Questions about developing an online booking system for a directory site.
May 26, 2011 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Howdy, We're in the early stages of developing an online directory site that will include online booking capabilities similar (if not exact) to something you might see on a vacation rental site. Due to my limited knowledge on the subject, I thought I might plead for some help answering a couple simple questions.

Despite my lack of web development knowledge, I've been handed the responsibility of collecting information about potential platforms for the website.

In the past, I've always used Wordpress as a kind of catch-all solution, and for the most part I've always been able to find extensions to handle whatever I need. In this instance, I have found some Wordpress solutions for online booking, but I'm not sure what limitations Wordpress might have for a site of this type.

I've also come across some third-party solutions, but my project manager does not want to rely on a third party system for bookings because it forces users to leave the site and we're also essentially at the mercy of their future development (or lack thereof).

So my questions are:

1. What programming language / platform would be suitable for a project of this type? Specifically to handle online booking/reservations, as well as payment and escrow (we'll be holding on to payments until the transaction has been confirmed by both parties).

2. Would it be crazy to consider Wordpress a viable platform?

Bonus points for anyone that might be able to give a top-of-the-head difficulty rating for building something like this.

Any information is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

- Michael
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Best answer: I'd start with a WP directory theme like this one, kick it around and see how far, functionally, you can get. You can also buy a less fully featured WP directory system and then buy a Gravity Forms license. GV is gorgeous; for your bookings you just build one form and it will pick up the listing number and date details from your listing, submit the booking and carry the data right through payment.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:24 PM on May 26, 2011

Best answer: 1. Whatever you already know, have knowledge of, or know someone you can hire. PHP, Ruby on Rails, .Net...they all can do this.

2. Maybe. Does Wordpress have a "meetings" plugin? What I read you talking about is an event calendar, where the rented assets are the "events," the calendar is the availability for each "event," and any signed-up user can create a reservation, a.k.a. "a meeting," that lasts days. Change some words around and make the default view to be a list of "events," or available assets, filtered by an optional date range.

I'd rate the difficulty as "medium," due to scheduling complexity and e-commerce integration.
posted by rhizome at 3:25 PM on May 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far.

@DarlingBri - I'll look into that WP Theme. I've been aware of Gravity Forms for a while, but I didn't realize it had that kind of functionality.

@Rhizome - Thanks for the programming suggestions. You're essentially correct, we're going to be allowing users to rent out assets and we require a system for booking those assets, scheduling availability and holding/processing payments.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 3:34 PM on May 26, 2011

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