How to Create a Successful Travel App: the Ultimate Guide to Travel App Development
Table of Contents:
- Why Should the Businesses Invest in Travel App Development?
- How Can AI Revolutionise Travel App Development?
- How To Build a Travel App?
A. Define the type of travel app, target group & its pain points
Trip Planning App
Flight Booking App
Transportation Booking App
Accommodation Booking App
Meal Ordering App
B. Research & idea validation
C. Choose the monetisation model
D. Features & Integrations – basic documentation
E. Building the app with the right partner
Nowadays, people are more and more willing to explore various destinations. Younger generations, especially Generation Z, value the opportunity to experience new cultures, places, and people, so they are keen on travelling around the globe. This causes a huge space for businesses like yours to provide them with an app they need to make travels smooth and enriching.
In this article, I’ll discuss the future of the travel app market for the tourism industry and analyse how Artificial Intelligence may revolutionise this area (and what opportunities it brings to travel apps). I’ll also describe step-by-step what the travel app development process looks like and review the most common travel app types.
The ultimate goal, however, is to inspire you to look for a unique approach tailored to the exact target app users’ needs.
Why Should the Businesses Invest in Travel App Development?
In the era of constant Internet access, more and more individuals are taking charge of planning their own trips. Traditional travel agencies are no longer their primary choice, as modern travellers seek independence and control over their travel experiences and local attractions.
Furthermore, the rise of remote work has introduced new concepts like “workation”, which includes performing work remotely from anywhere in the world. Many individuals now aspire to become digital nomads, combining remote work with travel as they explore different locations.
The good news is, you don’t have to worry about the market space for your project. The growing preference for travel apps reflects the changing travel habits. People are becoming more open to using travel apps, leading to an increase in demand. According to Statista, the revenue in the travel app market is projected to increase by $731.4 million (+59.32 per cent) between 2023 and 2027. In 2027, revenue is estimated to reach a new peak of $2 billion. Although the number of new travel apps may be growing, so will the number of people who are willing to use them.
New ways to explore the world
By creating a travel app, you can shape the future of travel experiences and make life easier for adventurers everywhere. Your travel app or mobile website can become an ultimate companion, helping people plan their trips, experience visited places in an unprecedented manner and share their experiences with family, friends and followers in a mere blink of an eye. Through your tourism app, you have the opportunity to revolutionise the way people discover and experience the world.
Imagine creating a personalised travel app guide that reveals hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path places that are often overlooked by tourists. By focusing on individuals who seek unconventional adventures and crave unique experiences, you can truly differentiate your app from other tourism apps available on the market. With travel apps, the possibilities are endless, as you have the power to introduce travellers to extraordinary and mind-blowing experiences while combining well-known processes with a unique approach. All in your own travel app. So, if you’re a business owner looking for an exciting and rewarding venture in technology, creating a travel app is a fantastic option.
Endless possibilities for your business development
Travel app development is also a great way to level up your business. It doesn’t matter if it is your first software project or if you already have a travel website. A mobile travel app will provide you with extensive analytical capabilities, allowing you to make informed and data-driven decisions.
Various monetisation possibilities
With your mobile travel app, you can contact users like never before, becoming their trusted travel companion and opening up new communication channels. All that will help you grow your business by diversifying the sources of revenue and monetization models. Imagine a situation in which a traveller is exploring a city, and suddenly a push notification from your travel mobile app appears on their phone. It is a personalised discount coupon for a partner local restaurant tailored to their food preferences.
Gaining brand ambassadors
The user, thanks to your app, has a chance to discover delicious dishes in local restaurants that they would otherwise miss. Therefore, your travel mobile app becomes so much more than just a tool – an interactive experience that enhances every step of users’ travel journeys. It provides users with valuable information and allows you to connect with them on a personal level. With every interaction between the brand and a user, you strengthen the bond between them, building trust and loyalty (which increases user retention). This is where user experience exceeds user expectations!
Are travel web portals outdated?
At this point, you might be wondering whether the days of traditional web portals available on a laptop or in a mobile browser are long gone. Well, they’re not.
First of all, it’s about user experience. If your target group is more likely to use desktops or laptops than mobile devices (for example, when they are looking for flights or accommodation), an online booking portal might be a better option.
Moreover, developing a mobile travel app is usually more expensive, especially when you need to cover both operating systems separately, Android and iOS (however, there are many cases in which you can build a cross-platform app efficiently and in a cost-effective manner, and you can learn more about them in Robert’s article). Travel websites more often require fewer resources for development and maintenance.
If you need both a web and mobile travel app, try to consider building a Progressive Web App that will give you the benefits of web and mobile apps at the same time (you can learn more about PWAs and when to build them in the article about Native and Cross-platforms).
Another important reason why you might want to build a web app is user expectations and concerns. Nowadays, when every unknown app might be a concerned security threat, people are less willing to download mysterious apps but prefer to verify them first. The best way to decrease their scepticism is to provide them access via a web browser, and once you gain their trust, suggest downloading a mobile travel app as a portable companion.
