Go Karts and New Roads

Smartpoint Software Development Kit (SDK) Analogy written by Jared Bachman, Fox World Travel Director of Travel Technology

For decades, the GDS (or Global Distribution System) has been at the heart of the travel business.  The GDS connects airlines, hotels, and car vendors together in much the same way as a road connects homes, businesses, cities and countries.

In its simplest form, the GDS is a connected database that relies on complicated, cryptic entries to search, book, and service reservations.  It’s functional, just as a dirt road connecting buildings provides a functional way of connecting them.

The core technology has been around since the 1970s.  To become more efficient, over the years Fox has built hundreds of scripts and custom processes to help our agents navigate the GDS more efficiently.  Think of these like an army of go-karts built from the ground up to navigate the dirt road.  Instead of having to walk everywhere, the go-kart allows for major gains in efficiency.

Over the past few years, evolution in the GDS space has been rapid.  Fox has fully embraced Travelport’s new point-of-sale environment, Smartpoint, which incorporates modern internet-based connections and a graphical, point and click user environment to replace many of the old cryptic entries.  Think of Smartpoint like a new Interstate Highway – built to replace the old dirt roads.

While this new super-highway creates massive opportunities, it also creates a challenge. Those hundreds of old processes, the “go-karts”, are still in use.  Except now, instead of driving go-karts on a dirt road, we’re driving them on a new highway.  They still allow us to get to where we need to go—but limit our ability to take advantage of the new highway and it’s 70 mile-per-hour speed limit.

To address this challenge, Fox sent our Travel Technology Developers (Go Kart Engineers?) back to school to learn a new development language and worked with Travelport to take advance of the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Travelport Smartpoint. Now, instead of continuing to drive our Go Karts, we can build a fleet of automobiles.  With these new plugins (cars?), we can move much faster, and access information (places) that were previously out of reach.  Just like an automobile allows you to move across the country, Smartpoint Plugins allow us to connect to data sources and vendors that were previously out of reach.  In the end, this makes us more efficient and ultimately allows us to better serve our clients.

In 2019, Fox released the first version of our Smartpoint plugin to our agents. Our first automobile, if you will.  In the months ahead, our fleet will continue to grow – the go-karts will start to be retired—and our capabilities will continue to evolve.  Here’s to a future fleet of self-driving cars!


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