I know many will tell me about how I should make money out of this, but I don't think in this present system of chaos, abuse, and misinformation anybody can have a decent working business model. I'll be happy to just show how disposable they really are to both hostels and travelers.
Some goals for hostel owners:
- To own the data and be able to pull out as they please, no lock-in.
- Simple way to have their own data layout to play with, thus avoiding multiple reservation tracking systems.
- Zero cost.
- Minimum possible technical knowledge requirements.
- Have a fast availability system either global or on the hostel's page.
- No credit card required.
- Easy reservation form request with confirmation by email/phone confirmation (most hostels have this already in place.)
- Google Docs (it shouldn't be that hard to switch to alternatives and it's a sort of neutral brand for everybody.) Spreadsheet to manage and export the reservations, Forms to receive the reservation requests, Gadget with the core logic and easy to place inside even static pages hostels have, Sites for the central page.
So it's one spreadsheet with two worksheets and a form, per hostel.
On the legal side this site could be set with these:
- Use only Creative Commons non-commercial share-alike license for the all published data (the shared bit of the spreadsheets, not all the data!)
Missing but possibly easy to implement features:
- Internationalization and localization (existing booking systems suck at this, also.)
- A sane way to make a guarantee to replace deposits (e.g. ask for a $1 paypal/amazon donation to a range of charities like EFF, CC, or WaterAid.)
- Hostel media hosting or display (i.e. pictures, videos, descriptions.)
- A fair review system (well, not that easy due to the abundance of trolls.)
It can be placed on any static page with just this iframe: