Workflows 101


Workflows 101
If you are new to working with workflows, the concept of a workflow can seem a bit vague. Before moving on to actually creating or just reading one, it is important to understand the definition and purpose of what a workflow is since they can be an integral part of a travel agency’s business process.


Workflows Defined

Here is a very simple explanation: a workflow is an algorithm. That is, workflows are nothing more than a series of instructional steps – a process – to solve a problem. Expanding on this, in the travel industry, a problem can be searching for a flight. Or, a problem can be booking a flight. The systematic series of actions to solve these problems is a workflow.


What Do You Want To Do?

When knowing that you need a workflow in your travel business process, rather than ask, “what workflow should I use?”, ask, “what do I want to do?” Since a workflow is essentially an idea that is transcribed into an application blueprint, the idea needs to direct the workflow, not the other way around.


Two Types of Workflows

It is helpful to understand that there are two types of workflows: one for travel agents operating within a travel agency, and one for applications that are utilized by the public via a travel website or mobile app. The former will have a workflow designed to best serve travel agents that are researching and booking travel arrangements for their clients and are for private use. While these workflows are not a blueprint for coding a Web application, they are steps that a travel agent can follow to search and book travel itineraries. The latter workflows are developed into Web applications and are for public use.


Simple Workflows Are More Than Simple

Designing a workflow properly will involve many steps, and the more complex a problem, the more steps will be needed. However, even a seemingly simple task can become complicated, especially if a business wants to differentiate itself from the competition in the travel industry.

For example, some travel agents may want to provide a simple process to their customers, such as book an air seat. At the most basic level, booking an air seat involves the same actions across all travel providers. However, what can distinguish one travel provider from another in the eyes of its current and future customers are not only differentiating business characteristics, but also unique workflows.


Be Different

Differentiating business characteristics can include such things as having a special travel niche (e.g. surfing safaris or mountainous vegetarian yoga retreats). It can also include delivering outstanding customer service and experiences (such as a text message welcoming you to your destination with an included e-gift card to use at a local juice bar). Including unique workflows in the business process can solidify leadership in that travel agency’s domain. For example, an online travel agency can create a workflow that includes a way for the traveler to see the prices for multiple itineraries at once. Most online travel agencies allow a user to type in one origin and one destination at a time. However, many leisure travelers are looking for the best get-away flight, and these people will benefit greatly if they can enter in multiple destinations where the results will allow for comparison shopping. This functionality will certainly be unique among many online travel agencies.


From Workflow to Web App

When a workflow is designed as a Web application, the creators of it will want to make the shopping and booking experience as seamless as possible, and perhaps even a little enjoyable. The better the experience for the traveler, the more likely that this person will use the travel agency’s website to purchase a travel product and ideally tell others to do the same. And the more unique and well designed a travel agency’s workflow is, the more a travel agency can standout from the competition by offering a better online experience, which can certainly help in increasing conversions – as long as the transformation from workflow to code is done properly. This is where strong algorithm and development knowledge is welcomed.

In the next blog post related to workflows, a travel agency scenario will be illustrated to explain a realistic workflow. Also, several workflow examples will soon be available on Sabre Dev Studio. So stay tuned…




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