Inter-system mapping: Tips & best practices (article)

Susana Moleón Moya
Susana Moleón Moya
  • Updated

After discussing the basic logic of an inter-system mapping, we want to give you some practical advice. Over time we learned a great deal about how to set up inter-system mappings and how to maintain them.

TripAdvisor & GetYourGuide

It's important to understand that not every sales agent is integrated into TourCMS in the same way. Some use an API integration; some don’t. Some use the TourCMS API, and others use their own. Some import all information - necessary to procure a tour or activity - from the TourCMS API. Some don’t. 

The same goes for critical mapping information. Most agents acquire all the information and do the mapping on their end. TripAdvisor and GetYourGuide are different: They require the operator to curate and map their products on the respective supplier platforms. These two agents are the reason we think your ability to do and maintain a mapping is essential.

Maintain your own database

We highly recommend keeping a single Excel file or Google Sheet with your full product portfolio and all distribution information.

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This tool will help you tremendously, keeping things neat and easy to understand if you ever need to communicate with an OTA or our support staff. A copy/paste of the availability overview (Homepage > Tours > Availability overview) is an excellent starting point to help you keep your critical data in one place.

Add all the information that makes your work more manageable, and please, be diligent in maintaining it. This document is also a great tool to communicate with your sales and technology partners.

Product setup (synchronicity)

Not unlike a map, a tour set up - in any system - is a simplified depiction (or model) of a more complex reality. Now depending on the system (each has its strengths and weaknesses), tours can have somewhat different setups. 

A simple example is passenger rates/categories: Many systems designed for street sales offer family rates, city pass rates, handicapped rates, and others. Most OTAs, however, do not offer those rate types. 

Now our word of advice is simple: 

1. Aim at synchronicity between systems whenever possible.

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2. Systems that come later in the booking flow (subsystems) can have more Tours/Offers/Rates, but never less!

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Take for example, a booking for a tour made in an OTA system. Let’s say it contains 2 adults and 1 infant. If this booking is sent downwards and the receiving system doesn’t have an infant rate, the booking process will fail.

It's important to understand that most connections between OTAs and operators are a chain of multiple systems. This rule applies throughout the whole chain of systems.

3. No rule without an exception

Cut-off times are the only exception to this. They can’t be higher in the receiving system. For example, the cutoff time for a tour cannot be 15 minutes before departure for an OTA and 2 hours before departure in TourCMS. Some OTAs are quite rigorous with this topic and will remove a product’s API connection if they encounter failed bookings due to higher cut-off in subsequent systems. 

Slow down, take it easy

Mapping can be a tedious and often complicated process. Therefore, it’s prone to mistakes. If mistakes are made in the mapping, it can take weeks or months until an issue is discovered. It goes without saying that this can involve additional administrative costs and even loss of revenue.

It is always worth it to take the time to ensure that mapping is done properly from the beginning. Create your Excel or Google Sheet tool and work on it in a meticulous and precise fashion. This will save you some headaches. Guaranteed.

In case you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you can always ask for our advice by writing to support@palisis.com

Maintain your systems (early enough)

OTAs are in the business of selling. To do so, they expect availability from connected systems. In order to provide them with availability, it is paramount that you - the operator - create events/departures well in advance. Some OTAs feed their stock with availability multiple months in advance, and therefore the earlier you provide this information, the better.