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All need to know before creating an online booking engine

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5 minutes read

The booking engine is the hidden software hero that makes the lives of thousands of people comfortable every day, but no one sees it. When we book a hotel, transport, or a flight to visit some country, we can do it in a few clicks online using an intuitive and user-friendly interface. But what is behind the interface at the website? 

The booking engine is a complex set of functions and features that connects different services and databases into a single mechanism if described in a few words. To understand what a booking engine is and how to create one, we will go deep into this topic and consider everything you must know about a booking engine and its types, how it works, and the important steps in creating the engine for your needs.

What is a booking engine?

Let’s start with the definition of an online booking engine. An online booking engine is a website application that combines integrated multiple services in a single application and shows all the information about flights, hotels, and transport in real-time for the end user.

The main aim of the booking engine is to remove any unnecessary and redundant steps in the booking process to make it as clear and understandable as possible. It automates the booking process to decrease the pressure on travel agents and hotels, as a client can do everything alone without external help.

How does it work?

One of the aims of our topic is to see and understand how it works and what processes are behind the interface. 

To explain this, we need some conditions, so let’s take a booking engine in a travel agency as an example.

A travel booking engine consists of 4 layers.

  1. Integration with external suppliers

You don’t take flights from the sky, so you have to find suppliers of the product to sell in the booking engine

The booking engine owner finds and negotiates with the suppliers to get the best deals and conditions of cooperation to place the offers in the application. 

The logical question is how to connect the supplier and booking engine. With the help of API, of course. To describe the principle of how an API works, it is a pipe that connects and transfers data between two different software applications. You connect “the pipe” from your booking engine to the supplier, and the tickets, for example, display in real-time for your users.

  1. Searching 

When talking about searching in the application, it looks like you only need the ability to enter the request and get results. It can be that way, but it is the wrong approach to this layer. 

To make the searching process smart, you have to make the searching system offer users only the best deals for their needs. If a person searches for a flight from Warsaw to Budapest, the system must take deals with the lowest price or the best flight time from the supplier, not only the most popular airlines or any other filters. Adjust the searching to allow the users to get the most beneficial offers

  1. Pricing 

Pricing also can be adjusted so you can set your margin according to the following criteria:

  • demand
  • season
  • competition
  1. Booking

The last layer is the process of actually booking what the user needs. It may look the same as the previous, but many aspects need to be solved. For example, when you use different suppliers, you need to adjust each of them specifically as they require a unique approach. Each supplier can have individual aspects as:

  • booking requests;
  • payment processing;
  • API messaging.

The booking engine is complex software and requires a professional hand that can make it work properly. That’s why it is vital to have a team of experienced specialists. 

Creating booking engine: what to include and where to start?

To get the most out of the booking engine, you have to define what it should look like, what features it needs to satisfy business needs

Based on our experience, there are the features and functions that are fundamental for a booking engine. The following ones form the core functionality of the booking engine.

  • Well-optimized for mobile 

If 10 years ago people used personal computers in common, now the situation has changed drastically as nowadays each of us uses more mobile devices. To be accurate, according to Condorferries, 70% of users use mobile devices to search for travel. Taking it into consideration, it is almost certain that potential clients will use mobile phones to use your services, so optimization for proper working on such platforms is a must.  

  • Integrations

 Integrations with suppliers, as an example. 

  • Multi-currency and multi-language support

Although most people around the world know or at least understand a bit of the English language, it is still better to add a few more common languages from each language group. It will increase the practicality of the application and make a client feel more comfortable.

  • Online payment

Availability of the most popular payment methods like PayPal, сard, or any other methods, positively impacts the quality of user experience. If the user can pay by credit card or any of his available payment methods, the person will search for other applications where it is available.

  • Smooth booking

The booking process must be as smooth as possible in terms of fastness and easiness. The more steps a client must make to book something, the bigger chance of abandoning the process in the middle. Make all the necessary steps clear, understandable, and easy.

ASD Team experience in developing booking engines

Our company has hands-on experience in developing booking engines both from scratch and updating developed ones. 

For example, our ongoing project, Easy OTA, includes the development of the following:

  • report systems;
  • synchronization with external services;
  • integration with external systems for booking;
  • Google Maps integration.

Also, we developed many features for end-users, service providers, and travel agents:

  • ability to fully customize trips for users
  • separate deals for travel agents
  • admin panel for service providers

To become acquainted with the whole story, read the case. 

Creating a booking engine is a complicated and demanding process. To achieve the best and desired result, you have to conduct good work on defining what exactly the booking engine should be. From another perspective, it’s better to consult and talk about your future product with the tech team that is going to work on it

References:

condorferries.co.uk

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