Travelers’ customer experience expectations have changed drastically over the last decade. People are increasingly comfortable searching for hotels or vacation rentals and booking flights via smartphones. By 2023, the number of users in the online travel booking market is expected to increase to 823.6 million worldwide.
Today, hotel aggregators, online travel agencies, and hotel websites must capture omnichannel shoppers who jump between desktops, mobile browsers, and apps. If you want to meet people’s expectations when booking flights or hotels, check in at the destination and provide customer support, it’s time to think about developing a hotel booking app development.
This article explains how to create a hotel reservation app, what features to include, the approximate cost of a hotel booking app, and many other useful development tips and insights. Please read on!
Reasons why hotel businesses should create a mobile booking app
Booking technology and hotel booking apps influence the decisions of 70% of travelers. The results of building a hotel booking app for business can include the following:
Improved customer experience. Apps with fast check-in and vital digital features make it easy to manage late check-ins and avoid long queues at reception. This simplifies the guest experience, increases staff efficiency and speeds up operations.
Cost-effectiveness. Like any automation solution, a hotel booking app helps save your employees time and reduce costs. Reducing the amount of printed paper helps make your hotel more environmentally friendly.
Your service is always in the hands of your customers. The branded app allows hotel chains to connect directly with customers. They always have the service right in their pocket and the company logo on their home screens.
Great user engagement. Mobile solutions help engage users and support two-way communication. A branded mobile app can be a powerful marketing tool to reach and engage your audience. Create a close marketing group of highly engaged customers. In-app messages, chatbots, push notifications, and emails will encourage room upgrades, restaurant or spa reservations, or other services. A digital extension of your concierge team will conduct conversations with hundreds of internal and potential guests.
Effective marketing strategy. The mobile app provides a lot of data to hotel owners. They can gain valuable information about how people come to purchase their services, how often customers visit, how much they spend, how they interact with hotel services, etc. This allows hoteliers to improve guest experiences and adjust their strategies for better performance.
Basic steps for creating a mobile booking application for travel agencies
As a general rule, you can follow the checklist below to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for a booking app:
1. Market research, user research, analysis of the best hotel booking applications in your industry and identification of the primary concept of the future application.
2. Development of a unique offer and selection of distribution areas and platforms for the hotel reservation application (if necessary).
3. Functional specifications and prototyping help you test and validate ideas with stakeholders and end users and define the scope of work and budget for your minimum viable product (MVP).
4. User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design focused on intuitive and straightforward user flow and attractive look and feel
5. Front- and backend development of mobile applications. This will include integration with booking tools, payment gateways, hotel property management systems, customer relationship management systems and other software to ensure smooth, secure and error-free sales and operations of your hospitality business.
6. Testing at all levels to ensure that the hotel booking application is efficient, easy to use and fast.
7. Develop a marketing strategy for your app.
8. Publication on the Apple App Store, Google Play or other channels where the target audience can download the application.
How to build a hotel booking mobile app: valuable development insights
This chapter will focus on aspects specific to travel and clarify the key details for creating a functional and thriving product for your hotel business.
Have a product discovery phase
The process of developing a hotel reservation application should begin by identifying the main idea of your project and determining its requirements. Solid project requirements provide a clear picture of the work that should be done. And this picture is the key to specifying the required steps to achieve the necessary results.
For example, at Onix, we start the development of a reservation application with the product discovery phase. This phase allows us to determine the complexity of the project and the features to develop, test market viability, set deadlines and plan the project. The product discovery phase allows us to orchestrate smooth and timely product development and stay on the same page with our clients.
Define the type of booking application your business needs
OTA. These online services allow clients to have multiple booking options: flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. These types of apps include Trip.com, Hopper, and KAYAK.
Aggregators. The main purpose of hotel aggregators and similar mobile applications is to collect information from relevant service providers and share it with users. The most famous hotel aggregators are Booking.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.
Application of tags/strings. These applications are developed by individual hotel companies, airlines, guesthouses, car rental companies and other service providers. Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards are good examples.