Although many of the travel app ideas I present in this article refer to mobile devices and their possibilities, web portals are still popular. The most obvious examples of use are flight ticket search engines or insurance and travel agencies’ portals. Therefore, all my hints about how to develop a travel app that you find in this text refer to both web and mobile applications.
How Can AI Revolutionise Travel App Development?
In recent years, all travel apps have operated in a similar manner, using extensive databases to provide users with the best and most up-to-date options for flights, hotels, attractions etc. However, the rapid advancements in technology have caused the realisation that there’s room for improvement. Today, travel apps have embraced the power of Artificial Intelligence, taking their functionalities to the next level.
ChatGPT is currently used almost as a synonym for Artificial Intelligence. Integrated, it can operate using internal company data or data input by the user. With this capability, if used in travel app development, it can help users accomplish various goals, such as finding routes or searching for affordable flights and luxurious hotels. Through interactive conversations, ChatGPT can serve as a personal travel guide accessible to users at any time through travel apps.
AI before ChatGPT
However, Artificial Intelligence is not limited to ChatGPT. There are thousands of algorithms that can analyse user actions and provide recommendations or suggest some solutions, even in cases where a specific request was not yet provided. Such solutions are common in the field of security and fintech, and I expect soon to be widely adopted in the travel field, too. By researching past users’ activities, preferences, purchases and itineraries, your travel app could, for example, recommend which plane ticket to purchase and how much it’s worth paying for, demonstrating its ability to learn from users’ behaviours.
The Future of AI in travel app development
Using Artificial Intelligence in mobile apps has great prospects. It has the potential to improve understanding of the users’ needs, personalise product offers, and automate numerous processes, opening up new opportunities in the widely-understood area of travelling companion apps. What is more, the extreme pace of language models and AI-based visual item development opens an unknown area of endless possibilities for new ideas and travel mobile app solutions.
Is AI-driven feature a must in travel apps?
In a world already dominated by ChatGPT, it’s easy to forget that AI-driven features are (and have been) quite common indeed. If you take a closer look, many solutions on the market are somehow enhanced with AI – they use recommendations, analyse user behaviour or recognise images. Those features are common in eCommerce, blogging, financial apps and even your phone if you have a facial recognition feature or Siri.
The current revolution is about understanding the language and generating outcomes in a human-like way – whether it’s written or constructed in verbal responses or images. Not only is it useful to converse with AI like with a real person but also to receive incredible amounts of help in various means. A good example is the fact that AI can summarize many dispersed texts that would be hard to obtain by yourself. It is also capable of highly clever interferences that many of us couldn’t comprehend or would need weeks to master. Nowadays, some of the core features of many AI solutions that one could integrate mobile apps with are modifying images, movies or audio files. All that opens new possibilities for your travel app.
Planning your travel app development, you should define whether you want to use some existing AI solutions or develop your own (e.g. custom recommendation system). Integrations are always less resource-consuming, which means that you can do it quicker and cheaper. If you don’t plan to operate on a large scale, using existing AI technologies shouldn’t exceed your costs significantly. I recommend starting with integrations if those are sufficient and allow you to fulfil your goals of creating a successful travel app. However, if your idea is based on a custom AI solution and you cannot avoid developing it, be prepared that the development costs of this travel app project will increase significantly.
However, the progress in technology and tech stack, in general, is huge, and there are no obstacles to implementing some of the existing solutions into your app. This is a current trend that almost every app is (or is to become soon) integrated with ChatGPT and can generate to-do lists, rewrite sentences or summarise some texts. Today, the case is not whether to use it but how to make the use case unique and worth paying for. Here’s the moment when creativity comes into play.
My ultimate goal for the next section of this article is not only to show you how to start building your travel app. I aim to inspire you to look for your own niche and innovative ideas for a few of the most common travel app types.
How To Build a Travel App?
I’ll share the secret about how to develop a successful travel app. It’s about a unique and valuable idea that suits the target audience perfectly, and having enough money to bring it to life.
The truth is that if you have unlimited funds, you can build almost everything. As I’ve told you already – everything is possible; impossible is just a matter of time.
However, if you’re like 99.9% of founders of such apps, you have a limited budget and cannot afford to build everything at once. Therefore, you might be forced to focus on the core features at the very beginning. It’s totally OK. This approach means that you’d be building something called a Minimum Viable Product.
Building an MVP means that you are aware the app won’t be perfect, might not be beautiful and might have some issues, but must-have features work flawlessly. This approach allows you to build and launch your travel app to the market as soon as possible to start earning money (or gaining an audience, whatever your primary goal is).
Now, I’ll guide you through the initial stages of the software development process – from idea to finding the right partner to go further with. If you want to learn more about the (travel) app development process itself, feel free to check my step-by-step guide on full-cycle development. However, building an MVP varies significantly on some points from a full-product development, so you might be willing to check also my article on the specifics of MVP development.
Let’s take a look at the initial phases in the process of building a travel app. To succeed, you need to go through a few steps:
- Define the type of your traveling app, target group and app’s goals (and compare your idea with competitive solutions on the market conducting competitor research)
- Verify your idea on the market
- Think about how to earn money on your travel app and build a business plan
- Define the core features and integrations you need
- Develop the app by yourself or choose the right development team who will guide you through the whole development process (preparing a scope, timeline and roadmap, development costs, app type, tech stack, designing, developing, testing, launching, maintaining and further improving the app and adding new features).
1. Define the type of travel app, target group & its pain points
Now that you already know the pros of travel app development, it’s time for real brainstorming and choosing the one unique idea that will not only serve your audience but will also stand out on the market.
To guide you through the entire process of building the perfect travel app, let’s put you in the position of someone who wants to organise a trip with the use of a mobile travel app. Depending on the target audience you want to reach, the user journey will vary. You need to keep that in mind and address different needs.
Travel app type & the audience
First, think about what kind of travel app you would like to build. The second step, tangled with the first one and needing to be reviewed simultaneously, is to decide what goals your end-users can fulfil using your travel app (or what problems and pain points it will solve). By exactly understanding your target audience’s needs and desires, you can tailor your app and its features to meet their expectations and stand out in the market.
Are you developing a flight booking app for budget-conscious international students? Or maybe you want to build a restaurant app for digital nomads? Or perhaps you want to create a travel app or a transport app for planning the whole trip for families with children? What about accommodation booking apps? There are tons of travel apps to choose from for one’s niche.
Then, check what competitive travel apps are already on the market to learn from them. By doing this, you can discover not only what travel app features are must-haves but also define the lacking ones and find some unmanaged niches that might be suitable for you.
Let’s take a look at travel app types and imagine what user stories might lie behind them depending on different target audiences. I’ll suggest to you what solutions are worthwhile to be checked and what app features might be considered innovative.
Trip planning app
A trip-planning app is like a friendly travel buddy that helps you organise and plan your trips. This app stores all trip details. It’s designed to make your journey smoother and more enjoyable – travel app features should reflect that.
It looks like in the future we will be reaching for travel planning apps even more often. In August 2022, Statista conducted research and asked people from all around the world about their plans for using travel tools in 2033. More than half of the respondents said they expected to use travel apps that offer everything needed to plan a trip!
However, to stand out in the market, you need to think about what specific group you are going to target and what unique features or approach you can offer to them.
Students driven by curiosity
For example, if you target students who aim to discover new places, you have to take into consideration that they may want to visit some places spontaneously. Then, the question would be: how a “trip-planning” app can help them not-to-plan their journey?
As an example, you could create a travel app that would allow them to track places they would like to visit and draw them a random one from them on demand (and within a defined budget). Or another idea – provide them with a handy companion that will notify them each time they are nearby some extraordinary places that match their preferences. This way you will enrich their travel itinerary with incredible local attractions.
Parents who need to have control over the situation
On the other hand, you should have a different approach when you conduct travel app development for parents. They would probably like to rest but at the same time provide their children with good memories from holidays abroad.
Your app could help them plan their holiday in advance, taking into consideration their children’s interests and preferences. They could select activities that adjust to their family’s unique interests, ensuring that everyone has a memorable time wherever they go. What about hiring a reliable babysitter and booking a table in a romantic restaurant right from your app? That’s something! You could also suggest car rentals that would suit their needs whether they’d need a bigger car or special seats.
At this point, feel free to check my article on trip-planning app development, where you will find an analysis of the two above-mentioned target groups (with relevant travel app ideas for each one of them), a comprehensive summary of potential travel-planning app features and hints on how to estimate the cost of building your trip planning app. Therefore, you can verify your initial budget assumptions and start looking for investors if needed.
Trip-planning apps – Market leaders
When looking for an idea to build a travel app, be sure to check your competitors. There must be something right about them and their mobile applications if they have so many users. At the same time, the deficiencies that you find in their apps can be a guide and inspiration for you on how to create a more competitive solution that better addresses the users’ needs.
For example, TripIT allows you to automatically create travel plans based on the emails you redirect to the application. Trava will build a logistically-optimised itinerary based on your preferences and those of your fellow travellers. Want to take a potluck? Try Roam Around to generate a plan. Sygic Travel, in turn, will tell you what to visit at your chosen location.
However, if you are curious about the world and want to discover unknown places along the way, check out Roadtrippers – it will suggest interesting locations on your route. And if you need to pack quickly, PackPoint will create a suitable checklist for you.
Check the article on trip-planning app development to discover more about each of those travel apps.
Looking for the unique value proposition
But should the existence of your competitors in the travel app market discourage you from creating your own app if you have an innovative idea? Certainly not!
