Travelers’ expectations for customer experience have drastically changed over the last decade. People are becoming more and more comfortable searching for hotels or vacation rentals and flight booking via smartphones. The number of online travel booking market users worldwide is expected to increase to 823,6 million in 2023.
Today, hotel aggregators, online travel agencies, and hotel websites have to capture omnichannel shoppers that jump between desktop, mobile browsers, and apps. If you want to meet people's expectations in flight or hotel booking, in-destination check-in, and customer support, it’s time to think about the development of the hotel booking app.
This article explains how to create a hotel booking app, what features to include, approximate hotel booking app costs, and many more helpful development tips and insights. Please keep reading!
Booking technology and hotel apps influence the decisions of 70% of travelers. The results of building a hotel reservation app for a business may include the following:
The main features of an MVP for a mobile booking app should or may include:
Users can register via Facebook account, phone number, or email. To keep your customers’ accounts secure, put appropriate identification, authentication, and authorization measures in place. For example, sign-in with Touch ID and Face ID is also faster and more convenient.
The app should store various customer information, like personal info, credit cards, preferred language and currency, and more. For example, hotels and other hospitality companies can partner with international corporations. Employee benefits companies that provide travel discounts as part of employment benefits packages or professional associations that offer benefits in exchange for membership dues. This information should be in the system.
Customers can see how many points and benefits they earned, determine how to redeem them, and track their progress towards tiers and rewards. They can view their booking history, favorite hotels saved for future quick booking, and wishlist, view and download hotel folios, and receive bonuses, discounts, and personalized offers based on this data.
According to Statista, search is the top reason people use a travel mobile application.
The app should have precise, flexible, and self-explanatory search options. Let’s look at how you can make your search options effective:
Flexible search filters. Search filters should help narrow the results according to user search priority. Booking.com and Skyscanner are prime examples of flexible search options; users can sort search results based on star rating, price range, review score, and popularity.
Personalized suggestions. It’s helpful for your product to have personalized recommendations based on the user’s online booking history. If a particular location has already been visited, it’s good to suggest visiting a similar place.
Accessibility and visibility. Search options should be easy-to-access and visible. Compare searching for accommodation on the map in Airbnb and Booking.com. Airbnb indicates the price on the map to choose the location and see the accommodation fees. With Booking.com, the icon of each hotel needs to be clicked to find the accommodation cost.
Content prioritization. A search results page should be designed according to your business interests. See how differently Booking.com and Skyscanner search results are displayed.
Booking.com presents more items (with small images of properties) on a single screen than Skyscanner. The latter offers large photos with only the most basic information. The difference is a result of their different goals.
With its powerful metasearch engine, Skyscanner connects travelers with airline websites or with hotels and OTAs. The main purpose is to inspire and attract users to visit a service provider’s website. Booking.com has a different booking system, as it is a direct reseller. Its main objective is to have users make flight and hotel bookings immediately. As a result, there are more detailed offers on Booking.com.
Before making a choice, travelers need a close-up of the hotel room. The app should offer an overview, photo gallery, social media buttons, suggestions, etc. For example, Hilton Honors allows users to pick a room themselves, with street maps helping to find the perfect view. Geolocation should enable directions to the reserved hotel. Immersive videos and virtual tours with 360-degree photos would dynamically showcase hotel suites, halls, and other areas. It’s also smart to present your restaurant menu and offer a table, spa treatments, additional hotel services, and possibly things to do nearby during hotel room booking.
Ideally, the booking process should take a few swipes and clicks. Users should be able to pay safely using a preferred method: debit or credit cards, PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Pay or another payment option. Touch ID or Face ID would make future bookings quick and secure with the payment data entered once and stored in the app. Customers should also be able to easily apply their points, discounts, bonuses, and promo codes. Once they have paid for the accommodation, they should receive an online receipt which can be shown at the hotel reception. Don’t forget about an opt-out allowing customers to pay at check-in.
Empower users to modify reservations. Travelers will also appreciate free cancellation until the last 24 hours.
Customers may need to contact the hotel directly and send files, e.g., in case of any query or exclusive hotel deals, or if they want food, drinks, or anything else in their room before arrival or before checking out. Human-to-human messaging will enable users to request items and services, ask questions, and solve any problems quickly.
