All my travel memories begin from searching something on Booking.com. I can still remember my first booking experience, 5 years ago. I was a bit sceptical at first but was quickly pleasantly surprised.
From creating an account, finding an apartment to finalizing the transaction and payment was amazing. Everything was super intuitive. Since that day, I have used the website 25 times and even though some things had changed, I still enjoy using it.
But what if you want to create something similar to this but even better? How do you go about it? If those are the questions you keep asking yourself, this article is for you!
What is Booking.com?
Booking.com was founded in 1996 in Amsterdam as a small Dutch startup. Geert-Jan Bruinsma notice a gap in online hotel reservations and decided to create a travel metasearch engine.
Booking.com’s mission is to ‘make it easier for everyone to experience the world’. It is available in 43 languages and offers more than 28 million accommodation listings. Apart from hotel booking, booking.com also offers a wide variety of flight tickets, car rentals and taxi services.
How is the reservation market doing?
The revenue of Booking Holdings from 2007 to 2019 shows that they experience steady growth. In 2019 they generated $15.07 billion in revenue and if you compare it to 2007 it is nearly a $14 million difference. The ability to make hotel reservations and other travel-related services online has made travel planning much simpler and faster.
What are the core features of booking platforms?
Generally speaking, we can divide those features into two categories: those dedicated to customers who want to rent accommodation and the ones for the owners of those apartments / hotels.
When you first visit booking.com, you will see features like:
- sign in / sign up - you can register / log in via e-mail or 3rd party accounts Facebook, Google or Apple.
- personal information / dashboard - user profiles display basic information like profile picture, name, age and county. Your personal dashboard stores information about your latest reservations, payment information and reviews
- search bar - the core functionality of the website, which allows you to search by the name of the hotel or by city. You can add to your searches the number of people you want to book for or the number of rooms. Additionally, you can filter the results by price, ratings, meals etc.
- geolocation - the map displays the location of the accommodation and can measure the distance between different places like train stations and landmarks.
- ratings and reviews - after each reservation you can answer some questions about your stay. Booking.com gives you the ability to rate staff, facilities, cleanliness, comfort etc. You can add photos and other comments to your review.
- mobile application - booking.com’s mobile application allows you to rent an apartment, get directions and plan your trip including popular tourist attractions.
- property management - you can register your property with a few simple clicks. Owners can add details like the number of rooms, beds, parking, meals available etc.
- booking management dashboard - if your property gets rented you will be informed via e-mail. Bookings can be confirmed or cancelled from the renter dashboard.
How to make money on a booking site?
There are three main business models used to generate revenue in travel agencies: advertising business model, merchant business model and agency business model. You can choose a dominant one, but also make use of others like Booking.com.
Advertising business model - TripAdvisor
In the case of TripAdvisor, the revenue is based on cost-per-click advertisements that are displayed on the website. Advert owners pay TripAdvisor a fee when a user clicks on the link, which redirects him/her to the advertiser’s website.
Merchant business model - Expedia
In this model, the travel website is a merchant and the bookings are made on the website itself. Those types of travel agencies buy a large number of hotels or hotel rooms to resell them from their website or application.
Agency business model - Booking.com
Booking.com is an example of an agency business model. In this model, the travel website is a connector between travellers and service providers and charges a commission for every transaction. Booking.com charges from 10% to 30% of each transaction made.
Booking.com bases 74% of its revenue on the agency business model, but also incorporates the merchant business model and advertising business model with 19% and 6.6% of revenue respectively.
What you should know before starting building a booking system?
When you are thinking about a new booking system you should first start with some investigation of the competition. You need to know what people want and what the market is lacking. Maybe travellers need more hotel rooms that allow pets? Or have special requirements when it comes to hypoallergenic beds?
Know your competitors
The current travel market has lots of solutions similar to Booking.com so you need to find a good niche to target. Booking.com currently competes with giants like TripAdvisor, AirBnB, HomeAway or Trivago.
You need to know your customers in order to succeed. This will help you find a group of people with similar needs. With knowledge like that, you can build the right marketing strategy and beat the competition. Maybe the target clients look for hotels with hot tubs? They can use HotelJacuzzi Or want to explore a particular region - they can go to Visit Australia or Life Elevated?
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” - Winston’s Churchill
Validate your idea
Having a startup may seem risky, but you should always have faith in your product. It will surely help to validate your idea before starting out and create a business plan. Some startups decide to outsource the development of their solution. An experienced team of engineers can definitely help you figure out the details. By contacting our Selleo team, you will gain answers to burning questions and get the estimation of the development time.
When starting out, you will definitely face the problem of not having enough reviews and ratings. Most users like to use websites that have some credibility. Personally, I think a good idea is to offer premium access for the first few weeks or months with extra functionalities. You can also offer discounts and lower your prices. This will give you an opportunity to attract users and gain their trusts and loyalty.
How much does it cost to create a website like Booking.com?
This is a question that does not have a straightforward answer. The price depends on many factors like tools used, design, functionalities. The more complicated the website, the more hours will your developers spend creating it.
Why do startups fail?
Statistics show that startups fail within just 20 months. I am not saying this to scare you, but rather raise awareness about some of the most common issues.
An obvious reason for failure is the lack of innovation in your product. As I mentioned above, the market is full of booking solutions, so you have to come up with something one-of-the-kind. The second problem is a lack of money. This can also be fixed by preparing a business plan and a rough estimation of time and resources needed to build the final product.
Another issue that causes failure is poor marketing and having a user-unfriendly product. Your website should be easy to use and all marketing strategies should align with your business mission.
How to create a successful travel website in 4 steps?
Step 1: UX/UI
An interesting, yet easy an intuitive UX/UI is crucial in a good website. In this step, you should know your expectations. When talking to a development company they will definitely ask you to provide detailed information about your idea. Then you will create a mockup based on it.
Step 2: Back-end coding
A back-end developer will talk to you about the general architecture of the website. You should tell him about the features and fields necessary for making a reservation. The developers will create models/graphs of how everything should work. After your feedback and approvement, the coding will start. Although, the back-end is the part of the website that is not visible to the end-user it is crucial. Server validations, routes between pages, fields and security concerns. At Selleo, we are working based on Scrum - that way you will be regularly informed about the progress.
Step 3: Front-end coding
While the back-end is in progress (or even is done) and the design is ready, the front-end team will move the design into the code. Developers work closely with the graphic design team in order to deliver the best product possible. The code will be tested in the newest and most used browsers to ensure there are no bugs and problems with your product.
Step 4: Release time
When an application is done it will be pushed to some hosting (ie. AWS, Heroku) and your clients can start using it. Of course, the work does not end here - there is a lot of places what can be improved.
You should always strive to improve your website to keep up with the trends and answer your customers’ needs.
Creating your own “booking” page can be a daunting process but even with the amount of competition present on the market, new startups are constantly appearing.
There are three models of how you can earn money through travel websites: advertising, merchant, and agency. Of course, you can combine them in the same Booking.com is doing it.
Choosing one of the models will help with the development estimation and also give the development team some spectrum knowledge of your proposal and how to help you.
The Selleo team can create a fully working, great travel website for you from scratch. Our fully-fledged team of engineers can handle the front-end, back-end, UX/UI, QA, etc while giving you time to focus on other business processes.
Feel free to contact us and book a call!