However, provide your users with something extra that will convince them to try out your app. Below you’ll find some interesting features your travel planning app might have. For more, again, check the article on trip-planning app development.
- Dynamic itinerary feature – your app could create or modificate trip details according to changing local situations – weather conditions or social events.
- Discovering hidden paths – you could inform users through your travel mobile app about hidden locations, paths or gems based on their preferences and interests
- Cultural insight – use notifications to share insights on local specifics, history and traditions in your travel app
- Augmented reality (AR) – using AR, you can show people real scenes from the past as if they would be happening now or even offer a built-in real-time camera-based translator
- Social networking – social media in travel mobile apps might allow to seek fellow travellers, help users stay in touch with newly-met people (or even find out on a map who is nearby) or publish updates from the trip in the form of public posts or personal journals.
- Built-in wallet and payments – an in-app wallet could be used to add user’s card and let them pay this way or to put money on their account in the app and pay with it. It may also allow people to use a currency converter through in-app payment. In-app purchases are a great feature that can both attract users and push you in the direction of better monetization ways and local market cooperation.
- AI translator – can be integrated into a mobile travel app to provide your users with seamless language translation capabilities
You don’t need to implement all the possible features during your travel app development. It’s about uniqueness and idea, not bringing as many features as you can.
Flight Booking App
Imagine you’re planning your next adventure, and you need a reliable and user-friendly app to assist you in booking your flights. A flight booking app can be your ultimate travel companion, simplifying the process and ensuring a smooth journey. But it can also do much more. Let’s discuss the options for flight booking applications and what they can offer!
The target group
Try to think about organising and booking flights for a big family trip that involves, let’s say, more than 8 people, including grandparents and children. What would the user need in this case? I guess it would have been chaotic if each member of the family had to book the ticket, try to find seats next to the closest ones, look for important information by themselves and so on. I’d be scared that every one of them would end up on a different flight, or some would not board at all (sounds like the Home Alone movie scenario 🙂)!
Here’s a great business idea. What about making a travel mobile app that would allow one person to group all of the family members and take responsibility for the rest? What if every family member could create a profile with all the necessary information to buy tickets and depart (names, surnames, ID/passport numbers or even food allergies, illnesses or seat preferences)? What if they could create a private group chat to be up-to-date? So as you see, it’s necessary to dive deep and analyse the potential users’ behaviours first and define the target group. This is what the travel industry may be lacking right now!
Other flight booking solutions on the market
There are some interesting apps on the market that make flight booking more seamless. You can take a look at a search tool for independent travellers like Skyscanner, gain personalised recommendations using Kayak, predict hotel and flight prices with 95% accuracy up to 1 year in advance with Hopper or get flight recommendations with Expedia.
However, it’s no good in copying something that already exists on the market. Each of these travel apps has something special that makes them really outstanding and successful. To have the same results, you also have to come up with your perfectly targeted unique value proposition.
Look for the uniqueness
To make your app unique, try an innovative approach. During travel app development, you can consider building features like:
- Push notifications with relevant information about their flights (like the size and weight of the luggage and travel packages in their airline, departure updates), travel hints or market updates (e.g. price changes). You can also use it as a monetization model and offer clever and subtle notifications in the form of in-app advertising.
- Built-in car rental or taxi solution that will allow users to rent a car or call a taxi from the airport within the same travel app. You don’t need to develop this by yourself; just integrate it with some existing solutions. Consider going for in-app purchases – it may make the experience even better!
- Ticket and documentation storage will allow users to have all the information needed in one place – your successful travel app.
- A luggage tracker might track users’ luggage and send updates on the status and location of checked baggage.
- The carbon footprint calculator will calculate the environmental impact of the users’ flight, increasing their awareness. You could even offer users the possibility to choose the most “green” airline of them all!
Transportation Booking App
The travel industry is changing, and so is transportation – people are becoming more eco-aware, have different habits, and aim at being healthier and more active. At the same time, they might need to commute immediately and waiting for a car for 5 minutes feels like ages! In the era of aggression, they might also be concerned about their safety.
This is your landscape if you are thinking about building a transportation app. Creating an app like Uber can be a good business idea because the global taxi app projected value for 2026 is $150 billion, 50% more than it was projected for 2023. However, you have strong competition – Uber, iTaxi and Bolt are just a few providers of similar apps.
The good news is that transportation is a broad term and offers more than just ordering a taxi. It can include cars, public transport, planes, bikes, scooters and so on. So depending on your target group, the transportation app idea can slightly differ.
So, how to succeed in such a competitive landscape?
No matter what kind of app you are about to build, you need to understand your target audience, investigate what pain points they have and create solutions for them. This is what all of those successful apps offer – solving a specific problem. This is also why the travellers rely on them so much.
