Looking for hotel booking software.
January 23, 2009 11:56 AM   Subscribe

If someone wanted to build a website that allowed online booking for multiple hotels, what inexpensive off-the-shelf software/CMS could be incorporated?

The business idea: cheap hotel rooms (from one geographic area) are resold online.

The site would need to:

1. Present room options and availablity via calendar.

2. Allow automated and manual inventory management (removal and addition of available hotel rooms) by the site administrator.

3. Allow the addition and removal of participating hotels by the site administrator.

4. Generate a comfirmation email for each booking.

5. Accept PayPal.

All suggestions will be warmly accepted and appreciated.
posted by davebush to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure there's any CMS that would be ready to do something like that off the shelf. What you're looking for is less "content management" and more "booking and reservation system."

If you use a pre-existing CMS like Joomla! or Drupal, you'll end up writing custom plugin modules to handle the custom functionality you're looking at. Drupal, for example, can present information in calendar form, and lets you build relational hierarchies of custom content types, like hotels -> rooms -> reservations, but wiring those pieces together with custom application logic and making them all work together in the way that you like will not be a 'turnkey' kind of thing.

If you go with a more traditional web app development framework, like CakePHP or django aod Rails or what not, you'd do more custom development but might find it easier to deal with your own code rather than some other project's "native" architecture.

If neither of those options sounds appealing, you might poke around and see if there are any turnkey apps for reservation management that you could use. I have the feeling you may need to do custom code for some portions of it no matter what direction you take.
posted by verb at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2009

Good luck. That's a lot more than a CMS. It's closer to a shopping cart, but it is not that either.

You'll definitely be better off starting by looking for reservations software that you can customize, but most of what you're asking for screams "custom development" and five or six-figure budget to me.
posted by rokusan at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2009

How does this differ from existing hotel booking services? Do you understand why cheap hotels are excluded from all current hotel booking services? Is it kickbacks, software, both, etc.?

I've found the major issue with hotel booking services is how they hide information, such as the phone number, before you make your booking. I stick to only wikitravel.org and hostelz.com since they don't hide information. I imagine you could build a successful business on providing more open access to data about the hotels.

A more useful project might simple be simply expanding the hotel resources on wikitravel.org. If you want a business, why not specialize in getting hotels and hostels listed on existing booking service sites. In that case, if software, not kickbacks, limits cheap hotels membership in major booking services, then why not offer some more user friendly interface into the existing network. For example, you could just email them whenever they get a new booking, and let them call the client back if there is a problem.

You can build a successful dotcom in a saturated market, witness facebook's defeat of myspace, but only if you're amazing at both interface design and programming, and such a person wouldn't even be asking for tun-key solutions.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:33 PM on January 23, 2009

Response by poster: I'm not really looking for an evaluation of the business model - this idea isn't mine. I'm interested in finding software that comes close to filling the needs I listed.
posted by davebush at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2009

While you should certainly mark Rokusan's answer as "best", you might want to check out this restaurant reservation software.
posted by shownomercy at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2009

Well, with you might check out the OpenResort module for the Drupal 5 CMS. Anticipate a fair bit of configuration / customization, though.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 2:42 PM on January 23, 2009

I've worked (on the design/UX side) for a multi-hotel booking engine with something like 1500+ hotels in it, very carefully - as in "personally visited and rated by the staff carefully" - selected, for eight years and everything was custom made (and constantly upgraded) by developers. I am rather skeptical about out-of-the-box solutions as flexibility (on the hotel owner side, mostly) is key to the success of the operation of such sites, and you would have to take into account an HUGE number of variables which, as far as I know, even the most advanced packages have an hard time dealing with.
posted by _dario at 3:29 PM on January 23, 2009

This appears to be a hosted solution but you can play with the CSS. They charge a fee per booking, but have some sort of re-seller deal as well.
posted by dripdripdrop at 4:58 AM on January 25, 2009

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