Whoever said Travel is breathing couldn’t have put it better. Looking at the super busy schedules people have nowadays, it is imperative to take a breather every now and then, hoping to a relaxing location and come back fully charged to face the monotony of daily lives.
So, tell me how long it takes from dreaming of a trip to experiencing one? Well, as per Google (which virtually all of us depend on), just two tiny steps of planning and booking.
Coming back to point, tell me the best way today to make your travel worthwhile. With booking app for our rescue, we really can’t think farther.
Hotel Booking Market & Business Model
Well, Travel and Hospitality industry are growing at a rapid pace and today customers have instantly gravitated towards online booking. In fact, in the USA alone, there are 88% residents who prefer to use a digital channel for hotel booking.
To book your stay via a mobile app is really super quick, easy, and enjoyable. And it has never been so affordable and rewarding to develop a hotel booking app. It is estimated that the global market volume for online hotel bookings will be exceeding $174 million in 2022.
Even though hotel reservation is the core of hotel booking mobile app, but there is a lot more to it. Like, most of hotel booking apps also allow its users to book a restaurant, taxi, flight, package holidays, or even a cruise; they get to discover new and refreshing travel destinations or places to see, read reviews given by other travelers, their stories and a lot more. So, it won’t be wrong if you imagine your hotel app as a travel app.
So, if you are looking to create an online hotel booking app, but have no clue about how to proceed, worry not as here we will be taking you for a tour to essentialities of hotel booking technology.
Digital travel sales worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)
This timeline shows the online travel sales worldwide from 2014 to 2020. In 2016, global online travel sales totaled 564.87 billion U.S. dollars. This figure is projected to grow to 755.94 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
Types of Business Model
First things first, you need to understand the types of business model which online hotel booking system is set on. So it varies from Merchant Model, Aggregator Model, Advertising Model, & Dedicated Model.
Let’s understand each of them:
Well, what happens here is that the app owner enters into a contract with the hotel to get rights over a number of rooms which they get on discount due to wholesale rate. Later on, they offer these rooms to their app users with an average margin of 10-40%. Now the prices of each of the room and hotel can be very flexible and may change as per the travel demands.
Expedia is the best example of this type of app, with it controlling a huge part of world digital travel business, which is 17%, and it offers myriad choice in more than 200 countries across the world. But only massive capital gain give enough resources to Expedia to use the merchant model.
This type of hooking booking app happens to be the most commonly used due to a very simple logic.
Well, these kinds of apps are connected with a number of online booking service, hence as a user starts looking for a place for his/her stay, a unified list of hotels are displayed to him but with several price options from various reservation platforms. Once he chooses the appropriate accommodation, he is redirected to the website of the corresponding booking platform.
The best examples of this type are HotelLook and Booking.com.
This is the third type which allows making money on your own hotel booking app. Owners can get a specified amount on each user that has been redirected onto hotel websites. Even though this is the least profitable model, but it also doesn’t require any investment or any risk.
For example, there is Tripadvisor. It gains its most profit from advertising models as it charges cost-per-click.
This is most often used approach by the renowned hotel chains, like Hilton, Grand Hyatt, Marriott, who have their own apps uniting all of their hotels and resort brands. Meanwhile, having a separate mobile app for your hotel or chains will be reasonable only it’s famous and big enough. Besides, these apps aren’t just for booking purpose, as they also take in special requests made by users during their stay, such as order ironing board, extra pillows, a cup of coffee, whatever they need.
Benefits of Hotel Booking app:
- To Customer: They get many benefits like Security, Convenience, Discounts, Efficiency, Reliability, Best value for money, and what not. It’s a one-stop solution (entire trip can be arranged from the app itself).
- To Hotel: It’s beneficial to attract direct bookings as you can sell at higher rates. Then there is a lot more like, Automation, User-Data, Direct Reach out, Brand Promise, Customer Loyalty.
- To Travel Agent: You can give a boost to your business as an app allow for New market exploration, unleash creative spirit, user data, user engagement, and brand recognition.
- To App Business Owner: They get to seek endless benefits ranging from user engagement, user variety, multiple revenue streams (subscription, commission, ads, fees, etc.