While creating a solution for solo travellers who want to meet new people while travelling, you could think about a carpooling app like BlaBlaCar. The whole idea is based on gathering people, heading in the same direction and travelling there together. Another option for this group would be a bus ticket booking app like FlixBus. It could allow travellers to buy bus tickets at affordable prices to another city or country.
But if you build an app for a group of women who want their vacation to be more luxurious, convenient and safe, you need to think about something else, like a taxi booking app. The convenience of ordering a cab with a few taps on your smartphone will always win over hailing. Or you can think about creating a car rental app for them, like EconomyBookings or easyCar.
Another option would be to make a scooter or bike-renting app that would target athletic and eco-conscious users who value staying active during their trips. What if you reach those tourists with a bike-renting app like Lime? Such solutions are usually local, which means they do not cover the whole territory but just a part of it. Therefore, you might have some space for building your own scooter-sharing app like this in your area.
As you can see, understanding your target group is essential for creating a tailored travel app. Then, by gaining deep insights into your users’ preferences and challenges, you can go a step further and offer something unique that will make people choose your app over your competitors.
Looking for unique features…
This level of understanding enables you to design outstanding features and functionalities, making your app stand out in the market. Below, you’ll find examples of unique features you might incorporate into your transport app.
- AI ride booking might book rides, tickets or other modes of transport for users with prepared itineraries without a request and make modifications when needed
- Location sharing allows users to send their current location through a travel mobile app to friends and family, protecting them in case of emergency
- Emergency buttons will increase safety, allowing users to quickly ask for help and send their current location to emergency services if needed
- Integration with fitness tracking devices allows tracking the endured distance and calories burnt (on a bicycle, for example)
- Gamification (rankings, badges, competitions) will engage users and motivate them to compete with each other
- GPS function with hidden paths will allow drivers to follow the road but, at the same time, spontaneously make a decision about exploring off-the-beaten paths
- Bill split feature might allow each of the passengers to pay for their own ticket even if only one person makes the booking with the use of an in-app payment option
Accommodation Booking App
Accommodation booking apps revolutionised the way people search for and reserve accommodations for their trips. No more making calls with hosts or searching through countless websites. Nowadays, with just a few taps on our smartphones, we can access a vast array of accommodation options provided by small businesses and hotel owners, ranging from small shared rooms to luxurious hotels and unique glamping experiences. Using an app also guarantees that the room or apartment awaits us, and we won’t be tricked.
These days, booking accommodations online is easy and convenient, as travellers are provided with detailed descriptions, high-quality photos, and honest reviews. No surprise, we prefer booking online because, as Tripadvisor’s report states, 96% of users think that reading reviews is important for their booking process.
Currently, the most popular accommodation booking apps are Airbnb (allowing tourists to book spare rooms or apartments) and Booking.com – which, According to Business of Apps, is responsible for 25% of hotel booking worldwide!
I know this can be demotivating as you don’t know how to even compete with big apps like these. But everyone has to start somewhere.
Imagine Sarah – a passionate traveller who loves immersing herself in new destinations and experiencing different cultures. As a nature lover and adventurer, she seeks out unique and eco-friendly accommodations during her trips. However, finding the perfect place that aligns with her preferences and budget can be a challenge…
That’s where you can make an accommodation booking app that will come in handy. By understanding the needs and desires of travellers like her, you will be able to add outstanding features and make your accommodation booking app successful on the market.
The main idea behind the app
Think about features like:
- Virtual tours of selected places (VR) will make it easier to immerse in a place and feel its vibes
- Sustainable travel badges will promote eco-friendly accommodations, allowing users to make responsible travel decisions
- Cultural events and festivals notifications will provide users with information about upcoming cultural events, festivals, and celebrations nearby their chosen accommodations
- AI chat function will enable users to ask questions about their chosen destination and get a response immediately
- Social features could allow users to meet like-minded travellers, make chat groups, and book places together (for example, shared rooms or hostels)
Perhaps you are surprised that restaurant and meal-ordering apps are included in the article about travel apps. But have you ever heard of gastro tourism? Drinking an espresso in an Italian cafe, eating a croissant under the Eiffel Tower, or dumplings in a Polish restaurant just feels different than consuming it at your own house, right? It’s all about experiencing the food culture in a particular country.
How to create a restaurant app?
With just a few taps on our smartphones, we can access a wide range of restaurant choices, from local cafes to renowned bars. Restaurant apps have made it easy and convenient for travellers to explore diverse cuisines and gain bonuses for that!
If you’re still not sure whether a restaurant app would be suitable for your business, let me introduce you to the popular case of the Starbucks app.
Starbucks’ mobile app uses machine learning to offer tailored product recommendations to customers based on their purchase history. This data-driven AI algorithm considers customer preferences and behaviours to drive personalised suggestions. But why does Starbucks care so much about all that? As the company claims, “digitally engaged customers purchase 2 to 3 times as many products as those that are not digitally engaged”.
