by Dmytro Brovkin

How To Develop a Successful Travel App Like Priceline, Expedia and Airbnb

The tourism sphere is a huge business sector that includes lots of components: travel agencies, insurance companies, hotels, restaurants and so on.

It’s rather hard to overestimate the importance of mobile devices in this field — people need access to high quality service while they are away from their PCs and unable to be physically present at the office. This is where mobile apps truly shine.

Why launch a Travel App: a new landmark on the digital landscape

Let’s take a look at the numbers before we dive deeper into the topic:

  • In 2009 the amount of downloads worldwide was about 2.5 billion.
  • In 2011 it reached 3.1 billion.
  • We can expect the number to exceed 7 billion at the end of 2017 which is more than twice as much as six years ago.

The smartphones are about to replace laptops and PCs when it comes to online shopping. If your business is connected with this field and for some reason you still don’t have your own mobile app, it’s time to think about it.

For travel companies as well as online retailers the advantages of a mobile application for business are quite obvious. It serves to boost the sales, improve the quality of service, and make clients more loyal to the brand and its products.

Mobile travel apps include:

  • Google and Apple Maps
  • Travel planners
  • The apps that show you WiFi hotspots nearby
  • The apps that allow you to book hotels and tickets everywhere you go
  • The apps that can find services for those with special needs

Launching a really helpful app for your users is a great way to get ahead of your competitors. Let’s take a look at these facts.

Today almost everyone has a smartphone. 65% of the travelers prefer to plan their trips with the help of mobile apps.

Trips app by Lonely Planet

Most businessmen (actually about 70% of them) book their tickets and hotels via mobile apps.

Around 80% of travel companies, hotels and aviation companies profit from brand exposure, income increase and other factors after an app launch.

Every tourist would definitely want to have an app that allows him to navigate easily everywhere they go. The travel mobile app can include dictionaries, maps, and guides to different places of interest (cafés, restaurants, museums and other). About 75% of the travelers use at least one mobile app during their trip.

At the moment 35% of the travelers download apps for their trip or the upcoming holidays. Another way to use the app is to share the impressions immediately or after the trip. In the era of social networks more than half of the tourists post their vacation photos online.

The travel mobile apps occupy the 7th place on the list of the most downloaded apps.

The stats show that the app launch can provide new ways to increase your income, make the brand more popular, build a loyal client base and much more.

Of course an app has to have a great and valuable idea, and be well-designed and developed. In this way, a mobile app can be a huge advantage for your business.

What makes the difference between a mediocre app and a good one?

What’s the ideal travel app that the users want to use? It’s an app that’s easy to understand and get into. It surely has to make their trip more comfortable and allow people to communicate with other tourists and companies.

These criteria make an app really helpful, reduce the pressure on traveler and make the audience more loyal.

Here’s a couple of tips to make a modern and attractive tourist app that will actually let you turn a profit:

  1. Make sure that you know what your target audience is. Create an image of your user and work on making the app better for him.
    If your company works primarily with entrepreneurs and executives, it would make sense to launch an app for the business trips, maybe easy and simple tickets and hotels booking, faster airport check-in or a trip planner.
  2. Make your app easy to use and user friendly.
    If your main feature is to search the best hotel offers and book them immediately, the way to complete the registration shouldn’t be longer than a couple of clicks.
  3. Enable the users to share their feedback with you.
    Embed a button into the app that brings them to a sector where they can leave their comments, discuss what’s good or wrong with an app and so on. Such a function can allow you to get to know your audience and its needs, and understand what you could be doing better.
  4. Keep in touch with the users and make sure you communicate with them consistently.
  5. Make your app offline-friendly.
    If your app will still be able to notify the people of their check-in or something else even if they’ve turned the mobile networks off, it’ll be a big advantage for you.
  6. Integrate the social networks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with your app.

The popularity of travel apps is rising at the moment, so your main goal is to launch an app that would be able to bring in and hold on to a big audience that can be monetized.

The business expertise is absolutely necessary at the first stage. You should analyze the market and your rivals. Find out what your target audience looks like, and understand what they’d like to see.

Positioning and naming are also important, that’s what attracts the most attention. After that you need to do all the dirty work with app development and create a good design.

The last stage is the app testing. Use as many smartphone models as possible to prevent the bugs from sneaking in.

Implementing APIs

If you run a travel agency and you are looking to enter the mobile app market, you can find a partnership program at popular services and use them to your advantage. For example, if you integrate a Booking.com API into the app, your clients will be able to book the hotels all around the world straight from a single menu. It’s a great way to provide more opportunities to your users.

API usage is a great way to start and there’s a lot of them. Every program offers its own conditions, profits and ways to work. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  1. Booking.com partnership program offers over 23 million hotel rooms in more than a million places.
  2. Expedia API provides access to 321,000 hotels and over 400 flight companies, but is only in the United States.
  3. Skyscanner partnership allows your clients to search and book the flights right from your website. Skyscanner can also book tickets, hotels and rent the cars.

You can also make use of services that offer recommendations such as:

  1. Google Places with more than 95 million places of interest and companies.
  2. Facebook Places uses its graphic API and data by Factual to facilitate search for places of interest.
  3. Yelp API offers you the reviews, photos and data lists. Yelp is a great choice for the US-market.
  4. CityGrid API-interfaces include over 18 million local lists for the USA. You can even make money if your users interact with CityGrid, thanks to their program ‘Places that pay’.
  5. TripAdvisor API gives access to a huge database that’s made by users and subsequently to the photos, reviews and ratings of the places.

Learn from the best — and innovate!

You can also find out a lot about how to make a better app by researching the other projects that are running successfully.

Here are some examples that you may find interesting:

Airbnb

A rental service that is one of the most popular real estate platforms in the world. It allows you to communicate straight with the apartment owners without having to pay agents for their service.

At the moment there are more than 700,000 options available in 34,000 cities around the world. The search engine will help you find the apartment in the certain part of the city or with certain services.

Before you book a room or apartment you can contact the owner, discuss every detail, observe the photos and research feedback from the previous clients. The service also allows you to make your own apartment available for rent to earn money. Everything can be controlled right from your smartphone or tablet.

Priceline

An app that shows you which hotels are available nearby. It’s very helpful for the people who travel unexpectedly and don’t search for hotels in advance. It shows the prices, feedback and sales. Priceline also allows you to find car rental stations, buses and trains schedule and so on.

Expedia

It’s an app that plans your trip and books flights and hotels. There’s the full information on when you arrive, leave and so on. It also offers you all the feedback and ratings available.

So, the travel mobile app opens up a variety of ways to make your business grow and get bigger. The companies that launch a successful mobile app and keep in touch with their audience in order to make the quality of their services better, have much more chances to succeed in the industry.

We sincerely hope that our article will be helpful for you if you’re looking to launch your own app or just learn something new about mobile travel apps. If you want to build your very own application, Octodev team will be happy to assist and guide you through the whole process.

This article was originally published on the Octodev Blog.