It is about time we updated everyone on what is going on with Rooms, our Drupal-based hotel booking solution. Development started more than a year ago and interest in the module just keeps growing, even though progress was made in relatively unpredictable spurts as we tried to juggle working on a product alongside consulting work.
A key turning point, however, was taken last May. Bluespark and Istos, the two Drupal-centric web agencies working on Rooms, finally took the plunge and tied the knot. In the nine months that followed, we delivered some impressive projects for clients, carefully defined our processes and tools and got the team in a position where we could dedicate time and resources to focus on Rooms.
That preparatory work bore fruit (and here I will end the marriage / family metaphors!) in that this December we were able to concentrate on Rooms and get ready for the release of a final beta. We also built a bunch of new features in:
- Mass room price and availability management - you can now quickly update availability and prices across all rooms
- Improved availability search and pricing
- Added hooks to allow you to plugin via modules and change the way Rooms behaves
- Made it easier to manipulate the look of calendars
- Decoupled the dependency on Commerce to support accommodations that don't need a complete checkout process but just need to receive a simple email
- Fixed lots of bugs
The aim is to directly address (or be able to support via small modifications) 80% of use cases for small hotels and vacation rentals. We’re now moving into bug-fixing / polish mode in order to release a production-ready version by the end of January 2013. We believe that this first version will be very useful for a lot of property owners and will offer the most complete, feature-rich, and flexible Drupal-based hotel booking solution available.
One more thing!
The most important news though is not what we've done so far but what we are about to do. We are tackling V2 of the module as if it was a proper Bluespark client project - giving it the royal treatment that all our clients get and not just treating it as a part-time side-project. This mean that all Bluespark departments - creative, user experience and dev will be involved, and the process will follow an agile methodology with quick iterative cycles informed by user research and feedback. If you are a hotel owner or hotel website builder get in touch - we want to talk with you!
We will be working on branding, and we will be redoubling our efforts to make the technology both powerful and easy to use as a well-behaved member of the Drupal ecosystem. In five months time we hope to have not just a powerful Drupal module to handle hotel bookings but the basics of a Drupal Hotel CMS that is both flexible and user-friendly - meeting the real needs of hotel owners.
We look forward to sharing the results with you all!