Traveling to places without knowing much about local attractions is a thing of past. With travel research and booking portals, travelers need not to bother much about missing places of interest in their next destination. Travel planning and booking marketplaces are trending in startup world due to their high demand and profitability
If you are eager to build a website that connects travelers with locals in all major tourist cities of the world, this detailed feature guide is made for you. This post explains the business and revenue model of travel portals with unique features. Before talking about the features, let’s first understand business model.
The business model revolves around travelers as most of these websites connect travelers with locals. Locals list personalized services (guided tours, fun activities etc) and travelers book these activities directly from the travel site.
Demanding work and shorter vacations means people need to make most of few days they have, Here are some sites that helps people book travel experiences and discover new ones:
Founded In: 2011
Headquarters: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Prefecture
Estimated Revenue: $3M
Founded In: 2012
Headquarters: San Francisco, California
Estimated Revenue: $1.3M
Founded In: 2010
Headquarters: Sacramento, California
Estimated Revenue: $1.1M
Building a travel experience booking site with a local twist can be a hugely profitable deal. provided you know how these websites make money.
Usually, such websites generate revenue from two mediums:
Commission from bookings
Charge fixed commission for every booking made from the website. To get initial registered users, you can opt for a lower commission fee.
Few websites give customized trips to users where an expert team helps the traveler choose a destination and suggest him the best activities.
Offerings like airport transfers, accommodation, local transportation, and premium itinerary can also be added to your business.
Customizing trips for users is also a good revenue generation method. Many travel websites are earning good revenue from both of these monetizing options. Now it’s time to study the website features in detail.
Keep the overall website design neat with a user friendly interface. No clutter of images or text should be there as it hinders user experience. Let’s study important sections that you need to work upon:
Homepage must clearly state what the site is about. The first fold of homepage should contain a search bar along with names of top destinations mentioned under it. Other sections can include:
The most important links to add in top navigation are List an Experience, Log In, Sign Up and Request a Trip. Website’s top navigation should be as simple as it can be. Our team of information architects suggests you to go only with the most important links in the top navigation and leave the rest for the footer.
Let’s move on to more critical features, and see which ones your travel experience booking site cannot do without.
Travelers are the people who will spend the money on listed tours and packages. Hence, features related to them require special attention. Most critical features on different pages of famous travel websites have been discussed below:
A search feature must be provided where users can search for activities and things to do in any city. Main highlights of Search feature:
The page which lists activities/things to do in a particular city must have a crisp design along with:
Filter functionality should be given on activity listing page to help travelers sort experiences by interest, popularity, reviews, price etc. Filters come handy when you have quite a number of activities listed in a particular city. So, make sure your travel portal brings this feature.
As soon as a user clicks an activity from the listings page, take him to the dedicated activity page. On this page, users will get all the information about the activity. He can choose to book it, contact the provider, and seek answer to his queries.
A section of related activities can also be added to the end of this page in case the listed activity doesn’t interest the visitor.
Photographs and videos about the activity can be showcased in a special section. Add a carousel slider where all images of that activity can be seen with one click.
Just below the images section, feature activity provider’s information. This section is important as the explorer will want to learn about the person providing this experience.
Give a brief intro about the provider in the “Your Guide” section on Activity detail page. This info can be fetched from the profile page of the Guide and a link to his “Full Profile” can be given too. Following are the components to include on the profile page:
Though these features are basic in nature, they must be part of your portal as they help gain trust of the traveler. We’ll discuss a unique verification feature for activity providers in the upcoming sections.
Reviews help travelers check expertise of service providers. Add reviews section on the activity details page to help travelers choose the right person for their travel plans.
Pro Tip: Along with reviews, a star option can also be given to travelers by which they can give star rating to the activity and service provider.
Moving further down the activity detail page, a special map can be integrated to inform travelers about exact location of the activity. This again is a traveler friendly feature and should definitely be included in your travel site clone. If building on a clone script, confirm this feature for better user experience.
Very similar to “Also Check” or “You may Like” section in an ecommerce shopping website, this feature will help you list nearby experiences (activities). More activities can be displayed within this widget.
Travelers might book 2 or more activities while on their trip in a particular city, and that is the main motive of this section. This feature also enables travelers to share more travel options.
In addition to “Nearby Experiences”, you can add various other attractions to activity detail page, like following:
‘Making Reservation’ feature is the backbone of any travel booking portal as this is from where the company and providers earn money. A traveler can book any experience from the activity details page by providing details like date, time and number of people.
While some activities have instant bookings, others have to be approved by the service provider.
Integrating a secure payment method is important for every ecommerce business, and successful travel businesses understand it well. The payment process on your site must be streamlined with a neat interface. Make sure you accept payments from major payment processing firms viz. Visa, MasterCard, Amex, PayPal and Discover Cards.
Pro Tip: Choose a clone script that comes with multiple payment gateways. Only then you plan to compete with big players like Vayable and Peek.
Useful options should be given in the account menu for registered users. For instance:
You can add this feature to ask for a customized trip. Few companies are offering tailored plans. These companies make a customized travel plan, which includes the best activities in a particular city along with booking of accommodation, airport transfers, local transportation, etc.
This feature works best for people who do not want to spend their time making bookings and want everything pre-planned. We suggest you to offer such additional services to the users of your travel experience booking site.
‘Give a Gift’ option enables users to purchase an electronic gift card. The gift is usually a coupon code which can be used later by anyone. Do not skip the discount coupon feature in the booking and payment section of your clone. This will help you capture price conscious audience.
Offer free listing if you want to attract more people to join your portal. Here are the most interesting features for the actual service providers:
This is the area where anyone can list an experience of a city/locality. The main highlights of this section include:
Some sites give badges of distinction to top guides (activity providers). These badges are showcased on profile to help travelers know that the person is credible.
Add this feature to your travel discovery clone and motivate travel enthusiasts to deliver excellent service.
Activity providers should be given complete control on their site presence. Following are important links for this section:
Adding a blog which publishes travel related posts and news on regular basis is a must for travel selling businesses. The presence of a blog is important to reach targeted audience through informative posts and also search engines. Make sure that your clone script comes with a blog powered by an easy to use CMS.
Here are design & development recommendations from our team of UX designers to build a better travel portal than existing ones:
Travel and ecommerce sites have overtime opted for floating navigation bar which remains on the top even if you scroll down. This also makes navigation easy and improves user experience.
As a travel website lists many activities on the activity listing page, a ‘Go to Top’ button is important. “Go to Top” button will save the hard work that otherwise will be put to browse through the activities and return all the way up by scrolling.
After hotel booking sites, activity booking sites are the next big thing of travel industry. If you are planning to launch a replica of popular travel selling platforms, then, this is the best time to do it.
Make sure you buy a script that fits your website requirements and includes all the above listed features. In case you want to launch something unique but similar to top brands, consider hiring an experienced team of designers and developers.
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