Travelers, especially when using last-minute booking services, expect an immediate response from the booking app. It should provide a real-time notification system for hotels and travelers. Besides booking confirmations, the app may send alerts informing/reminding users about check-in and check-out times, changes in rates, disruptions, etc. It may remind users about scheduled activities and upcoming events during the stay and promote special offers, packages, and deals at the hotel’s restaurant or spa. As an online booking app development company we have implemented all these features in our clients' projects. If you are interested in more about this, please contact us.
The technology stack impacts many hotel booking app development aspects. The chosen technologies will largely determine whether your mobile app will be scalable, secure, maintainable, and perform well. It will also directly impact your budget and time-to-market.
Below we prepared a list of reliable technologies and tools that allows you to build a robust, reliable booking mobile app with a competitive advantage and future growth prospects.
As a rule of thumb you can follow the checklist below to create a booking app minimum viable product (MVP):
1. Market research, user research, analysis of the best hotel booking apps in your niche, and identification of the future app’s primary concept.
2. Development of a unique value proposition and choice of the distribution areas and platform(s) for the hotel reservation app (if needed).
4. User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design aiming at intuitive and straightforward user flow and appealing look-and-feel
5. Mobile application front- and backend development. This will include integrations with booking engines, payment gateways, hotel property management system, customer relationship management systems, and other software to ensure your hospitality business's smooth, safe, and error-free sales and operation.
6. Testing at all levels to ensure the hotel reservation app is effective, easy to navigate, and fast.
7. Development of the marketing strategy for your application.
8. Publication on the Apple App Store, Google Play, or other channels where target audiences can download the app.
Read also: Airbnb-like App Development
This chapter will concentrate on travel-specific aspects and clear up crucial details to build a workable and prosperous product for your hotel business.
The hotel reservation app development process should start with 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 a key to specifying the required steps for achieving needed results.
For example, at Onix, we start our booking app development with a product discovery stage. This stage allows us to determine project complexity and features to develop, test the market viability, establish deadlines, and plan a project. The product discovery phase enables us to organize smooth and timely product development and stay on the same page with our clients.
The app type depends on your business objectives. For instance, if you’re a hotelier, you might partner with local businesses to offer your patrons the ability to rent a car or arrange a fishing trip from your app. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, you can aim to create a booking aggregator or an OTA app.
Winning potential users comes down to a UVP and proper positioning. Here’re some worthwhile models for consideration:
Admin panel is part of every mobile booking app. The lack of a well-thought-out tailored solution makes it difficult to manage all listings and trace essential data.
Before building a hotel booking application, you have to consider vital things:
Security is crucial, especially in the booking app, since it uses users' private data and holds payment processes. Every business is vulnerable to hacking, especially a lot of fraud in the online tourism business. However there are some best practices you can follow to prevent security issues and keep your app security at the highest level. Let's look at them:
You can drive revenue via your mobile bookings app using one or several monetization models. Knowledge of the target audience is paramount when the methods are selected.
Here’s a list of standard monetization models for mobile travel apps:
Choose the model that matches your business goals. Consider multiple monetization models to maximize your revenue.
The cost of mobile app development for a hotel business is comprised of various factors such as:
To estimate the total cost, you also have to consider the number of specialists you need that may vary depending on the type of application, the number of features, and the project’s complexity.
Moreover, the development cost depends on the country where services are offered and the development company rate. Take a look at the average rates of IT specialists from different countries and compare their hourly rates.
To give you a general idea of how the app costs are estimated, let's take a look at the example below. We show you how much it might cost to build an MVP version of a native mobile booking app. We consider only the main features to calculate roughly how much the app design and development will cost.
Note: This is only an approximate example of cost. Prices are calculated individually depending on the type of your application, whether it's a development from scratch or an old version update, what development approach you need, the technologies required, and many more factors.
We've considered the approximate cost of developing a hotel booking app. But remember that the amount depends on your requirements and the project's specifics.
If you want to calculate your app development costs, share your app idea with us, and we'll be in touch shortly.
The proliferation of mobile devices offers hospitality businesses unique opportunities to reach out to and serve customers throughout their journey. By adopting a multi-channel approach, they can engage travelers easier with enhanced features on mobile apps and provide a convenient guest experience before and after the stay.
Hoteliers can hope for a bigger slice of the mobile booking pie with the right technological approach and app features in place. Onix has extensive experience building web and mobile applications, including custom travel and hospitality solutions. Let’s build the winning hotel booking app for your company together!