Travelers are becoming more independent and less reliant on travel agents. Travel technology now helps millions of people book flights and hotel rooms and rent cars. People all over the world are comfortable planning entire trips using mobile devices. In fact, 48 percent of US travelers search, book, and plan trips using only a mobile device.
What’s more, travelers use mobile travel software to find activities and attractions, locate shopping areas and restaurants, and look up directions. These and other travel and technology trends are shaping the industry industry.
Mobile technology travel industry is famous for such solutions as HotelTonight, Kayak, and TripAdvisor. These platforms assist travelers daily. But what allowed these platforms to win such a large share of the market? Let’s find out.
HotelTonight is a last-minute hotel booking app. It launched in 2010 and since then has been revealing available rooms at discounted rates every day at noon. The company provides steep discounts on rooms by offering hotels’ unsold inventory.
HotelTonight makes money from each transaction, charging hoteliers 20 to 30 percent for each booking. In 2016, HotelTonight earned $500 million. Recently, Sam Shank, HotelTonight’s co-founder and CEO, announced that the service would let users reserve rooms 100 days in advance. The company made this shift to compete with Expedia and Priceline, which let travelers buy tickets, make hotel reservations, rent cars, book cruises, and purchase vacation packages.
Kayak has become a popular travel search engine and offers visitors the best deals on tickets, hotels, and car rentals. With a rich set of features, Kayak allows visitors to track prices on flights and hotels, organize travel information into itineraries, and choose flights according to their budgets. To let users compare prices for various travel products, Kayak aggregates information from supplier and online travel agency websites.
The company doesn’t sell anything to users, but rather informs them about available deals. Once a visitor selects a company they want to book from, Kayak directs them to the travel supplier or online travel agency to complete the transaction.
Kayak doesn’t charge customers for using the platform. The platform earns money in two ways: by referring visitors to suppliers and online travel agencies and by advertising services on the Kayak website and in the Kayak mobile apps. Approximately 30 percent of Kayak’s revenue is based on airline company referrals. Another 15 percent comes from hotel and rental car company referrals. More than half of Kayak’s revenue comes from ad placements. The company charges tourism service providers either per click or per impression. Since being acquired by Priceline, Kayak has achieved global exposure and increased its profits.
TripAdvisor started out as a website with reviews on transportation options and destinations. Then the service evolved into a user-generated content platform where people can share their genuine experiences with hotels, restaurants, and attractions and interact on forums.
Besides reviews, the service offers a variety of travel options. Users can access travel planning features and book flights or accommodation with sites including Expedia, Booking.com, Zuji.com, HotelClub, and Hotels.com after comparing prices and availability.
TripAdvisor is free for travelers. The platform’s revenue comes from different sources such as cost-per-click advertising, Google AdSense traffic monetization, sale-driven commissions, display advertising (banners and pop-ups), and subscription packages from inventory owners.
Using a cost-per-click model, hoteliers make bids to appear first in TripAdvisor search results. If a user clicks on a promoted listing, the hotelier pays the price they bid for that click. Hotels and other service providers also pay TripAdvisor to show their ads on the website.
With subscription packages, businesses pay TripAdvisor to display more information about their services. The price for packages is based on such factors as location, size, and traffic of the tourism service provider.
In 2017, TripAdvisor generated approximately $1.56 billion according to Statista.
Now that you know who’s got the market cornered, let’s look at which consumers are most likely to use your app, what services you can provide them, and how you can implement the necessary functionality.
An app’s value proposition depends on its target audience. For example, travel technology services for couples and newlyweds will differ from services for business trips. Here are the types of travelers you can target your solution at:
- retired people
- spring break and summer abroad students
group tourists (i.e. physically challenged, religious groups, different minority groups, etc.)
- business travelers
- people who are relocating due to a change in job or other circumstances
Future travel technology should cater to these segments of people and improve their experiences with brands. People are likely to look for services that are designed specifically for them.
You should carefully sift through the travel services you want to provide your users with. We’ve singled out services that can be the core of your travel platform technology.
Creating itineraries. People want convenience and less stress when planning trips. Choosing where to go and where to stay can be a problem, especially if a traveler is new to a place. If travelers knew where to start their experiences and where they could conclude them, this would give them much relief. That’s where travel itineraries come in. An itinerary should include the time necessary to get to attractions. It should also foresee circumstances like weather conditions and traffic. Itineraries can offer a map for sightseeing and help tourists prioritize places to visit. For example, TripIt organizes itineraries and lets users share their itineraries, which can automatically be synced with a user’s calendar.
