Last Updated: December 19, 2023

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Ifrah Khan

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Traveling used to be about maps, brochures, and guidebooks. But today, it's about swiping through your smartphone to explore the world. It's all thanks to the travel apps that have transformed the travel industry.

This has compelled several travel and hospitality businesses, like Booking.com, Expedia, and Trivago, to invest in travel app development, facilitate digital bookings, and build a travel solution that caters to travelers’ specific needs.

According to a Statista report, Booking.com recorded 80 million app downloads, while Airbnb had 52 million app downloads in the list of most downloaded travel apps worldwide.

This study explains how travel app development can be a profitable investment for startups and online travel agencies looking to tap into the tourism industry.

If the thought of building a travel app raises a multitude of questions, you're not alone. The journey can indeed seem like a maze, filled with uncertainties, complexities, and endless possibilities.

But worry not, because we're here to guide you through it all with our detailed travel app development guide.

In this guide, you will learn about travel app development, industry stats, monetization, app types, costs, and essential features. And when you're ready to create your custom travel app, Narola Infotech is your partner in success.

Sounds good? Keep on reading.

What is Travel App Development?

Travel app development refers to the process of creating mobile applications or software platforms specifically designed for travelers and tourists. These apps are developed to provide various features and functionalities that enhance the travel experience.

Travel apps can offer services such as booking accommodations, flights, and transportation, providing local recommendations, offering navigation and mapping services, and giving access to travel-related information like weather, language translations, and cultural insights.

Travel app development aims to make travel easier, more convenient, and enjoyable for users by integrating a range of travel-related services into a single, user-friendly application.

The Market for Travel Apps Today

In an era where travel is redefined by technology, the numbers paint a vivid picture of a thriving industry with no signs of slowing down.

  • 84% of airlines worldwide expect to try AI technologies in the next three years.
  • 26% of travel & hospitality companies worldwide are using chatbots.
  • The most downloaded online travel agency app worldwide is booking.com
  • 21% of global travelers have used travel agent apps since Covid-19.
  • 30% is the average 90-day retention rate of hospitality & tourism apps worldwide
  • 44% of candidates surveyed have used voice to search for some part of their trip
  • 20% of travelers from the U.S. consider voice search to be a great influencer while traveling.

Although the number of new travel apps may be growing, so will the number of people who are willing to use them.

Why Travel Mobile App Development Is a Big Business Opportunity?

The travel mobile app development sector is a promising business opportunity because of the high demand, user experience benefits, revenue potential, global reach, and the valuable insights it can provide. Let’s understand this in detail.

Massive Market Demand

People love to travel, and they use mobile apps for everything from booking flights and hotels to finding local attractions and restaurants. This huge demand creates a substantial market for travel apps, offering plenty of room for new entrants to grab a piece of the pie.

Enhanced User Experience

Travel apps make the whole travel experience more convenient and enjoyable. With features like real-time flight updates, easy hotel bookings, and local guides, your app can help travelers plan and execute their trips with ease, ensuring happy customers and repeat business.

Monetization Opportunities

Travel apps provide multiple revenue streams. You can earn through booking commissions, in-app advertising, premium content, or even by offering personalized travel recommendations. This flexibility allows you to tailor your revenue model to suit your business goals.

Global Reach

With a travel app, you can tap into a global audience. Travelers come from all over the world, so if your app offers multiple languages and caters to various destinations, you can attract users from different countries, expanding your reach.

Data-Driven Insights

Travel apps can collect valuable data on user preferences, travel trends, and popular destinations. Analyzing this data can help you make informed decisions about app improvements and expansion, ensuring your app remains relevant and competitive.

This tells us, the travel app industry is full of potential, and with the right approach and a focus on user satisfaction, you can start your journey towards success, where every step you take leads upwards to growth and prosperity.

Moving on, let's talk about the most asked question.

What Are The Ways Travel Apps Make Money?

How Travel Apps Make Money?

Following are the primary ways to turn your travel apps into powerful revenue sources. 

In-App Purchases

Offer premium features or content for a fee within your app. This model suits apps with specialized services like guided tours.

Subscription Model

Charge users a recurring fee for access to exclusive content or benefits. Ideal for apps that continuously provide value, such as premium travel guides.

Affiliate Marketing

Promote products or services, and earn a commission on sales generated through your app.

Booking Commissions

Partner with hotels, airlines, or tour operators and earn a commission for bookings made through your app.

Data Monetization

Collect user data (with consent) and sell it to businesses for market research. Typically best for apps with a large user base

Partner with brands or destinations to create sponsored content or travel campaigns. Well-suited for apps with a substantial following and influence.

Types of Travel Apps Being Built Today

Now that you already know why to create a travel app and how travel apps make money, it’s time for real brainstorming and choosing the one unique travel app idea that will not only serve your audience but will also stand out on the market.

But to make your app truly successful, it's about understanding the pain points of your target audience, understanding how each caters to distinct traveler needs and resolves their pain points.

In this section, we'll explore the types of travel apps and shed light on the problems they solve, helping you create an app that resonates with your target audience.

Booking and Accommodation Apps

Pain Point: Booking Hassles

Travelers face the challenge of navigating through numerous websites and platforms to book flights, hotels, and accommodations, often resulting in confusion and time wastage.

App Goal: Booking and Accommodation Apps aim to streamline the booking process, presenting users with a convenient, one-stop platform where they can effortlessly book flights, hotels, vacation rentals, and other accommodations. This helps users save time and reduce the hassles associated with traditional booking methods.

Trivago

Example: Trivago

Airbnb

Example: Airbnb

Travel Planning & Itinerary Apps

Pain Point: Overwhelm with Trip Planning

Travelers can become overwhelmed when planning trips, trying to organize multiple bookings and activities across various destinations, often leading to stress and disorganization.

App Goal: Travel Planning and Itinerary Apps provide a solution by assisting travelers in creating, organizing, and sharing their trip itineraries. This streamlines the planning process, reduces stress, and helps users efficiently manage their travel plans.

Example: Tripadvisor

Example: Kayak

Pain Point: Navigation Challenges

Finding your way in unfamiliar places, accessing transportation schedules, and booking tickets can be a significant challenge for travelers, leading to delays and frustration.

App Goal: Navigation and Transportation Apps strive to ease navigation by offering real-time updates, transportation schedules, and ticket booking services for various modes of travel. The goal is to reduce travel time, enhance convenience, and provide travelers with the guidance they need.

Google Map

Example: Google Maps

Example: Moovit

Local Discovery & Guide Apps

Pain Point: Difficulty in Local Exploration

Travelers often struggle to find the best local attractions, restaurants, and cultural experiences, missing out on the richness of their destination.

App Goal: Local Discovery and Guides Apps address this challenge by providing mobile guided tours, which provide personalized recommendations and insights, helping travelers explore local culture and attractions, and making their travel experience more enriching.

Gettinlocal

Example: GettinLocal

Infact, we've developed a local discovery app for one of our clients that's packed with the features they desired, and they absolutely love it. View Case Study

Language Translation & Communication Apps

Pain Point: Language Barriers

Language differences can hinder communication with locals, causing misunderstandings and challenges in foreign countries.

App Goal: Language Translation and Communication Apps aim to bridge these barriers by offering translation tools and communication features that help travelers communicate effectively, reducing language-related hurdles.

Google Translate

Example: Google Translate

DeepL Translate

Example: DeepL Translate

Travel super app vs. Dedicated app vs. Segment app

Let's now talk about the three distinct categories of travel apps: Travel Super Apps, Dedicated Apps, and Segment Apps.

Travel Super App

The Travel Super App is like an All-in-One Travel Companion for travelers. It combines a multitude of services under one roof, from booking flights and hotels to offering local guides, translation tools, and more. It's a one-stop shop for all your travel needs.

One big example of a Travel Super App is Goibibo.

Dedicated App

Dedicated Apps are specialists in their niche. They concentrate on a single aspect of travel, such as hotel bookings, flight reservations, or local experiences. These apps aim for excellence in their specialized area.

One big example of a dedicated app is Agoda.

Segment App

Segment Apps strike a balance by focusing on a specific travel segment, such as business travel, adventure travel, or luxury travel. They offer a combination of specialized features within a defined category.

One big example of a segment app is Nomadlist App.

Core Features of Travel App Development to Attract Customers

Basic Features

  • Personalized Itineraries: Creating and managing travel plans, ensuring organized and stress-free trips.
  • In-App Navigation: Real-time maps and directions, guiding users during travel within unfamiliar areas.
  • Local Recommendations: Providing insights on local attractions, restaurants, and activities for an enriched experience.
  • Translation Tools: Bridging language barriers with translation and communication features for seamless interactions.
  • Weather Updates: Offering reliable weather forecasts for better packing and activity planning.
  • Community Interaction: Allowing travelers to share experiences and gain insights from fellow explorers.

Advance Features

  • Voice Recognition and Assistance: Implement voice-activated features for hands-free travel planning and navigation, making it easier for users on the go.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Travel Guides: Incorporate AR to provide users with interactive, real-time information about their surroundings, historical sites, and points of interest.
  • Budget Tracking: Helping users manage expenses and stay within their financial plans while traveling.
  • Gamification: Offering games, streaming content, and interactive features to alleviate travel boredom.
  • Integration with Fitness Tracking Device: Incorporate the ability to sync with users' fitness trackers and wearables to encourage healthy travel. 

