From New Idea to Launch to $54k Revenue Within 14 Days
Room-Res.com is a new player in the travel industry with big ambitions – to build the next-gen B2B wholesale hotel booking platform for travel agents to easily find and book the best hotel for customers.
The travel industry is notoriously known for being one of the most traditional industries, with a majority of bricks and mortar travel agencies still operating out of Excel spreadsheets, pen and paper. Room-Res saw a huge opportunity to introduce a technologically advanced booking engine that can not only make it easier for travel agents to find the best hotels online, but also gives agents the most competitive rates for each hotel through working with a range of wholesalers globally.
Dploy was fortunate to be commissioned to develop the booking platform from scratch and worked closely with the Room-Res design team to bring the idea to fruition.
Whilst the unique concept behind Room-Res sounds simple – a hotel search engine that aggregates and compares hotel room prices across multiple wholesalers, present the best search results based on price and hotel quality, and allow travel agents to directly book hotels on the platform for their customers – it is not easy to achieve either commercially or technically.
While conceptually simple, there were a lot of complexities in execution with various considerations to be taken into account:
- How complex is the API integration with each of the wholesalers? (each wholesaler uses their own formats and specifications, e.g. XML, WSDL, REST)
- How can search results be returned quickly to the user?
- Can we always return realtime rates that are up to minute, or do we need to cache rates for performance purposes?
- How should we prioritise search results to maximise value for travel agents? (e.g. cheapest rate, best hotels, or custom combination with different weighting for each)
- How should we handle errors if we experience downtime with any of the wholesalers?
- Do we offer Room-Res as a service and allow 3rd party platforms to integrate with us via API?
The main concern was around building an app that was capable of handling and manipulating large data sets from suppliers providing inventory with very different structures and conventions.James Mooring, Strategy & Product Director @ Room-Res.com
After a year of finalising the concept, proposition, commercial relationships and UI design, the goal was to launch the first prototype of the platform within 6 months and onboard the first batch of travel agent users before Christmas. With travel being a highly seasonal industry, the objective was to allow Room-Res to gain traction during the Xmas peak season bookings and build initial momentum as a new business.
As with all new ideas and businesses, there is no shortage of features to be implemented, so the key first step is to discuss and agree upon a scope that is both committed to the final objective and in line with the project deadline.
Through close collaboration with Room-Res, we identified features and customer paths that are critical to launch, and consciously made decisions to de-prioritise non-critical features into subsequent post-launch phases.
Once Scope is Clearly Defined:
The next priority was to map out a full list of user functionality (e.g. login, search for a hotel, make a booking, view recent bookings). This provides a single source of truth for all involved parties to how the platform works and a product backlog for launch.
With a clear map of functionality to be implemented, we proceeded to design the platform architecture (e.g. API layer, authentication mechanisms, how the application scales) and made recommendations on the technology stack to use to achieve the best balance between time-to-market, performance and scalability. In this case, we went with Laravel, ReactJS, PostgreSQL, Convox running on Amazon AWS infrastructure.
Only then does our developers commence actual database design and development work, converting high level concepts into backend application code in PHP Laravel. During this time, our frontend developers also work in parallel to convert supplied platform design files into frontend code using ReactJS.
The final piece of the puzzle involves connecting the backend with the frontend to deliver a working prototype. Throughout development, incremental progress is made available on a staging environment, on which we will perform testing and gather feedback with the Room-Res team.
Once the application is deployed into production, we worked closely with Room-Res to help onboard an initial set of travel agencies, helped resolve any bugs that were identified post-launch, and worked with the Room-Res CTO to lay the groundwork for the roadmap for future upgrades and new features for the platform.
Within the first 14 days of launch, Room-Res signed up over 60 travel agencies and over $54,000 worth of hotel bookings was made on the platform. Some other key metrics include:
- Over 500 bookings in the first 3 months
- Over 300 agencies signed up since launch
- 40%+ Month-on-Month increase in agencies signed up each month since launch
- 50%+ Month-on-Month increase in travel agent users signed up each month since launch
- 30%+ conversion rate on users making a booking after searching for a hotel each month
- $54,000+ in booking revenue within the first 14 days
What Room-Res Has to Say
Despite having not worked in the travel vertical before, Dploy instantly grasped the nature of the challenges we faced and were able to clearly articulate a development plan for achieving our end goal in language that we as non-developers could understand and take confidence from. It was this combination of a capability that inspired confidence with an ability to explain the development work to both those who are technically minded and those who are commercially minded that made us decide to go with Dploy.
There were a number of things that we enjoyed about working with Dploy – the incredibly high quality of the work, the solution-focused approach when we hit road bumps and the capability to describe complex development challenges in non-technical language. But the one thing we liked most was the commitment that Dploy had to our project – they felt like they were part of the team and were as passionate and emotionally invested as us in getting the product perfect, with the result that we always had total confidence and trust in them.
We would recommend Dploy to anyone considering a major development project without a doubt. They were part of the team – passionate, committed and fun to work with – and the quality of their work is absolutely top-notch. They have developed a platform that we are really proud of, but more importantly works fantastically well.
We were very happy with the outcome that was achieved – it absolutely met our initial objectives for what success looked like. James Mooring, Strategy & Product Director @ Room-Res.com