What is an online booking tool?
An online booking tool, or internet booking engine, is a portal for customers and travel agents to book tourism-related services. The two main services are flights and accommodation, but insurance and entire holiday packages are also available.
Online booking tools for travel are the latest advancement of booking tools as they allow the customer to book directly. This removes the need for physical travel agents and paved the way for the boom in online travel agencies. Booking directly reduces both the cost and time of reservation.
How do online booking tools work?
Online booking tools are the small window that consumers use to choose the parameters for their airline or accommodation. The user specifies their destination, dates, and other filters before feeding this information into the tool.
The tool then communicates with a global distribution system which displays the inventory for the airline or accommodation. Purchases are indirectly made on the vendor’s (airline or hotel) computer reservations system.
Internet booking tools work almost uniquely with credit or debit cards. This means that they need to be highly secure and have a constant connection to a credit card clearance agency.
Does my frequent-flyer number work through an online booking tool?
Online booking tools on airline websites always offer an option to include your frequent-flyer number and get all of the associated benefits.
When booking through an online travel agency, you often do not automatically receive points. However, most frequent-flyer programs allow members to reclaim points after purchasing a valid flight.
Who uses online booking tools?
Any website where you can make a reservation for transport, accommodation or activities features an online booking tool. This encompasses direct vendors, such as airlines and hotel companies, but also third-party booking websites, such as online travel agents.
Therefore, when the public or companies use these websites, they also use online booking tools.