How to Make a Hotel Booking App and Website: Types, Features, and Cost
In this article, we talk about the hotel booking app market, give you advice on how to create a hotel booking app, and provide you with a full list of features for your app.
Online travel market analysis
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel and tourism market is showing significant growth and the online travel market is booming.
By the end of 2023, the number of users in the online travel booking market will reach 823.6 million. By 2025, 72% of global tourism and travel sales are predicted to be made via the internet.
The stats clearly show that building a hotel booking app is still a good idea. The digital addiction of the travel industry will only grow over time. And since demand for hotel booking apps is constantly rising, there is enough room in the market for healthy competition.
The travel and hospitality industry is growing rapidly, fueled by strong economic performance in most countries, demand for corporate travel, and the transition to an experience economy.
Meanwhile, consumers are gravitating towards online booking. In the US alone, 88% of adults prefer to use online channels to book hotels.
Booking a stay through a mobile app has become simple, fast, and enjoyable. And building a hotel booking app has never been more affordable and profitable. It’s estimated that the global online hotel booking market will surpass $174 million by 2022.
What is a hotel booking application?
With a hotel booking application, you can book a hotel and hotel services at any time and from anywhere. These apps have changed the accommodation booking process but still haven’t reached their true potential.
Successful hotel applications can be divided into three main categories:
- Travel agents. These apps help travelers not only with booking hotels but with finding everything they might need on their trip, such as car rentals, taxis, and flights. Such applications are mainly intended for selling travel packages offered by travel agencies. Thus, these are universal travel apps.
- Aggregators. These applications are primarily intended for finding hotels. They compare many hotels by categories such as location, budget range, and room type. Booking aggregator apps allow users to choose the best deal for their stay and are ideal for non-tourist travelers.
- Hoteliers. These apps are designed for hotel chains. With hotelier applications, users can book rooms with a specific hotel chain. They are usually targeted at high-end hotel companies.
USPs for the travel and hospitality industry
What unique services or experiences can companies offer when booking a hotel? This may seem like a simple process without much room for innovation and unique selling propositions (USPs). To spark your imagination, we’ve rounded up a handful of USPs that have changed the game in both the travel and hospitality industries.
Apps like HotelQuickly and HotelTonight allow you to book a hotel at the last minute. These types of apps attract budget travelers and those who don’t like to plan at all.
All that some travelers need is a room where they can put their things and sleep for a few hours. They don’t care about luxury and convenience.
For such travelers, hotel booking apps offer low-cost deals, and even well-known hotel chains are using the low-cost strategy.
Many pundits said that nothing good would come of Airbnb’s unique selling proposition. But in fact, sharing a room with strangers has made Airbnb one of the leading accommodation booking apps. Most travelers want to make new friends along the way, and Airbnb gives them a great opportunity to meet new people and make their trip memorable.
Yes, you heard it right. Couchsurfing is a travel app that provides free stays with locals. It offers a glimpse of the genuine texture of local culture, lifestyles, food, and language. The whole app relies on goodwill and friendships. Wonder who uses such an app? Over 20 million travellers use Couchsurfing in more than 230,000 cities worldwide.
Ultra short stays
One of the most innovative USPs is the short stay, pioneered by Dayuse.com. This allows users to book a room for a day only. It is aimed at those who like to explore during the day and travel at night. All they need is a place to relax, cool off, and get started.
Benefits of a hotel booking application
Benefits for hotel owners
- One of the biggest benefits of booking apps is that they help you find guests on a regular basis. Smaller hotels that typically operate during peak seasons can also attract customers throughout the year.
- A hotel booking application automates cost calculations for accommodation and additional room service. This leaves no room for error. It also gives users a sense of transparency.
- A hotel booking app allows you to discover new markets, attract customers, meet users, and advertise your hotel brand by ensuring an enjoyable user experience. This simplifies the check-in and check-out process, which is convenient for customers and encourages them to return and recommend your hotel to others.
Benefits for users
- A hotel booking app offers users all hotel options under one roof. Users can easily select the ideal hotel based on criteria such as location, price range, amenities, and check-in and check-out times.
- Hotel booking application users can check out hotels based on details and photographs of rooms.
- A hotel booking app can give users a choice of various payment options such as credit card, debit card, in-app payment, internet banking, and even payment upon check-in.
Things to consider before you start off
There are a few details you need to clarify before deciding how to create your own booking app.
Choose a target market
This is an important detail to consider before you start developing your booking app. Of course, it’s always better to launch an application globally than in a local market. However, reaching this level requires time and significant financial investment. You can save time and money by launching in your local market. Plus, this approach can help you test your product and see how well it works.
Find out where hotel data comes from
There are many APIs that provide access to hotel listings. The most popular APIs for searching, booking, and rating hotels are:
- Amadeus. The Amadeus API allows users to search for, compare, and book rooms in over 300,000 hotels worldwide. Amadeus gives free monthly test environment request quotas for testing service APIs and developing your application. When you go live, you will continue to get free request quotas but you will be charged for additional API calls. The price ranges from €0.0025 to €0.04 per API call.
- Sabre. This API allows you to book hotels at the best prices, receive booking information, and manage profile data. The pricing structure for API calls consists of a one-time setup fee, a monthly subscription fee, a support fee, and a transaction fee and depends on the type of service.
- Travelport APIs provide you with full-featured transactions for integrating hotel search and booking into your hotel booking application. These APIs enable users to search for hotel room availability, images, details and prices. In addition, they allow users to change, restore, and cancel bookings. For pricing information, contact Travelport managers directly.
