The Ten Commandments of how to work (or not!) with a travel website booking engine provider

Posted 15/02/2022 by Matthew Chapman

On-demand services such as transport or delivery have evolved considerably in recent years and now there’s a lot of talk about ‘service as a commodity’.

 

But some services are still far from commoditised, not least that of your booking technology supplier for your travel website.

 

So what do you need to do to make sure that the partnership and onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible? And what do you need to do to make sure they provide you with a killer search engine and booking flow?

 

We interviewed Matthew Chapman, our Chief Technical Officer (CTO), and his colleagues to gain their feedback and produce these Ten Commandments.

  1. Perhaps the most important thing is to realise that you are buying a service and not a commodity. What’s the difference? Your time and input are required to make this work, it’s a partnership. And that means you must accept there is no off-the-shelf, turnkey solution. Every website has its special needs and requirements: bespoke is the only way to go.
  2. Next up would be the need to embrace the mindset that it is ok to be challenged. "It’s always been done like that" is a recipe for disaster. When your tech provider asks you questions you don’t know the answer to, it’s not because they want to shame you but because they want to understand and help you improve.
  3. From an organizational point of view, we’d stress the need to have a dedicated person on your side responsible for managing the project. As the saying goes, a man or woman can only have one boss – and the same applies to booking engine projects.
  4. After that, we need clarity on your end objective and simplicity for your vision. But don’t let perfect get in the way of good. This is an iterative process and we´ll only get to perfection by passing through good. Too many projects get waylaid and even cancelled for this reason.
  5. Before we kick-off actual work we need to see a clear version of your site-map along with all your imagery and logos, accompanied by brand guidelines.
  6. But remember, when it comes to the UX don’t try and reinvent the wheel too much: ultimately it is a travel website and users want a search and booking experience they are familiar with.
  7. Nonetheless, our long-standing experience is that the more niche and differentiated your product and offering is, the better. You can’t be everything to everyone.
  8. Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that is most important. On that point we strongly recommend against:
    1. Wedding yourself to too many small details early on: the tail should never wag the dog.
    2. Withholding important information because you think ‘we´ll do that next time’.
    3. Jumping on the latest fads, like offering a Bitcoin payment method if your key client base doesn’t require it.
    4. Pushing for arbitrary deadlines just because (you think) you can.
  9. Make sure what you are doing is compliant with regulations: we’ve seen projects fail right at this last hurdle. Consult at the outset with a legal specialist or your local lobby group – for example in the UK that could be ABTA or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
  10. Last of all: send pizza and Prosecco. The staff at tech providers are humans too! They're often fueled to work harder and smarter by filthy food and drink. As Bill Gates once said: "gifting a slice of pizza returns you a slice of perfection".

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