In the times when the mobile applications market seems to be overloaded with products, it is truly surprising to find even the smallest gap there. However, try to search for an all-in-one application for traveling and you’ll find almost nothing. Wait. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying there are no applications that help tourists quickly book a hotel room, buy tickets, add a planned trip to their calendar, schedule a visit to a foreign museum, and so on. But! People actually need separate applications to perform all those actions. Users have to find all that apps, download them, install, register a personal account for each, and then switch from one to another correlating all their actions. This doesn’t sound comfortable and time-effective, does it? Naturally, the niche of comprehensive trip planning applications remains empty, and this article is going to discuss the ways of creating a solution to fit in that niche.
Reasons to Reach for Travel Application Development
We won’t tell you about how hard people these days rely on their smartphones — you probably have your own device(s) that you feel inseparable with, especially when far from home. Reasons for launching a travel-oriented app are very similar to any other software release — it makes a company closer to its clients, simplifies the service distribution, and overall improves customer experience. All that leads to higher customer loyalty, brand awareness, and, finally, an increased revenue. No matter how you are attached to the travel business: you might own a hotel, manage a museum, run a traveling agency — all of these activities would benefit from being backed by a high-performing mobile application. How? Let’s break down the core advantages of a travel mobile app:
- your company will get miles closer to its customer base with the launch of a branding application for mobile devices. As of 2018, users spent 90% of their time being on their smartphones using apps, and the rest 10% gets dedicated to websites. Still thinking a website is enough to stay in touch with your clients? It’s just not.
- A valuable mobile software appreciated by users is a powerful advertising platform. Not only you can successfully promote your own brand, but also do sponsorships and transmit some paid ads as well.
- Presence on app stores of various mobile platforms increases brand awareness and make it stand out from the crowd of competitors who don’t invest in a good user-oriented software.
- The easier to organize a trip, the more often people would travel. Add to this an option of saving costs on cheap tickets and accommodation sales (like the Great Value Today mark on Booking), and order turnover will surprise you.
Entrepreneurs operating in the traveling business obviously aren’t the only ones who could launch a successful travel app. At the end of the day, no one knows the struggles tourists face better than… tourists. Instead of building a business and then putting in an application, the mobile app can be your business on its very own. Traditional ways of generating income through an app include:
- pre-paid advertising of third-party companies and products;
- in-app purchases like a premium version of the same application with extra features;
- subscription plans;
- a small commission added to the price of services distributed by the app (for example, for booked accommodations or purchased flight tickets).
The factors like who and why decided to reach for travel app development are left behind the scenes for users, the only thing that matters for them is the capabilities of the software under your brand name. What can a user do with this particular app? Which features should a market-booming travel software have? Keep on reading to find out.
Travel Apps That Are Popular Right Now
Before getting to brainstorming on capabilities you could provide your travel app with, it’s necessary to check what is available and in-demand on the mobile software market today. According to the statistics gathered by SurveyMonkey Intelligence on most used mobile applications, programs for residence booking remain on top of the traveling software. However, such applications aren’t the only one — online travel agents like Expedia are gaining more and more popularity due to their diversity and inclusiveness. Let’s look at the most popular applications for tourists:
This is a hospitality platform and community marketplace that lets users search for privately owned residence spots and book them for staying in. It connects people with local residents who have free rooms or whole apartments and houses for rent, which gives tourists the new experience of spending time in authentic places of living instead of rather primitive hotels. Accommodations are listed on the platform by the owners themselves, so anyone can both list their room rent and find where to stay if needed. Guests pay a small fee for the Airbnb services, while the hosts have to share from 10% to 25% of their revenue with the platform.
Booking is a web and mobile cross-platform application that tourists use to reserve accommodations, especially well in advance. It is owned by Priceline — online travel agent that collaborates with tour providers to sell pre-planned trips to customers. It has thousands of options even in small cities and is also abundant in filters, so users can quickly find a place to stay that correspond even to the most sophisticated selection criteria. This program also provides users with plenty of options to save some money on reservations: from Great Value Today offers to cashback stored on the personal account to spend on the next trip. Some reservations come with an ability to also order a transfer from the airport to the hotel.
Yelp is a local-search platform that recommends users services like hotels, restaurants, gyms, dry cleaning, and even healthcare appointments. It bases the recommendations on reviews left by users on Yelp.com or in the corresponding apps for iOS and Android. Users can scroll from top-rated places to the ones with the lowest score. Business owners who want to represent their enterprises on Yelp have to register them on biz.yelp.com. In 2017, the platform added a new feature of Questions & Answers, which lets users ask specific questions about a business or service and got the answer directly from a business owner. A huge drawback here is that currently, Yelp works in about 30 countries and isn’t available worldwide.
Expedia is an online travel agent that was initially developed as a small travel website by Microsoft. With its rapid growth out of the founders’ competence, it was later sold and reformatted into what it is today — a huge platform for planning and organizing trips. It works by gathering tourists’ requests and multicasting them to global distribution systems of traveling providers to deliver the most suitable and cost-effective trip. You can get hotel reservations, tickets, cruises, car transfers, and bundles of accommodations and tickets which are cheaper if bought together. Also, users can look through the events at their destination that will take place while they’re stating there. Though this platform saves time and effort for inexperienced travelers, it still gets criticized from time to time due to the high fees it charges for the service. It generates revenue by buying hotel rooms and flight tickets by wholesale and then reselling them to the customers with extra charges applied.
