Quote Builder was to utilise the knowledge and expertise of the Charter Agents and enable them to send out emails with multiple options to their clients and reduce the time to begin the booking process.

birds eye photography of yacht on body of water
man wearing white shorts holding black backpack

Problems being faced

Borrow A Boat pulls in boat data through APIs with the biggest charter companies around the world. A standard process amongst boat hire companies with online presences. These API’s provide huge amounts of data that are conflicting and don’t line up with one another. The value that the BAB marketplace offers is our ability to organise and present boat information and data that is usable and friendly to the prospective customer.

Because of the browsing style nature of the marketplace, clients who are short on time and have a high awareness of boating and/or are enthusiasts, are more likely to contact via phone or email and expect a concierge style of service.

Their expectations are:

  • To express what kind of experience they are looking for (Location, Boat Type, Capacity and Budget)
  • Have an expert share with them the best vessel(s) for them with a variety of options that best suit them
  • Be able to make an informed decision
  • Book as soon as possible

Presently, the Charter Agents have two methods to procure the best results for their clients.

  1. Go through the databases of all the suppliers individually, and send out a manual unformatted with the relevant bits of information. The user experience for these platforms are slow, clunky and unintuitive. Furthermore, the emails being sent out are taking 2 – 3 days to procure and being formatted and sent out through Outlook, they don’t create any sense of joy or excitement to the client.
  2. Do the same process as above, but go through the same browsing experience through the BAB marketplace. Though the experience is better, the process is slower and doesn’t cater to the core information that the Charter Agents need. The focus on the main marketplace is for end-users booking for themselves.


Our discovery phase focused around shadowing the Charter Agents and fully understanding how they were accomplishing their current tasks and learning their pain points. We learned where they were getting their information, how they collated and delivered to the customer.


By producing wireframes with some level of styling, we were able to develop prototypes with fast turnarounds and test the usability directly with our users. Their feedback was mostly positive, as pain points were being removed from the get-go. We would provide multiple options and tested the more preferential outcome.

High Fidelity Mockups

As the development team worked on the backend features to create this new product, I started implementing the new BAB design system into low fidelity wireframes and put together high-fidelity mockups and prototypes to be prepared for reference in the development sprint.

Testing and Iteration

Our methodology in our sprints are to develop fast, test and iterate upon them by learning from any blockers and feedback that we may get. We learned a lot about our data providers which changed the methods in which we could present and sort data, meaning that changes in the methods the UX worked were imminent.

User Journey

As an internal tool, it was important to focus on the true user journey and that was with the Charter Agents. Through shadowing their actions, I discovered the pain points in their journey to provide customers with their needs and followed along with their process.

What we discovered was that a huge portion of their time was spent on provider databases manually going through each and every potential option for days. These platforms aren’t optimised for the modern user and ultimately, this is where BAB’s technology comes in to disrupt. Rather than having agents trawl through 3 or 4 provider databases manually, why not have the BAB engine do it for them?

Our new User Journey would allow our Agents to search at a high and low level for what their client wants and the engine would deliver them the boats that would work best. Then an email can be generated and sent out to the customer with some custom copy from the agent to provide a personalised touch.

Internal Dashboard

One of the key proponents to provide Agents with the ability to generate quotes for customers is to have a complete dashboard system that will allow the agents to know their customers, the fleet operators and boats that are available on the platform. From this Dashboard, not only do agents require the ability to access boat, customer and operator data, a one-stop tool to find the right boat, generates quotes, enables discounts and sends an email to the customer was the solution that Borrow A Boat required for it's agents.

This dashboard had to be tailored to their workflow with potential to integrate into their existing CRM systems.

How we build a Quote

Building Quotes is an essential part of the Charter Agents new workflow, and thus the Quote Builder was proposed as a dedicated part of the sidebar menu. From here the Agent will need to find a boat based on the parameters of their choosing.