The type of application depends on your business goals. For example, if you’re a hotelier, you can connect with local businesses and offer your customers the option to rent a car or arrange a fishing trip from your app. If you are a technology entrepreneur, you can focus on creating a booking aggregator or an OTA app.
Create a Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Getting potential users is all about UVP and the right placement. Here are a few models worth considering:
Last minute booking. Booking.com, Travgo and HotelTonight are some of the companies that offer this UVP.
Cheap booking options. Many travelers, especially millennials, are either looking for the cheapest flight and accommodation options or feel great about it. HostelWorld, HostelBookers and other companies have chosen this model to target budget travelers.
Room sharing/flat rental. Airbnb has embraced the business models of room sharing and short-term apartment rentals.
Short stays. Some people don’t need to stay more than one night when traveling. For example, Dayuse.com offers a one-day reservation at a lower price.
Peer-to-peer model. Couchsurfing helps frugal travelers stay for free, but it’s also about cultural exchange and friendship. So is Locali, an upcoming mobile app designed by Onix. The app combines Tinder and Foursquare City Guide, allowing tourists to explore cities and connect with locals and other travelers.
Learn about apk
Create an admin panel
The admin panel is part of every mobile booking application. The absence of a well-thought-out, tailor-made solution makes it difficult to manage all statements and monitor important data.
Important things to consider before creating a hotel booking app:
- the cost of the user-oriented part of the product
- the cost of the administration panel and infrastructure solution
- cloud storage integration involves the use of indestructible data storage methods. A booking app that uses cloud storage to store and retrieve information, protects it from hackers and helps secure user privacy.
Protect user data
Security is essential, especially in a booking app as it uses private user data and holds payment processes. Every business is vulnerable to hackers, especially many scams in the online travel industry. However, there are some best practices that you can follow to avoid security issues and keep your app secure at the highest level. Let’s take a look at them:
Data encryption. One of the basic steps in developing a secure booking application is data encryption. When users enter their payment information to confirm a reservation, you should encrypt the information they enter. Encryption algorithms encode data into ciphertext and hide the actual content.
High-level authentication and strong passwords. You can use multi-factor authentication (one-time codes, voice, face and fingerprint recognition) or ask users to reset their password every two months. In addition, it is better to limit the number of login attempts to avoid leaking all credit card and customer information.
Comply with local laws. For example, there is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a regulation in EU law that requires strict security measures to protect the processing of personal data. The Onix team has extensive experience in developing travel applications. We know how to ensure that your booking app meets all the legal requirements of the local policies it will operate under.
Regular and frequent testing. Make sure you test your booking app at every stage of the development process to ensure a high level of protection and prevent future security issues. For example, our QA engineers perform penetration tests to simulate attacks to catch security bugs and vulnerabilities.
Prepare an effective monetization strategy
With a mobile booking app, you can increase revenue with one or more monetization models. When choosing methods, knowledge of the target group is most important.
Here is a list of standard monetization models for mobile travel apps:
Marketplace. You can change hotels and other service providers who want to operate your platform.
Service fee. You may charge a fee for each booking made through your app. Booking.com charges fees for hotels and apartments that users book, while Airbnb charges users a commission.
Advertising. For example, hotels can pay to advertise on your platform if they want to be at the top of search results for a single query (eg city or region).
Subscription. You can offer users a subscription if they want to access more interesting offers and discounts.
In-app purchases. If your app is free, offer a premium version with more features or no ads.
Choose the model that fits your business goals. Consider multiple monetization models to maximize your revenue.
The proliferation of mobile devices offers hospitality businesses unique opportunities to reach and serve customers throughout their journey. By adopting a multi-channel approach, they can more easily engage travelers with enhanced mobile app features and provide guests with a convenient pre- and post-stay experience.
Hoteliers can hope for a bigger piece of the mobile booking pie with the right technology approach and app features. Onix has extensive experience in building web and mobile applications, including travel and hotel booking solutions. Let’s build a winning hotel booking app for your company with top mobile app development company Moon Technolabs!