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How to Build a Hotel Data Scraper When You Are Not a Techie

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

According to the World Tourism Organization(UNWTO), the total number of global tourist arrivals was nearly 1,322 million in 2017, growing by a remarkable 7% from the year before. The travel industry remains as one of the most competitive industries dominated by accommodation and transportation services.

Along with the prosperity of the tourism industry, online travel agencies has quickly sprung up across the world, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor.com, and Airbnb.com, which allows people to get access to the hotel data easier than ever before. 

 

What is a hotel scraper?

A hotel data scraper is a computer program (mostly script or web extraction software) that extracts hotel data from websites. 

 

What are some of the hotel-related information you can collect?

 

   · Hotel Name

   · Room Prices

   · Ratings

   · Address (e.g. street, city, state, country, and postal code)

   · Hotel facilities

   · Description

   · Websites

   · Phone/Fax number

   · Occupancies

   · Room types

   · Pictures

   · ...

In short, anything you can see on a webpage can probably be extracted! 

 

 

Data sources: where you can get the data scraped?

There are a lot of well-known hotel booking sites including TripAdvisor.com, Booking.com, Expedia.com, Trivago.com, Travelocity.com, and Hotwire.com. Each website has tons of information regarding hotels all over the world. 

 

 

Real world examples: why do you want to scrape hotel data?

   · Monitor hotel prices or the rating of hotels

Knowing what your competitors offer can help you stay on top of the game, especially when the competition is fierce as accommodation services. With the prevalence of hotel or homestay booking sites all around us, it can't be easier to compare prices and find the next best deal. Have room prices adjusted and updated in a timely manner can be critical to the final sales figure. 

   · Predict Occupancy rate

Predicting when the rooms will sell the most as well as when there will be a lot of vacancies is an important factor for an effective pricing strategy, which is especially important during holiday times. It makes sense to set higher prices when the tourist season is expected and keep the rooms cheap when they are not booked as much. 

   · Brand management: what customers are saying about you or your competitors

Do you go online and check the reviews of a hotel before making a booking? I know I do. Reviews and comments are becoming significantly important factors in travelers' decision-making process. There's also no question that customer experience influences the sales figures. Having reviews and comments scrapped and analyzed can help you keep an eye on how customers are feeling towards the hotel and services offered, helping the managers to gain insights in the aspects that can be improved to serve the customers better. 

And so many more...

   · Snag the best hotel deals
   · Analyze how the price changes with each season
   · Understand the ratings of hotels
   · Build an Online Travel Directory Website
   · Develop an effective marketing strategy via building a review scraper
   · Generating leads for hotel businesses
   · Creating customer personas

 

What are some good ways to scrape data?

There are a few options for scraping hotel listings and reviews:
   · Custom scripts - powerful but long learning curve, almost impossible for anyone without prior programming knowledge
   · Use an automatic web scraping tool - easy to start and cost-effective
   · Hire an online data scraping service - get data without any work but can be costly

 

Why should you consider using a web scraping tool?

Automatic web scrapers, like Octoparse, Dexi.io, Parsehub, and Import.io can be a smart option to try if you are a non-technical user but want to scrape data at low cost. 

   · No coding at all - You don't need to learn about programming language and have the programming environment installed and configured, just download the software and start to use a web scraping tool. A web scraping tool provides a graphical user interface, which is more intuitive and you can customize the workflow to accommodate scraping from websites of all kinds (AJAX, Behind-login, Javascript, etc). 

   · Easy to use - Most people can quickly learn about how to build scrapers with the many tutorials and videos online and there's always someone to reach if you have any questions. There are also downloadable pre-built templates or tasks for some popular websites.  

   · Cost efficiency - There's a free version! Do I need to say more? 

 

Let's build a hotel scraper from scratch!

Now I am going to show you how to build a hotel data scraper with automatic web scraping software, Octoparse. Among all the tools in the market, Octoparse, as a free and flexible web scraping tool, is a good option to try considering it's ease of use and accessibility. 

Established in the year 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com is the most visited travel website in the world, providing online accommodation reservation, flight ticket booking, car rentals and so on. I will take Booking.com as an example to illustrate how you can build the scraper from scratch to extract web data without any prior technical background.

Data fields that I am going to capture are:

   · Name

   · Price

   · Address

   · Rating

   · Hotel Image URL

 

Data extraction is actually very straightforward and only takes several clicks with Octoparse. With only 3 steps, you can extract hotel data:

Step 1. Scrape hotel data from all pages

First, load the target webpage in Octoparse's built-in browser. To collect from all available pages, click on the next page button (">") and then select "loop click the selected link" from the Action Tips. Now, the crawler is instructed to go through all the available pages during the scraping process.

 

 

Step 2. Click into the detail page of each hotel

Click the title of the hotel on the listing page one by one until all the titles are selected (the selected items will be highlighted in green), then select "Loop click each element" on the Action Tips. Octoparse has been told to click into all available listings from the page. Next, you should have arrived at the hotel detail page. 

 

Step 3. Select the data you need for extraction

Click on the data fields you need (i.e. name of the hotel, rating, and address are selected in the example). 

 

Congrats, the hotel data scraper is almost done. All you need to do now is to run the task and start getting the data you want. 

 

To learn more about scraping data from Booking.com, you can check this step-by-step tutorial out, and you can also see how to scrape hotel data from Tripadvisor and how to scrape room listings data from Airbnb.

 

Conclusion

With the fast-growing global tourism economy, there's no doubt that many of these travel websites will enjoy sustainable growth and accumulate more data. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat once said, "the most valuable thing you can have as a leader is clear data". Realizing all the benefits data can do for you, why not try it now for yourself? 

 

Related articles:

Top 20 Web Crawler Tools to Scrape the Websites

Going on Vacation? Let Sentiment Analysis Book Your Hotel

Using Web Scraping to Improve Business Analytics and Intelligence

Big Data: 70 Amazing Free Data Sources You Should Know for 2017

Web Scraping Service vs. Automatic Web Scraper: Which is the best option for web scraping?

 

 

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