How to Create a Travel and Tourism Website in 2021

How to Make a Travel Website in 2021

Ray Bradbury once said that we travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost. Whatever the reason that makes you pack your bags and set on a new journey is the rule remains the same: always prepare for the next trip.

In the world recovering from COVID-19 companies related to travel & leisure tend to invest more money in travel website development knowing that people prefer booking tours, hotels, activities via the Internet. In spite of the online travel agent market has dropped down by 20% in 2020, it is expected to capture a growth of up to $820 bln yet in 2023.

Online travel agent market size
Image 1. Online travel agent market size. Source: Statista

Among world online agencies Expedia and Booking Holding dominate in the travel agency business. Popular Orbitz, HomeAway, Trivago, and CheapTickets belong to Expedia Group. In 2017 the last with its subsidiaries generated $10.06 billion in global revenue. Booking Holdings, which owns Kayak, Momondo, Cheapflights, OpenTable, suppressed its rival that year with global revenue of $12.68 billion.

This business is very versatile with tourism niches that can bring a stunning user experience for even the most sophisticated travelers. There is medical travel for people who need to improve their health. Town tourism and reunion family trips are trending in circumstances of closed borders. The energetic and active, who can’t imagine their life without sport, didn’t give up with the rejected movement addressing travel agents for new sports tourism opportunities in their country.

Today continually changing needs provoke to appear even of the most exotic niches like travel for people with special needs or and with pets services.

Keep reading to know our insights into travel website development, the proven business models by the cases of the most significant players in the market, an MVP, and its business value in travel website development. Finally, you will know how much it costs to create a lucrative business.

Types of travel websites

The number of employees in the global travel agency sector reached 1,2 mln in the pandemic 2020 year. The travel industry forced to adapt saw new horizons in the circumstances. Today on the agenda for many entrepreneurs is a question about how to start an online travel website making it a web sales channel to get a piece of the industry pie.

In a broad sense, a travel website is dedicated to booking offerings, trip fare comparison, and contains cognitive and entertaining content for people as articles, guides, visuals, and virtual tours.

You may wonder, where to start your online travel agency website development, how to find a unique market niche, and what features to use to reach the level. First things first, let’s discuss the most popular types of travel websites.

Today’s online travel market has various solutions aimed to help tourists on each step of their journey starting from the search for a place to stay to booking an exotic sightseeing tour with a travel planner to organize your activities. Depending on the needs of people preparing for a journey or on arrival each travel website is dedicated to its specific mission.

Transfer

The journey begins when a human has chosen a destination and searches for the most convenient way to get there. Transport search engines are resources where every traveler can compare options of several routes depending on the mode of transport, fares, connection flights, or intermodal connections.

Ex-Microsoft software engineers Bernhard Tschirner and Dr. Michael Cameron launched rome2rio.com in 2011 to make up for the absence of a fast and easy multi-modal travel search engine with global coverage, and they were right. Vast long-distance and local journey planning possibilities make a local tourism website popular far beyond home Australia.

Transport search engine
Image 2. Multimodal transport search engine Rome2Rio.

The highest value of flight search engines like Skyscanner, ClearTrip and Momondo is their comprehensive fare comparison by date, time, price, and class from thousands of airlines worldwide. Since air travel remains the most in-demand type of traveling, consider about to make a tourism website related to the air transport search.

Accommodation

Online travel providers understand tourists’ need to find a good hotel. They bring together travelers and hotels through the hotel booking websites. Such services allow choosing accommodation for any taste starting from cheap and modest hotel rooms to the most luxurious apartments and get the best hotel booking deal possible.

Booking.com was launched in Amsterdam in far 1996 and taken over by Booking Holdings in 2005 is an excellent example to be followed when considering how to make a travel booking website. It is a world leader in the market with over 29 mln listings worldwide with 94% of total Booking Holdings’ turnover. The customers value its affordable pricing, exclusive offers, broad geographical coverage, and the support of safe staying for a family vacation.

A good way to stand out from the competitors and win the market share is to innovate a new approach to hotel booking what Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk did in 2013. Airbnb disrupted the industry turning hospitality into a new way with sharing economy at its core.