Customers can use your restaurant app for many different reasons. According to Statista, people use the Starbucks app mainly to pay for their orders in-store, to order ahead or to review the menu. But your app can go even further and enhance the gastro tourism experience. It could inform users about testing sessions, cooking classes or other events that happen at your restaurant.
So as you see, having your own restaurant app will allow you to connect with customers (with loyalty programs), offer them variable options (like food delivery or takeout) and reach new ones (who may want to check the menu first or look for some unique gastro experience).
What could be unique in your restaurant app?
Talking about the uniqueness of your app, consider adding…
- Interactive virtual tours that will allow users to immerse in your restaurant and choose their preferable table even before arriving there
- Custom alerts that can work based on location tracking and send tailored notifications when users are close to the restaurant or notify users about crowded hours and recommend quieter ones (based on user data and possibly social media)
- The AI advisor could suggest meals tailored to your users’ dietary preferences, such as calories, macronutrients or allergies
- Cultural etiquette tips could provide users travelling across a new country with information about local customs, etiquette, and appropriate behaviour to interact respectfully with locals
- Local marketplace feature could connect restaurants with local artists, producers, or markets and allow users not only to order a delicious meal but also to buy unique local products or souvenirs. Perhaps you could also offer a currency converter to make the experience in your travel app even better?
- Cooking tips and recipes could be an additional value and allow you to engage your cuisine lovers long-term even if they are not in your location anymore
Meal Ordering App like Uber Eats
What about making your own meal-ordering app? The pandemic has caused a significant surge in the need for food delivery services similar to Uber Eats. Most of us probably have used food delivery apps’ services at least once in a lifetime. They save our time, making it easy to eat a delicious meal from the comfort of our own house.
How does it work?
Instead of focusing on one restaurant, you could connect many of them and allow customers to choose. Usually, it works like that: users browse digital menus on their smartphones, place orders, and make payments through the app. The chosen restaurant receives the order details and prepares it for delivery or pickup. Then, the delivery person brings the order to the specified location, and the user can track their progress on the map.
But to make your food ordering app stand out on the market, you need to have an extraordinary approach – not to create the same app as UberEats. What about building a meal-ordering app for travellers who prefer spending their time exploring new places rather than cooking? Or going for offline access?
Looking for uniqueness
To make such apps unique, one could add some gamification. What about creating a “roulette” feature for those struggling with their food choices? If they are unable to decide what to order, they could input their food preferences, allergies and budget and then leave the decision of choosing a specific restaurant to the app. The same could apply to meals, drinks or maybe even locations! They could take a spontaneous trip to the closest city to just explore the neighbourhood while enjoying a delicious meal. This is how you mix the travelling app with food while creating an engaging experience for your users. And perhaps this could revolutionize tourism app development!
Looking for unique features? Think about:
- Food roulette that will help indecisive users choose a meal (gamification feature)
- Location tracking will allow users to see available restaurants in the selected area and notify them when they are nearby their favourite restaurant
- Social features could allow searching for other users’ recommendations
- A real-time currency calculator could help users understand the prices in local currency
Customers are seeking fast and multifunctional remote services to manage personal finances when they travel. In recent years, the concept of FinTech has become increasingly popular, competing with traditional methods of providing financial services via the Internet. Adapting to customers’ needs, neo-banks like Revolut or Chime took the lead in the market.
Let’s have a closer look at Revolut. What makes Revolut so unique? It provides a range of affordable options that enable users to have an entirely digital account with a debit card. You can easily handle your finances globally, create an account in a few minutes, exchange currencies, and eliminate charges. With time, Revolut still adds new features like peer-to-peer immediate transactions, budgeting, spilling bills and more!
So as you see, this journey never stops, and there’s always room for improvements, even for the top banking apps like Revolut. But the goal is not to make another Revolut app but rather do the research, draw conclusions, and fill the market gap as Revolut did.
So imagine Michael, a 35-year-old digital nomad who often changes places and is willing to experience new cultures. While he loves travelling, he hates exchanging currencies every time he goes abroad and wasting a lot of money on bank commissions.
If you build a digital wallet and give Michael the opportunity to connect his digital wallet with his trip planning app (or simply to input his next destination), the app could send him advice that would make his trips more affordable. For example, it could offer him tips on how to save money in the chosen country, what currency people use there and what prices to expect at his next destination. Moreover, knowing his next location, your app could use the power of AI and send Michael notifications every time it is a good moment for currency exchange. It could be helpful as he could save some money.
With your digital wallet app, you could empower users like Michael to navigate their finances with confidence and ease. By combining technology, educational resources, and integration in your payment app, you have the chance to make a name for yourself in the tech industry!
How to become unique?
