Our TimeTravel product helps customers get to the right hotel
One of the UK's largest budget hotel chains with over 600 hotels and more than 50,000 rooms across the country approached us. With sites in both rural and urban locations and some towns and cities served by many hotels, the client wanted to make it easy for customers to book the hotel that is most convenient for their plans. Our solution was to use our TimeTravel product to supply the data for an interactive hotel finder on the client’s website.
The hotel chain wanted a reliable, accurate, and quick “where’s my nearest” tool for their customers to use. The tool had to be simple to use and provide fast UK-wide searches combined with individual site-level accuracy.
The tool had to be as precise as possible and match full postcodes. Postcode sector level data, which would be ideal for the larger, more rural hotel locations would not be as useful when two urban hotel locations fell within the same sector. This would return the same time and distance result for both hotels, causing confusion to the customer.
Full postcode data would have to be used for the project; the concern was how to provide quick results to the required level of accuracy using such a huge database.
Every customer lookup needs to calculate the travel time and distance from the customer’s start location to every hotel in the estate. That is over 600 separate calculations and it would take too long. To make lookup tables for all postcodes to all postcodes is impossible (see our postcode to postcode blog for more).
Beacon Dodsworth designed an elegant compromise, based around our TimeTravel product, that would give the customer an accurate result quickly without requiring terabytes of data storage to accomplish the task. The developers created a hybrid tool; combining the power and flexibility of a web service for dynamic drive distances, with comprehensive postcode lookup tables to provide a more detailed result.
To work around the computation of such large amounts of data, we created a live web service to calculate drive times and distances from a starting postcode to all junctions within the Collins Bartholomew road network (a much faster lookup than postcode to postcode calculations.). A static table of data linking each of the 1.7 millions postcodes to its nearest road junction is then used to work out the final result.
By reducing the scale of the postcode level data issue, Beacon Dodsworth retained the speed and efficiency of the search but opened up the ability to select accurately between key hotel locations. This provides the end user with the best experience possible and meets the brief from the client.
The hotel chain website has been using the hotel finder app for over 4 years and in that time has produced over 50,000 thousand search results daily, helping their customers find the right hotel to suit their needs.
The work doesn’t stop there. Beacon Dodsworth offer an aftercare service to ensure that everything is running as it should. Postcodes and road networks change over time so as part of this service we regularly update the data used in the application.
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