Finding the best prices and schedules. People looking for the best travel deals want a variety of choices and the ability to compare prices. Flight booking and accomodation booking applications let users sift through options. Some solutions use predictive analytics, which helps predict when prices for airline tickets are likely to go up or down. For example, Hopper uses predictive analytics to search through massive amounts of data. It then identifies trends and price shifts to suggest the best times to book tickets.
Skyscanner lets users compare prices and book tickets with their preferred airline, displaying everything in a colored calendar. The service also sends price alerts when prices change.
Booking airline tickets and reserving seats. Booking tickets is probably the most important part of a journey, as tickets get you there and back. Famous services like Kayak, Hipmunk, and Hopper let users book flights
Consumers are ready to pay a fee to reserve a seat they feel comfortable with. You need to consider all the different passengers who will be travelling: passengers with infants, passengers with large carry-ons, nervous fliers, tall fliers, and so on. As a service provider, you can deliver the best seat for each traveler by letting them select from a map of plane seats. This way customers will feel cared for and will want to go back to your app for more.
Booking cruises. Cruises are growing in popularity. People who like care-free travel choose cruises over self-planned trips. Cruise passengers need to buy their tickets and packages somewhere. Offering cruise packages could be a savvy move. People also want to compare prices, choose a cabin, and learn about all the attractions and activities they can engage in on a cruise. This service can be delivered via both flight booking and accommodation booking apps. Famous apps for booking cruises include Expedia and Priceline.
Reserving hotels and other accommodation. Consumers want to conveniently reserve hotel rooms and other accommodation. Mobile apps can showcase a variety of options to help people choose lodging that best fits their needs. Great examples of accommodation booking services include Airbnb, HotelTonight, and OneNight.
Renting vehicles and other ground transportation. It can be problematic to find the right ground transportation once you arrive at a destination. It’s especially difficult if you don’t know the language. Apps can make finding vehicles less of a hassle. They can show available ground transportation options and even let you know where you need to get off a bus or tram. Transportation apps like Uber, Lyft, and other dedicated applications are especially useful. AllSubway, for instance, lets users access maps of metros in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Arranging customized events. Modern travelers don’t want to stay in their hotel rooms. They want to experience things and feel like locals. Some want to hold special events at exotic locations. Sometimes people want to have a wedding or a convention in a new destination. This can be a market to tap into. When arranging customized events, groups of people need to get to one destination from different locations and require ground transportation to get there.
Accommodation apps can help users arrange events. Airbnb has expanded their feature set to let users experience activities such as horseback riding and fishing with locals. If you go to Expedia, you’ll also find a Things to Do section.
Offering travel insurance. When travelling, it’s paramount to have the right level of insurance coverage. Travellers can be vulnerable to illnesses and accidents when they’re exploring new lands. Travel insurance policies usually compensate trip cancellation, medical issues, lost or stolen belongings, and medical evacuation. Without insurance, expenses can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can offer insurance coverage to your users to keep them on the safe side. Insurance coverage can be purchased via flight booking applications or when a person orders a holiday package via an app.
Offering travel advisories. Clients usually ask an agent about all travel-related matters. They see a travel agent to find out passport, visa, and vaccination requirements and other details related to the journey. What if clients could have a better, faster way to find out what’s necessary? With a travel app, users can enter their destination and get a checklist of what they need to do before they go. They can also get notified about events like storms or accidents at their destination.
Acting as a traveler's advocate. We all want to travel care-free. However, there are cases when consumers’ rights are violated or when a traveler doesn’t get what’s promised to them. In this case, someone should intervene and protect the consumer. There can also be vulnerable groups of people travelling such as people with special needs. They also need assistance and protection.
More than half of people use their smartphones for travel-related activities according to research by Google. There are many apps that help people enjoy their journeys. To make it easier for you, we’ve grouped them. We’ve also provided some examples for each type, singled out must-have features, and offered advice on technical implementation.
Flight booking applications allow users to compare prices for flights, book, and pay for tickets. There are many APIs that let you display real-time data on flights, let users book tickets, and even let users buy goods in duty-free stores. These APIs include the QPX Express API, Travel Fusion Flight API, and Cleartrip Flights API. You can integrate simple payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Google Wallet, and Apple Pay to let users pay straight from the app. For notifications, you can use plain APNS or FCM.
