Case Study: An Online Reservation System

In this case study, Greg Cole of Esper Media, a full-service graphic design and creative marketing firm in Arizona, describes a client project which integrated Gravity Flow, GravityView and Gravity Forms to provide an end-to-end online reservation system for a travel company.


Case Study

For a recent project we used Gravity Flow to facilitate a process for taking online reservations for a tour company that needed the ability to accept credit card bookings at the initial form submission, but not process billing until the tour had been provided (sometimes months after receiving the reservation).

We integrated a third-party credit card processing script that creates user billing profiles within the merchant account upon initial submission. This provides a means of authorizing the credit card without posting a payment. By then using some calculation fields linked to the tour date we were able to schedule automatic workflow triggers in Gravity Flow to re-authorize credit cards 7 days prior to the tour date (to ensure we still had valid card details on file and to account for any changes in the amount to be billed in the event the customer had made changes to their tour itineraries) and also to prompt the reservation agents to process the final billing the day after the tour has been provided.

We also implemented an advanced front-end entry management system using GravityView. While Gravity Flow handles the workflow process, GravityView is used to present the entries to the agents in a way that helps them perform their tasks quickly and easily (using data tables). Agents can then filter the reservations and show specific columns depending upon the workflow. For example, we created pages for “Today’s Tours” used to create their driver sheets/schedule each day, “Tour Authorizations” with links to Gravity Flow where they enter the credit card authorization code to ensure a good card is on file just prior to providing the tours, and “Tour Billing” which lists tours that have been provided but have not been billed and links to Gravity Flow where they enter the final billed amount and credit card transaction ID.

The unique challenge for this project was that the client has to manually process their credit cards because they take a reservation at some point prior to providing the actual service (often times weeks or months in advance). To avoid PCI Compliance issues with storing the data on their own systems, this task was offloaded to the merchant using billing profiles which solved the security issue. The Gravity Forms/GravityView/Gravity Flow combo allowed us to create data entry and management workflows around this constraint to streamline the client’s manual process. The reservation agents can make edits to the reservation (increasing or decreasing the billing total of the final service being rendered for instance when the number of participants changes) and all of the changes are tracked in the system. They then have a simple process for finalizing the process and capturing all of the details that previously were all handled on paper in a completely manual set-up.

By utilizing the User Input step type, we were able to streamline data entry for the reservation agents. They receive notification emails telling them when tours need to be re-authorized or billed and then log-in to the virtual terminal of the merchant account as well as the reservation system to complete the necessary tasks. Having the ability to only show the fields relevant to the task at hand, we reduced data entry errors and increased productivity.

We intend to extend the system further in the near future with Approval workflows that tie in to a scheduling component and with Web Hooks that trigger external report generation.

Gravity Flow has allowed us to create an end-to-end application for taking online reservations that would have been difficult to achieve using any other WordPress-based tools.

Greg Cole, Owner,
Esper Media,
Phoenix, AZ – United States.


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