Host users can offer rental properties which other guest users can reserve. The guest and the host can then anonymously communicate via a disposable Twilio phone number created just for a reservation. In this tutorial, we'll show you the key bits of code to make this work.
To run this sample app yourself, download the code and follow the instructions on GitHub.
If you choose to manage communications between your users, including voice calls, text-based messages (e.g., SMS), and chat, you may need to comply with certain laws and regulations, including those regarding obtaining consent. Additional information regarding legal compliance considerations and best practices for using Twilio to manage and record communications between your users, such as when using Twilio Proxy, can be found here.
Notice: Twilio recommends that you consult with your legal counsel to make sure that you are complying with all applicable laws in connection with communications you record or store using Twilio.
The first step in connecting a guest and host is creating a reservation. Here we handle a form submission for a new reservation which contains the message and the guest's information which is grabbed from the logged in user.
Part of our reservation system is receiving reservation requests from potential renters. However, these reservations need to be confirmed. Let's see how we would handle this step.
Once the reservation is confirmed, we need to purchase a Twilio number that the guest and host can use to communicate.
Here we use a Twilio Node Helper Library to search for and buy a new phone number to associate with the reservation. When we buy the number, we designate a Twilio Application that will handle webhook requests when the new number receives an incoming call or text.
We then save the new phone number on our
reservation model, so when our app receives calls or texts to this number, we'll know which reservation the call or text belongs to.
Now that each reservation has a Twilio Phone Number, we can see how the application will look up reservations as guest or host calls come in.
When someone sends an SMS or calls one of the Twilio numbers you have configured, Twilio makes a request to the URL you set in the Twiml app. In this request, Twilio includes some useful information including:
Fromnumber that originally called or sent an SMS.
ToTwilio number that triggered this request.
In our controller we use the
to parameter sent by Twilio to find a reservation that has the number we bought stored in it, as this is the number both hosts and guests will call and send SMS to.
Next, let's see how to connect the guest and the host via SMS.
Our Twilio application should be configured to send HTTP requests to this controller method on any incoming text message. Our app responds with TwiML to tell Twilio what to do in response to the message.
If the initial message sent to the anonymous number was sent by the host, we forward it on to the guest. Conversely, if the original message was sent by the guest, we forward it to the host.
To find the outgoing number we'll use the
gatherOutgoingNumber helper method.
Let's see how to connect the guest and the host via phone call next.
That's it! We've just implemented anonymous communications that allow your customers to connect while protecting their privacy.
If you're a Node.js developer working with Twilio, you might want to check out these other tutorials:
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Thanks for checking out this tutorial! If you have any feedback to share with us, we'd love to hear it. Tweet @twilio to let us know what you think.