Explorasaurus is a travel website to book cheaper/faster journeys by combining multiple modes of transportation. By considering combinations of flight segments, train and bus routes, and rental cars, we can create itineraries that Kayak, Google Flights, and other sites cannot.
As a college student that travels frequently, I am always looking at different combinations of airports, and modes of transportation to get where I need to go for the least amount of money. This tool just automates how I normally search for travel.
Explorasaurus searches for trips between two cities by considering multiple modes of transportation. We use a graph database to store all possible routes between cities and are able to query to build potential trips. Those candidate itineraries are then fed to data travel providers to obtain schedule and price information. Finally, the data is filtered and combined to create valid trips that are presented to the user.
The service is hosted on GCP where we use Compute Engine and Memorystore to host the website. We run Neo4j as our graph database that holds cities as nodes and routes as edges between the cities. Finally we interface with the Sabre GDS system to obtain real schedule and price information for the routes we identify. The website is built with JQuery.
The biggest challenge is the invariability of pricing data for airline routes. Airlines and travel providers do not provide API access to their data. Sabre, as the largest travel data provider does have an API and we eventually were able to gain access to the system. The system however is not very reliable so we have to cache responses (which is why we use GCP Memorystore).
We are most proud that (at this point) it looks like we will finish with a working product. We have access to all the required datasources and the website is almost functional. We potentially might have a mobile app done as well.
While building Explorasaurus, we learned an enormous amount about how airlines distribute and process bookings. It is interesting how controlled the entire system is. We also learned how to use new frameworks such as Ionic to quickly bootstrap a mobile application. Finally, we had experience with AWS, but GCP was a entirely new experience.
Next, we hope to hookup something like Authorize.net to be able to accept payments, however we would need an actual account with Sabre or another GDS to actually create bookings through the site.
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