The Hopper app allows users to buy plane tickets and book hotel rooms at the lowest prices using advanced price prediction algorithms. Notifications are sent to users’ devices when prices go down. Hopper sends personalized recommendations based on flights you’re tracking, your past vacations, and your budget.
With accommodation booking applications, users can view available rooms accompanied by ratings and reviews. Such services allow users to book accommodation and pay for reservations. Some apps even let guests сheck in and get inside their hotel rooms with an electronic key.
To implement an accommodation booking feature, you can use APIs from Booking.com, AirBnB, Zumata, or Trivago. To create an electronic key, you can use NFC.
Marriott’s hotel booking app lists over 4,400 properties. The app lets guests check in before they enter a hotel. They can even open the door of the hotel room with an electronic key.
Airline applications can offer a range of features including viewing available reservations, booking flights, and selecting seats. Users of an airline application can also check in and get an eBoarding pass right in the application. Some airlines let users track their baggage, enjoy in-app entertainment while flying, and find lounge locations to deliver a great customer experience.
To implement a ticket booking feature, you can use APIs that belong to Kayak, Skyscanner, or Expedia. Тo locate lounges, you can use iOS Core Location, Apple Maps, or Google Maps.
Fly Delta is designed to make travelling easy. Users can book domestic and international flights, access their eBoarding passes, reserve seats, and check in. Users can also track their bags and pay for them via Fly Delta. There’s even the possibility to save a photo of a parking spot.
When flying to another city, travelers can’t bring their vehicles. But they need to get around somehow. That’s where transport applications come in handy. These apps can show routes and give access to transportation information. Travelers can even share routes with friends and family. What’s more, you can integrate your solution with existing taxi and ride sharing services.
To add transportation schedules, you can use Google Maps or Yandex Maps. But it’s best to use local and more precise services. To implement taxi services within your app, you can use APIs such as Uber, FlightStats, Lyft, Gett, or Taxify. You can integrate your app with BlaBlaCar too.
The Citymapper application lets users access routes with official data from local transport companies. After entering a postcode, road name, or landmark, Citymapper will come up with transport options such as walking, cycling, Uber, Gett, and public transport. Public transit maps are available in just a click. Users can then share their routes with friends and family. The application is integrated with Google StreetView and shows where to get on or off public transport.
You can become your own guide with a travel guide application that gives access to guides for different cities. With this type of application, travelers can get information about attractions and events. You can also add currency converters and text-to-speech capabilities. Some solutions can even let users navigate a city by voice.
You can build a travel guide with smart algorithms. To do this, developers can crawl data from content sources such as World66, Wikivoyage, Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, TouristEye, and Flickr, parse this data, and form a record for each location. To implement text-to-speech capabilities, you can use the text-to-speech Google library for Android and the Speech Synthesis core framework for iOS. For voice navigation, you can use the Google Directions API. The Google Places API can be used to get information about places of different types.
Triposo is a travel app guide that works offline. The application takes information from millions of websites, sorts it, and gives tailored recommendations. It includes maps with information about sights, places to sleep and eat, and nightlife. There’s also a currency converter and phrase books with text-to-speech capabilities.
The cost of developing a travel app will depend on the particular type of app. For example, to build a simple accommodation booking solution you’ll spend about 320 hours on iOS development and 400 hours on Android development. A website can take approximately 170 hours. You can multiply these numbers by the hourly rate of your developers to get an approximate development cost for a hotel booking app. But this will be a rough estimate since every project is unique and there are many types of mobile travel solutions with specific feature sets. You also need to consider the time spent on wireframing and creating a detailed project requirements document. Besides core features, you may want to include nice-to-have features that are relevant for your target audience. You also need to consider time spent on testing your product.
People will always be interested in exploring new places. To make people’s travel experiences as enjoyable as possible, you can provide your users with a mobile solution. A travel application can cater to travelers going on any type of holiday and can meet any user need. Consumers want to create itineraries, access travel guides, and book flights and hotel rooms conveniently. Your travel technology provider can translate whatever service you want to deliver into a mobile app.
We recommend checking out Spotvice, a travel app we’ve built. Spotvice lets users share great places to visit with their friends.
If you’re looking for travel app development services, get in touch with us! We can build you a mobile solution that meets your users’ expectations and aligns with your business goals.