You can incorporate some interesting features to your payment app like:
- Intelligent budget tracking will prepare a personal financial plan for the holiday based on the destination and goals provided by the user
- Location tracking will notify users about the nearest ATM of a specific bank where employees use their preferred languages
- A knowledge base with financial tips will acknowledge users about prices in the location they’re going, provide some tips on where to shop and local financial specifics
- AI-based currency converter that will exchange money when it’s the best opportunity for that to always meet the set about of money in the wallet
2. Research & idea validation
When you have your idea defined – you know what you want to build, for whom and why – it’s time to verify the concept of your own travel app. Before diving into app development, conduct detailed research to ensure your app idea has market potential. Explore existing competitors (I suggested some of the above, so you can take it as a starting point, but feel free to explore more in-depth articles about each of those travel app types) and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Offering unique features or addressing gaps in competitors’ offerings can help your app gain a competitive edge.
Consider creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) at the initial stage of development. However, treat MVP as a tool for idea verification rather than building the app itself (check my article describing the MVP approach for more details). At this stage, the MVP should focus on the core functionality of your travel app and be used to gather user feedback. This can be done through a short video explaining the core feature, a landing page with an invitation to early access or a simplified but clickable prototype of your app (that’s the closest to the real app and the more expensive of the mentioned examples).
Do not plan to build the app just yet, but verify the core idea and assumptions to decide whether it’s worth it to do that.
Reasons for testing the idea
Starting with a well-defined MVP, you have an opportunity to validate your concept, incorporate user feedback, and iterate on future improvements without spending much money on fancy designs or unnecessary features. As you gather interest and feedback from your initial user base, you can gradually expand and improve the app. Remember, building a successful app is a journey that requires patience.
3. Choose the Monetisation Model
Let’s say you’ve already decided on the type of travel app you want to build. You understand your customers’ problems and have ideas on how to solve them. You also know that your travel app is highly desired and will definitely succeed in the market.
Now, it’s essential to determine the revenue generation method for your app, also known as the business model. Based on your understanding of the target market, you can offer a free app supported by advertisements, a merchant option, a commission fee model, a premium version or many more. It is crucial to tailor the pricing model and rates to make sure end-users can afford to use your app. If the solution is unaffordable for them, you may not generate any revenue.
So let’s discuss the options you have.
Earn money from companies
First of all, you might not want to charge users, but other companies that promote their products and services in your app. Let’s take a look at how to proceed with that.
Advertising is a method that works well for any type of application and allows you to monetise the app quite quickly. However, be careful with ads because too much advertising can affect user experience in a negative way. Try to choose ads that can be useful to the users of your travel app: for example, if you have a flight booking app, adverts with travel backpacks can turn out to be useful to your users.
In your travel app, users can also search through many pre-defined listings looking for the perfect match to what they need (hotel, flight, attractions, etc.). If your app has many active users, companies might pay a small commission for getting listed. This model is beneficial for both sides: as the app earns profits by collecting fees from numerous listings, hotels or hosts benefit from a consistent stream of customers.
When your app gathers companies that offer their services to end-users (flights, accommodation, tickets or anything you can imagine), you can offer them paid packages they need to buy to be present in your app, charge a steady fee for each reservation or a percentage from the revenue generated thanks to your travel app.
Merchant model means you book the services like hotel rooms, bus tickets or guided tours in advance. You then resell them to users at a higher price and make a profit (the margin is only up to you, but remember to adjust it to your users’ capabilities). By buying services wholesale, you have the chance to get a lower price from service providers than they would normally offer to individual clients.
Earn money from users
Especially when you start, you don’t want to discourage people with high fees. However, there are some options that you might want to check.
The user can purchase access to the full version of the application for a one-time fee at the beginning. This gives the user permanent access to all functions and capabilities of the application.
A lifetime subscription is especially beneficial for startups as they can collect money for further development. As those lifetime prices as usually much lower than regular prices, users are more willing to pay once (especially when they had a chance to test the app before) than spend much more money on further cycle subscriptions.
Free version with limitations
A free version of the application is possible but with some functional limitations. Thus, users can use the basic features of the app for free, but to access the advanced features, they need to purchase the full version or modules.
Sometimes you might want to offer your users an always-free app and raise money on companies that offer their services in-app. That’s a good way to go!
It’s probably the most common monetisation model. Users can choose a monthly or yearly subscription, which gives them unlimited access to the services of your travel app for a certain period of time.
Payment for features/modules
The possibility of purchasing individual functions or app modules means that users can only purchase the items they are interested in instead of purchasing the entire app. For example, they can purchase a travel guide module or an in-app translation module.
Service fees mean paying for the use of certain services or features in the travel app. For example, a user can pay a certain amount (e.g. $5) to plan one trip or use advanced travel planning tools.
Be aware of the amount of work you need to perform to prepare for a successful launch of your app, including choosing the right monetisation model. You can learn more about how to successfully launch your app in our article about the go-to-market strategy.
4. Features & Integrations – basic documentation
Once you understand your target audience’s needs, you can prioritise and incorporate features to your roadmap that address their pain points. Invest in features that will be genuinely useful and add value to your users’ travel experiences. From weather forecasts and push notifications to translation services and currency converters, the possibilities are vast. Consider using technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality or Virtual Tours to deliver unique and exceptional experiences that set your app apart from the competition.