Search by ID

As experts in their field, Charter Agents have a vast wealth of knowledge regarding the inventory and what would best suit their customer. In a lot of use cases, the Agent is aware of a boat previously discovered or chartered previously and have a good standing with the operator. In some of these cases, they remember the ID number assigned to the boat itself and can simply make the search for the desired boat.

Date & Location Search

Holidaymakers have a general timeframe and location in mind as to when they wish to travel. Searching with date ranges allows the Agents to determine which boats are available for booking during the selected time period. A dedicated map feature allows the expert knowledge of the Agents to select a determined area for the customer to select the boats within a designated region.

Features Search

Customers often have requirements specific to their holiday plans. These can include the service type (captain, full crew or bareboat), the boat type, number of cabins, bathrooms, beds amongst other amenities. A singular modal allows the Agent to focus and select multiple filter options to create the right set of filters before the application begins its search. A proposal was put forward to separate the filters as individual items. However, after testing, the application required to make calls to the database with every change to the fields. Thusly, creating a selection of filters before the call is made allowed the agents to not be sat waiting for periods of time which created friction with the product.

Shopping Cart Style Quote Building

The Agents needed a persistent method to collect selected boats for individual quotes. Concepts were designed for modals and persistent sidebars, however by consensus it was decided to select a collapsible sidebar. This allowed for a larger number of boats to be displayed on screen. As the data collected would persist with page loads, this meant Agents could discover more boats through pagination and reduce load times.

Email Compiler

Following the process of collecting boats to be added into a Quote, our next task was to design a standardised and branded email that would get sent out and impress the clients with.

  • Customised message from the Agents
  • Cards of the boats being sent
  • Button links to view the boat on the BAB marketplace

We tested a number of designs that would work in both a single-selection and multi-option design to ensure that our emails being sent were accessible and informative on both desktop and mobile devices.

Customer responded significantly better to an email that was styled and presented clearly. Discussions were had about the potential length of the email becoming a concern, however when testing with some of our userbase, the feedback we received ignored the length of the email completely.

Emails that are tailor designed for an individual have a higher retention rate than a generic plain text email. Our designs allowed us to let the boats be the center of attention and with all the messaging customised by the agent tailored to them, it was clear the direction we had to go with.

We created our templates with a standard HTML pattern and connecting it to our Quote Builder. The emails being sent would be powered by SendGrid, allowing for us bypass any potential spam filters, which was a concern because of previous experience that the Charter Agents were having. 

Testing Designs

Through interactive prototypes, we were able to test a Proof of Concept before pushing it into development. The Charter Agents were asked to complete a selection of tasks and their performance with collecting results and sending them were tracked.


As I worked on the design stages, the development team and I collaborated on the means of organising and sorting the data that our tool would be using. We found a number of issues regarding API calls that would limit the potential of the tool. Part of our discovery eventually led to certain decisions being made, including the search functions operate after confirmation and not live, because of this.


Following the launch of the MVP, we were able to track the speed of customer relations with the Charter Agents. Bugs happen all the time and regular deployments to fix the issues were necessary. The basic functionality of collecting boats into a Quote and sending them to a customer had a massive impact on the operations of the business.

The Quote Builder tool allowed Charter Agents to reduce the time to prepare a Quote for customers from 2-3 days to 15-20 minutes. Utilising their own expertise in the field, they’re empowered to respond to queries the moment a phone call ends, or even during and are able to turnaround sales within a day when, sometimes a week or two might pass for a client to begin their purchase journey.
We found that sales increased by 50%, during the pandemic, all customers being served through this new tool. I believe outside of travel restrictions, this tool will have a massive impact on the business.

Next steps

The next steps for the Quote Builder tool are to begin utilising additional functions requested by the Charter Agents and even some potential ideas already explored in the Discovery phase. These include:
  • Storing boat data from API’s on our own servers and doing calls to check for availability, rather than all information, allowing for increased speed.
  • Importing customer data from the current CRM and utilise existing knowledge and interests of a customer to automate their travel plans
  • Agent specific lists where they can source and store boats they know their clients will like for later use and immediately find when the time comes
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