AROBS Transilvania Software

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Trusted Hotel Booking Channel


The Client

Hotelzon is a leading provider of online hotel booking solutions that caters to corporate clients, hotels, and agency partners. The Hotelzon proprietary booking system offers live availability, rate information, and booking functionality for over 250.000 hotels worldwide.

The Problem

Hotelzon wanted to build an efficient tool to simplify the corporate booking process, implementing company travel policy and control functions with real time reporting. The solution was expected to bring important benefits to hotels, corporate customers, and travel agencies alike, such as a broad range of easy to use features and a marked decrease in the total cost of the rooms compared to their rates through alternative (longer) reservation channels.

Hotelzon went further by asking AROBS to create a mobile application to allow users to search, book, and cancel hotel reservations in real time on their smartphones. Over 180 countries and approximately 20.000 cities were covered with the Hotelzon service at the time of this request.

The Solution

The AROBS specialists carefully analyzed the specifications and worked closely with Hotelzon employees. Training sessions were organized regularly both in Romania and in Finland for a seamless knowledge transfer and understanding of the technical issues. Hotelzon Web Connet, a cutting edge turn-key online reservation system for corporations and travel industry professionals (e.g. reservation companies, travel agencies, and travel portals) gradually took shape and then was continuously updated, improved, and tested. 

By interfacing the system with all the global distribution systems (Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport - Galileo and Worldspan), the Pegasus switch system, , direct connections to alternative distribution systems like Expedia, Venere, Hotels.com, Opera, MyFidelio, Scandic, Travelodge, Trust International, Supranational, Hotusa, FastBooking, eBusiness solutions for the travel industry (Nordic Travel Clearing, WorldTraveler),reservation systems of major hotel chains (Hilton, Premier Inn, Carlson, BestWestern, InterContinental), eBusiness solutions for the travel industry (Nordic Travel Clearing, WorldTraveler), hotel market intelligence tools (RateTiger), corporate customers through ERP and CRM systems (e.g. Microsoft NAV, Elite CRM), travel agencies, hotel website booking engines (connected to web engine), the property management or computer reservation systems of thousands of hotels, hotel commission collection solutions (Netrans), payment services (DIBS, Airplus, vNett, vPayment), route planners (Maporama), sms messaging providers (Clickatell), map services (Google Maps), and providers of business news (Interfax), Hotelzon and AROBS aimed at providing both the traveler and hotels worldwide with a unique system, rich in valuable information and tools, that would greatly improve their shopping/selling experience

AROBS helped Hotelzon take another step towards Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards compliance (PCI DSS*) with the release of Hotelzon Online 8.1. As of this release, credit card information and user credentials are now stored in a fully PCI compliant environment. For better protection of client data in the future, the credit cards will be verified against the card holder’s name and address.

For the mobile version of the application our team implemented the following features: GPS Search, Quick Search, Advanced Search, reservation management, support for corporate customer profiles and company negotiated rates, available in 17 different languages.

The AROBS team allocated to the project increased from 2 developers in 2005 to 30 people in 2012, who handle design, development, maintenance, support, and sales tasks.


The Challenges

Throughout the project, we faced hurdles of various natures, such as: 

  • creating conditions for team members across several countries to work as if they shared the same office space. This requirement was met by enforcing a common set of principles and guidelines to the virtual team. Managing the projects according to the Agile - Scrum methodology, relying on SVN for source control and on RedMine for issue tracking system proved really useful in the process;
  • ensuring accurate communication over the project’s life-cycle, both on a strategic and on a functional level. Ideas and decisions were not always transmitted to the appropriate team members, aspect that increased the workload unnecessarily. Daily meetings using Skype video call with the customer and Scrum reports helped us overcome this problem;
  • making sure that new team members or new roles got trained efficiently. As the team changed over time, extending it meant assigning mentors to each group of newcomers. Training was always done after carefully examining the skill gaps of the new team members. For such projects, 10% of the team usually consists of “shadow resources”, which are trained well in advance and ready to help/replace any team member;
  • being adaptive to change in team structure and roles. As the product evolved, strategies and priorities shifted, and teams had to carefully refocus and follow new directives;
  • allocating time for code reviews and non functional tasks that improve system performance as the number of users was growing. With the increase in the number of system users, keeping the system stable meant allocating time for performance improvements, including research and continuous production system benchmarking. For example, code is continuously reviewed by architects and lead developers, and 360 and system tests are made using load tools to identify parts of the system that respond slower than expected;
  • team performance assessment and increase. While getting improved results from the team with their growth in experience seems natural, putting in place the right processes that made this growth possible has not always been plain sailing. The team is continuously monitored and team leads provide real-time feedback so that improvements in the code quality are noticed in the testing steps and the subsequent code reviews;
  • documenting the completed tasks and notifying all the relevant persons in the chain about changes occurred in the functionality. With distributed teams, the system functionality must be perfectly known and understood across space and roles. 

While all these hurdles have been overcome, others took their place and were  addressed with a pro-active and creative approach.

The Results

The solutions developed by AROBS with the great contribution of Hotelzon brought significant increases in reservation volumes, new distribution channels, stronger access to the global market, a single administration point for multiple distribution channels, the reduction of average room rates, as well as access to flexible and negotiated rates. By selling their rooms directly to the Hotelzon system and bypassing intermediaries like GDS or travel agencies, hotels can now lower their rates to the end customer by up to 20%.

The booking system currently offers functionalities for over 250.000 hotels worldwide. Hotelzon has now an extensive customer database, its corporate client database exceeding 15.000 customers. Hotelzon processed more than 1.75 million room nights in 2011.

Jani Kaskinen, CEO, Hotelzon, Finland, speaks about the Hotelzon-AROBS partnership.