Hotel Booking Mobile App Features
- Search:As your user start looking for the hotel, they search parameters will include: Destination (City or address), Date (check-in & check-out dates), Number of people (adults, kids (if any), and also information about pets (in case they are carrying), Number of rooms or accommodation type.
- Book & Cancellation: Once the user has picked a hotel, they are taken to an easy and safe payment gateway to make the payment, using various payment options such as Credit/Debit Card, PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe. In case, the customer desires to cancel the booking, most hotel booking services offer free cancellation policy until the last 24 hours. Hence it’s convenient for the users but can cause complications for hotel owners or OTAs, as mostly cancellations are done a day or two before the due date.
- View accommodation: Audience often wants a close-up of the accommodation before making a choice, so the app can always offer an overview, accommodation offers, pool view, room status, photo gallery, suggestions, maps, social media buttons, etc.
- User Account: Here the user information is stored, like their booking history, wish-list, chosen language & currency and more. Here they receive discounts and personalized offers based on data app owner collected from their profile.
- Hotel Account: Here the information related to hotels is stored in available rooms, prices, information about offers, deals, and discounts, basic information, etc.
- Payment Gateway: The app users, when sure about the accommodation, can make in-app payments using various of payment modes offered within the app, ranging from Braintree, Stripe, PayPal, and Debit/Credit Cards.
- Hotel Information: Entire of the hotel related information can be found in the app, like a number of rooms available, prices, discounts, amenities, and everything else.
- Push Notification: Sends instant alerts to the app users inform them about their booking, check-in/check-out time, new offers, discounts, and what not.
- Instant messenger: There is an instant messenger facility within the app, which the users can use in case of any query, exclusive deals, reservation confirmation, personalized tips & advice, reviews & ratings, to convey their requirements during the stay, so to make it more of a personalized experience for them.
- Online Receipt: Once users make the payment online for their accommodation, they are sent an Online Receipt on their mobile phone, which can be shown at hotel reception upon their arrival.
- CRM Integration: This integration of this technology is crucial in case of hotel booking app where the customer experience is everything and to ensure your customer feel-at-home, this feature will come greatly useful.
- Marketing Tools: There are a number of marketing tools available out there which allow you to reach out to your audience and win over them, such Chatbots, paid social networking advertising, Email marketing, push notifications, and many more.
Recommendation engine: Based on the users’ previous searches, the app providers tailor recommendation, like TripAdvisor offers “Just for You” personalized hotel recommendations, while Booking.com offers alternative destinations. With more and more personal data accured, the algorithm will be able to produce tremendous results.
Room cost -forecast: To deal with the constant fluctuations in flight and hotel costs, users can have a cost forecast and then plan accordingly. With their data history, an algo is built taking account of demand growth, airlines’ special deals and offers, seasonal trends. With predictive analysis, users can book cheaper flights and hotel rooms.
On the go travel assistant: With intelligent travel assistants such as Chatbots, Google Assistant, WeChat, Messanger, customers are provided better customer experience 24/7. Users can easily navigate through common issues with their help.
Language & Currency Converter: The app easily adjusts language and currency based on the customer location. It’s also a part of a personalized strategy.
Virtual Tour (Using VR): Users can have their way around the hotel by exploring still photos, immersive videos, and also virtual tours with 360 photos. This way they get to see various sections of the hotel dynamically.
Analytics Dashboard: Admin is enabled to have a view at customer dashboard, hotel dashboard, flights dashboard, and this facilitates real-time decision-making. For instance, low booking price can be offered when the bookings at lesser in some city during a particular season.
Places Nearby: Using the geo-location tracking features, customers can easily search the places nearby, such as tourist destinations, restaurants, movie theatres, malls, etc.
Car/Taxi Booking: With third-party integration with Uber, Ola and many alike, the app owners allow users to book taxi and cabs easily during their travel.
Trip Planner: The app doesn’t just book hotels, but it also helps the users in planning out their entire trip and provides a personalized trip planner.
Restaurant Booking: Using the third-party app integration feature within the app, users can also book restaurants during their trip from the app itself. Thus, making it super-convenient for the users.
