After undertaking in-depth study of revenue generation model and website features of top hotel search portals , Business Analysts at FATbit Technologies came up with new ideas and better functionality for entrepreneurs planning to join the world of hotel search engines. Let’s first learn how these websites make money, and handle website functionality.
Most of the popular travel sites are free to use. A visitor can search for hotels and book them without creating an account as all the bookings and payment process is handled by the actual booking website.
So, from where do they generate revenue?
FATbit analysts discovered that most of travel portals earn revenue from lead generation method. Affiliate marketing model is critical to these sites as they get commission when a user books a hotel from any of the websites listed with them.
The leading hotel booking websites to get affiliated with are Hotels.com, PriceLine.com, Amoma, Travelocity, Expedia, Booking.com, Venere.com, Agoda.com, MakeMyTrip.com etc.
Trip Advisor, Hotelscompare, Trivago, Hotelscombined are few sites you can look up to if you plan to join this industry. To build a site along the lines of successful businesses get a clone script that includes all major features. The most important website features required to create a travel comparison website are following:
Make use of country specific domains to improve visitor experience. Each country domain should be specifically designed keeping the country’s official language and currency in mind.
The best treatment for a creating a website that targets global audience is to take visitors to country specific page and welcome them with a search bar in the middle of the first fold. Make the search bar prominent and give a clear message about comparing hotel prices. Your clone script should have a similar search bar.
Following a two step Sign-Up procedure in which a user puts in his email ID first and gets an option to choose a password for his account upon verification of the email sent by travel site. This feature is quite unique and helps avoid spam accounts being created on the website.
In the sign-up form, try to ask for no other details except the email ID and password. However, once an account has been created, give option to add and edit more details by signing in.
As these portals search for hotels, home-stays, hostels and resorts in many countries, all hotels of a particular country are listed in their respective database. So giving an option to the user to choose a particular country in the first fold of the homepage makes sense.
– Choosing a country should automatically display all hotel prices in that country’s currency.
– Make sure that different currencies can also be chosen from the list as per user convenience.
Even if you do not plan to have a vast website, like Trivago or TripAdvisor, get a clone script that gives few currency and language related options.
Just below the search bar, add a section which contains the ‘Top Cities’ and ‘Top Destinations’
–Make top destinations differ for each country website depending on the popular tourist destinations.
– Mention the minimum price along with each city and destination to motivate a user to click.
Check out our footer suggestions for your own website under “UX and Design improvements for a better travel comparison website later in the post.
As it’s about building hotel search engine, the core functionality of the website is based on search. Let’s study how the search feature works along with few areas where your website can be further improved.
– Auto suggestions for places as you type in the search bar.
– Instant results below the search bar.
– Add a calendar to let users choose the check-in and check-out dates, as soon as users select a city.
– Offer sorting of hotel search results on the basis of popularity, ratings, price and distance.
– List hotels in the search results based on popularity (by default).
Apart from sorting options, some useful filter options can be provided too. These include:
– Filter by stars: One star, two, three, four or five star hotels.
– Filter by price: To let a user select the price range to display the results.
– Distance: Option to choose the distance from city center.
– Hotel Size Option
– Top Options like: Wi-Fi, pool, spa, beach, restaurant etc.
Filter options are really important when a user searches for hotels online. FATbit analysts recommend using advanced filter options in your hotel search engine too.
A special map view option can be fruitful if provided to users so that they can book a hotel according to their location requirements.
– The Map can be zoomed in and out just like Google Maps.
– List hotels on the map with ratings and price.
– Ensure if a user can click on the main hotel image to see more images of the hotel.
– Give option to enlarge images to be seen in a carousel gallery format.
Your website should also have some kind of rating system for hotels. Make sure the clone script you choose has the functionality to fetch ratings given on booking sites through APIs.
Add another tab on the hotel listing to show the distance from the city center. Map integration is a very important feature as it gives the exact location of the hotel. It helps a user know where the hotel is located and he can even make the decision of booking the hotel based on the surroundings. Most of the clones do not have map integration feature and if they do, then, the map is not interactive.
Important information about the hotel should be provided in the third tab of a listing.
