FROL Case Study (by the person who had the idea)
(Off-line 2013, Re-Launch ETA as Oveedia, 2nd QT 2015)
Overseas Hotel Management S.A., was an outsource company based in San Jose, Costa Rica, with four programmers, one webmaster, one American copywriter and two assistants. The lead programmer had obtained a lot of experience in PHP and MySQL, developing a previous project called Photos.aero
The OHMCR team created the first hospitality website called 128trip.com for the company. Then, Overseas signed a contract with World Choice Travel as an affiliate, (World Choice Travel WCT was established in 1996, as a division of Travelocity.com LP. Travelocity.com LP operates the world’s most respected travel affiliate program, providing online booking engines to thousands of privately-branded, travel affiliate websites).
Then, Overseas hired a Canadian company based in Calgary (www.hbcweb.com), to integrate the World Choice Travel platform, (XML Extensible Markup Languages, a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable. It is defined by the W3C’s XML 1.0 Specification and by several other related specifications, all of which are free open standards.), with our 128trip.com website. This website integrated with WCT displayed thousands of hotels all over the world and OHMCR was paid for each commission. But OTHM’s goal was to create its own network of hotels.
Then in July 2007, we started the HotelPURE.com project, with just basic information about the company. The vision was to create a hotel franchise and membership, taking advantage of the experience of the Company Directors in this industry.
Six months later, the team was ready to launch HotelPure’s dedicated IP hosting account with 128 bit encryption SSL certificate, (Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are cryptographic protocols designed to provide communication security over the Internet). This certificate was necessary to make PayPal and Credit Card transactions and data management over the Internet. FrolSecure.net hosting account was subsequently launched with the same specs as HotelPure
The First Hotel
The Company was retained to recruit hotels to join a new hotel franchise, called Hotel PURE. The first hotel to join the group was Hotel Doña Inés, located in downtown San José, followed by The Palm House Inn, just one block from the National Museum. Overseas used these two small B&B Hotels to start beta testing a hotel booking engine. At that time the Company had one thing in mind, to increase the number of properties for Hotel Pure, with a big advancement called the internet booking engine.
The third hotel to join the group was Tropicana in Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica.
- Hotel Tropicana Press Release Jan 2008
Hotel Doña Inés, The Palms House Inn and The Tropicana Hotel were initially part of the 128trip.com group and later these were switched over to the Hotel Pure group of hotels.
Rapidly, the hoteliers realized that our main product was the Internet distribution and they started requesting Internet services, they were not fully convinced about the flagging alternative. These hoteliers perfectly knew how to run their hotels. The missing link was the WWW exposure brought by the GDS and IDS, which eventually attracted traffic to their websites, feeding FROL with reservations. ( The Billboard effect )
Every time the Company added a hotel to the group, HI-RES pictures were taken to show the beauty of the property with the rest of the world. The Company was confident that they were ready to take the software to the next level, so, Overseas Hotel Management, representing Hotel Pure in Costa Rica, participated in the biggest Tourism Trade Market in Central America, called Expotur. The notable exposure obtained assisted Hotel Pure in adding several new hotels to its portfolio.
It was Expotur 2008 what opened the doors of the Banco Nacional of Costa Rica to the FROL system. The team integrated the software with a Visa and MasterCard gateway through this bank.
With great discipline, the Company continued recruiting hotels and Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin became a great opportunity for the Company. The Company could now be involved in the day to day operations of a big hotel. The Company installed FROL and instructed its GM, Mr. Jose Batalla, the ways to take advantage of Facebook, becoming a great gateway for the hotel. It was Mr. Batalla who developed the name Friendly Online Reservation System (FROL) for the software.
- Hotel PURE presents Hacienda Guachipelin Nov 2008
- Hacienda Guachipelin Hot Springs Feb 2009
- Hacienda Guachipelin Feb 2009
The Company never renamed this property as PURE. Mr. Batalla was fascinated with the Internet product as is, without flagging it with the PURE Brand. The Chinese logo did not fit with the hotel and destination: a hotel located in a farm, next to an important volcano called the Rincon de la Vieja.
ITB Berlin 2008 (Sint Maarten SXM)
Hotel Pure attended ITB Berlin in March of 2008, having the opportunity to meet Mr. Emil Lee, former president of the Sint Marteen Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA). This relationship grew to a point that Hotel Pure could have its first destination portal for Sint Maarten (Dutch Side).
Mr. Lee became a key person for the research of patterns in the Internet and hospitality industries. A Great visionary and ultra-detailed person who helped the project to a better understanding, and to obtain a big part of the “know how”. He was fascinated with Google Analytics, Tripadvisor, Expedia and the mix of these three elements. He discovered “the billboard effect”. Although the FROL was installed at the Princess Heights website for just a limited period of time, the experience obtained in this property boosted FROL´s overall success.
United States ( The first Hotel )
Back in July of 2009, OTHM instructed the Costa Rican team to travel to Erie, Pa. The team arrived at the Avalon Hotel and its GM, Ms. Stefanie Wilkinson, became an asset to the team, due to her great knowledge of the American markets. FROL was then installed for the very first time in August of 2009 in the U.S. It was immediately integrated with PayPal, Visa and MasterCard.
From Pennsylvania, the team drove to Ohio and Michigan, flew to Wyoming and finally arrived in Santa Cruz California, were they managed two hotel websites: The Beach Inn and the Pacific Inn.
The websites by PURE
Considering when Hotel PURE Dayton was initially established, the hotel was closed, with no incoming revenue. Within 75 days of carrying the Hotel PURE flag, Orien’s secured an average of 40% of the daily occupancy rate for the property.
