Mobile apps are taking over the world and chances are pretty good that, no matter what you’re trying to do, there is already an app for it. Some apps are games, some are learning tools, others let you listen to music or watch videos, and some help you get things done quickly and conveniently.
Booking apps are especially good at making daily life easier. These types of apps serve many purposes and therefore can be used in a wide variety of industries and businesses, including airlines, hotels, taxis, beauty salons, gyms, restaurants, and more.
Booking in advance makes life easier
Booking in advance is a great service that many businesses can offer their customers. By being able to book a service, table, or an appointment beforehand, customers can rest assured that all they need to do is show up on schedule. A booking app is an absolute must-have for busy people, and who’s not busy nowadays?
Just like on-demand food delivery apps have become incredibly popular among modern consumers, booking applications are also becoming a major part of life for a great number of people. 80% of all Internet users have a smartphone and the fact that more than 50% of them pick up their phones first thing in the morning makes developing a booking app, when appropriate, a significant part of a successful business plan.
If you already have a successful business up and running, a mobile application with a booking feature can work towards increasing your customer base. Providing the best service often means combining comfort and convenience with effective performance of that particular service, and is there anything just as comfortable and convenient as offering your service within the reach of your clients’ fingertips?
However, it’s important to consider that building a booking app is not always easy. Booking apps tend to be very complex programs that offer many features and solve difficult scheduling problems, but this isn’t really as much your concern as it is your tech team’s. What you need to focus on is that a flawless user experience is the absolute goal of any business in the service field. For this goal to be achieved, your app needs to have a set of specific features to really make the life of users easier.
What features should a great booking app have?
Anyone developing an app (or product) of any sort should consider starting with a minimum viable product (MVP) version of it. Developing an MVP booking app can help businesses determine which features are critical to their app’s success, which are nice to have, and which aren’t really that important.
Since the main goal is always to provide a flawless user experience, apps should always be developed with users’ needs in mind, taking into account their behaviour and feedback to adjust the course of the app’s development accordingly.
Regardless of whether you start with an MVP app or you dive into launching the full version right away, you’ll want to include as many of the following must-have features as you can upon launching to increase your chances of expanding your customer base.
Ability to create an account
Ideally, you’d want your customers to be able to create their own account within the system. This makes the process of personalization a whole lot easier for three main reasons:
Your clients will be able to make appointments and store them on their devices, without having to remember everything on the to-do list.
By knowing what your clients book the most often, you’ll be able to suggest other similar booking options to them, potentially increasing your sales. This is done by implementing machine learning to collect and analyze vast amounts of data. (For example, Facebook uses machine learning to suggest people you may know to “friend” and Netflix suggests movies you might like, based on the data in your account).
Loyalty programs are something many people enjoy, and you can offer clients who have an account an easy way to get discounts, rewards, or maybe even some free appointments, which is definitely an attractive benefit for them.
Sharp, clean, and intuitive design
App design is as important as the app itself, if not more so. You want your application to provide people with comfort and convenience, which means you definitely don’t want it to be confusing or cluttered.
When designing the app, make the most important features easy to find so that users don’t get tired or bored when looking for them. Make the color scheme pleasant to look at, design transitions to be soundless and seamless, make images crystal clear, and work constantly to improve the user experience in every possible way. As a result of a sharp, clean, and intuitive design, you’ll develop an app that people will want to use over and over again.
Ability to leave and read reviews
Customers often look to book services which they’ve never tried before. It’s common practice - maybe you’re new to the area or maybe your friends don’t have any good recommendations, but you still need to get that thing off of your to-do list. This is where reviews from other people come in.
A breathtaking image gallery can help give the customer a good, although a bit biased, idea of what they can expect when using your service, but nothing is more persuasive than seeing many different people rave about that new restaurant around the corner or that beauty salon down the street.
By letting people read reviews and leave their own, you can position your business as one that’s trustworthy and works hard to make customers happy. The trick here is to know how to handle negative reviews in an effective (and transparent) way.
Using CTAs to really call to action
Call to action (CTA) buttons like book, share, rate etc. are meant to persuade people into completing whatever action is useful for your business (and for them). Design the app in such a way as to set up a user flow that encourages them to complete the action. Buttons should be easy to find, simple to use, and giving the user a feeling of pleasant accomplishment upon completion.
Make sure that your app’s design is straightforward enough to provide people the ability to book their appointment, reserve a table, or any other applicable CTA, easily. This way, you can ensure that your CTAs are enticing and effective. You can also make adjustments to CTAs by looking at how users interact with them.
