Every trip, whether for business or pleasure, domestic or international, short or long, has at its base a core element. This element is usually some sort of an event in which the traveler wants to, or needs to, participate. An event can have one of many embodiments. Examples may include a vacation, tour, road trip, conference, business meeting, wedding, cruise or any combination of these and other embodiments. In general, one might say the event is the focal point of the trip, from which everything else emanates.
When trying to imagine the direction we're heading with GoScopia.com, planning by events is probably going to be one of the ongoing, major ingredients of our development road map. Our search algorithms are designed to assist us in doing just that.
The stages of booking a cruise as an example of an event, and how GoScopia's algorithms are designed to support the user throughout the process, are illustrated in the diagram below...
From the diagram above we can recognize, from the bottom up (1-5), the separate stages of planning, searching and booking a cruise as an event (although any other type of event would fit just as well).
Contrary to popular belief, the planning does not usually start with choosing the flights and the ground transportation to or from the traveler's home, but rather with a Point of Interest (POI), shown as "Step 1" in the diagram. This can be something as simple as looking for a cruise sailing in July, a Gay-friendly cruise, a cruise that visits Papua-New-Guinea, a cruise sailing from Buenos Aires or a combination of these and others.
Once the matching cruises have been determined and a particular one has been booked (Stage 2), we have a geographic and chronological platform on which to build the rest of the trip. This, because we are able to determine not only which cruise lines offer these POI's in their services or itineraries, but also to simultaneously map the cruises' starting and ending port or ports and nearby services.
Since we know where the cruise will be stopping along the way (ports of call), we can also offer local shore excursions during stage 2 with the help of excellent companies like ShoreTrips, local guides or local tour operators.
Stage 3 on the diagram has two sides to it - the departure (embarkation) port and its surrounding area is displayed as circle 3a while the end port (disembarkation) is displayed as circle 3b. In each of these circles, up to a predetermined radius, GoScopia's algorithms can easily locate the nearest airports with or without scheduled flights as well as local services such as airport to cruise port transfers, hotels and other accommodations, local guides and tours and many others. So its in stage 3a that GoScopia asks the traveler: "Would you like to book any pre-cruise services?" while in stage 3b we ask: "Would you like to book any post-cruise services?".
Step 4, the flights to and from the nearest airports, can be handled before, after or simultaneous to steps 1, 2 and 3. What's the point of booking a cruise if the flights turn out to be full or very expensive while at the same time, what's the point of booking the flights before knowing the cost or the availability of the cruise? This gets me thinking that some sort of a "book but don't pay" system should be offered on GoScopia.com, a system which will allow the traveler to ensure every portion of the trip is available at acceptable price levels before hitting the final "Go!" button.
The cruise can start and end at the same port, or it may start at one port and end at another. Since the GoScopia.com algorithms are designed to find the nearest airports to cruise ports or, alternately, the nearest cruise ports to airports, we should be able to easily determine flights (or even rail travel) between the traveler's home area and the cruise ports of embarkation and disembarkation. We should also be able to combine a series of events in chronological and geographic order, such as a wedding followed by a cruise followed by a tour.
Stage 5 is, of course, the transportation between the traveler's home and the departure/return airport(s).
Combine these 5 stages with filtered data according to preferences, prices and requirements, add the ability to hold a reservation without payment and to display all booked services in chronological order and GoScopia will be able to offer our users a most unique and value-added service.
An example for all of this might look as follows:
We know the traveler lives in Capetown, South Africa and wants to book a specific cruise that begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina and ends in Recife, Brazil. We can offer the traveler pre-cruise services, such as airport transfers, tours and hotel accommodations at Buenos Aires and we can do the same as post-cruise services in Recife.
According to the dates of the cruise start and end, and the amount of time spent in the pre/post cruise activities, we can also automatically look for flights, accordingly from Capetown to Buenos Aires and from Recife back to Capetown. Since some cruise passengers prefer not to have any services before or after the cruise and just stay for one night as close to the port or airport as possible, we offer today already, the possibility of quickly searching for hotels near cruise ports, airports and rail stations. Try, for example, to search GoScopia for Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Once the search displays, check the "Ports" box in the blue area on the left and then click on the orange port icon on the map. Click on Accommodations and you're done! That was easy, wasn't it?
As mentioned earlier, this type of process can be used not just on cruises but also on tours and hikes, conferences, rail travel and many other applications.