Include top features, payment methods, room features, hotel features etc. This tab is meant to give a quick overview to the user about the hotel.
This tab is meaningful if you want to add deals too. Get the minimum price listed on the top with a “View Deal Button”. The feature should be such that when a user clicks on “View Deal”, he is taken to the respective hotel booking site from where he can book the hotel by making the deal price transaction.
Planning to start an online travel website?
– A history for all the hotels browsed by user must get saved.
– This feature is meant for registered users as well as visitors.
– Offer option to registered users to manage their search history by removing the unwanted results.
– This feature will work by making use of special cookies.
Search history enables a user to select the best hotel among all those that he has browsed. This feature is normally used by ecommerce sites which motivate a user to buy a product by showing the recently browsed product. This feature can do wonders for your Travel comparison clone site as well.
It is always hard to select a hotel when users have so many options. Add a feature where users can add hotels to their favorite list. The favorite list can be displayed in the side widget. Using this, users will be able to add hotels to the favorite list by clicking a heart shaped icon provided on each listing.
Moving a step forward from the adding to favorite feature, another functionality which lets users compare hotels added to the favorite list is crucial for a hotel search engine.
The comparison list must include: price, reviews, top features, number of rooms, type of lodging, payment methods, hotel facilities, room facilities, sports facilities etc.
A comparison feature is very important for a hotel search website as it helps users make final decision amongst shortlisted hotels. This is one feature which should definitely be there in the clone script you finalize for your TripAdvisor or Trivago like website.
If a user stays inactive for more than 30 minutes, then, an inactivity message should appear on the screen. This feature is quite good for a hotel search engine site which gathers prices from 250+ different sites as the prices might have changed in the meantime when a user was inactive. This includes:
– A pop up automatically appearing in the centre of the screen with a clear message.
– A refresh button which can be clicked to refresh the page.
Such feature is mostly used by sites dealing with air travel bookings as air fares keep on changing frequently. But we do recommend using this feature on your clone too.
You can add a special product named Hotel Manager where a hotel owner can make his account and fill in the details about his hotel on your site.
Essential Features of Hotel Manager:
– Create an account.
– Add hotel photos.
– Special tools to add content to a hotel listing.
Hotels having all the details can be shown above the rest hotels in search results.This feature should be added to motivate hoteliers to fill complete information about their hotel.
Every registered user must have an option to join the community. It is basically a platform through which users can interact with one another and earn credits. It should work like this:
– Members can send direct messages to other members.
– Members can apply to projects posted by travel website.
– Member gets paid in credits for completion of the task.
– An option to get the credits converted into cash.
– Payouts can be requested through Paypal.
Our team found that this feature is like a freelancer platform where a community member does a small task to improve travel search engine and can earn money in return.
Adding this feature in your hotel comparison clone will give work opportunity to hundreds of people and will also let you gather hotel database at a low cost.
A mobile app for Android as well as iOS devices is a must for travel as statistics show that most of travel related searches take place on the go. Keep the functionality of the mobile app similar to website.
Social media presence for a website dealing with travel really helps in getting more visits. Make sure that your clone script has impressive social media features that include following:
– Sharing of hotel listings on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
– Sharing of hotel comparison results.
Don’t forget to add a company blog where you publish interesting posts including top hotels, top destinations etc. Having an integrated blog will open more scope to reach your targeted audience through blogging. Few more benefits for integrating a blog are been listed below:
– It can be monetized with promotional posts of hotels.
– Some sort of festival discounts can be given through blog.
After careful study, FATbit Technologies has the following improvement areas for travel comparison site clone:
The search result page must not look cluttered. The user interface of this page can be improved by providing more white space in between hotel listings.
We would suggest an interactive footer with small thumbnails or country flags along with their names for sites targeting global audience.
Give social media sharing options for the favorites list. People are more likely to share their favorite tourist places rather than sharing a particular hotel. We found it missing on many websites.
Tour and Travel industry has seen a tremendous growth in recent years and this business has a promising future. If you are thinking to enter this industry with your own website built along the lines of successful brands then, this is the right time to do so. Make sure you do not settle down with a script filled with flaws; hire professionals to build your customized site with advanced features.
Learn how much will it cost to build a travel website
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