Airline Booking Software flies high with FreshBooks API

January 28, 2011


Guest Post by Jeff Valair, Operations Manager at Airline Booking Software.

Someone once said, simplicity is luxury.  If you’re hooked into FreshBooks, you probably consider yourself in the group that follows this motto.

Well, have you thought about using the FreshBooks API to make your life even easier?  Have you even heard of it?  Now, if you’re in the Software as a Service (SaaS) business such as ourselves, you might find this scribble rather appealing.  That is, having FreshBooks do your dirty work with regards to automating invoicing — I can tell you it’s the cat’s meow.

The API is a gold mine for those luxury seeking, time-saving, individuals.  We have leveraged FreshBooks to handle all our monthly billing, which consists of differing usage rates, all on the fly and all automated.

So how’d we do it?

First, a bit of the background.  We are an airline reservations software business, applicable to any tour business for that matter.  Our clients use our software to manage their schedules and book customers.  All free from the hassle of maintaining their own database server.  The final price our customers pay at the end of the month is based on usage.  Okay, so get to the good stuff, where’s the savings?

Imagine having your entire billing automated to the point where all you had to do was head down to the mailbox to pick up your cheques.  A dream vision and a beautiful one at that.

Steps to reproduce:

A. Setup

Using our existing Customer table in SQL Server, we added two FreshBooks related columns, one for Client ID and the other for the current Invoice ID.

B. New Customers

When a new customer signs up, a client profile is automatically setup in FreshBooks and the Client ID is then saved in our charming Customer SQL table.

C. Automating Billing

  1. On the 1st of the month, a new “draft” invoice is created for each company with their expected monthly usage rate, and the new invoice number is stored in our SQL table.
  2. Throughout the month, pro-rata service upgrades and downgrades are applied to this draft invoice.
  3. At the end of the month and depending on the customer preference, the invoice is either sent to the customer for manual payment or their credit card is processed on the spot.  We use Beanstream for processing credit cards.

When the final step is complete, the process repeats itself back at Step #1.

We also do housekeeping to synchronize the FreshBooks client data with our own customer table.  That keeps our contact emails and addresses all in line.

As well, our customers can link directly from inside our program to view their past transactions.

How does this help our business?

It helps:

  • Simplify our billing to the point where it is virtually hands free
  • Manage all our billing and accounting needs in one place, we “piggy-back” on FreshBooks in all possible ways
  • Allows our customers to review granular details of their monthly usage
  • Scale to a large volume of customers
  • And of course, simplicity is luxury

So perhaps this real world example will turn on the API light bulb in you.

What other amazing things have you built with the FreshBooks API?


about the author

This is a guest post for the FreshBooks blog. FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.