TripAdvisor is the biggest travel-related website in the world. Through it, you can find everything you could possibly need from vacation rentals to tickets and things to do at your destination, as well as read honest reviews about every entity there. TripAdvisor is one of the first websites that decided to make the majority of its content user-generated. In addition to very popular travel forums and detailed reviews, you can also access photos made by travelers (TripAdvisor feed really reminds us of the Instagram one), read their articles, look for travel inspiration, etc. This website with the corresponding apps for various platforms generates revenue from advertising and booking fees. According to statista.com, in 2017 total TripAdvisor income put together 1.55 billion.
BlaBlaCar is a cross-platform application for carpooling (a practice of sharing a car so that more than one person could use it at a time thereby saving space on the road, gas, funds, etc.). It is usually used for long-distance trips, unlike for example Uber. The use of the app is extremely simple: you select the date when you’d like to depart and enter the destination spot. The app generates the most suitable ride for you. You can also check the rate and feedback on every driver and his or her vehicle. If there’s no scheduled ride available that would correspond your selection criteria, the app will offer you rides to the closest locations to the area of your destinations. BlaBlaCar is the leading carpooling platform in Europe. Its revenue model is based on fees applied on both passengers and drivers. These fees slightly differ depending on the country you’re booking a trip in. In 2015, BlaBlaCar’s financial value was about $1.2 billion, which is drastically higher compared to any other hitchhiking app.
There’s no need to be a business analyst to see the obvious gaps in the mobile software for tourists. Even though all the aforementioned applications (alongside with thousands of less popular ones) are powered with a cutting-edge technology stack and developed by true professionals, this doesn’t relieve the stress of planning a trip. Starting a vacation with online travel agents like Expedia is easier yet it isn’t suitable Basically, anyone who has ever tried to book a hotel room at an affordable price, find flight tickets on the same dates as the hotel reservation, figure out the way of getting to the hotel from the airport without being ripped off by local drivers, and have a good time in an unknown area with no guides or assistants know how hard any of these steps is. The foremost recommendation we’d like you to follow if thinking about how to make a travel app would be to analyze your personal experience of traveling on your own. Don’t have one? Then you already know that your next trip won’t be planned by anyone but you. Analyzing the currently available travel software and your personal touristic background altogether will easily get you to the slightly utopian, yet still possible with the right team, perfect travel application model.
Perfect Travel App Model: Features to Add
A feature set is an essence of any software: it defines what users can do with your programming product and also is it even worth installing and using. So how to build a travel app that would change the travel software game? What are the components software engineers have to put together for a positive outcome? Find the answer down below.
Personalization became the it-word in high-tech of 2018. Starting an account, people share their personal data and preferences for application owners to analyze it and give the corresponding content back to loyal users.
In-app payment system.
When it comes to cheap tickets and hotel reservation sales, you have to act quickly. Instead of just displaying available options, add an option of buying/booking them without leaving the app.
Extra security measures.
Buying tours and tickets comes with an obligatory need to enter an amplified amount of personal data other than just your name and email, as opposed to regular online shopping. Also, in-app purchases presuppose users to share their payment details. Make sure your app is hacker attack-proof and that it supports most recent security technologies like Face ID and fingerprint scans.
Access to geolocation and maps.
Obviously, tourism is all about shifting into places. When in the unknown location, users rely on their smartphones and internet connection harder than ever, so your app has to be capable of guiding them from one place to another without getting lost.
Despite the fact we already know a few powerful platforms where you can easily book a place to stay, we still insist on this feature added if you want your travel app to be truly all-inclusive.
Getting lost in a public transport system of a city you’ve never been to is extremely easy. Just like experiencing troubles when explaining your destination to a non-English speaking driver. Public transport schedules and plans that update in real time combined with local transportation services would save users a lot of time and nerve.
Analyzing user journeys, posts he likes, and articles he reads (which by the way is totally possible without human interaction but with AI) you can replace the irrelevant content from his feed replacing it with interesting and useful information. That way users will spend more time in the app and more likely recommend it to their friends and family.
These are useful not only in classic online shopping of apparel, but of accommodations and destinations as well. Let your users create bookmarks with trips, countries, cities, hotels, attractions, and events they are interested in and notify them about sales and discounts when appear.
Adding online forum to your web and mobile app is a great way of engaging the audience. Direct communication between users not only allows them sharing their experience and valuable information, but also increases overall trust to the platform.
Learning from the TripAdvisor experience, we highly recommend you to let users generate the content for your platform. At the end of the day, there is no writer that would describe a trip better than the person who actually took it.
Pop-up notifications are essential part of any modern app. These don’t let users to miss important things like time-limited discounts or new articles targeted to their interests. Also, regular notifications form a habit of using an application on a regular basis.
Social media sharing.
To raise brand awareness and get more people inside your app’s community, social media sharing is one of the most powerful tools.
Following one of the tech trends of 2018 that is not going to lose its positions anytime soon, add an entertaining component to the experience of your users and the result won’t take long to come. Gamification elements like achievements unlock or badges are well-known for provoking users interest and keeping them focused.
We could go on and on with that list, however you should take it with a grain of salt. It’s not like every single travel app cannot function without all of these features combined. The feature set has to be developed gradually, taking into account the problem your application is going to solve and the audience that’s going to interact with it. Unlike software owners, users appreciate balance higher than diversity, so dive into the features brainstorming carefully and involve developers and analytics the earlier the better.
Traveling is the fundamental industry that generates billions of revenue annually. Naturally, its growth wouldn’t be possible without high technologies applied. There are not many truly useful apps for modern tourists, and even less mobile programs that allow people to plan a trip from A to Z. While tourists lack a high-performing travel app, travel agencies face client outflow due to the fact that more and more people are willing to travel on their own. Travel software niche welcomes enthusiastic entrepreneurs, so if your mind is full of ideas but you don’t know how to build a travel app from the technical perspective, just drop us a line to start building it today.