Digital travel sales worldwide increased by 10.4% to $694.41 billion in 2018. People love to travel. And in this digital-centric world, the latest travel trend is .... mobile! A recent report on Travel Agent Central claimed: “Nearly two-thirds of travelers rely on mobile apps during a trip”. Travel app development around the world is changing the tourism industry.
We, in this article, bring you insights on travel mobile app development and what features are a must-have in a travel app. Sit tight!
Why create a travel app?
If you are a new startup contemplating whether or not travel apps work or whether you are an enterprise looking to go mobile, we will establish the need for travel apps over a few statistics :
 TripAdvisor, travel, and restaurant website company that shows hotel and restaurant reviews, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content have more than 325M monthly users.
 Booking.com is now the most popular travel site worldwide, with more than 443M monthly visitors.
 61 percent of travelers in the U.S. have booked and paid for travel through their smartphones within the past year, and 64% are using their smartphones in route to their destination.
 Eighty-two percent of travel bookings in 2018 were completed via a website or mobile app, without human interaction
 On average, U.S. leisure travelers use 7-8 apps throughout their searching, booking, and in-destination travel experience, with maps (52%), weather (51%) and branded airlines (50%) topping their list of most widely used apps
So, travel apps are the future. There is no denying that. But, there is also no turning down of the fact that there’s no shortage of travel apps cluttering up the Android and Apple marketplaces (even though most of them are terrible)
How to develop a travel app that doesn’t disappoint?
Travel apps are crucial for anyone who loves traveling and has a smartphone, i.e. almost 3.3 billion people worldwide. So, 3.3 billion people that can use the app. Awesome! Let’s look at the steps of travel mobile app development:
 The first step in travel app development is knowing the niche. As we previously mentioned, there are a lot of travel apps. So, your app needs to be better and provide your target users with something unique, something the other apps don’t offer.
 The next step is looking for a travel app development company that will help bring your vision to life.
 Then comes incorporating features, deciding on app layouts and design and app development and testing.
 Once done, publishing the app to Google Play and iTunes.
Read more: How to hire a software development company?
The features of a travel app :
So, you ran market research and understood your niche. You also found yourself a software development company. Next up, your travel app needs to be a hit! Take a look at these features that is pivotal when it comes to travel app development. We also have a list of features that are the most sought after in a travel app to help you have a competitive edge.
Social media login
Registration on an app must be easy. Your users shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time registering themselves on the app. If that happens, they’ll abandon your app. Social login will help them log in via Facebook or Gmail and will make the process less time consuming for them.
Social login also helps you gather more information about your customers and understand their behavior in the long run. This will also help you build personalized deals for each customer.
*** Not everyone needs to register. People should be able to browse the listings without registration. But, if they want to book something, they have to compulsorily sign up.
Search for travel destinations and filter according to his/her preference
When somebody is using a mobile app, they already have a location on their mind. Your app must help him find places to wander within his preferred budget, dates, and other preferences ( wifi, parking, spa, etc).
Make sure the app displays the popular sightseeing spots, city attractions, adventure destinations, local attractions or happening events in and around their primary location. Provide HD photos of the attractions - a picture's worth a thousand words.
Also, you are better off adding geolocation function to this as it will help users visualize their travel destinations and itinerary.
Also, one thing that can make your app stand out here is recommending restaurants that serve local cuisines, museums, cafes, photo spots, shopping areas etc, that are hard to find without spending a lot of RnD time.
Booking tickets and services
Once you help them find exactly what they want to do during their travel days, they will need to book flight tickets and hotel reservations. Using APIs and web scraping, one can easily aggregate flight and train prices and show the users the travel fare they have to incur. Keep a provision to send them alerts when prices change.
Similarly with hotel bookings. Give them an interface where they can choose the dates and allow them to filter hotels according to their preferences. Display rich pictures and details about the hotels. Incorporate maps so that they get an idea of how close the hotel is to the airport, bus station or other city attractions.
Also, introduce the concept of loyalty points in the form of airline frequent flyer miles, hotel points, credit card rewards, etc. this will help improve customer retention.
