How do Travel Fare Aggregators Work?

You have very likely been using travel fare aggregators as your primary solution to cut costs of traveling. Skyscanner, Cheapflights, Kayak, Trip and many many others are usually the first places online you visit when planning a new trip - where else could you find all the airlines under one roof?

And while it is an extremely convenient service for travelers, have you ever thought about all the hurdles these websites have to overcome? Travel fare aggregators have to collect vast amounts of data from the web, so they would be able to offer you the best, real-time prices for a flight, train or bus tickets, as well as accommodation pricing , car rental services, and any other travel related expenses.

We know that all the sources have extensive security checks while trying to prevent any automated data collection, and they do block every IP that is activated and controlled by a bot. So how do these websites access that protected data? Well, I’m glad you asked because that’s exactly what we will go over here!

Travel Fare Aggregation

Web Scraping

Web scraping is a process of gathering data from various websites. There is a vast amount of reasons to implement this process into your business, no matter what you do:

     Market research - to stay competitive in the market, you have to know what your competitors are doing and base your strategy on this knowledge;
     MAP and MSRP monitoring - while the manufacturer can’t really decide on a minimum price of a product in retail, they can suggest it and set a minimum price that can be advertised. Monitoring is necessary to make sure all suggestions and advertising requirements are being followed by product retailers;
     Content aggregation - collecting huge amounts of non-copyrighted content to create a hub requires something more than what a human alone can do;
     Brand protection - making sure that your products aren’t being resold or your brand name isn’t being used as a keyword on some phishy websites is a necessity for a business to protect their business and a hard-fought market share;
     Ad verification - imagine how annoying it would be if your business expenses would be covering for ads that just won’t be seen by potential customers! That happens, when your ads are being placed behind other ads (this way making double the money for the website/app where your ads are being “displayed”) or they are just sitting aimlessly on spam-y websites;
     Pricing - to stay ahead of a competitive e-commerce market, you need to adjust to even the smallest price changes that your competitors make;
     Travel fare aggregation - the reason why we are all still reading this! These aggregators have to create an all-in-one website for traveler’s convenience.

There are many tools, both free and paid for, to optimize your data harvesting operations for you. For most of them to be effective and successful, you will additionally need to bring proxies to help out!

What is a Proxy?

To begin with, a proxy server, usually called a proxy, is a middleman that stands between you and your data source. When you are using a proxy server, your request travels through it, the proxy changes your IP address and handles the process for you. Each proxy server has its own IP address, this way granting your online actions extra security layer.

There are different kinds of proxy types:

  1. Residential proxies - IPs attached to a physical location, provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to a homeowner;
  2. Data Center proxies - IPs that are not attached to any ISP, coming from cloud server providers.

Another way to categorize proxies is their privacy:

  1. Dedicated proxies (private) - proxies that belong to you only, and you have to obligation to share them with anybody;
  2. Shared proxies - proxies that you share with other users, tend to get more banned;
  3. Semi-dedicated proxies (semi-shared) - proxies that you share with a small group of people.

Residential Proxies

Residential proxy has a real IP address given to a homeowner by an ISP. It’s an IP address attached to a physical location. You have one, just google it (“what’s my IP” is one of the most popular searches ever). This kind of proxy is the least likely to be recognized as a bot because, in the eyes of online sources, it looks like human surfing the web. Residential proxies, though, are not only great for travel fare aggregation but for many other reasons too - they all can be found in Oxylabs blog post!

While residential proxies have many benefits, the most important ones are:

     They are perfect for scraping and harvesting data. This feature is the most important for any business, in this case, travel fare aggregators’ websites.
     They are highly anonymous, for all the reasons mentioned prior. This is really important not only for businesses.
     While using residential proxies, you experience almost no blocks - an essential feature for anyone harvesting data daily, or even hourly.

They have some cons too, well, a drawback:

     Pricing. Residential proxies are for sure more expensive than data center proxies. However, as discussed above, it is clear for one to see how much value they hold.

Data Center Proxies

Data Center proxies, as their name already states, are not affiliated with any ISPs. Instead, they come from a secondary corporation. Important to know, that acquiring free data center proxies is not the right choice for business (or in general - for security), because usually the subnets are already blacklisted by many websites.

Main benefits of data center proxies are:

     Speed. These proxies are rapid, compared to residential proxies;
     Price. They are usually much more affordable than residential ones.

Some disadvantages of data center proxies:

     Lower anonymity. These proxies can be slightly less anonymous than residential ones, usually, because the ISP does not provide them so it’s not that difficult to find their real user;
     Blocks. They can get blocked pretty quickly, especially by websites which have greater security levels(i.e. Google blocks a lot of general use data center proxies). Worth noting that a lot of providers will provide a package of proxies made explicitly for search engines.

Residential Proxies for Travel Fare Aggregation

residential proxies for travel

As mentioned before, travel fare aggregators are creating an all-in-one solution for travelers, so they would be able to get the best deals for a plane, bus, train tickets, housing, rental cars and much more. To even be eligible to participate in the fight for the throne of the market these companies have to provide real-time data, which has to be collected every couple of hours (official travel websites prices fluctuate depending on… well, everything)

Best found solution for data gathering is large scale web scraping. To manage these operations in-house, travel fare aggregators should choose dedicated residential proxies to satisfy all their data scraping needs. These proxies provide highest possible anonymity with the added benefit of forgetting getting blocked by desired sources.

Another important feature that most proxy service providers offer, and it’s necessary for a travel fare website - specific location targeting. While there is a possibility to use other kinds of proxies for cost-cutting reasons, dedicated residential proxies are hands down the ones bringing the best results.


Post a Comment