Custom Web Platform and Website Development for the Largest Swiss Tour Operator

hotelplan

Project Background

Hotelplan Group is an international travel consortium headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Established back in 1935, it is now the largest travel company in Switzerland and one of the biggest European tour operators. The company operates a number of travel brands offering a full range of travel services, including booking of flights, hotels, dynamic packages, round trips, car rentals, cruises, transfers and more.

Challenge

Being a dynamic and quickly evolving company, Hotelplan Group faced a situation where their in-house development team and recruitment were unable to keep up with their growing software development needs. Therefore, the company started looking for a reliable off-shore technology partner for ongoing support of their development efforts.

The ideal candidate for the project had to meet a set of criteria, including:

  • Sufficient capacity to allocate an all-round dedicated development team including front-end / back-end experts and high-quality QA specialists;
  • In-depth expertise in the travel domain;
  • IT specialists with strong English skills;
  • Efficient recruitment and HR support for quick team extension.

After reviewing a number of shortlisted vendors, Hotelplan decided to engage GP Solutions for the job. Our team not only covered all the key requirements mentioned above, but also delivered the X factor – a rarely found combination of travel domain specialization and expertise in running multiple long-term dedicated development projects for prominent travel brands around the world.

Goal

Goal

Once the decision was made to start cooperation, GP Solutions allocated a complete dedicated team as per the requirements of Hotelplan. The key development goal set forth by the Client’s management was to fully redesign the hotelplan.ch website. In particular, the following was required:

  • Build and integrate a completely fresh and user-friendly UI;
  • Redesign travel product booking flows by making them faster and more efficient compared to the old website version
  • Incorporate productive travel supplier API aggregation from scratch
  • Integrate a replaceable content management system (CMS)
  • Optimize the mobile version

In addition, the team had to ensure scalability of all newly developed components, which were to be reusable by other divisions within the company.

Solution

Phase # 1: Hotelplan.ch redesign – Key Highlights

Following the development goals formulated by Hotelplan, our team moved on with the redesign of the old hotelplan.ch website.

First of all, the project team designed and implemented a new backend solution from scratch. It incorporated a completely rethought and optimized booking process covering a full range of travel products offered to the end customer: Flights, Hotels, Dynamic Packaging (Flight+Hotel), Car Rentals, Cruises, Round trips, Apartments, Transfers, Travel Packages etc. The new backend also provided revised caching logic, optimized merge request capability, fresh filtering and filter-count options, history modules and much more.

hp website

Travel supplier API integrations – one of the key pillars of any efficient online booking engine – were revised and applied according to specific requirements of Hotelplan.

The frontend was totally rewritten based on sleek and user-friendly designs. It now combines the latest modern front-end technologies, including React.js and Node.js JavaScript frameworks, Apollo Client, etc. The front-end look & feel was revised for the web, mobile website version and native mobile apps.

Later on, the project team incorporated a new cloud CMS. It was made replaceable using an elaborate microservice architecture in case the Client should decide to change it in the future.

The QA experts allocated by GP Solutions also made a great effort to develop a well-structured frontend and backend autotest system. Now 5500 backend tests run in 8 minutes, 259 frontend test scenarios (each scenario includes 5-20 steps with multiple unit tests in it) run in 102 minutes.

hp case

Phase #2: Continuous delivery implementation

Successful release of the new website was followed up by a continuous delivery strategy for new features. They are released as soon as ready with least possible effort. The delivery strategy is also backed up by feature toggle technique which helps modify system behavior without changing the code.

Travel Software Systems

Results

The long-term effort by GP Solutions paid off with great results. The new version of the hotelplan.ch website was successfully released and is much more efficient compared to the older version.

Shortly after the launch, the website registered the all-time highest daily number of visitors which continued to grow on a regular basis.
The new hotelplan.ch website was shortlisted for Best of the Swiss Web award with high chances of victory (results to be revealed in September/October 2021).
best of swiss web

The reusable component practice also turned out to be a winning strategy. It saves development effort without any major drops in quality. Many of the modules delivered as part of hotelplan.ch redesign were applied in other projects operated by the Client.
Hotelplan Group and GP Solutions managed to build long-term and successful cooperation. It did not suffer and continued at full speed even during the hard times of COVID-19 – a sign of a tight bond established between the two companies. There are definitely great prospects for the post-COVID future. Many new projects await in the pipeline to be implemented during the coming years, including several freshly designed travel portals.

Marc Blaser
Marc Blaser, Director Projects & E-Business

“Their expertise in travel-oriented development and their team’s wide range of skills has been huge for us. Engage their people as soon as possible within your project timeline. They have a fantastic level of expertise on all development fronts that will help your project get moving quickly.”

Vertical:

Technology:

Backend: Java, RxJava, Micronaut, GraphQL, gRPC, SOAP, CloudCMS, MySQL, Redis, Kubernetes

Frontend: React (+hooks), Apollo (for GraphQL + State management), NextJS (+custom server on NodeJS (Express)), RebassJS. Jest.

Scope:

35000 man-hours (ongoing project)

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