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GPTE
OTAs

Large-scale Backend Development for a Niche Startup OTA

Book Barbados Interface | GP Solutions

Customer Profile

Book Barbados is a promising startup online travel agency which specializes in promoting and selling various travel services available on the isle of Barbados – a small island country in the Caribbean. The core of the company’s business is the innovative e-commerce and travel marketing platform concept. It is designed to place more client booking funds directly into local businesses’ hands, while offering the opportunity to stand out with a more in-depth and detailed depiction of tourist attractions available in the country.

Project Challenges

BookBarbados embarked on a revolutionary mission to re-shape the way local travel suppliers generate revenues for their services. The previous paradigm where Barbadian travel services were mostly marketed through larger OTAs proved to be too insecure and risky. The new concept was to provide a new revenue stream for the local vendors while offering them more chances to control their sales via a niche local travel distribution platform.

Initially, the Client assembled its own development team to kick-start the engineering effort. The team that was put together managed to develop some key project blocks, including:

  • Customer-facing website layouts aligned with the custom look & feel concept of BookBarbados;
  • Extranet solution for local suppliers to create their own travel product offers.

However, the project required lots of other critical functionality. Some of the most urgent needs included a business rules engine (to supervise sales conditions for available travel products), backend functionality supporting multiple custom B2C functionality, connection to 3rd-party travel suppliers and more.

Bearing in mind these requirements and also the timeframes for launch, the management at BookBarbados decided to explore potential partnership with an external software vendor. This search ultimately led the company to partnering with GP Solutions.

Development Highlights

GP Solutions team was engaged for the project starting July 2020.

Development efforts were built around GP Travel Enterprise platform. It was offered by our team as the core of the entire implementation. This approach was deemed to be advantageous for the project because GP Travel Enterprise:

  • Already contained lots of ready-made modules required by BookBarbados;
  • Incorporated a well-structured and documented API, facilitating streamlined connection with custom solutions built by BookBarbados;
  • Had a flexible structure which supported unlimited customizations in line with changing needs and requirements.

GP Travel Enterprise Interface | GP Solutions

Below is an outline of key activities performed during the implementation stage.

#1. GP Travel Enterprise Setup

Initially, our product development team moved on to deploy GP Travel Enterprise platform ‘as-is’. According to set up requirements, the system was accommodated with live and test hosting spaces.

The range of deployed functional platform modules was quite rich and included:

  • Platform core responsible for all the primary system operations and workflows;
  • Business rules engine supervising management of commercial conditions;
  • Booking management functionality;
  • Customer management functionality;
  • Platform API for handling external integrations;
  • Hub module for external supplier connections.

The setup was accompanied by initial staff training and consulting related to default module functionality and platform API capabilities.

#2. Discovery Phase / GAP Analysis

Following the setup, it was highly critical to determine the scope of custom development work required to bring the project up to the Client’s expectations. Therefore, our team suggested performing a full-scale initial discovery phase. Among other things, it entailed formalization of the entire scope of technical and business requirements for further analysis and elaboration of solutions to be implemented.

This phase was a joint effort of a Senior Business Analyst and a System Architect from the product team. The result of their work was shaped into a detailed Project Backlog outlining lacking features that had to be developed. Additionally, these features were split into individual tasks for the development team and were accompanied by accurate effort estimates.

#3. Functionality For Travel Product Supplier Management

The range of products BookBarbados planned to offer included flights, hotels, car rentals, excursions, and insurance. Besides, the plan was to get travel product offers from several major sources: direct contracts, extranet and external suppliers. There had to be tech infrastructure that would be appropriate to accommodate all these needs.

Integrations with 3rd-party supplier APIs were handled using HUB module – part of GP Travel Enterprise, serving as the centralized API aggregation system. Our team applied it to cover the entire supply of flights (using numerous vendor APIs), along with an integration of a hotel supplier API, which enriched the hotel inventory.

GP Travel Hub Interface | GP Solutions

Direct contracts with suppliers of car rentals, excursions, and hotels were also implemented using the Inventory module. It offered the Client a full grasp over travel product availability and pricing management.  It also brought in handy functionality for managing allotments and detailed product descriptions.

Inventory Management by GP Travel Enterprise

Additionally, the extranet originally designed by BookBrabados was connected to GP Travel Enterprise using its API interface. This way, all travel products created directly by individual local suppliers of BookBarbados were accumulated inside the aforementioned Inventory module, making it the central repository for all travel content available for sale.

GP Travel Enterprise backend

#4. Platform API extensions and related backend developments

Due to the nature of this project, which entailed a lot of custom functionality, GP Product Team had to extend the default backend functionality of GP Travel Enterprise and also enrich the API with new features and methods.

Swagger API Documentation | GP Solutions

In total, there were over 60 custom implementations of various scale and complexity. Some of the most noticeable among them are:

  • Custom price breakdown functionality for product types;
  • Custom API methods and backend features to supports Cars and Excursions from the extranet of BookBarbados;
  • Introduction of additional room type options;
  • Creation of specific discount settings based on user device type (mobile / desktop);
  • Extended options to apply discounts and extra services based on calendar dates – and many more.

All of these were backend implementations handled by a group of allocated Java engineers. Their effort helped shape up the tech side of the project according to the commercial vision of BookBarbados team and get the first software version ready for launch.

Results icon

Project Results

The first software version was launched live in late 2021.
There were also multiple future developments discussed, including plans to add:

  • Channel manager integrations (Siteminder and Sabre SynXis among the options discussed);
  • OTA Insight service offering travel product price comparisons;
  • ‘I-calendar’ – a real-time product availability tracking solution – and more.

Thanks to help from GP Solutions, BookBarbados managed to cover lots of functional gaps in its functionality and significantly accelerate its engineering efforts.

Technical Stack

Technology:

development icon

Javascript, JSF, RichFaces, Java, MySQL, Nginx, Spring, Hibernate

Book Barbados Hours

(July, 2020 - Aug, 2021)

hours

1. Initial Setup = 70h
2. Business Analysis and API Consulting = 49h
3. Implementation (backend and API) ~ 980h

Scope:

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1100 man-hours (ongoing project)

Josea Browne
Josea Browne, Managing Director, BookBarbados.com
Barbados

“We’re impressed with their willingness to always find a way to make things happen. It is a very honest relationship we have with our team at GP Solutions, and they really do feel like an extension of our own company. This isn’t something you find every day.”

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