Accomodation-sharing website
Image 3. Online marketplace and hospitality service Airbnb.

Couchsurfing, in its turn, enables people to kill two birds with one stone. With home exchange websites they can save on hotels by choosing a homestay and get a unique experience diving into locals’ cultural life. As you can see, everybody can build a travel booking website and find their way to do business.

Food

Aspiring to compete for a place in the sun, it is worth looking for some other niches rather than certainly striving to develop a website for travel agency.

Food is the stuff everybody absolutely needs. Restaurant booking websites work for travelers and public catering providers as an online network connecting reservation-taking restaurants and people who want to dine there. Tourists can make a reservation in advance even if they are on the other side of the world. What is more, with the onset of the lockdown dish fancied by the locals are available for delivery with a good discount.

OpenTable surely can be called a monopolist among online restaurant reservation services. Its owners see its mission in enabling people to find and book for free the perfect table for every occasion. Launched in San Francisco way back in 1998, the service was available in the United States only, however, for the last 20 years it extended its geography to Europe, Latin America, and Australia. OpenTable earns for a seat booked via it and software reservation tools.

Restaurant booking website
Image 4. Online restaurant-reservation service OpenTable.

Aggregators

Search for flights, hotels, cruises, and package holidays on separate websites take too much time. With travel metasearch engines travelers can see and compare all possible options in one place. Such engines gather information from hundreds of other websites and show travelers the best offering of plane tickets, hotels, car renting services, and activities.

One of the most popular travel metasearch engines is Kayak. It was founded in 2004 in the United States and acquired by Booking Holding in 2013 making money on the companies that travelers find on it. An information-only business model enriches a company with distribution and advertising revenue. It compares hundreds of airlines and travel websites in one single search remaining free for travelers and charging a cost-per-click fee for every lead to OTAs. Its business model highly appeals to entrepreneurs who want to create tours and travels website with an aggregation focus.

Travel metasearch engine
Image 5. Fare aggregator and travel metasearch engine Kayak.

Entertainment

Trips to historical landmarks attract those who want to raise their cultural awareness by getting the best price, skipping the line, and getting a spot on tour. Tours and activities websites help time-bound tourists find specific excursions or day trips and relieve them from being exhausted while looking over the search amount. Travelers find value in a great variety of options, from traditional sightseeing tours to unique VIP experiences, and entrepreneurs are inspired by their success to make a tour and travel website in the niche.

Viator is the most well-known tour website from this category. A global online marketplace that provides thousands of curated tours and activities available for booking was launched in 1995 in San Francisco with a further acquisition by TripAdvisor in 2014. Now it is the largest ready-made global retailer of local tours and activities.

Tours and activities website
Image 6. Tours and activities website Viator.

Interested in how to make an online marketplace related to travel services?

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The basic feature set to succeed with your travel business

We at Aimprosoft are aimed to help businesses be top tomorrow as well as today. Below it is shortlisted a basic feature set we recommend including in your development plan when planning how to make a travel website. Let’s see how to succeed with your travel website development now and later.

Easy search filters

Travel decision-making strongly depends on search. The more filtering options are available on your website, the easier it gets for a searcher to find a desirable option effortlessly.

When a user visits website Trip and chooses a hotel, an advanced search allows filtering results based on star rating, price range, booking policy, location, payment, available amenities and others. So, when doing a travel portal development, don’t forget to include these parameters to make online booking experience pleasant and humanized.

Travel website development
Image 7. Keywords, star rating, price range and other filters on Trip.

Predictive search

Predictive search is a simple drop-and-down menu that pops up immediately as soon as a user started typing the name of the place or airport. With its help, website visitors do not have to look through an endless list of irrelevant options. They quickly find a required item. Mobile users of a travel website would love this feature.

The standard predictive search option on Kayak totally responds to searchers being an example of how to create a travel website focused on direct consumers.

Predictive seach
Image 8. Predictive search on Kayak.

Images that message

Social networks with lots of visual content like Instagram or Pinterest are popular for a reason. People love watching beautiful photos. They inspire, enable a more precise message conveying via a travel blog. Visual content will appeal to your travel website right with a great copy and good deals to win your visitors over.