Integration with social media services
Like, Tweet, or Share - these are the new holy pillars of advertisement. For your business to thrive and spread among many people as quickly as possible, you’ve got to give them the tools that enable sharing, and social media integration is exactly what is needed for that. Think about it: a customer finds a service they enjoy, books an appointment, and then instantly shares this with their friends on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. This has two effects:
People will see the booked service.
People will see the app from which it has been booked.
If you’ve added reviews to your app, users could also share what they thought of your service once they’ve experienced it. No matter how you look at it, integrating social media sharing into your app can be a win-win situation for everyone.
Variety of payment options
Billing and payment factors can account for 20 percent or more of total customer satisfaction rates, which makes the payment process that users encounter fairly important. Make sure that customers have a variety of payment methods available, like PayPal, credit cards, or maybe even Bitcoin. The more ways there are for them to pay, the happier they’ll be when paying with their preferred method, and this convenience will increase the chances that they’ll come back to book your service again.
A booking app serves as the intermediary between customers and services and that means things can go wrong. To avoid confusion, you need customer support staff to answer calls and/or reply to emails, helping customers figure out whatever problems they might be having with the booking service. Sure, you want everything to be absolutely perfect, but things don’t always go that way, and customer support is an effective safety cushion for those rare times when they don’t.
Apart from the list of main features, you can also improve your app with a few additional nice-to-have features.
Option to store credit card information
The ability to store credit card information makes your customers’ lives easier; (this feature could also be included as a must-have if you’ve got the resources to add it in before launching your app). Instead of having to type in a bunch of numbers every time, users could simply have a card tied to their account and would only need to punch in their pin code to complete a booking.
Currency and language settings
This feature is important if you’re planning to have an international app (or one that needs functionality for people using different currencies and languages). Implementing these settings for your booking mobile application will definitely make customer lives much easier.
Making appointments is easy. Remembering them - not so much. That’s why a built-in personal calendar where your customers will be able to store all of their important bookings and appointments could be a very handy feature to add to your app.
Along with calendars, alerts could also be incredibly useful. Upcoming appointment alerts will remind customers not to miss a booking, decreasing the chance of no-shows for your business and providing another convenient feature to users.
Ability to store data in the cloud
Syncing your app with the cloud could be helpful for backup purposes. In case something goes wrong, having cloud backups will allow your customers to quickly restore all of their important data with just a few swipes on the screen.
While these features are not vital to your app’s launch, they could be something to consider adding once the app is launched successfully as polishing touches to reach the app’s maximum capacity.
Booking apps that have made it big
Let’s take a look at some of the booking apps on the market that have already had success using some or all of the features we’ve just gone over.
MyTime is probably the best possible example for this article. This app helps its users discover nearby businesses of all sorts and instantaneously book an appointment with one of them, without any additional charges. Services like this one are the ultimate future of the whole industry, making booking appointments easier and more convenient than they’ve ever been.
OpenTable is the biggest table reservation service available on the market, giving its users access to more than 40,000 restaurants worldwide. It allows customers to pick restaurants based on their preferred type of cuisine, location, or even price range. The app also has a “Hot Tables” function that makes it possible for people to receive alerts when a table at a popular restaurant becomes available after a cancellation, helping customers secure sought after reservations at the hottest places.
Booking.com is undoubtedly one of the most well-known booking apps currently available. It connects users with nearly a million and a half properties all over the world, presenting a truly wide variety of prices, locations, and conditions to choose from when planning a vacation or business trip. Once a user picks a destination, they can read through some of the 122,960,000 property reviews available to choose a place they’ll absolutely love to stay at.
ZocDoc was created to help users find a good doctor. Taking into account the user’s insurance plan coverage, location, and other needs, ZocDoc aims to make searching for the right doctor less of a hassle. Users can find specialists in their area specifically by filtering all of them through their insurance coverage and other personal preferences, making booking doctor appointments easy, convenient, and useful.
ClassPass is exactly the type of service people need when looking for something to do that goes beyond their daily routines. It allows users to try new things by finding classes and venues near their location with available spots, enabling them to reserve that spot right away. Alternatively, users can also look for a specific class by simply adding a few filters into their search process.
Developing a booking app for your business
Developing a booking application is not easy, but with the right development team and a good vision for a mobile app, it can greatly benefit all sorts of businesses. It’s important to consider the many features that could be included and the logistics behind the app’s development should be planned to ensure that the final product meets the needs of both the business and its users.
Does your business need a booking app? Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our sales representatives for a detailed analysis of your project and estimation of what it will take to turn your idea into reality.