Online booking: confidence in digital services

What comes instead of foreign online travel booking services that left Russia

Realnoe Vremya offers a brief review of Russian accommodation booking services in different cities for independent travellers. The popularity of domestic tourism continues growing and many of us are already going on a New Year holiday. Read in our report about the tendencies of the development of travel services and the specifics of some of them.

To assemble a trip as construction toys

A foresight session dedicated to the development of tourism in Russia through 2035 was held in Saint Petersburg in November. Experts from all over the country named independent tourism as one of the intensifying trends of the hospitality industry. Its share in the last two years has increased, and this growth is forecasted to keep increasing.

Different factors influence it. For instance, after the pandemic, people reconsidered their lives and started to be more careful about themselves. This is also seen in the way when planning a long-awaited holiday a person wants to spend it like he or she wants it, not the way tour operators offer in mass tours. A modern Russian tourist wants to pick absolutely all aspects of travel to meet his or her demands.

Let’s say they want to stay not just at a hotel with a certain number of starts but also the hotel must get one immersed into the history of the place and one can try authentic dishes in its restaurant. Ideally, they would like to go to a cooking masterclass, to go on an excursion where they will be able to see not only a set of standard sites from any tour guide but also special locations in company of an experienced and charismatic guide who will show the best photo spots. The ice rink must have not only an even ice, figure skater rent and a food court but also give impressions of winter illumination, photo zones, festive programmes, tasty tea and aromatic coffee.

It is interesting to assemble such an individual trip on your own as construction toys. But it is tough even for an experienced tourist. And it is by far harder for those who are going on an independent trip for the first time.

A modern Russian tourist wants to go on an excursion to special locations in company of an experienced and charismatic guide who will show the best photo spots. Photo: Maxim Platonov/

Russian booking services gaining popularity

Today it is unthinkable to create a trip on your own without digital technologies. We no longer call the hotel we are interested in using the Yellow Pages, we do not rush to ticket offices ourselves. Everything is digital. Western hotel and apartment booking services stopped working in Russia in spring — but nature doesn’t like vacuum. Neither does the hospitality sphere. Vacant niches started to be filled immediately, Russians pay attention to Russian booking services that have gone to the forefront and started to improve, develop and gain popularity.

For example, RUSSPASS tourist service has been operating since 2020. It helps planning trips across Russia. Here one can book a hotel, buy railway and plane tickets, book a table in a restaurant. RUSSPASS allows creating an individual route to chosen tourist locations or using a ready-to-use proposal at the click of a mouse.

Ostrovok is another travel service. Here it offers hundreds of thousands of hotels and hostels in Russia, CIS countries and some remote countries. One can read reviews of tourists at places of accommodation, a travel blog and find valuable information (for instance, about visas). A booking is made online, a hotel can be contracted directly through the service and some details can be discussed.

Bronevik doesn’t yet have so many accommodation offers (just 50,000), but the service promises to be interesting. Here one already can not only book a room in a chosen hotel and pay on the website but also receive visa assistance (for those travelling to Russia) and even see a blacklist of hotels (which is empty yet) soon.

101Hotels is another popular booking system in Russia and abroad. Here one can choose a flat, hotel or even a countryside holiday resort. A simple filter will show where one can check in with animals or, for example, if there is parking for travellers with a car and what landmarks can be found nearby. There is already a big number of reviews, there is a secure booking service. offers 200,000 accommodation options in Russia — hostels, hotels and apartments. Here one can read reviews, it is quite easy to enter the system and make an offer for tourists. And this service also works in different close and remote countries.

Not only accommodation but also a table in the restaurant and a tour with a guide

As we have already mentioned, tourists’ requests have become diverse and quite picky. Therefore Western services started to not only provide accommodation booking but also impressions — excursions, masterclasses, theatre stagings, concerts and even shopping — a long time ago.

Their Russian colleagues are also taking this road. For instance, RUSSPASS offers not only 5,600 offers for tourists from all over Russia but also in general it is an eco-system of 27 different services: with their help one can step by step plan a fully-fledged holiday depending on the user’s demand.

There are ready routes now — for example, more than 100 themed programmes in Moscow. And there is that construction toy — you assemble your perfect trip depending on your taste and requests. One can book a table in a restaurant at a discount or receive a bonus or go to an ice rink in a special tariff, use one of the ready tourist routes or make your own, pay for an exclusive excursion with the guide or children’s involvement in a festive programme. There is also a digital assistant that will automatically help to make a plan for the trip turning it into a route showing the timing and considering the type of transport.

Digital services develop and make our life easier and more interesting. Services for tourists aren’t an exception: thanks to modern technologies, today such a way of holiday planning in Russia becomes a united entrance point to create an individualised trip on the sofa.

Realnoe Vremya online newspaper