Hotel PURE Pacific Inn
There are still some websites posting the Hotel Pure Pacific Inn in Santa Cruz California.
Hotel PURE Seasons Inn
Orbitz still shows this property as a PURE property.
Vista Atenas B&B
Although the property was never flagged as PURE, they used FROL for more than a year. This FROL version was fully integrated with Banco Nacional de Costa Rica and PayPal.
PURE Condo Resort
This project was part of the HRG joint venture. This was a PURE version of Los Sueños Resort in Costa Rica, including 44 condos.
The last installation
The last time the Costa Rican team installed FROL on a hotel website, it was in Canciones del Mar. If you visit their website (www.cancionesdelmar.com), you can see that it has not been updated by the owner and still shows FROL as its booking engine. Although it is not operational at this time, this was the most dramatic project, delivering more than 1000 Internet reservations in less than 6 months.
Our USA portfolio 2009-2010
- The Avalon Hotel, Erie,PA
- The Ramada Zanesville, Ohio
- Hotel PURE, Dayton Ohio
- The Hitching Post, Cheyenne, Wy.
- The Beach Inn, Santa Cruz, Ca.
- The Pacific Inn, Santa Cruz, Ca.
- The Seasons Inn, Fort Smith, Ar.
Our Costa Rican portfolio 2008-2013
- Hotel Vista Atenas
- Hotel El Viandante
- Hotel Canciones del Mar
- Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin
- Daystar Properties
- Guanacaste Tourism Chamber
- Canopy Adventure Volcan Barva
- Hotel The Palm House Inn
Our Caribbean portfolio 2009-2010
- Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association
- Princess Heights
Hotel PURE OTA website
- 118 hotels, condominiums and B&Bs in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, USA, Sint Maarten
The Actual Status of FROL
FROL was written in .php, (PHP is a server-side scripting language, designed for web development, but also used as a general-purpose programming language. As of January 2013, PHP was installed on more than 240 million websites, (39% of those sampled) and 2.1 million web servers.) using a MySQL database (MySQL officially, but also called “My Sequel”) is (as of March 2014) the world’s second most widely used open-source relational database management system (RDBMS).The SQL phrase stands for Structured Query Language.)
Since Feb. 2008, FROL is being hosted at Hostmonster.com with a dedicated IP 188.8.131.52, There´s another back up copy installed at www.frolsecure.net (Dedicated IP 184.108.40.206). The team used to have two parallel versions running as back up.
- Spotterspro Database dedicated IP 220.127.116.11
- CP Hotel Group Database dedicated IP 18.104.22.168
If the server hosting the database at 22.214.171.124 fails, it would automatically jump to 126.96.36.199 or to 188.8.131.52
About the Database
The database has 139.80 Mb. of information that has been added to it since 2008, when it first began to operate. There used to be an automatic script to make a back-up of the database every day at 1 AM GMT-6.
Type of properties Database Table
Most of the notes inside the code are in Spanish, as all of the programmers were Costa Rican natives.
PayPal and Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
After running both systems, the team realized we could run FROL with just PayPal for two reasons.
- If you have a PayPal account, you could pay your hotel or tour with your existing account
- If you didn´t have a PayPal account, the PayPal website would work as a Credit Card POS ( Point of Sale)
It took us one week to integrate PayPal with our website, using some coding like the example bellow ( Click on the image to obtain the full size graphic )
FROL ( The Team´s Manual and other relevant documents)
The team created a manual back in 2009-10. They also created several documents to showcase their performance. To increase the traffic to all customers, the team created a network of blogs in 4 different languages, (English, French, Spanish and German).
- User Manual FROL_ English
- Performance Analysis Oct 2009
- A new company was incorporated (Hotel PURE Costa Rica Limited). Full description of its activities attached HotelPURE-CR
128trip.com, started as a company to invite tourists to the 2008 Summer Olympics Games in Beijing. While the Vancouver staff visited China several times in preparation for such a task, they realized they could start a Hotel Franchise with Chinese themes, copying the South Miami Beach style. When they informed the Costa Rican team, who was exclusively dedicated to administrate gambling servers and websites, the team understood that a CRS or PMS was the tool to provide hoteliers. If you own a hotel in Lansing, Michigan and you decide to join Ramada, you´ll get a big book with the “how to” and your hotel will become part of the portal www.ramada.com. Once you book in a Ramada, Days Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn or Sandals Resort, you know what to expect in terms of standards. The traffic is generated by the “flags” Internet portals.
FROL became that tool and the hotelier’s part of the Hotel Pure brand, now understood how powerful the billboard effect is and they requested Internet services only instead of full administration services, as initially offered.
That’s how the Company became (again), a technology Company providing services to the Hospitality Industry.
How will we improve FROL ?
First of all, this software was used from 2008-12 and in the last 2 years, there has been a lot changes in technology. The team intends to add:
- Facebook, Google + login system
- GDS connectivity
- Submision platfform for the hoteliers similar to Expedia Partner Central
- Mobile compatibility with IOS, Android and Windows
- Compatibility with Expedia Affiliate Network
The leader of the Costa Rican team has been deeply involved in
- Airplane Spotting
- Airplane pictures portals
- Software development for the hospitality industry
- Software development for the real estate industry
- Hospitality distribution chanels
- SEO and SMO for the hospitality industry
- Destination websites
- Tourism Chambers
- Hotel Associations
- Photography ( airplanes, hotels, condominiums )
Frol Case Study by Melvin Pereira