Universal tour searching


It is intended for:

  • partner tour operators
  • tour operator alliances
  • internet portals
  • connecting small retailers with a web presentation

As part of the application for tour operators, the reservation system stores and updates data about product packages and availability thereof in the central database of tours. Only offers of products and dates that are still available are kept here.

The central database serves not only to accelerate the search performance, but also to concentrate offers from several tour operators in one database. The universal search engine is designed such that each part (reservation system providing data, reservation system booking products and searching as well as reservation via website) could operate on a separate machine and under the administration of another operator.

Central database

The central database enables searching for products among offers of a large number of tour operators, all at once without any delay which would be caused by communication with all such entities.

The database collects information about product titles, dates or alternatively number of vacancies. Records from a number of code lists are also part of the register.

If allowed by the data provider, the system even keeps track of what components the product consists of (which transport and accommodation facilities), what types of rooms, what accommodation capacity is available and even exact amounts in an extreme case.

Searching and result

The universal search engine is not specifically designed to operate a portal or reservation system, it only cooperates with these portals and reservation systems. The universal search engine includes processes which are able to collect data and promptly find and provide the result upon entering parameters.

To support web searching, the search system installation includes components a web designer inserts in their web presentation – therefore, they get not only an updated version of the search form (with up-to-date code lists), but also a component displaying the search result and detail of the searched tour. The web presentation translates the data into its own graphic style.

Reservation

The search engine only collects and looks for offers. When the moment has come for the reservation to be made, this system connects the retailer or customer directly to the product provider’s system. The connection may take place in one of the following modes:

• pop-up window with the provider’s reservation system
• making the reservation through the provider’s website via online access to the provider’s system in the background
• sending an inquiry via email
• saving the inquiry or order in an internal database, further dealt with by the operator.

With systems with internal communication between the retailer and provider in the background, the retailer’s reservation system may record the booked capacities by itself and thereby include the sale in its records and statistics.

Technical solution

Configurable inputs

Data from various reservation systems may come in the central database in one of the following formats:

• TXT and CSV files
• XML files
• Interface webservices
• Connector to another database

Data may come on active request from the system operating the central database, or the system may passively wait for batch updates from a partner system.

File imports are set as templates, so the setting for receiving new format of product offerings is just a matter of configuration, without any programmer intervention. Likewise, the setting for requesting current data is set directly by the user.

Parameter code lists may also be completed with each update. The system has tools for removing duplications and for translation of the code list items.

Regularity of updates

Information updates from several resources may be different. Some systems may save changes online, others in batches, perhaps once a week. For each product, the system keeps track not only of the supplier, but also up-to-dateness with respect to the set update periods and date and time of the last update. The search results then contain this information as well.

Communication between instances of the engine

Just as the search engine can receive information about offerings and save it in its database, so can it transfer the collected information or its part to a different instance of the search engine.

This feature primarily enables reducing excessive communication of the reservation system with a large number of search engines and it is suitable particularly for networks with concentrators (e.g. thematic or alliance portals).


Case studies

For your inspiration, here are some examples of how to use the universal search engine in practice

Partner Travel Agency

Situation:Two national instances of an international tour operator selling each its own products, but its partner’s products as well.

Solution: Application of the universal search engine made the concentration and searching for offers easier.
The search database of the portal was supplemented with other thematic tours from other tour operators and thanks to the communication between the instances, the partner travel agencies’ offerings attained large tour operators and web retailers.
The web portal has bolstered up its integrating status in the field of diving tours.

Web portal

Situation: A web portal dedicated to scuba diving associates several travel agencies with the same focus. The portal collects and transforms their partners‘ offers into a uniform presentation.

Solution: Při nasazení universálního vyhledávacího jádra došlo ke zjednodušení koncentrace i vyhledávání nabídek.

Do vyhledávací databáze portálu přibyly další tematické zájezdy od jiných tour-operátorů a nabídka partnerských kanceláří se díky komunikaci instancí dostala k velkým tour- operátorům a www prodejcům.

WWW portál posílal svou integrační pozici na poli zájezdů za potápěním.


 

Alliance

Situation: Four tour operators co-operate closely. If an operator does not find a suitable tour in their own resources, they resort to its partners‘ offers.

Solution: When deploying the complete product line is>tour, each operator was assigned their own search engine for their own products and this was connected to their website.

The reservation systems of all tour operators were thereafter connected to one common engine and therefore, when searching for a suitable tour, each participant can see not only their own tours, but also the partners‘ tours, with an appropriate identification.

In case of technical issues, each participant is able to switch their reservation terminal to their individual engine and therefore continue independently of the partners.