On August 7, 2013, JTB USA, Inc. (JTB), Japan’s largest travel agency, unleashed the JTB USA Japan Rail Pass Online Booking System E-commerce site to make purchasing Japan Rail Pass vouchers a snap for U.S. customers. The B2C site allows U.S. customers seeking to travel around Japan by train, to quickly and easily purchase Japan Rail Pass vouchers and redeem them for unlimited travel on Japan Rail Group (JR) trains for limited periods of time. The site, based completely on IBM Lotus Domino Server, ties in Chase Paymentech, Federal Express, and Sabre Travel Network for a seamless, simple online shopping cart web experience.
Customers can select a specific voucher type for up to 8 passengers, choose a shipping method, and pay for the vouchers using their credit card. The JTB agent then processes the customer’s order using the same site, prints the vouchers and ships the vouchers off to the customer.
Computer Architechs International Corp. (CAI), an Advanced IBM Business Partner that specializes in the IBM Collaboration Solutions platform providing IBM Domino and Notes development and administration support since 1997, partnered with JTB to design the site using IBM Lotus Domino server as the main application server platform. Domino was chosen because of its reliability, security, rapid application development (RAD) capabilities and ease of integration with other technology platforms. Since keeping customer personal and financial data secure was a top concern of JTB’s, Domino was a perfect choice given it’s multi-layered security model including the ability to encrypt data all the way to the field level.
Another primary goal, besides security, for this site was to make it very easy and intuitive to use by both customers and JTB agents alike. In addition, JTB sought to reduce the amount of time it took to get a voucher processed and shipped to customers’ doorsteps. Therefore, CAI developed the staff user interface in such a way so as to be able to process each order with just a few clicks. All of the data entered by customers is automatically brought over into the JTB agent user interface, eliminating the need to re-enter any customer data, ever. Furthermore, when an agent processes the credit card payment, creates the shipping label, prints the vouchers and submits the order into the Sabre Travel Reservation system, there’s also no need to re-enter any of the customer information. An agent can simply process each submitted order very quickly and without worry of human error by following the steps below one click at a time:
- Finalize the credit card payment via Chase Paymentech Web Services
- Print the shipping label via FedEx Web Services
- Print the Japan Rail Pass vouchers for each passenger
- Submit the voucher order into the Sabre Travel system via Sabre Web Services
The only real manual step is to double check that the printed vouchers’ voucher numbers are correctly entered into the system for each order. It is important to understand that the vouchers themselves are numbered and tracked by JR in Japan, almost equating them to the value of printed currency. JR provides travel agencies with pre-printed forms; each form having it’s own, unique voucher number. All returned, canceled and voided vouchers must be sent to JR promptly so they may be processed and cataloged. If a customer loses a voucher or pass, they cannot be reissued. Therefore, making sure the system can easily keep track of vouchers is very important. Also, since each voucher is uniquely numbered, there’s no way for the system itself to know if a voucher prints correctly to the network printer, requiring a minimal amount of human intervention for this verification.
If an order is returned by a customer, the agent can use the same system to process the credit card refund for the entire order or just for a portion of it.