Travel Queries: a Journey to Improve Your App

Travel Queries: a Journey to Improve Your App

For a travel website, displaying the right content at a fast pace is key to engaging with travelers.

The travel user experience starts with their first search query.
Here’s how our team achieved a balance between a quick response time and a hefty amount of content to empower a traveler’s decision.

As the Travel industry continues to grow, the user demand for better search options increases exponentially.

How you handle that first contact will make the difference between your clients picking your site over others. Every single time.

Hard for the Dev Team, Harder for the User

While testing the search page of our client’s system, we noticed that our Dev and Test team were having trouble. It took us too much time to get every task done. And it turned out that it was a problem for our users, too.

Everyone was having a frustrating time.

For one thing, our response time for searches was too slow. We noticed it after our performance tests.

Making Hotel Searches Faster

There are two components that influence the response time for hotel searches within our client’s app. Part of it was the performance of the external providers we connect to, and the other had to to do with our own architecture.

External travel providers (think of your favorite hotel chain) and their technology choices are not really in our control. So we decided to focus on our part, specifically on the content enrichment process.

In particular, we had a ton of tables in a relational database to describe what was basically static information about each hotel, like, name, location, pictures, amenities, etc. Every search involved joining and searching these huge tables, all of which was a big hit to performance.

My solution was to combine the best of relational and document search technologies. I created a cache layer and beneath it summarized all this static information into one JSON document for each hotel. I then stored these in a relational database indexed by provider and hotel.

This made our searches 70% faster.

Keep Improving Your Travel App

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The work is never over
Never assume that your booking system is perfect. If you do, your travel app will stop its growth and start dying. Maybe that sounds severe, but being outdated will literally kill your business.
Imagine any desktop or mobile apps as a living thing. They need constant maintenance just like a human does. Love your product and keep upgrading so it evolves and lives on!
Performance testing is key
Any process in your app, or your company, should be tested for performance. It’s a great way to identify bottlenecks when creating your next product for travelers.
Focus on your own system
Many things will be out of your control, like external travel providers. Always focus on what you have the power to change first. Then work with partners to make any optimizations. We solved our problem with time response because we improved our own app first.
Work with your team
Brilliant solutions rarely come from just one person. You need everyone identifying problems, discussing, and solving them. I might have implemented the solution, but we worked as a team to design the solution and test it out.
Points of frustration
If something is frustrating your team, like poor performance, it will probably frustrate your users, too.
Invest in improving your app
Continuous improvement is a must in any high quality travel product. It will require some budget planning but it’s definitively worth the investment.

Your Hospitality App Is Alive

Never forget the work is never really done. Your app is alive and requires constant maintenance. Just like you do.
If you have any questions feel free to email me at [email protected].

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