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How to Develop Travel Mobile App for Tourists?

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Yuri Musienko
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A tourist trip is a combination of several typical actions: finding a vacation spot, booking a hotel room, buying tickets, planning a vacation route, sightseeing tours, visiting restaurants, etc. Travel agencies used to plan all this, but now tourists themselves prefer to do it using apps like TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Meetup and Google Flights. In this article, we'll show you how to develop such a mobile app and how much it costs. We also advise you to carefully read our article about MOBILE APPS DEVELOPMENT TRENDS 2022.

Application development step by step

The process of developing an app can be roughly divided into six main stages. Here is a brief description.

Step 1. Choosing a niche

The first decision you must make is to decide exactly what your application will do. It can be an application for travel planning, booking hotel rooms, buying air tickets, renting a car, finding restaurants, finding travel partners, exploring local attractions and culture, or other useful activity for travelers.

The capabilities and functionality of apps will depend on this decision.

Step 2. Researching the market and competitors

After you have decided on the niche of the application, you can start analyzing the market and competitors. The market can be explored through research such as the Travelport Digital report on  the role of mobile communication in travel. A lot of data can also be found on sites like Statista.

The best way to research your competitors is to try out the best travel apps in your chosen niche. Explore their features and capabilities, what is unique about them and what they lack. Also, research the audience's reaction to them in order to understand what you need to do to be better than your competitors.

Step 3. Selecting the functions of your application

Identify features that are absolutely necessary to support the main purpose of the service and those that, if not required, can improve the user experience. It is advisable that you do this by researching similar applications and noting features that are useful and that the target audience likes.

Step 4. Hiring a development company

We recommend hiring a development company, rather than freelancers, as companies have a more professional work environment and an experienced team of specialists who are well versed in their tasks. Such team usually includes:
  • 1 project manager.
  • 1-2 UX / UI designers.
  • 2-3 mobile application developers.
  • 1-2 QA testers.

Step 5. Discussion and development

Hiring developers, you must explain them your ideas and business goals. An experienced team will understand what you want to do, even if the idea is not very clear. Together, you will develop technical documentation for the application and draw up an action plan, which usually consists of 5 stages.

How to develop travel mobile app for tourists

Step 6. Promotion and advertising

Any application, no matter how unique, reliable, secure and feature-rich it may be, cannot be successful if you do not promote it on the appropriate platforms. Such platforms can be any online and offline sites where your target audience is. For example, you can ask a famous travel blogger to promote your service or advertise it on your YouTube channel and / or Facebook page.

Key features of the travel app

To help you with the third step of developing a mobile app, we have compiled a list of key features, as well as additional features that may be useful for tourists. To do this, we built the path of an ordinary tourist and noted those things that can satisfy his needs and / or solve possible problems along the way.