    With the expertise of a professional travel app development company, you have the flexibility to customize your travel app with as many features as you desire, creating a tailor-made experience for your users. 

Steps of Travel App Development: How to Create a Travel App?

Steps of Travel App Development

Planning and Strategy

Start by brainstorming creative travel app ideas that address specific traveler pain points or needs. Explore and learn about the potential features related to booking, itinerary planning, navigation, or local recommendations.

Define a clear plan for your app. What are your goals? Who is your target audience? How will your app stand out? Determine what features your app will offer and create a strategy to achieve your objectives.

Design and Prototyping

This step in your travel app development process is the key to safeguarding your travel app's future.

Create the visual design of your app, including its layout, colors, and user interface. Develop prototypes or mockups to see how the app will function and look. This step helps in visualizing the user experience.

Development

The travel app development phase involves building the actual app. This includes coding, programming, and creating the technical infrastructure.

Ensure that your app works smoothly on various platforms and devices, such as iOS and Android, which is where the expertise of a travel app development company becomes invaluable.

Testing

Rigorously test your app for any bugs or issues. Check its performance, usability, and user experience. Make necessary improvements based on the testing results to ensure a high-quality app.

Testing during the development phase is critical to identify and rectify issues early, ensuring a more reliable and user-friendly app, and ultimately saving time and resources in the long run.

Launch

Release your app to the public. This step involves making it available for download or access through app stores and websites. Promote your travel & hospitality app to reach your target audience, using various marketing and promotional strategies.

Often overlooked is the importance of post-launch monitoring and ongoing support to address user concerns, improve app performance, and adapt to changing market trends, ensuring your app's long-term success.

User Feedback

Keep an ear to the ground – what your users say really matters. Use their comments and reviews to make your app better by fixing problems and adding the things they ask for. It's like tailoring your app to fit their needs, which keeps them happy and your app thriving.

Monetization Strategy

We've already covered this in the above sections. Decide how your app will make money. This could involve in-app advertising, in-app purchases, subscriptions, affiliate marketing, or other revenue models. Choose the revenue model that aligns with your app's value and user base.

Marketing and Growth

Continuously market your app to attract more users. Use a variety of marketing strategies, including social media, search engine optimization, and partnerships with influencers or travel-related websites. Aim to expand your user base over time.

Remember to keep an eye on what's working and what's not through analytics and what your users tell you. This way, you can make sure your app keeps growing strong. Travel portal development is also on the rise, making it a strong addition to your strategy for comprehensive travel coverage.

Maintenance

Regularly update and maintain your app. This includes fixing any bugs or issues that arise, adding new features, and keeping the app compatible with the latest operating systems and devices.

Invest in support and maintenance services to ensure a seamless user experience and keep users engaged. Plus, it shows that you're committed to delivering the best possible service to your users, building trust and loyalty.

Development Costs for a Travel App

After all the information you've gathered, you're probably curious about one big thing: How much does it cost to create a travel app? Well, the answer isn't one-size-fits-all. 

The cost depends on various factors, and different types of apps come with different price tags. So, let's explore what determines the cost of travel app development.

App ComplexityThe more features & complexity your app has, the higher the development cost.
Design ElementsIntricate  custom designs require more time and resources
Platform ChoicesDeveloping for iOS, Android, or both impacts development costs.
Location of Development TeamDevelopment costs vary by the location of the development team
Third-Party IntegrationsUsing external services or APIs may involve additional costs.
Security MeasuresImplementing robust security features can increase development expenses

As you know, these factors cannot be the same for two projects, therefore providing the estimation of the cost is not feasible. You can schedule a consultation with us, share your requirements, and we will provide you with the cost estimation.

Conclusions? Don’t build another simple solution. Get creative but keep in mind your target audience and their needs.

When seeking inspiration for your travel app idea, it's wise to study your competitors. The fact that they've garnered a significant user base suggests they're doing something right. Simultaneously, identifying flaws in their apps can serve as valuable guidance, motivating you to develop a more competitive travel and hospitality solution that truly caters to user needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

See the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions below.

The cost of developing a travel app varies depending on its complexity, features, platform, design, and backend requirements. A basic app might cost between $40,000 to $80,000, while more advanced ones with complex features could range from $100,000 to $500,000 or more. To get an accurate estimate, it's recommended to consult with experienced app developers and consider ongoing maintenance costs.

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