CASE STUDY

Vacation Rental Platform

Table of Contents

Introduction

The client’s company was listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in 2021. Millions of users and Landlords trust its website as a safe, easy-to-use, and proven effective platform for finding vacation rental accommodations in Canada.

Background

  • The client’s organization sought a strategic development partner to expand its global business operations and compete effectively with industry leaders such as AirBnb and Vrbo.
  • The client’s primary objective was to expand their business operations, which led them to acquire several prominent vacation rental websites. The client intended to establish a shared ecosystem to facilitate their expansion goals.
  • The aim was to devise a comprehensive platform that could amalgamate feeds from multiple data vendors, evaluate an extensive pool of information, and present high-quality and filtered property content on the user interface.
  • The primary objective was to design and develop a bespoke web application that is visually stimulating and engaging. The focus was creating a product that would captivate the user’s attention and provide a seamless user experience. 
  • Finally, the templates used in the email campaign could have been more attractive and needed more visual appeal, which may have resulted in lower click-through rates and engagement.

Objectives

  • Development of a platform that will allow property owners and data vendors to showcase their properties in an impressive and user-friendly interface. This platform will be a reliable and efficient solution to meet the needs of property owners and data vendors alike. It will enable them to present their properties professionally and visually appealingly.
  • This platform should provide a streamlined and user-friendly search process for vacation planning. The client aimed to ensure a hassle-free and intuitive experience for website users.
  • The platform has to be explicitly designed to cater to the global vacation rental space, with a strong emphasis on worldwide adaptability.
  • The property onboarding and management process needs to be designed to be efficient and straightforward. It should ensure that property Owners/Managers experience a seamless and hassle-free system that is easy to navigate.

Methodology

  • The application’s development methodology was designed around the principles of dynamic web architecture. Given the magnitude of the data at hand, it was imperative that each component be modular and reusable to ensure performance-optimized computations throughout the application.
  • Bootstrap was used as a front-end framework to significantly aid in building web applications with large data sets and customized interfaces. It is also framework-agnostic and can be easily integrated with various backend technologies.
  • The team adopted the feature-driven development framework as a part of the agile methodology, which enabled them to deliver feature increments to the market at a fast pace. The framework ensured the team’s ability to maintain a high level of flexibility and adaptability, thereby allowing them to respond proactively to change. 
  • Following the completion of each set of feature increments, the product was demonstrated to the client. Based on the client’s feedback, enhancements were incorporated into the subsequent sprints.
  • A deployment pipeline was established and integrated with git branches, providing seamless and efficient deployment processes across all environments, including Dev, QA, Demo, and Production. With fully automated deployment, continuous integration is ensured, reducing the likelihood of errors and enhancing overall productivity.
  • The implementation of test automation on the integration pipeline has been done to ensure high quality in each incremental build. Deploying this strategy ensured that the application met all the requirements and specifications. As a result, the application has been able to deliver optimal performance and reliability, which has significantly enhanced its overall functionality.

Challenges

Inconsistent Data Structure
  • Data vendors have inconsistent structures for property information, including discrepancies in field names, data types, and organization. Listings lack uniform quality and essential details, such as amenities, pricing, or availability dates. Standardizing formats for presenting information, including date formats and currency symbols, was crucial. Vendors also adopt different pricing models, currencies, or billing structures, making it challenging to present pricing information consistently.
Regular synchronization and data refresh processes
  • Every day, a significant volume of data must be imported daily while maintaining performance and displaying current property availability and pricing. Efficient data management is needed to ensure seamless integration and minimal latency, allowing users to access accurate and timely information.
Smooth Migration process
  • During website integration, a smooth transition was crucial for existing property owners. Each website acquired by a client has its own customers, and changes should not affect existing business, bookings, availability, or history. It was imperative to ensure that the URLs crawled by Google were retained and search engine optimization (SEO) was maintained to preserve traffic flow to the intended pages. Effective planning was required to ensure a successful transition while maintaining high standards.
An interface that caters to a global audience
  • An interface must strike a balance between simplicity and comprehensiveness to cater to a global audience. It should be user-friendly and intuitive while also providing the necessary features and functionalities. The design language must be consistent and coherent and must be meticulously crafted to meet high standards of usability and accessibility.

