The cruise industry is vast, and since there are many agents reselling the cruise offers themselves, there can be large variations in prices between agents – this was identified by the cruisecompare management, and a plan was put into process in order to give the customer a better and easier means to find their perfect cruise.
Cruise Compare needed the ability to pull together the huge volume of prices that were available on any given day. This meant that 4 agents were identified to be the principal partners, and their cruise pricing data was made available.
The services of www.clickwt.com were procured in order to provide the raw cruise data. ClickWT have worked in the cruise industry for many years, and have built close relationships with many of the cruise lines and agents.
Data was provided by ClickWT on a nightly basis for each of the four agents, and this was read into the cruisecompare database before being processed and output to the website.
Content Management System (CMS):
The cruise compare CMS handles all website data. It allows the administrators the ability to remove entire offers, or to change individual agent pricing. It also handles all cruise line and cruise ship data including cabin classifications, itineraries and ports of call.
The website also manages all of the community sections, including members, galleries, reviews, news and blog.
Database – Microsoft SQL:
The cruise compare database was developed using Microsoft’s SQL Server. It handles all of the static data that the website requires.
The database also manages the nightly importing of the pricing data that is made available from ClickWT.
In essence, a nightly batch job is scheduled using T-SQL in which a small Windows console application (CCDownloader.exe) is executed in order to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) the pricing files from ClickWT. These files are normal pipe delimited flat files which are compressed using GZIP. They are therefore removed from their compression files and saved to the server. T-SQL then opens the files and reads the data into the database.
This process allows cruise compare to have data that is a maximum of 24 hours out of date from that provided by ClickWT.
Virtually all cruise ship data was sourced by the cruise compare staff, however, since the system needed to group different cabin classifications in order to display relevant prices, ClickWT provided a tool to do this task via their CWT online system.
Most cruise ships have many different cabin classifications, each of these have their own prices, but comparing 30 different classifications would not really benefit the customer.
A decision was therefore made to group the cabins into the following four formats:
Using the CWT online system, cruise compare staff were subsequently able to group the cabins and ClickWT then output the lowest prices for each of these on a nightly basis.
All cruise ship deck plans are displayed on the website.
The owner of cruise compare also owns www.socruise.com. He wanted to move all existing members and their reviews and galleries over to cruisecompare. Some of the original socruise pages were then 301 re-directed to their equivalent cruise compare page.
3rd Party Software/Services/Features:
Cruise Compare have an account with Google analytics, providing detailed statistics about users of their website.