1. Firstly, the tourist needs to plan the trip. Here you need:

  • Trip planner. It is an organizer in which you can store a route map, destinations, tickets, schedules and contacts. Services like Google Trips and TripIt are good examples.
2. Now, after the trip has been planned, you need to book a place to stay in a hotel, hostel, bungalow or private house.
  • This is a function that will help you find affordable accommodation in the desired city and book a room / apartment. Typically, you need to implement a map, cards with a description of housing, as well as ratings with reviews. This segment is dominated by giants such as Booking.com,  AirBnB and Trivago. And what's great is that these platforms provide their APIs for free for travel app developers, so you only need to implement a geolocation map and API for hotel booking.
3. At the next stage, you need to take care of transport, that is, you need to buy / book tickets for a plane, bus, train or rent a car.
  • Ordering tickets. Global platforms such as Skyscanner, KAYAK and Expedia rule the parade here. They usually already have their own ticket selling application, so it will be difficult for you to compete with them directly, but you can use their API to provide information about available tickets and buy them as a non-main, but an additional function.
  • Car rental. Hertz, Sixt, and Avis are good examples of inheritance here. See how they implemented the main features and copy them in your travel app.
4. You also need to always remember that now, before making a final decision, tourists always look through information about hotels, airlines, car rental companies and all other services in the Internet.
  • Ratings and reviews. They are needed not only for places to stay, but also for places that the user would like to visit and for the services that he intends to use. TripAdvisor is a great example here and the good news is that it provides a free API.
5. And the last but not the least important detail before starting a tourist trip is checking the weather forecast.
  • Weather forecast. This feature is not really required, but it will greatly enhance the user experience. The best way to integrate it into your application is to use a free API like OpenWeatherMap, Yahoo! Weather, Weather Underground or Forecast.Io.
6. When a tourist goes on a journey, the first thing he needs is proper navigation. Especially if it's an independent journey.
  • Maps and geolocation. They usually take Google Maps and Apple Maps as examples, as well as their smaller counterparts: HERE WeGo and Maps.me. This function can be implemented using Google Maps SDK, Facebook, Google Places API. And remember that all of this should work offline too.
7. So, the tourist has arrived at his destination and wants to get to his hotel.
  • Local transport. You can find a map and timetable for local public transport in Google Maps or Yandex, Maps. You can connect to them through the Google Maps SDK and the Yandex.Maps API.
  • Search and order a taxi. Next, you should make sure that the tourist has the opportunity to call a taxi after arrival. Uber API or Taxify API can help with this. At the same time, do not forget about car sharing, as in BlaBlaCar. Also BlaBlaCar has a local bus and train schedule.
8. After checking into the hotel, the tourist will certainly want to see something unusual, colorful and unique, in addition to traditional tourist places.
  • Directory / search engine of interesting places. Use the Culture Trip app as an example for some of the most exciting and incredible things to see, do, and experience in over 300 locations around the world. It is relatively easy to implement this function using the Google Maps API, independently mapping things which tourists are interested in and adding a small description to them, as well as contacts of guides.
9. You also need to think about how the tourist will communicate with the locals.
  • If you want to develop a travel app that focuses on translation, it will be very difficult for you to make it popular as you have to surpass Google Translate. But you can use Microsoft's Translate API (provides 2 million characters a month for free) as an advanced feature.
10. Everything is going well, the tourist is enjoying the trip, but suddenly he has a stomach ache or he loses a child in the crowd. What to do?
  • Search for emergency services. The travel app should contain the contacts of the local police and medical services. In addition, it is advisable to also add contacts and addresses of embassies and consulates.
  • Adding a social component to your application is a great idea. From fairly simple features like posting to integration with preferred social networks via APIs like the Facebook API.
What else can a tourist need?
  • Local and World Time.
  • Search for the nearest restrooms.
  • Search for free Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Currency converter, search for banks.
  • Other things.

Travel app monetization models

Fees

If a tourist uses your mobile application to buy tickets, book a hotel room, pay for tours or rent a car, then you, as an intermediary, can charge commissions on all such transactions. Of course, you will need to negotiate with the relevant companies (for example, with hotel chain owners or airlines), but they are unlikely to be against cooperation.

Lite- and Pro-versions

You offer the user a free set of basic functions (Lite version) and at the same time push them to upgrade to the paid Pro version with advanced features. There are several types of such a way to monetize a mobile application: subscription, Freemium model, combinatorial model.

In-app advertising

This approach is used in almost all applications, since, as in the case of the Lite and Pro models, it allows tourists to use the mobile application for free, and at the same time the owner of the service will still receive his income (and quite large).

Partnership programs

This model implies that you will place referral links inside your application and receive income every time your users become leaders. There are many such partner programs, especially in the segment of hotel reservations, air ticket purchases and car rental.

In-app purchases

You can sell anything in your travel app - from insurance services to souvenir towels, it all depends on the niche and your imagination. The main thing is not to impose purchases at every step.

Paid application

The simplest monetization model, but it is far from always effective since you will always need a constant influx of new users. To do this, you need to try very hard.

The cost of creating a travel app

How to develop travel mobile app for tourists


How to Develop Travel Mobile App for Tourists? key takeaways:
  1. #1. Application development step by step
  2. #2. Step 1. Choosing a niche
  3. #3. Step 2. Researching the market and competitors
  4. #4. Step 3. Selecting the functions of your application
  5. #5. Step 4. Hiring a development company
  6. #6. Step 5. Discussion and development
  7. #7. Step 6. Promotion and advertising
  8. #8. Key features of the travel app
  9. #9. Travel app monetization models
  10. #10. Fees
  11. #11. Lite- and Pro-versions
  12. #12. In-app advertising
  13. #13. Partnership programs
  14. #14. In-app purchases
  15. #15. Paid application
  16. #16. The cost of creating a travel app
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Yuri Musienko
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Merehead is a leading development company

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