There’s been some great online resources published and platform’s released since you first posted this comment so I thought I’d share some recent updates.
For context, I previously founded Clean Travel, a marketplace for sustainable tours and activities and currently run Tashi, which is a Saas no-code platform specifically for travel marketplaces. We launched this year (2020) but already powering 10+ large travel marketplaces globally.
DO THE RESEARCH
Firstly you should invest some time in researching best practice. Read up on Sara Tavel’s (Benchmark VC) The Hierarchy of Marketplaces and Lenny Rachitsky’s (Airbnb) How to Kickstart and Scale a Marketplace Business. They’re both great resources—long reads but worth your time.
THE 3 QUESTIONS
When it comes to a marketplace, there are 3 BIG things you need to worry about:
1. How to get Customers
2. How to get and to manage Suppliers
3. How to connect them (the tech)
THE MOST IMPORTANT element of this is ‘How to get Customers.’
Surprisingly not everyone gets this! They spend a lot of their time worrying about how to get suppliers and what tech to use.
But, if you have customers, you’ll have no problem getting suppliers - I guarantee it.
And with regards to the tech, every minute you spend worrying about the tech is a minute you’re not selling.
For a Travel marketplace, while the tech is important, IT WILL NOT be the reason you succeed! Outsource it to an expert so that you have more time to spend on your USP. Competition is fierce, so you’ll succeed because of your sales, marketing, brand distribution channels etc.
The mistake I made when I started cleantravel.org was that I spent all of my time manually managing my suppliers and building my tech, which meant that I wasn’t investing near enough time in sales. I learned the lesson the hard way so that you don’t have to and the things I learned inspired me to build Tashi. We offer a fast, flexible and scalable multi-vendor travel marketplace that’s personalised to you, your suppliers and your clients. Check us out: https://tashi.travel/solutions/enterprise-travel-marketplaces
It lets your sell accommodation, tours and extras, all in one and our advanced supplier extranet means that you can automate your supplier and guest management.
THEN and NOW
Previously if you wanted to start a travel marketplace, you had 2 options from a tech perspective. (a) You can hack together a cheap janky bloated WordPress site, or (b) spend $100k+ on a custom-built basic MVP if you can source the money. Ideally, you’d go for (a) before moving up to (b). I initially did (a) with Clean Travel and I know a lot of people that have lost a ton of $ by doing (b) and then having to close their business months later due to a lack of traction.
At Tashi, you can get started for a fraction of the cost and time of a custom build. It has all the features you’ll need, and we’re already powering popular marketplaces like Deluxelife.com.au, Apporiginee.com, Cleantravel.org, Adventure.org and NotonMap.com.
P.s. There are more generic e-commerce Saas Marketplace platforms like Sharetribe etc., but they can’t handle the complexity of selling and managing accommodation and tour products. We’re travel-specific - our expertise is what makes us different. ??
When starting with the marketplace, it's best to go with Reactjs. Even the biggest travel marketplaces are using Reactjs to build its complex user interfaces. In addition to that Reactjs can work on both server and client.
Then here comes the question, which server side script should I use for web services?
To make your job easy for developing the travel activity marketplace, I would say RentALL script is the best choice. RentALL - Airbnb Clone Script is the vacation rental software, and includes features such as fee/commission management, guest reviews/ratings, housekeeping management, owner statements, payment processing, property database, and reservations management. Visit the website for more details - https://www.rentallscript.com
You can go with FunAway as it is specially designed to build an online travel activity marketplace website. FunAway designed keeping the latest trends in mind and focus on connecting active and wellness travelers directly with local hosts on popular island destinations and also help raise environmental awareness and social responsibility during travel adventures.
You can visit here for complete details about FunAway travel activity marketplace builder: http://www.fatbit.com/online-travel-activity-marketplace-solution.html
There are a number of factors involved in this equation when choosing your platform including the bandwidth and query limit allotted by your chosen webhost. Without knowing the specific functionality required to create the environment and target end result I will make fair number of assumptions based on market trends and modes of monetization available for such a site how I as both a designer and marketer would create such a site if I were doing it for myself.
First make sure that you choose a webhost with an easy access control panel, clear ftp protocols or preferably a one click installation.
My Preference in Platform for this would be WordPress. Its open source nature creates an environment where just about any function you can think of is available as a plug in. (Special Note WordPress Does not run well in low bandwidth restriction environments,
But that is only the first consideration. Just having WordPress will not a successful site make. Consideration to the specific environments you wish to create inside your site and to what purposes. This will dictate the type and number of plugins needed. as you have as a market place, which method of monetization Imoney payable to you) have you chosen for this marketplace.
Is it affiliate based earnings, are you selling ad space, are you working with a specific business set to which you have relationships. Are you getting paid per click or per paid booking. Next visitors to your site, do they have to register to use your site, are they visitors or members. is there a fee to be associated with either of these.
A site of this type requires many gigs of data which unaddressed can cause your site to run slow. Anything which deters from the user experience shall find in mirrored in conversion percentages. Use of plugins such as Lazy Loader which loads images and data by query instead of front loading, which improves sitespeed to the user.
Feel free to contact me if you would like additional information.
Either in comments to this response or in a private message.
I am always happy to help, and I never charge for information.