When you develop a travel app, consider integrating it with additional services such as hotel, flight, or transportation booking systems. Seamless integration is crucial for ensuring smooth operations and providing up-to-date information to users. You can also build these systems from scratch but keep in mind that it can be a more costly solution and not necessarily recommended during the MVP stage.
Now that you know what and for whom you want to build a travel app, you have to write it down. The documentation will allow you to get a quote and a scope of work from your app development company. Written requirements are also usually more specific, so the estimated cost can be more reliable. Additionally, writing down the requirements allows you to collect comparable offers from the market and analyse them.
5. Building the app with the right partner
Finding the right technology partners with relevant expertise in travel app development is crucial to ensure the success of your project. They can provide guidance throughout the software development process, assist with decision-making, and help you achieve your goals.
In-house team, freelancer or software-house?
Let’s explore the various options available to you. You have the choice of building an in-house development team (which may be costly), hiring freelancers or collaborating with a software development company. If you’re unsure where to start, partnering with a travel app development company can be beneficial as they can handle the analysis, provide professional insights and will likely be familiar with the best tech stack for your project.
I recommend selecting a company that has the required tech stack and can take care of your project from the minimum viable product (MVP) phase. For example, they can help you save costs initially by having developers who can create eye-catching features without the need for a designer.
If you’re unsure about which option is best for your project, you can find articles on our blog that discuss outsourcing software projects for startups and provide comparisons between in-house teams, freelancers, and software development companies.
Where to look for a software developer
During your exploration of outsourcing possibilities, you may come across terms such as onshore, offshore, and nearshore outsourcing. They all vary based on the geographical locations of you and your subcontractor, offering different benefits depending on the circumstances. If you are searching for the best solution, read our guide, in which we provide valuable insights on which outsourcing model you should choose.
After conducting thorough research, you can actively search for a travel app development company in a specific location. You can use some popular platforms like Clutch, UpWork, or GoodFirms, but be suspicious if you’re googling. You can learn more about where to look for a developer on our blog.
The pros and challenges of outsourcing
It is crucial to make a wise choice when selecting your outsourcing partner. Outsourcing can be highly advantageous for businesses, offering access to skilled programmers with fresh perspectives at a reasonable cost. But be aware that outsourcing also comes with risks and challenges, such as potential language barriers or developers lacking specific technical knowledge (you can read more about the pros and challenges of outsourcing in Mike’s article). That’s why conducting thorough research is essential.
Additionally, choosing the right pricing model, such as the popular and flexible Time & Material pricing model, is important as it impacts the entire development process. Our article on software development billing models provides detailed information and comparisons. I also explained why the fixed-price contract is rather a pitfall than an effective solution for your business.
Summing up, reading our article on the Software Development Life Cycle can provide you with valuable insights into the entire development process, from planning to deployment and maintenance. I recommend you checked the article on MVP development specifics. It’s essential to gather information, make informed decisions, and choose the right partners to ensure the success of your travel app project.
With your MVP in place, you have something to show to investors or people who might fund your project through crowdfunding platforms. This makes it more likely for you to secure the essential resources required for further travel app development. To learn more about getting funds for your app, I suggest reading Kuba’s article. It talks about different fundraising strategies you can employ.
Remember, your travel app has the power to inspire, empower, and transform how people explore the world. There are a lot of possibilities to build: a trip planning app, a booking app (accommodation, flight, tickets, etc.), car renting and many more. It all starts with coming up with a business idea and understanding your target audience. Then, you can test your idea by creating a simplified version of your travel app to see if people like it.
Think about a solid business plan and business model, decide on how to make money and plan your budget. It’s important to consider different ways to generate income, like in-app purchases, advertising, or offering subscriptions.
Before starting a cooperation with the tech partner, make sure they are experienced professionals and can help you with your travel app development. Look for teams that have worked on similar projects and have expertise in the tech stack you need.
If you’re looking for an exciting and rewarding venture in technology, creating a travel app is a fantastic option. Your app can simplify travel planning, spark people’s imaginations, and become an essential tool for travellers everywhere.
And if you have any questions or don’t know where to start – I encourage you to contact me personally by email or LinkedIn. As a project manager with experience in the travel industry, I’ll gladly advise you on how to start this journey!
Gabriela is a lead project manager and keeps in mind that the crucial thing in project management is always seeing the business objectives. She takes care of clients' business outcomes, and that's why clients usually give her a lot of independence.
As a web developer, she understands teammates, which is an asset in project management. UX designer background is handy when clients ask her for advice or consult their app ideas. Having this knowledge, she can address their confusedness or curiosity.
Data analysis and research have no secrets from her as she's a physicist. She knows how to discover data patterns and dependencies, which brings additional value to her everyday work.