Startup Travel package online: pitfalls

    The story of the Gate-32 online travel store team that uses our qTrack service to manage a project.

    The idea of ​​creating an online travel store was very trivial: “It would be great not to worry about choosing a tour, but sitting at work, select everything on the site, pay with a card and rush to the sea. “Without interrupting the Internet in search of a better price, without queues at a travel agency, without any cancellations of reservations or other dubious pleasures.” So we began to make Gate-32. And getting involved in the wonderful world of tourism, we, as former employees of IT companies, could not assume that the tourism business is so spontaneous, fragmented and heterogeneous in the approach to automating key processes.

    In the first months, sales automation seemed quite banal to us, because E-commerce is not news all over the world, even in Bangladesh or the beloved Ganduras online store, you will hardly surprise anyone. But our country has a special way ...

    The first months of the project can be compared with stories about a finger in the sky, blind kittens, and, of course, a panic attack in the subway at rush hour. Sometimes it seemed that we would not succeed. However, now that the first tour operator has already been launched, and the second is about to be served in the heat, the picture of the project looks much more optimistic.


    The topic of selling tours, hotels and tickets online is now quite hot, many young teams are creating new services. However, there is currently no single automation scheme. Below I will talk about the pitfalls that we had to face when automating sales of tours.

    We noted ready-made solutions right away, because a lot of their functionality does not suit us, namely, there is no mechanism for directly buying a tour.

    Frankly, we were hoping to simply convert the XML received from tour operators and form a product line. But it was not there! Not all tour operators were able to give us data in a sane form, for the rest it is necessary to order from above, for example, from the marketing department and then maybe XML will stop archiving and doing other terrible things with it. This time ...

    Also, we thought that unloading from one tour operator would weigh several MB, but even here we made a mistake in the calculations. It turned out 10 GB and this is not the limit, but only the proposals of the two countries for 2-3 months! At the moment, in our database there are about 60 million offers and this is only 1 tour operator. Such an abundance of vouchers is caused by the fact that tour operators issue open source software (price offers) that contain lists of tour options, in addition, the logic and frequency of issuing these open source software (price offers) is governed by the mysterious internal principles of the operators and the sales strategy.

    No lines and no waiting. In order for our customers to be able to buy tours online quickly and immediately receive all the necessary documents for the trip in electronic form, we decided to import from those tour operators only those tours that are instant, i.e. You do not need to wait for confirmation of your reservation from the hotel by mail But here everything turned out not to be thankful: many operators did not mark “instantaneous” offers when exporting. After several weeks of torment, we came to a rather simple conclusion: we need to rewrite the hotel IDs of the instant category and compare them manually in the system :).


    Time and money. To completely update the database, it takes 2-3 days to remove irrelevant offers of the order of 10 days (10,000 minutes), if this is done as a template or as in a textbook. But we implemented these mechanisms with a system of 3 mechanisms: first we download a large import, then two small ones start running around it: one compares and removes offers, the second compares and resumes. Big things happen once every few days, and small ones run around the bases every day. The fact is that tour operators issue open source software without any system, starting from many factors - from weather to politics. Therefore, it is impossible to predict when the next open source software (price offer) will be. As a result, if you do not take measures and do not run the runners, it turns out that we have a proposal on the site, but the operator no longer has it. And this is not one, and not two sentences,

    Great help while working on the online store qTrack service . Some company employees are not in Moscow, but content managers are not in Russia. Correctly monitor performance, quickly set tasks and track their implementation, at our pace of work from the first months it has become very important. There are a lot of hotels in our catalogs and you need to constantly update the relevance of information, write news and texts, edit pictures, etc. In general, special thanks to qTrack, it turned out to be quite simple and at the same time functional. We quickly gathered everyone in one place and did not have to train anyone, because for employees, using the system is no different from communicating by e-mail. Some are not even aware that they are in the system :)

    We have already compared the work on the project with the Rubik's Cube. We know for sure that it is taking shape, you just have to guess how. I think that many startup teams will encounter similar difficulties and what seems simple, understandable and obvious should be multiplied by 3.

    Anna Minina, Gate-32 project manager

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