Computers are often used to book or reserve air flights, seats in the cinema, rooms in a hotel, tables in a restaurant etc. The system prevents double-booking, when an item is booked twice.
The booking process:
- Step 1- Search
- Step 2 – Select
- Step 3 – Review, Finalise and Pay
- Step 4 – Booking confirmation
Step 1- The search screen
On this screen the user enters information in to text boxes on a form(or selects options from drop down lists) and presses the ‘search’ or continue button.
This screen usually has options for:
- Date & Times
- Destination (or venue for music concerts)
- Number or adults / children
- Product type (standard or first class)
Step 2 – The select screen
The purpose of this screen is to display the number of available options to the user and to give them the opportunity to select the option they require.
When the user selects the required option and clicks ‘next’ or ‘book’, data is sent to the system to put a temporary block on that inventory(usually about 20 minutes), so that no other person can book that inventory(e.g. the same seat on a plane!)
Servers only ever process 1 request at a time, so it is impossible to double book the same piece of inventory as at this point if two people clicked on the same inventory, whoever’s request got processed first would get the booking.
What happens if two request are received by the server at exactly the same time?
If 2 requests are received at exactly the same time, both websites would display a ‘server error’ and both users would have to click ‘send’ again.
Step 3 – Review, Finalise and Pay Screen
This screen ( some websites break down this part in to 3 or more screens) has a 3 aims.
- To enter the user’s personal details (address, names, email etc)
- To review the booking before clicking confirm, in order to ensure that no mistakes are made.
- To take payment by Visa, Mastercard, etc.
Once the users has entered their details and checked their booking they click the ‘Confirm’ button and their reserve will be confirmed on the next screen.
A booking will fail if:
- Payment details are incorrect or their card is declined.
- In this case they would be returned to the review screen to check their card details or use another card.
- They waited over 20 minutes to click the confirm button and their ‘hold’ has expired.
- In this case they would be returned to the search screen or availability select screen to start the booking again.
Step 4 – The booking confirmation screen
The purpose of this screen is to:
- Display the finalised booking & reference number on the screen
- Give the user an option to print out their booking confirmation
- Try and sell the user extras or offer other services (links to insurance, car-hire, travel guides,etc)
Advantages of online booking systems
- Double booking shouldn’t happen
- Immediate feedback on availability of seats/flights
- Customer can book online using an interactive website
- Customers can phone the booking office who can offer immediate advice on availability
- Booking systems can be tied into email so customers can be informed of their booking and other events they may be interested in
Disadvantages of Online Booking Systems
- The booking system will most likely be very expensive to install
- If the booking can be made over the phone, staff have to be trained to use the system
- For online booking, a well-designed website needs to be put in place that has direct connection to the database
- Needs to be very reliable. If the system breaks down for some reason, a lot of business can be lost.
- Complicated bookings usually can’t be done on the online system, so telephone staff are usually still needed (Example large group bookings on flights, un-accompanied minors on flights)
Activity – Create a screen booking form
The aim of this activity is to design a screen booking system for a bookable activity at you school.
Examples could include:
- Sports pitch booking
- Room booking
- School lunch table booking
Using the A4 paper template provided, sketch out your design for a screen booking form.
You should include:
- Data entry boxes / drop-downs / date-pickers where appropriate
- Labels where appropriate
- A confirm / send button
- Around the edges of your drawing you should provide suitable annotations
Complete the following quiz on the QuizMaster site:
- Booking Screens Review Quiz