Online booking is a specific and well-developed travel industry cluster that finds itself between traditional tourism market and telecom and technology services. Today experts are talking about online travel revolution, digitization and diversification of travel business models. Booking airline tickets is the best example of how online distribution affects otherwise quite conservative business and poses new challenges in front of company owners.
The main aim of a B2C travel website is to automate booking delivery on a specific website by use of professional software, mostly integrated with sales channels from other travel companies (airlines, hotel chains, tour and travel agencies etc.). Core functionalities and additional features of a typical online booking engine can vary depending on its purpose and the type of company it belongs to, but, generally, its value is measured by the number of suppliers connected and the character of relationships with them. A company or an agent can book a ticket from most major airlines via global distribution systems, but their integration can be comparatively costly for an ordinary online travel agency.
Booking itself is not the only function of a travel website, and many travel portals don’t implement a booking engine. It is possible to create online new hotel reservation systemat the top of existing ones, though a longer chain of intermediaries and use of third party resources affects the final price, sometimes making it rather uncompetitive. The largest part of online travel websites belongs to so-called aggregators. The main function of their software is to collect data on available seats or rooms. Such services can be extremely data-intensive, as the scope of information they analyse includes offers from other online travel agencies, websites of tourism product suppliers, and more. This is called metasearch, and most of metasearch websites does not include booking itself. After he or she had compared prices and made the final choice, the customer is redirected to the booking website that contains this exact offer. Nevertheless, some biggest players on this market have already introduced their own booking engines.
Consolidators are another type of booking services. This kind of companies operates both in hospitality and in transportation ticket distribution markets. Consolidators buy blocks of apartments or airline tickets in advance and then resell their inventory for a special price. Thanks to regular character of relationships between consolidators and hotels or airlines these booking agencies have the possibility to buy in bulk at discount rates.
Is it necessary to implement compulsory travel website softwarefor serious companies? The answer is “yes” for the majority of medium and large scale enterprises. Availability and costs of airline tickets, hotel rooms and other services like car rentals are changing literally every minute, and global travel product supplies distribute this information with no delay by use of web technologies. To tap into this vital source of information, the company needs a booking system integrated with the suppliers’ software. Apart of such business-oriented systems, technology vendors also offer a big number of tools to optimize search and booking of different tourism products online, including customer mobile solutions and social applications.