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Road warriors need not apply, but Bootsnall is tackling a mammoth, complex battle for those leisure travelers who are set on exploring the world. If the Indie booking engine works as advertised, Bootsnall will make some headway because of it.
Independent travelers embarking on around-the-world treks have been dependent on travel agents, phone reservations and airline alliances until now, but BootsnAll has launched a multi-stop global faring engine that it claims is a landmark achievement.
Its Indie Web app, which had been in beta for three months, enables travelers for the first time to “search and book an up to 25-stop trip” from anywhere to everywhere, BootsnAll states.
Airline alliances such as OneWorld and Star Alliance have enabled online bookings within each alliance of up to 16 stops, but as one competitor privately states, BootnAll has “upped the ante for all of us.”
Indeed, I just used Indie to price a convoluted eight-stop trip — Newark-Reykjavik-Mumbai-Hanoi-Shanghai-Beijing-Auckland-Beirut-Newark –and in under a minute saw a fare result of $6,442, including taxes and fees.
Sean Keener, who co-founded BootsnAll with Chris Heidrich in 1998, declined to give away the “secret sauce” of how this online booking is accomplished, but says: “We licensed an OTA engine, and built an API on top of it that solved the problem on its own. This API now has the initial algorithm that strings together up to 25 legs.”
“We are in version one now and have a several year road map with the idea of unlocking more and more value for the traveler,” Keener says.
Bootsnall fulfills the flights, but notes in its terms and conditions that while customers get the confirmation at the time of the booking, tickets aren’t immediately issued.
“Airlines may take a few hours to a few days to confirm and issue your tickets,” BootsnAll states. “Until your tickets are issued and paid for, prices and availability are not guaranteed and are subject to change.”
Keener says the biggest enabler of building the solution was assembling a team that was up to the task.
It involved “lots of tears, discussion, and constructive ‘brawls’ within our internal teams to get it done,” he adds.