Webjet portal arrives early

The Australia-based company Webjet launched a completely rebuilt version of its travel portal, Webjet.com.au on Monday. The new site is designed to provide users with maximum possible savings on flights and accommodation as well as improved flexibility and choice for their itinerary.

The site was built using Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 2003, and took just 11 months to complete - on budget and ahead of schedule. The team of 11 people consisted of three Microsoft and eight Microsoft partner developers, working under the moniker of the Microsoft Solutions Development Centre (SDC).

The .NET framework was chosen for the project for several reasons. First, development time had to be kept to a minimum. A project of this size might typically require up to three years of development, and this was cut by over 60 per cent due to much pre-built Web architecture being embedded in the technology.

Second, support for the site in the future was a necessity to ensure the business could grow without being stifled - either by limitations of the code, or skills in the marketplace.

The SDC convinced Webjet that .NET was not only here to stay, it was going to get a lot bigger. It also provided the lure of being able to build complex business rules that can simply be dropped into the application with a minimum of impact on existing code.

“When we were developing the system, the key requirements were the ability to cope with the increased Web traffic that is predicted for the industry, customisation and above all, security," said David Clarke, managing director of Webjet.

"Integration is also vital because our system needs to seamlessly connect with other major suppliers on a variety of platforms while reducing the complexity and focusing on ease of use for customers. The resulting system is far advanced on anything else that is available in the market today.”

The integration mentioned above specifically relates to Java-based Web services as provided by several flight and accommodation booking systems on the Internet. The largest of these is Galileo.com which provides travel data to over 190,000 terminals in 116 countries every day. The seamless integration of this and several other data sources was achieved using SOAP- and XML-based Web services.

From the user’s perspective, the upgraded site offers a new level of customisation and personalisation. For instance, multiple credit cards can be stored in the system and allocated to different purchases. Adding frequent flyer clubs to the user profile makes sure that the system can calculate the best possible prices for any bookings.

Although a single itinerary can combine air fares, accommodation and car hire spread over several different countries – and service providers - the new Webjet site automatically handles the bookings and payment from a central location.

More specific customisation is made possible by storing personal preferences for things such as window seats, meal requirements and hotel rooms.

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