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I've had NO luck getting local businesses to advertise. The site is for visitors so it has to include local businesses that have something to offer visitors but the local businesses in question don't care if they're on the site or not.
The solution I've come up with is to find online booking software then approach local tour, hotel, event businesses and work with them to book their rooms, tours or events in exchange for a percentage.
Does anyone know of any software that would work?
Reservations/bookings software is a highly specialised task. Inventory management, pricing, yield management and availability search are much trickier issues than for systems selling physical products.
Take pricing rules alone: a hotel room's price can vary according to:
* the day of week you occupy it -- deals at weekends.
* when you book it -- 10% off if you book before Easter.
* how long you stay -- 5% discount for stays over 5 nights, provided one of them is a Saturday.
* what type of room you think you are booking -- you may book a single room but be physically allocated a double.
* how big your party is -- free child place in June; 10% off for parties of more than 6 adults,
* booking channel -- different price for phone vs agent vs internet booking.
* How flexible your room type request -- cheaper if you don't specify first-floor, away from lift, sea-view, even though that's where you may end up anyway.
* Regular customer discounts.
* Anything else a hotelier can dream up on a whim to sell that last room.
The pricing rules can (and do) get mind-boggling. Each hotelier has their own set -- and their pricing rules may change daily as they manage yield (ie try to shift slow-selling units).
It's a world of pain out there, and there's no cheap generic booking software that I know of.
You might try checking with x-cart.com they have a good shopping cart system that is inexpencive, open source, in PHP, and customizable. They offer a service to customize the cart for $17 hour. Might be worth dropping them a line and getting a quote.
PS: If you do do get a quote form them please post what they tell you here. I would be interested in it too as the company I work for owns a company that rents various items and wants to start doing so online.