It is needless to say that for home-sharing websites high-quality photos serve as an excellent means of boosting their brand’s credibility. At the same time, the evocative, compelling, and keyword-rich copy that matches perfectly the design of your website helps to win the audience. Carefully-crafted content and expert opinion will drive a steady stream of new customers to your online travel agency or booking service.

The leadership of Locke hit the core issue with a travel booking site. See how perfectly the brand manages to combine big, high-quality photos with a compelling copy.

Image gallery
Image 9. Image gallery on design-led aparthotel Locke.

Want to get acquainted with technologies for the disruptive feature set for your travel website?

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Customer reviews

When tourists are going to share someone’s couch, they need to get as much information about their host as they can. Testimonials always enhance credibility be it a home-sharing service or a tour agency.

Turning over in your mind how to build a travel website, look how excited reviews from happy couchsurfers encourage people to follow their example and give Couchsurfing a try.

Travelers' testimonials
Image 10. Testimonials of happy guests on Couchsurfing.

Favorites list

The chances are that your clients have a list of preferred hotels or places they visit most often. In this case, the favorites list becomes a basic tool. With its help, users can save their time and do not need to start their search from the very beginning. Any tested flight, hotel, or holiday package will be found in a blink.

Favorites list
Image 11. My list on Travelocity.

Pricing

When users compare similar packages, they want to see the clear difference between them and how they influence the price. Display of confusing or outdated prices, hidden charges or taxes is a sure way of losing potential customers.

On Travelocity when any traveler selects a vacation package, for example, a flight+hotel, they see what services are included in the price. That is a truly fair practice to convert leads into customers adopting a common practice of a travel deals website.

Development of a converting travel portal has to include a customer-oriented pricing module
Image 12. Transparent pricing system on Travelocity.

Personalization

Google’s VP of engineering and shopping Oliver Heckmann notes that for modern travelers fast access to the information is not enough. What they need is a better, more personalized experience.

The study conducted by Google and Phocuswright in 2017 shows that 57% of the US tourists agree that online travel providers should tailor the content on their websites according to past behavior or personal preferences of their clients. Furthermore, 36% encourage brands to use this initiative by showing readiness to pay more for their services.

Kayak, for example, offers visitors personalized price alerts and promo codes in exchange for their emails.

Personalization on travel website
Image 13. Personalized offers on Kayak.

Call-to-action

Call-to-action (CTA) is a magic button or a link that serves as an instruction encouraging visitors to buy your product or to order your service at the right moment. The most popular CTAs are Book Now, Reserve, or Check Availability. The straightforward CTA increases the chances of turning a website visitor into a booked customer.

Expedia offers website visitors to book a hotel room with a clear call-to-action button reserve that can be a good addition to any travel booking site.

Travel call-to-action
Image 14. A smart call-to-action on Expedia.

Analytics

Online travel agencies commit a common mistake when they focus only on booking services and forget about those who have not chosen their destination yet, and need a bit of inspiration and encouragement in this matter. The analysis of search queries will help make a relevant offer to doubtful users. Besides, you will also understand what website functionality should be included in the product when planning to create a travel agency website upgrade for a new season.

Booking.com analyzes what places tourists have been searching the most often and offers various tours to any taste, from the UK’s best destinations to Australia’s most captivating islands. It shows how you should care about an analytical module or third-party add-on to be a part of your website.

Personalized offerings based analytical data
Image 15. Personalized travel offerings based on analytical data on Booking.com.

Want to know the power of efficient data management and how to monitor all the customers’ interactions to leverage the insights?

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Customer care

Customer care suppose any kind of help people may need on any step of their customer journey. It is focused on making the customer’s experience seamless and effortless. It may not be limited only by a traditional help section with the FAQ page in travel booking website development. Customer care is about giving a user what he needs where he needs it.

Booking.com offers a long list of available currencies to pay native for users from different countries.

Customer care on travel website
Image 16. The list of currencies on Booking.com.

Blog

Travel blogs encourage going into advantures. You have no right to ignore it as a feature if you take your travel portal development seriously.

