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GPTE
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Customized Booking Automation Platform for a Global Educational Travel Service Company

Education First travel booking platform

About the Customer

Education First (abbreviated as ‘EF’) was founded back in 1965 by Bertil Hult in the small Swedish university town of Lund. The company gradually developed over the years to blossom into an established global educational service provider. Its staff counts over 50 thousand employees residing in 116 countries. The current corporate headquarters are located in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The major specializations at the company are language training, academic degree programs, educational travel and cultural exchange arrangements. The company is famous for publishing the annual EF English Proficiency Index evaluating the level of English knowledge by country. EF also developed the globally acknowledged EF English proficiency test for non-native English speakers. Besides traditional activities, the company is also actively exploring the e-learning service market.

Project Challenges

Educational travel has been an important part of EF’s activities for a long time. There is a separate department at the company supervising this branch of business. It is using a number of software solutions to support the routine day-to-day tasks behind these activities, such as air ticket purchases, booking / rental of accommodations, activities, car rentals, reservation management and more. At some point EF’s management decided to upgrade its technology with a more up-to-date booking solution. They planned tailor-made functionality that would properly match the business objectives at the time. In particular, this set of custom features involved:

  • Specialized supplier integration features;
  • A custom loyalty program solution;
  • Integration with several 3rd-party systems,

along with other options adjusted to EF’s unique business processes. On top of this, the new solution had to be technologically advanced and reliable enough to ensure efficient operations for a prolonged period of time.

Why GP Solutions

Prior to starting cooperation with GP Solutions EF has been in communication with our team for several years. The Client approved the proposed solution concept based on an in-depth customization of an existing travel automation platform. First of all, this system was clearly matching a large portion of the technical requirements stack. Plus, it was time-tested and reliable, serving the needs of various travel businesses successfully for more than a decade.

Team

The project kicked off in 2018. It engaged a fully-stacked team of specialists consisting of:

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Business analyst / project manager;
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Integration developer;
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Software engineers;
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Part-time system architecture and QA specialists.
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System administrator;

Provided Solutions & Services

Initial Discovery Phase

The project had to begin with a proper outline of the full scope of technical and business project requirements. This is a common practice for large implementations which helps eliminate excessive spending and project risks.

This task was performed by an experienced business analyst with 5+ years of prior expertise. This person also teamed up with a system architect who sharpened up the development roadmap and overall solution design. Ultimately, this project discovery duo work through all of EF’s needs and plans to put out the following project documentation:

  • “Vision & Scope” – a document outlining overall project idea, solution structure and stack of requirements;
  • Project backlog containing a list of specific features and tasks for the engineering team;
  • A set of wireframes and UML-diagrams reflecting various project-critical business processes, user workflows and interfaces.

Based on explicit agreement with the Client, the development roadmap was split in two separate phases. This way ensured the solution could be launched in production faster and gradually expand functionality later.

GP Travel Enterprise Setup

EF Flight booking website

The cornerstone of the entire implementation was GP Travel Enterprise – a ready-made travel automation platform. It set a perfect technology foundation for the entire development by providing well-performing out-of-the-box functionality to numerous important aspects of business:

  • Booking workflows for various travel products;
  • Reservation management and tracking;
  • Business rules automation for commission and markups;
  • Reporting, analytics and more.

The team initially deployed the required modules of GP Travel Enterprise ‘as-is’ on a dedicated server space containing sandbox and live environments. There were numerous modifications to the basic platform functionality afterwards, for example:

  • Additional settings to support multi-currency operations;
  • Custom user authorization settings;
  • Tailor-made reporting;
  • Customized booking confirmation templates – to name but a few.

Tailor-made integration with Amadeus GDS

Customer-specific connection to Amadeus GDS was a big chunk of work and one of the primary features for the first implementation phase. It was entrusted to senior integration developers – a group of specialists at GP Solutions focusing specifically on developing connection modules to various travel supplier APIs.

Some of the most noteworthy features introduced by GP Solutions as part of this integration are:

  • Corporate code processing. Amadeus provided private codes for special pricing conditions on travel products. These codes were properly reflected and passed on throughout the flight booking workflow.
  • PNR adjustments. Abbreviated for ‘Passenger Name Record’, PNR is a digital certificate allowing passengers to do online check-in or manage their bookings. Based on EF’s request our team enriched it with a set of important additional values.

Furthermore, the project team made sure the integration supports multiple office IDs provided by the GDS to the Client.

Custom Loyalty Point Program

EF Flights and Hotels Rewards

A peculiar marketing feature requested as part if the project was the loyalty point calculation system. According to its concept it was supposed to enable partial payment of bookings with the bonus points aggregated in user accounts.

This bit of functionality incorporated another integration with a 3rd-party bonus program engine. Our team received the relevant API access, documentation and developed a live data exchange connection between the aforementioned system and GP Travel Enterprise. Existing user management functionality got an extension in the form of various user membership levels.

Other prominent implementations

EF flight booking portal

  • Customized B2C website look & feel;
  • Mobile / tablet adaptability for the B2C website;
  • Custom payment gateway integration;
  • Multi-language capability;
  • Integration with a 3rd-party CRM system.
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Project Results

Our team managed to complete the scope of work as discussed with Education First.
As of 2023 the mutually beneficial partnership is active and progressing, with more cooperation opportunities under discussion.

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