Case Study: Custom Tour Booking Web Site – CharterBus America Inc.
Based in Seattle, WA., CopperTop, Inc. has provided charter bus tour services to groups and individuals for several years. After considerable analysis of the US charter bus market, CopperTop founder, Dylan Peterson, realized that there was no way to interactively book a charter bus tour on the Internet. Although there were several sites that provided small pieces of the puzzle, there was no one site that provided the necessary scheduling, vendor management, and payment processing components necessary to complete the booking of a trip. Armed with this information, Dylan set out to build a new organization, CharterBus America, Inc. and to launch a web site capable of providing a complete charter bus tour processing environment. The Integrated Solution Group, Inc. was selected to assist in the completion of the design and to build the new site.
CharterBus America Inc. Objectives:
- Develop a user friendly web site for booking charter bus tours.
- Provide a vendor interface to allow tour bus companies to setup vehicle inventories, prices, and schedules.
- Utilize dynamic routing services to accurately price trips based upon itinerary and equipment requirements.
- Deploy automatic email notification system to notify management, customers, and vendors of trip status and actions required.
- Build a payment processing interface to collect funds due and automatically disburse payments to vendors.
The initial phase of the project involved a detailed analysis of the project requirements and an evaluation of available tools. As vehicle routing was an integral part of the system, preliminary emphasis was placed upon locating available routing software and selecting a package that could work in conjunction with the other required web components.
The next step involved detailed process review and user interface design. ISG personnel worked closely with CBA personnel to establish an efficient processing flow while minimizing the amount of user intervention required. Features such as saving incomplete itineraries and adding airports and point of interest lookups were also added to assist the user. Using secure access, specialized vendor forms allowed maintenance of fleets, availability and pricing.
The web processing environment was built using Microsoft’s SQL Server and Internet Information Server. To gain processing efficiency, ISG used stored procedures. Automated processes such as email notification and electronic payments were developed using server based services. A service monitor was also added to notify CBA in the event of failures on the web server.
The final step involved building a control panel allowing CBA to maintain tuning parameters for the site, a reporting module to summarize activity and transactions, and an accounting interface for exporting pertinent data to CBA’s back office system.
During the entire design and development process, ISG worked closely with the CBA team and maintained a test web site allowing CBA personnel to review and test each phase of the project. In fact, ISG was able to complete this comprehensive project entirely from the east coast while never actually meeting our business partners from the Pacific northwest.