When it comes to the content, there are two types of articles that perform best: listicles and educational content. Articles like “5 things you should know before going to…” or “10 places to visit in Europe this spring…” always get lots of shares. Just make sure that the items you listed are unique and were not mentioned by other travel bloggers. Asking an expert on a relevant topic to write a guest post for your blog and share their experience with readers will work well for your business as well.

Travel articles
Image 17. Preview of a listicle on The Culture Map.

Education content does not fall behind listicles. People always search for manuals, guides, and tips. Therefore, such evergreen content as “How to find cheap flights to…” or “How to stay organized while traveling” should become must-have publications. Make a travel agency website and dive your users into adventures with short videos for the best-performing posts as a travel guide website practices.

5 winning business models

We are all for profit in business. When it comes to the online travel market, there are the five most popular business models.

Click-based advertising

A company which uses this model charges advertisers cost-per-impression or-cost per-click rate. Let’s see how this model works on the example of Kayak.com. People use this resource for comparing different flights, hotels, holiday packages before booking them on other websites. They choose the required location, then Hotels and Kayak display a long list of the most suitable accommodations. When a user finds something to his taste, he clicks on “View details” and is redirected from Kayak to the advertiser’s page and books a hotel room there. At this point, Kayak will get money for each click even if it did not end up with a booking.

Transaction revenue

Owners of travel websites get transaction revenue when a traveler books a hotel or flight directly on their pages. This revenue is preferable since the commission on the booking price is several times higher than the pay-per-click rate. When users visit TripAdvisor, they repeat the previous actions (enters a location, chooses a hotel, etc.). On the page with a preferred hotel, below the similar search results, there is a subcategory called “Rooms”. These hotels are partners of TripAdvisor and can be booked via the website. If a traveler books a hotel in this way, TripAdvisor gets transaction revenue.

Display-based advertising

This modern term supposes displaying traditional banner ads. Hotels, cruises, airlines, and tour operators pay for such ads. The pricing model there is cost-per-impression or the cost per 1000 impressions, to be more precise.

Subscription model

Subscription model means that people get access to exclusive deals only after subscribing. For example, on Couchsurfing free users have only three options. They can host international travelers, attend free events and stay with local hosts. However, the subscription gives them additional opportunities, for example, receiving SMS with address verified or the ability to use the free-ad website or mobile app.

Commission

An industry leader Booking.com successfully adopts a business model previously used by brick-and-mortar travel agencies. The company signs a contract with hotels in its list and gets a commission varying between 10% and 30%. The hotel size and its rank on the pages of Booking.com define the scope of the commission.

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Cooperating with a web development company

Business analysis

Before the travel website or portal development starts, it is necessary to conduct your own market research and business analysis. You can take these tasks upon yourself, but it is much easier to ask business analysts of a software company to do that.

Well-advanced development companies know their job in travel agency website development. You will get online travel market insights, uncover some hidden perspectives and understand how to get the advantage of the upcoming trends like m-commerce resources, web and mobile apps adorable by millennials or ways to leverage the impact of social networks on travel.

Domain research clears up a basic scope of the project and helps find your niche corresponding to the goals that your online resource should achieve. Fixed functional, operational, and technical factors are a part of business requirements that will be a ground for developers on working under your website. We at Aimprosoft use a Statement of Work for this purpose.

Ready to make the first step but hesitate about remote collaboration? This overview based on the experience of Dell, Facebook, Buffer, and other IT industry leaders may help you decide.

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The launch of an MVP

A minimum viable product uncovers a true value of your business concept for users. The MVP of travel website has basic features for a quick go-to-market. It is launched to test the demand for your online travel agency, booking, or car rental service instead of releasing a long-delivering full-fledged product.

With the MVP you can gather the user base of the first adopters and get the insight into preferences and behavior of your target audience. You will understand better their wants and be able to build up features according to their demand, for example, a date drop-down or more convenient booking with additional payment options.

The advantages of making MVP are apparent, but they are not as advanced as avoiding large capital losses and reducing costs for website development for a travel agency.

Design

When dealing with web design, UI and UX concepts are equally important for the success of the development of your travel website or booking service.

