NYC Seminar Center Integrates Google Calendar with Tripleseat, Liquid Space, and HappyDesk for Seamless Web Event Booking
- Flatironhot Contributor
- On May 10, 2016
Reported by Corey Shapiro and the Flatiron Hot! News Editorial Staff
The current proliferation of cloud-based services for small businesses continues to yield cost and productivity savings, as well as sales opportunities, provided one can find resources to customize the different options out there in the cloud. The intrepid tech staff of New York City Seminar & Conference Center, building on its knowledge of two popular cloud applications, Google Calendar and Tripleseat, has been quick to take advantage of such opportunities.
NYCSCC has continued to customize its use of Tripleseat’s cloud-based application for managing virtually every aspect of its conference center business in a way that leads to substantial gains in productivity, for its staff and ultimately for its clients. As reported earlier in Flatiron Hot! News, the adoption by NYCSCC of Tripleseat offered tremendous advantages in terms of managing its schedule, rooms, and resources over a web-enabled system and the ability to use a portal-based, real-time system for communicating with its clients to schedule and manage events, order catering and update other event logistics, and in making payment via the web. NYCSCC’s tech staff was able to offer additional functionality to Tripleseat’s public-facing web forms by adding the ability to enter additional details when requesting events online, adding the ability to schedule site tours, and perhaps most critically, allowing its clients, via the web, to post their requests (inquiries, event details, and schedule of dates) to Tripleseat’s master schedule of events where they can be managed by NYCSCC’s event staff. Even events that take place in multiple rooms or over multiple days are fully accounted for.
Now, NYCSCC’s tech staff has been able to take this one step further, allowing the integration of features of other popular cloud-based services that it uses to allow its rooms to be listed on the internet, giving its sales efforts a big boost by increasing the audience of potential users that may want to use its rooms. NYCSCC has been listing its rooms on the WUN Systems’ popular HappyDesk platform, and the LiquidSpace web site. Both of these highly rated event and meeting room portals allow conference centers, event venues, and restaurants the ability to showcase their inventory of rooms on a real-time basis for booking according to their availability via the web, both on desktops and mobile devices.
Originally, NYCSCC’s event managers had to manually coordinate between Tripleseat’s master inventory and calendar of available rooms with HappyDesk and LiquidSpace’s listings and reservations of our spaces and update them on a daily basis. To make this coordination easier, and allow our staff to view information about events from these disparate services on a single web page, we decided to put all of this information into Google Calendar. Google Calendar is especially useful for this purpose because HappyDesk, LiquidSpace and Tripleseat (and many other web services) all offer features that enable automatic integration of booking details, such as room listings and event schedules, into our Google account. Setting up a service from scratch that would allow Tripleseat to interact directly with HappyDesk and LiquidSpace in a similar way would be very difficult to accomplish.
However, there were still certain aspects of events that we needed to enter into Google Calendar manually. We also wanted to have a system where any event booked through HappyDesk or LiquidSpace would instantly be reflected in Tripleseat and vice versa. This would prevent users from booking a room with one service after the same room has already been booked with another service. For example, if one client fills out a Facilities Reservation Form (for more information about this form, see our previous article) and their event is added to Tripleseat, we would want another client that is browsing through our rooms in HappyDesk to see where and when this event is going on.
In order to further automate the transfer of data through Google Calendar, NYCSCC’s tech staff, led by Corey Shapiro, leveraged the APIs of Google Calendar and Tripleseat to create two programs that automatically coordinate prospective bookings by transferring event information between LiquidSpace, HappyDesk, and Tripleseat, and allow all of these web services to correctly identify which rooms are available at any given time.
The transfer of data between the different web services is fully managed by the Ruby-coded programs, which are set to automatically run periodically on our company’s Heroku server. The first program is named tripleseat_google_integration.rb and its purpose is to take events from Tripleseat and post them in Google Calendar. A single run of this script searches for all events that have been created or updated in Tripleseat on a given day, takes the important information from each event, and builds an event in Google Calendar based on it. The program also makes note of significant changes to Tripleseat events and reflects these changes in their corresponding Google Calendar events that were created by a past execution of the program.
The purpose of the second program, google_tripleseat_integration.rb, is to take as much information as possible from HappyDesk and LiquidSpace event bookings, and place it in Tripleseat. Just like in the other program, event information is transferred indirectly through Google Calendar. While there are certain differences between events booked in HappyDesk and LiquidSpace, since all the events are put into Tripleseat from a single source (Google Calendar), it is easy to utilize the similarities between the two booking systems and have some of the code’s functionality be used for both integrations. A single run of this script checks Google Calendar for HappyDesk and LiquidSpace events booked today and compares these events with what is already in Tripleseat so it can decide whether to update an already existing event or create one from scratch. After this, the program also deletes events in Tripleseat that have been canceled in LiquidSpace (this cancellation information is automatically sent to Google Calendar).
When designing the integrations between Tripleseat and various other services, it is important to keep in mind exactly what information you want to transfer and where you need it to go. This is especially relevant when you are considering more than two different applications at once, as with Tripleseat, Google Calendar, and LiquidSpace. Since most of the relevant data is grouped together into various events, by thinking about the integration in terms of events, one can focus on building a program that can accurately and efficiently moves data around by managing and interacting with the events in different ways. The five primary things you can do with events are build them, put them somewhere, retrieve them from somewhere, update them, and delete them. The two programs built by our tech staff both have at least one section dedicated to each of these five actions. The project was split into two programs because information must travel in both directions for the services to be fully integrated. The distinction in direction between the programs is revealed in the word order of their titles (which are tripleseat_google_integration and google_tripleseat_integration).
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