From the beginning, airlines have been driving efficiency through innovation with systems designed to automate processes and reduce the time required to complete an airline reservation. These systems have been providing travel industry professionals the ability to book air travel directly for decades. Early on they began to offer the ability to search schedule availability and price for flights by a variety of search criteria such a specific airline, flexible travel dates, nearby airports, nonstops only, etc. As the volume of an airline’s business grew and they began to offer more service options in advance, the airline reservation system quickly began to include these features as well. Advance seat Selection, special service requests, ordering onboard meals in advance all became additional options in an online booking engine as well. Credit Card validation, AVS checks, Airline blocking, ticket type checks as well as consolidator and negotiated fares soon followed.
Many travel companies have found that the airline booking engine they can license from an experienced travel technology company to be more powerful and cost effective than developing, hosting and maintaining it themselves. For those looking to control their own user interface, some technology companies provide the capability for Clients to host all User interfaces on their own server while using a web services interface to their booking engine hosted by their technology partner.
There are many types of hosted solutions available including everything from the basic “out of the box” airline reservation system to more customizable applications that include unique sub-domains for your specific version of the application to minimize the appearance customers are being redirected from your website. The best of these allow for booking engine’s headers, footers and style sheets to be customized to maintain your brand identity and provide a seamless online experience for your customers. Some travel companies may require a fully custom application where they design the complete layout to meet their own specific requirements. Mobile apps are now available that can extend an airline booking engine to a dedicated app. Many clients are also choosing mobile ready applications built using responsive technology that automatically provides support of various mobile and tablet screen sizes so customers can easily view and navigate through the booking process regardless of the device they are using.
As is the case with many things, the more that you need customized, the higher your costs are likely to be. So remember to evaluate the benefit that customization brings compared to the associated additional costs.
Live access to content is critical for any airline reservation system. Some air booking engines even have the ability to simultaneously search multiple content sources for the best price, allowing an agency to combine their own content with content from a partner agency. Management Tools include the ability to mark up or mark down a product’s selling price by airline, itinerary, class of service, dates and more. Some even allow for promotional codes to be set up that can be redeemed during the booking process.
Finding an airline booking engine that can help your online business drive efficiencies through innovation is important. Finding the right technology partner to help make this happen is the key to success.