The UI design is about the visual appeal of a website to book travel. High-quality images, carefully chosen fonts, and overall design style — all these user interface elements will catch the eye of visitors to the exquisite interior design of the hotels and call to buy a tour via your website.

UX defines how to create a tourism website convenient for users. It shows how easy they can pick a flight or choose the next holiday destination on your online resource. A visible, simple call-to-action button with a striking text in the right place, a good site navigation system, a natural booking process, and complete tourist information create a positive user experience and showcase the services your website has to offer.

The design is more of convenience than colors. We recommend focussing on offer-related design in the process of online travel website development to make users take the action you want them to do.

How much does it cost to make a travel website

The functionality you will add has a significant impact on travel website development costs and time for deployment. When you get down to website development for your travel agency define the scope of your future project.

The basic feature set of a full-fledged website includes search filters, predictive search, images, customer travel reviews, a favorites list, pricing, personalization, call-to-action, analytics, customer care, list of hotels, extra services, and blog.

The project will engage the following dedicated development team of 7-10 members skilled at the development of travel websites:

  • 1 Tech Lead
  • 2-3 Backend developers;
  • 2-3 Frontend developers;
  • 1-2 QAs;
  • 1 Project manager;
  • 1 Data Scientist if you are going to extract data from search queries.
  • When it comes to costs, a travel booking website development of full-fledged product within 6 months will cost you approximately $400 000 in the USA, £275 000 in the United Kingdom, €300 000 in Western European countries like Germany and around $150 000 in Eastern Europe (for example, in Ukrainian companies). Planning development, you surely can agree on the development time comfortable for you and take it slow.

    The launch of an MVP with starting functionality that includes search filters, booking capabilities, and tools for a small amount of content, one backend and one frontend developer plus a data scientist would be more than enough to create the project within a month. It will cost you $83 000 to hire US specialists, £57 000 to turn to the British developers, and €62 000 to use the services of the Western European experts. Eastern European developers will bill $31 000 and over for their services.

    Lastly, concerning a programming language, Scala is a good option for travel agency website development. Such popular brands as Expedia and Airbnb have chosen it for their websites. This choice stems from its scalability and high functionality. Besides, this language is perfect for Data Analytics. Kayak is built on Java, which is a good option due to JVM as well.

    Conclusion

    Now you have got a better understanding of the online travel market, its major players and their business models. You have seen our comprehensive view of the travel website development and got a rough estimate concerning the cost of a similar project. If you need help in getting your travel website up and running, feel free to contact us, and we will gladly share our professional expertise helping you make an online travel agency website.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the features of importance in travel websites in the post-pandemic world?
    The travel industry is going through a period of redefining itself in 2020. To sustain a business, you can add some trendy features. 3D tours can warm travelers’ interest in the desired locations where they plan to visit still. The online experience can cover real traveling during the pandemic. It is always a good time to prepare for a new season highlighting domestic traveling in your blog, taking quiz shows, and entertaining digital travelers.
    How to market a travel website in 2021?

    Usually, a user has a number of digital moments during several weeks researching their trip to the desired location. As people always dream about traveling, they somehow search for ideas for later. You have to be very close to help in their consideration using digital space especially Facebook and Instagram apps where people go for inspiration.

    2021 expects to be domestic-oriented, so you can repack your offer and get people traveled nationwide. Thus, offline ads will be in handy as well. Also, presence in local directories can convert people into avid local travelers.

    How to create an online travelling website?

    Since spring 2020, it is getting popular going out online to see the planet without leaving home.. The wanderlust can be satisfied partly with online walking tours at museums, galleries, city streets, countryside, hiking mounting, and even diving into the ocean without an aqualung.

    Online travel websites expect to look like a catalog of 360-degree VR movies with a user account, payment option, favorites, etc. We advise you to add a booking option similar to a familiar search to allow users to feel like they are going to travel offline.

    Do I need to start at all?
    A vaccine against COVID-19 is almost created, and the pandemic will end soon. The travel industry has a break now. Instead, it is time to prepare for the next era and discover a brand new there taking into account the effects of the pandemic. Meanwhile, travel website development may cost you less than in a time of high demand for services. That’s why do not hesitate and start your travel business in the digital space first.