The travel industry, like many others, has become modern nowadays and implements a lot of automation tools for making your business or leisure trip planning as easy as possible. You can go online, quite easily plan and book your trip using tools wrapped around Amadeus Symphony, TravelPerk, Booking.com, etc.
Yet, there still exist travel agencies that provide that very special, personal attitude to travellers willing to avoid modern technologies or who simply are busy with other, more important things than seeking for the best offer on the world’s wide web.
Traveltime, our trusted Customer, is one of such companies in Germany, who serve their clients in a traditional manner, and still, internally they had a need for some automation as any other business trying to make their service better and more efficient.
And here are a couple of simple, yet helpful tools we developed for them:
The task: automatically log into different websites of service providers, download invoices and send them to a dedicated e-mail address of Traveltime.
The reason for that is simple, as you read further. Many service providers have stopped sending invoices for their services in the attachment of emails. Whether the reason is saving bandwidth because of a large number of customers or something else but you, most likely, have experienced that yourself – a service provider sends you an email with just a notification that an invoice has been prepared and is available for download from their dedicated member area.
That means, in order to get the invoice, you have to:
1. open up the browser
2. navigate to their member area
3. log in (at this moment you also have to look for the credentials if you have forgotten them)
4. locate the invoice section, which in some cases isn’t that easy
5. download the invoice
We reduced all this process to just 1 step:
1. Download the invoice from the email attachment
Now, all they have to do is wait until they receive an email with an invoice from the bot we created and download it.
The Task: once in a week, automatically send out a “thank you” e-mail to their trusted clients who have used their booking services with a link to the questionnaire.
The reason for this tool is not to forget to say “Thanks!” to their customers and to encourage them to leave feedback for the service provided. As Traveltime internally uses “off-the-shelf” CRM system, it turned out to be cumbersome and too expensive to customise it for a task like this.
Therefore, it made more sense just to configure it, export data of the right customers and e-mail the exported data to the tool we created.
The tool we created, again, is a small micro-service that can connect to a dedicated e-mail address via IMAP protocol, to which the data is being sent.
Once the tool gets an e-mail with the data file attached, it starts processing it at a specified time, prepares customised email content, using custom, agent-specific e-mail template design and sends it out.
This way, we quickly changed the process which normally was done manually to a fully automatic solution which works on its own.
The Task: find better flight prices for the flights offered to their customers.
When a customer of Traveltime issues an inquiry for flight tickets, Traveltime uses a dedicated tool for finding the best matching flight in each case. However, the travel industry specifics have their own “special rules” about how the flight price is being determined, for example – it matters from which country you are searching the flights from. Depending on that, the price may slightly vary.
To make the best offer to their customers, Traveltime should, again, use different booking tools to see if one or the other offers a better price for the same or similar flight.
We developed a small application, which connects to the mailbox where all flight itineraries are being sent to from their main booking tool once considered as matching.
The tool then parses the attached PDF and extracts price, flight and passenger information.
After that, the tool automatically interacts with other booking portals, again, using Selenium WebDriver (a.k.a. headless browser), fills in the flight search forms, submits them, waits for the results and determines if a similar flight can be found with a better price.
Once it is found, the tool sends out an email back to Traveltime dedicated e-mail address with the relevant information.
So, what we developed, eliminates a lot of manual work and raises the satisfaction level of Traveltime customers to an even higher level.
PHP7, Laravel, MariaDB, Nginx, Selenium WebDriver