Hotel Comparison: The app facilitates this feature where you can compare the hotels within the app and can choose the one that suits your requirements accordingly.
User Contribution: The app enables users to contribute to the app by making them share their experience by travel blogs, vlogs, pictures, reviews, etc.
- Trip Stories
- Travel Tips & Advice
- Community Portal
- Rating & Reviews
- Photo Galleries
Third Party App Integration:
- Taxi App: Users can book taxi and cabs within the app itself during their trip.
- Navigation: Google maps and Apple maps are integrated into the app so that users don’t face any difficulty in finding locations during the trip.
- Weather Forecast: With Google Apps integrated, users can check the weather forecast and plan the day accordingly.
- City Guide: It ensures that users have a good experience while traveling across the city without any hurdles.
- Rating-Review API: For instance, often the app owners integrate Trip Advisor’s API in the app so that users can read the other users’ ratings and reviews from the app itself.
- Aggregator APIs: Aggregator’s API is integrated to help customers and other app users.
- Payment API: To ensure easy payments, Payment APIs of various modes such as Braintree, Stripe, &Paypal is integrated.
User Data Protection (GDPR): It is vital to ensure data protection as a lot of sensitive user information, such as their phone numbers addresses, bank account information, is shared by the users during the booking. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 has already been introduced to Europe and might soon arrive in the USA. It helps users get back in control of their personal data. Having said that, mobile app security is vital and hence ensure these aspects are taken care of:
- Safe App Code: Go with this best practice of Algorithmic code encryption along with API encryption. Source code must be constantly scanned as well.
- Customer Data Safety: An app design should be such that it prevents storing sensitive user data on devices. With Appcelerator platform offering encrypted SQLite module, the safety of data stored locally is ensured.
- Secure Servers: On the back-end, the network connections should be secure. The security of servers can be checked with penetration testing. Besides, usage of encrypting database, TLS, SSL, VPN connection is advised.
- To process and manage data in real time: Kafka Software
- For storage or caching with CDNs, it is better to use Amazon S3
- For the primary platform structure, App Developer can take help of Google Cloud platforms or Dataproc.
- For the desktop-based UI (CEF) Chromium embedded Framework is a better option.
- One can also use Bootstrap for making it look classy and sleek for websites.
- Nginx for HTTP and proxy server as it is an easy and open source.
- Push Notifications – Twilio, Push.io
- SMS, Voice, and Phone Verification -Nexmo, Twilio
- Payments – Braintree & PayPal, Stripe, EWallets
- Mandrill – for everything related to emails
- Database – MongoDB, HBase, Cassandra, Postgress, Mail Chimp Integration
- Cloud Environment – AWS
- Real-time Analytics – Hadoop, Spark, BigData, Apache Flink, Cisco, IBM
- Streaming Media System – Helix Universal Server, Wowza Streaming Engine, Nimble Streamer
- Weather Forecasts – OpenWeatherMap API
- Maps – Google Maps API
- GDS access – Amadeus, Sabre, or Travelport.
- Nearby Places – Google Places API
- Hotel meta search data – HotelsCombined Data Feeds and Skyscanner Affiliate API
- Aggregator APIs – ZUMATA Hotel Booking API or Expedia Affiliate Network API
How Much It cost to develop a Hotel Booking Mobile App
Cost of Hotel Booking Mobile Application Development depends on its size & complexity. Other than that, the location of the developers and number of hours consumed in the app creation play a crucial role in deciding over the app development cost. Based on different zones, here we have outlined the cost to develop a featured m-learning care app.
- US-based developers: $100 to $250 per hour
- Eastern Europe-based developers: $80 to $180 per hour
- India-based developers: $25 to $50 per hour
A feature rich hotel booking mobile application can cost you somewhere between $20000 to $30000 for a single platform. If are looking forward to a mobile app for both platforms along with a robust web-portal the cost will go high accordingly.
Conclusion: Hotel Booking Mobile Apps need constant innovation as the industry is ever evolving. Hence, mobile app development partner must do the market analysis from time to time. Download new mobile apps and go through them for innovation and gain knowledge of how to improve your own product. Ultimately, never give up on a chance to surprise your users by improving existing solutions.