an accommodation website, with emphasis on ease of use, attractive simplicity, browsing by map and accommodation features.
ideally it should be built in such a way to facillitate future expansions.
the spec is still slightly vague, and we are open to suggestions. will probably remember more nice-to-haves soon. however we're in a slight hurry so i wanted to put this project out there ASAP so discussions can begin.
here are the most essential components. given our limited time and budged, i realise some of these 'essentials' may have to get shaved off.
1) something similar to a generic product catalog. the 'products' will be accommodations, but only approximate rates will be stored. (no detailed season+rate+availiability or anything like that.) one wrinkle: different room types or suites will be stored for each product
2) customers must be able to search by filtering on grading, accom type, location, etc. and search results must appear on a map (much like cityguide or citysearch or whatever it's called). google maps is OK. this part must be easy to use, but allow users to change location either on the map or from dropdown/links. location change links must be google-spiderable, and the URL must contain the name of each location. search results must also appear as a list, with photo thumbnails.
2.5) clicking on an individual product will go to a screen showing full description, grading/features/attributs with icons, thumbnail photos which can expand to full photo.
3) customers can make an enquiry by entering dates & contact details & selecting rooms. this sends an email to sellers with an auto-login link, whereby they can then
4) submit a quote, or reject the enquiry, or ask for more information
5) customers can then pay for quotes by credit card (or payment can be manually processed by amdmin), and system generates appropriate invoices & such. payment can be either full amount or just deposit (deposit percentage set by seller)
6) each seller can "own" one or more products, and can edit descriptions, rooms, approx rates, and upload photos (system will make a thumbnail photo). management has the same abilities for all properties.
7) management can search for enquiries, products, users, destinations, by all fields, and see/navigate to related objects (e.g. search for an enquiry, click on that product, see the contact details of the owner, see their other enquiries, choose one, edit its status.)
8) management can create new "features" (attributes of products), and create and restructure the "tree" of destinations/locations/regions. features can have icons
9) a CMS for adding content pages to the sitemap. ideally with a wysiwyg html & photo uploading.
10) when customers make an enquiry, a passwordless account is made for them. their identity is stored as a cookie so their contact details can be auto-filled for new enquiries.
11) a rudimentary accounts ledger, with deposits onpayed and commission retained as line items. this applies to customers as well, so that
12) management can credit customer accounts with a kind of voucher. then, when they're going through the payment gateway or seeing how much they have to pay by other means, their postive balance will be shown as being deducted from total amount owing.
13) cancelled bookings will work similary - refunded amount added to customer account as credit and seller account as debit
14) "onpayment report" - showing all sellers with positive balances & amounts owed.
15) tax is going to have to go in there somewhere.
16) graphics & stylesheets -- we could do this part, especially if you make the design super simple. but if you can do a tasty but easy-on-the-bandwidth job, that'd be good too.
17) site must work rock solidly on IE5 thru 7, firefox, safari, whatever other mac browser is popular these days.
18) error reporting - any error must be emailed to admin email address and logged in a table [if it's email or DB that's the probelm, then the other method of reporting must still work]
i realise building that all from scratch is a big project. i'm hoping someone will have something pre-written that can be pulled into shape with our requirements. maybe a joomla exension. the existing accomomdation bookings seem to be a failure in the mapping & browsing & filtering department. on the other hand, we don't need the real-time availability/inventory.
some other nice-to-haves
- a rudimentary availability calendar so sellers can just enter rates and "booked out" date ranges, per room.
- ability to synchronise availability with other popular systems (galileo or whatnot)
- scanning of communications between customers & sellers to alert management if phone #s or email addresses exchanged.
- some kind of clever reporting on what percentage of enquiries get answered which way, how quickly
for inspiration see these products & sites - accommodationsoftware (nice & simple, but no maps), [url removed, login to view] (probably hard to see from a quick look what it does), [url removed, login to view] (nice, but not accommodation booking)