Make sure your app has the provision of a cab or car booking too. This is a prime part of travel and most app makers conveniently forget about this. The app should let users book cabs or cars individually or unifiedly for the complete trip.
Once the booking is done, users will need to pay for it. Integrate payment gateways like Stripe or PayPal to simplify payment processing and make it easier for the users.
Travel itinerary with every detail of the trip from start to finish including flight details, bus, cab or rental car bookings, hotels and restaurant bookings, etc. is a must for travel apps. This is to make sure the users have a holistic view of his/her complete trip. Your app users shouldn’t have to rummage through the app looking for details. One can also pinpoint certain tourist attractions and add custom landmarks to make the itinerary less complex for the users.
Online reviews influence consumer’s opinions. People prefer reviews by like-minded people over critic reviews. So, make sure your app also scrapes reviews for tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, spas, etc. Also, in your travel mobile app development, your travelers must also be able to review a place and put comments to share their experiences.
Communication with a travel representative
When your users book something over the internet, they might have queries that are not answered in your app or the hotel/tourist spot website.
A live chat feature here will help them get answers to their queries and improve your customer service. This will help with both customer conversion and customer retention.
These are the must-have features in your app. We also have a list of some other features that will help your app stand out from the others.
The Good-to-have features in your travel app
OK Google, what are the 5 stars rated restaurants around?
In June of this year, EasyJet became the first European airline to launch an Alexa skill, allowing passengers to check their flight status. Incorporating voice search in your travel app for destination search, bookings, and cancellations will make life easier for users and also make your app stand out.
Weather forecasts and in-app language translators
Develop a travel app that integrates real-time weather forecasts. The app can alert users about unfavorable weather when they are creating their travel itinerary. They can also check the weather before leaving for sightseeing and plan accordingly.
Language is always a problem while traveling overseas. Whether it’s communicating with the locals or buying something from a departmental store, an in-app translator will make the life of your travel app users so much easier.
Offline Access and personalized notifications
When you are at an overseas destination, getting a network or finding wi-fi is not always possible. Developing a travel app with an offline mode will enable your users to get a flexible app experience even when the connection is slow or not working. Also, it will help them save roaming charges.
Personalized notifications are the newest trend in marketing and one can leverage it for their travel apps to engage users within the app through relevant and personalized notifications. Send them details of special discounts w.r.t their travel preferences in advance, offer them relevant recommendations, send them referrals and notify them of important announcements and updates regarding their travel ( Flight status, baggage claim, hotel check-in details, etc)
How much does it cost to develop a travel app?
If you create a travel app with only the basic features and assuming that you are hiring software developers from countries like India, you will incur a cost of $15,000 - $60,000, depending on your requirements. Adding other complex functionalities like voice, in-app translation, the cost will increase further.
How to monetize the travel mobile app?
Now that you know that you have to spend a significant amount of money on travel app development, you should also have a way to monetize the app to earn a good amount of revenue.
There was a time when travel apps asked for commissions from airlines for allowing ticket booking on their platform. But with the airlines started offering tickets on their own website, the concept of commission ceased to exist.
There are three ways to monetize a travel app :
 Commissions from hotel reservations
In this model, the hotel pays you a set percentage on each reservation that they get through your mobile app. This kind of model is beneficial for both app owners as well as hotel owners. This is how Expedia operates.
 In-app Purchases
Estimates suggest that global revenue from in-app purchases will surge to $117.2 million by 2020. Your app can have a seperate section where people can buy traveling merchandise like airplane pillows, passport covers, etc. They’re not only a significant source of potential revenue, but they can also make the life of your app users easier and their travel more comfortable.
Digital advertisements in mobile apps increased communication between advertisers and consumers dramatically. As a travel app, you can display relevant ads on hotels, tour operators, airlines, etc and make money out of it.
But, keep in mind, Your ads need to tempt the user, not frustrate them.
Before we go
Understand your users and their problems before your travel app development. The issue most of the busy people face is that they don’t have ample time to spend on research, ticket bookings and hotel reservations. Your travel mobile app must keep this in mind and have an interface that saves their time and help them plan an entire trip within a few hours.
Whether you would like to make a travel app or any other mobile or web project we are here to help. Drop us a line here and we’ll get back to you.