Solutions

Data Normalization and Mapping
  • Develop a robust data normalization process that uses mapping techniques to ensure uniformity. Implement strategies to handle missing information and guidelines for minimum required information. Standardize formats with data transformation scripts and validation checks.
Asynchronous mechanism of data synchronization
  • An incremental data update mechanism should fetch and update only new or modified data to improve synchronization efficiency. Data synchronization tasks should be processed asynchronously to prevent real-time user interaction issues. Background processes handle updates, ensuring timely refresh without impacting the user experience.
Custom utility to migrate data
  • Data migration tools that seamlessly transfer existing property data, bookings, availability, and customer history from the old platform to the new one. Perform thorough testing to validate data integrity after migration. Implement URL redirection strategies to maintain existing URLs, ensuring that URLs crawled by search engines are redirected to the corresponding pages on the new platform. This preserves SEO rankings and prevents disruptions in traffic flow.
User-centric interface
  • Develop a user-centric interface that prioritizes simplicity, clarity, and ease of use, while also offering advanced features for power users. Provide users with a set of small utility tools to streamline the process of locating vacation rentals and provide an optimal experience for users to search and book vacation rentals with ease and efficiency.

Implementation

Optimized database
  • Our organization developed a highly effective ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process that expertly handles data from various vendors. Our standardized schema for property information ensures that all data is consistent and accurate. Additionally, we designed a data filtration process to eliminate any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or other issues that may arise, ensuring that the property data on the website is of the highest quality.
Data updates and new data strategy
  • We took an innovative approach to data updates involving advanced schedulers, which enable us to provide regular and accurate updates while minimizing the impact on system performance. Adding updates incrementally ensures that our data remains reliable and up-to-date. This approach has enabled us to maintain the integrity and accuracy of our data while ensuring optimal system performance.
Data Migration script
  • A data migration mechanism has been developed, combining legacy data export and mapping procedures with a new database structure. The mechanism is equipped with delta update and fault retrial features to ensure a seamless & failsafe migration plan for production data. This approach aims to minimize downtime and ensure data integrity during migration.
intuitive utilities and astounding UX
  • Easy-to-find Map : After customizing Mapbox’s capabilities, we developed an intuitive map that allows users to filter based on vacation destination preference. Users can select an area, and view filtered properties on the go.
  • Simplified Filters: Utilizing filters, users can enhance the accuracy of their search results by refining the selections based on particular preferences and desired amenities. Additionally, by employing a price range filter, users can effectively narrow their search to match their desired budget.
  • Calendar-based prices and availability system: Users can take advantage of calendar functionality to explore the availability of properties by selecting their preferred check-in and check-out dates. Once the desired dates have been chosen, users are presented with a comprehensive and detailed price breakdown outlining all costs associated with their intended stay.
  • Simplified tool for listing property: Real estate owners are provided with an effortless and comprehensive single-page listing form that can be utilized to add their properties to the platform. Furthermore, simplified management tools are available to owners or property managers, allowing them to manage their properties with ease, without facing any learning curve.

Results


High-performing website: Our organization successfully developed a highly optimized database integrated with our client’s website for optimal performance. This system lets users browse through millions of properties with lightning speed, ensuring maximum efficiency and convenience. Implementing this database has dramatically enhanced the platform’s capabilities, enabling our clients to deliver a superior user experience and making it easier for customers to find the properties they seek.

Google partnership: We are pleased to announce that our client has secured a partnership with Google based on high-quality and gold-standard practices. This partnership will allow properties listed on our platform to be featured on Google’s exclusive search, resulting in a high potential traffic volume. This collaboration will significantly benefit our client and increase their online visibility in the vacation rental market.

Secured funding from investors: The client leveraged the platform to secure investor funding worth CAD 4475 million. During the third and final tranche closing in Q3/Q4 2023, the company issued an aggregate of 999,998 units, generating gross proceeds of CAD 149,999.70. This achievement highlights our ability to support the client’s financial capital access and underscores our commitment to achieving their strategic objectives.

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