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Hoop in 2017

12 December 2017

The Hoop team has achieved so much over the past twelve months that trying to distill it all into this post has proved challenging. What’s more, 2016 was a great year for us; we were chosen by Apple as one of that Best Apps of 2016 and closed a round of fundraising from a stellar line up of investors that would allow us to to reach even more families.

We’re not ones to rest on our laurels however, and so in last year’s review we were clear to highlight our three areas of focus for the coming twelve months. They were:

  1. Taking Hoop nationwide
  2. Building a world class app
  3. Helping activity organisers across the country

So how did we do?

Hoop Goes Nationwide

Amongst all the things we’ve done this year taking Hoop nationwide has required the largest effort. Our Operations team has continued to refine our expansion playbook, making it more efficient as we open to new cities and adapting it to work in rural areas too.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Hoop now covers every inch of Britain — just take a look below! As well as helping families find things to do locally, going nationwide means Hoop can help out when you’re travelling too and allows us to support some amazing national franchises such as Baby Sensory, Big Fish Little Fish and Monkey Music. More on that in a minute.

A map used by our Operations team

Our national expansion has seen the number of monthly activities listed on Hoop skyrocket. At the end of 2016 that number stood at 18,000, today it’s over 70,000! We’ve found 15,655 different Arts and Crafts classes, 14,349 for Music and Singing and over five thousand story times! From their emergence last year, Baby and Toddler Raves continued to rise and rise — 3,852 parties were hosted across the country in 2017. Coding and other technology courses such as robotics have also increased in popularity, there were over one thousand of them in the last twelve months. For the trend spotters amongst you keep an eye on Parkour for kids! There were 35 classes recorded on Hoop this year and we’re expecting there to be even more in 2018.

Gathering all these activities and ensuring they stay up-to-date is no small task and key to our success is our amazing remote team — many of whom are Hoop users themselves. Alongside our in-house tech known as Hula they manage the extraordinary number of activities you see in the app. Here they all are at our summer meet up.

The Hoop Remote Team

Making a World Class App

Since January we’ve updated our iPhone and Android apps a grand total of 45 times. With every update we’ve tried to introduce new features that will make family life easier and we’ve continued to seek guidance from the families who use Hoop while we do it. Whether via one of our many surveys, by taking part in parenting panels, inviting people into our office or just over a cup or tea in a local café — we’ve put families at the centre of all the work we’ve done and used their ideas to shape the apps. In 2017 we launched:

  • Reviews, so you can read real opinions from other families
  • New ways to search for activities
  • Improved how we display an activity’s schedule
  • Added ‘quick facts’ and activity benefits
  • Introduced a dedicated class finder
  • Launched ‘Booking History’ that includes all your upcoming tickets

Just some of the new features we’ve added to our apps

However the most important addition was the introduction of booking…

Book with Hoop

Earlier in the year we conducted a survey where we looked at the different reasons families choose an activity organiser. Families told us that one of the main reasons they were put off an activity was an ‘overly complicated booking system’. When we read this we knew we would be able to help.

Our goal was to make booking an activity through Hoop as simple as possible. In fact, within just a few taps a family should be able to: reserve their spot; pay for the activity (with Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal); securely transfer any details about their child to the organiser; and, view all their upcoming tickets in one place.

We lifted the curtains on these new features just six months ago and the results since then have been fantastic. Families using Hoop have made close to 10,000 bookings from over 500 organisers and, what’s more, families tell us that it couldn’t be simpler to use: mission accomplished!

Just like 2016, 2017 ended with a bang. Apple chose Hoop as one of the Best Apps of 2017 and we became one of a handful of apps ever to be chosen two years in a row!

Hoop for Organisers

If the theme for 2016 was about helping families discover all the incredible activities happening around them then the theme for 2017 has been helping organisers. In February we launched Hoop for Organisers, our platform that allows anyone who runs family activities to add their listing to Hoop and engage with the families using the app.

It’s been a huge success, with over 5,000 organisers joining the platform in the short time that it’s been up and running: there’s first time founders like Anna from Baby Broadway who is using Hoop to promote her family concerts; franchises such as Little Kickers who allow Hoop families to book free trials using the app; and world renowned institutions such as the The V&A and The British Museum who use Hoop to promote their family programmes.

As with our apps we’ve made learning from the organisers who use our platform a top priority, adding new features and refining existing ones in response to the feedback they’ve given us. We introduced Hoop Pages, which give organisers a beautiful profile on both the app and the web–take a look at these from Rave-a-RooAmanda’s Action Club and Magical Circus. And our boosted listings programme which allows organisers to take bookings on the app, manage the number of spots available and see a list of attendees.

Looking to 2018

Hoop is a business of two sides. During 2016 we focussed on helping families discover the world of amazing activities that live outside the home, ready for their children to enjoy. And while we pursued this in 2017 too, we shifted our attention to the organisers behind these activities, with the aim of helping them run their own businesses through access to new customers and suite of online tools.

Supporting both sides of Hoop to the best of our ability will be the focus for 2018. That means continuing to speak to families and organisers to improve the services we offer them, making improvements to our mobile apps and Hoop for Organisers and ensuring that the range of activities available to discover is better than ever.

Crafty fun at the Hoop Party

Whether you’re a member of the team at Hoop, a family member or activity organiser we all share the same overarching goal: to improve outcomes for children by introducing them to activities that will make them laugh, learn and make new friends. And while here at Hoop we play just a small role in this, it’s what’s driving us to be better every single day.

We hope you all have a relaxing Christmas and peaceful new year, because 2018 is just around the corner and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Find fun, healthy activities for kids on the Hoop app