Business Network Portal for Travelers

Business travel hasn’t changed since the introduction of the Internet, with travelers making plans oblivious to the itineraries of industry colleagues and sometimes even people on their own team, wasting time and losing valuable opportunities to connect – even when they’re not traveling.

The portal was developed to empower the business traveler to reinvent his/her business trip by introducing the concept of connected travel, allowing businesspeople for the first time to easily share travel plans and instantly search for potential business connections at their next trip destination or industry event – across companies and across booking engines.

Web interface of the solution consists of 2 major parts:

  • Web portal for desktop users supporting all modern browsers such as Internet Explorer 6, 7; Firefox 1.5, 2, 3; Opera 9 and Safari.
  • Mobile web portal supporting browsers supplied with Windows Mobile 5, 6 and BlackBerry.

System Functionality

The portal is a combination of on-line booking engine and the social networking site.

Desktop version of the portal has the following functionality:

  • Ability for users to create/upload their travel itineraries;
  • Ability for users to share travel plans with people they trust;
  • Ability for users to create/upload their social network;
  • Ability for users to search for contacts at their destination;
  • Ability for users to search for other users with similar itineraries;
  • Ability for users to communicate with other users for the purposes of meeting during a trip (coordinate meeting and activities);
  • Ability for users to receive alerts when colleagues they know are coming to the city.

Mobile version of the portal has the following functionality:

  • Authentication of users;
  • Ability to search for contacts;
  • Ability to search for travels created by desktop version users;
  • Ability to search for contacts by travel start point, destination and date;
  • Send email to found users directly from search results page using email client built in mobile OS.

The portal is a social networking site targeted at the Business Air Traveler (BAT). The web site should therefore have a professional look and feel (not like MySpace or Friendster or similar “dating” sites). For this reason, for example, users’ photos were omitted from their profiles.

Desktop version of the portal supports the most common browsers – Internet Explorer 6, 7; Firefox 2, 3; Opera 9 and Safari.

Mobile version supports browsers supplied with Windows Mobile 5, 6 and BlackBerry.

New application had to provide the same features and in addition it had to allow creating a secure account for clients and provide them with internet access to the library, the third improvement was creating a queue to allow clients to get the book when it is available.

Used Languages, Libraries & Technologies

Programming languages: C++, SQL (MS SQL Server), C# .NET, ASP.NET, JavaScript

Libraries: .NET framework 2.0, Microsoft Application Blocks, MFC, ATL, Ajax.NET Professional

Database: MS SQL Server 2005

Developing environment: MS Visual Studio 2005

Technologies: AJAX, COM, ASP.NET 2.0, ActiveX

Operating systems: Windows XP, Vista; Windows Mobile 5, 6; BlackBerry OS.

One of the unique solutions implemented during the project was development of ActiveX component for background data export from MS Outlook 2003. Usual data export facilities imply constant query for access to the data stored (such as contact email addresses), that is quite inconvenient for use. We developed a component using undocumented techniques of interaction with MS Outlook object model that allows working without queries or notifications.