- Zodomus APIs. Zodomus connects booking and travel service providers like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Expedia. With Zodomus APIs, you pay €0.50 per month for accommodations you present plus €0.10 for a new booking. There is also a monthly fee of €15.
You may also need additional APIs to add more useful content to your travel app:
- Google Places API. Provide information about nearby places (cafes, shops, etc.).
- izi.TRAVEL. This API can help users choose their destination. izi.TRAVEL tells the stories of over 1,750 cities in different languages.
- The Google Maps API provides maps, directions, and address validation.
- Payment gateway APIs. Stripe, Braintree, and Paypal are the most popular payment processors.
How does a hotel booking app work?
A hotel app offers users real-time booking options and information on:
- Available Rooms
- Available rates
- Description of rooms
- Included amenities
- Deals and discounts
You can have multiple online booking channels so that users can book hotel rooms, vacation itineraries, and airline tickets. In this way, a hotel finder application ensures that the information is synchronized with each platform. After a user has reserved a room, the application allows them to book the room and accepts payment.
After a user completes a booking, you need to update the relevant information on each platform and distribution channel.
If the booking engine is online, this process can be done automatically. If the booking is made offline, the hotel owner must transfer data to the online booking system. This way, users will also be able to automatically enter their personal data during the checkout process.
After updating data on all distribution channels, a confirmation email is sent to the customer and the booking manager. It includes all information the user needs, such as a printable booking confirmation with payment details.
Ratings and reviews
During check-out, the user receives an email and SMS confirming check-out along with an invoice and a request to review the booking services. This is a great way to get rich feedback. Once again, all distribution channels are updated with availability and customer reviews.
Essential features of a hotel booking mobile application
Your app users are ready to start looking for accommodation. With a large inventory, the search process would be cumbersome if not for filtering by:
- Destination (city, property name, or address)
- Date (check-in/check-out)
- Number of guests (adults, children, and pets)
- Number of rooms (or type of accommodation)
For last-minute bookings, users might find nearby hotels by clicking a button and using GPS navigation. This brings us to the search results screen.
On the search results screen, the user sees a list of hotels that match their criteria. Ratings and room prices will help them make their choice. With too many parameters, filters and sorting will require further refinement. Filters allow users to further specify preferences (price, rating, proximity, booking policy, etc.).
Sorting does not shorten the list but prioritizes the search results. For example, a user might consider cheaper options first. Another cool feature is an in-app map allowing users to select locations based on their proximity to the attractions they plan to visit. Displaying room prices or user ratings directly on the map allows users to make the best choice in a desired location.
After the choice is made, users want to see accommodation details including:
- Overview — basic information about the hotel (address, check-in/check-out time, etc.)
- Photo gallery
- Accommodation offers — information on availability, photos of rooms, description, and cost per night
- Additional amenities — Wi-Fi, air conditioning, parking
- Reviews and average guest ratings
- Map — location of the hotel and surroundings
- Suggestions — other match options, restaurants, and sightseeing information
- Social media buttons to share with friends
- Room status — real-time indication of room availability (an availability calendar is a great visual) and time of last booking
The payment port completes your booking funnel. It helps the user make simple and secure transactions through your application. Most applications allow the user to opt out of payment upon registration. This is a sign of a quality application. If the user wishes to deposit a certain amount, offer several payment options (credit card, PayPal). You should also send the user an automated booking confirmation containing payment details.
Registration and login
Registration should be optional. But once a booking is completed, or if a user returns, registering and logging in has the added benefit of allowing you to track user activity and providing them with personalized inside information. Users can register through your website using a Facebook account or an email address.
A user profile is important because you want your users to come back. A profile stores information about a user and their booking history and allows the user to create wishlists, choose a language and currency, and more. This is the place for making personalized offers and discounts.
Most hotel booking sites offer free cancellations until the last day. This policy is attractive to users and practically interferes with transactions. It’s nice for users to know they can always change their mind (for free) and rebook before the last 24 hours. But this can be a problem for OTAs and hoteliers, as most cancellations happen a day or two before the booking date. Fortunately, most hoteliers have a cancellation prevention strategy.
While basic features are a must, other features aren’t necessarily all bells and whistles. Although booking airline tickets and hotels is only one stage of a user’s journey, it makes it wonderful and memorable. After all, today’s journey is all about creating a unique user experience.
How can you keep users engaged after completing a booking? Deloitte emphasizes the need to explore the possibilities of neighboring spaces. Many travelers would prefer a one-stop app for planning, booking, and navigating to their destination.
Online hotel booking providers make recommendations based on users’ previous searches, similarly to how Netflix and YouTube show personalized recommendations. For example, Booking.com offers alternative destinations, and TripAdvisor has added personalized Just For You hotel recommendations. You can also suggest alternative dates or routes, airline tickets and car rental offers, local events, and attractions. As more personal data accumulates, the algorithm can produce amazing results.
Airfare & room cost forecasting
The cost of flight and hotel accommodation fluctuates a lot, so we cannot be sure about it. Thanks to a large amount of historical data, creating an algorithm that takes into account seasonal trends, demand growth, special offers, and airline offers is no longer a problem. Hopper uses predictive analytics to help users book cheaper flights and (recently) hotel rooms, just like Kayak.
Intelligent travel assistant
With the advancement of AI, intelligent concierge services are gaining momentum
Chatbots improve the customer experience 24/7 and help travelers solve the most common problems. But chatbots are also a great marketing tool for reaching audiences through social media sites. This is how Marriott interacts with its customers on Facebook Messenger, Slack, WeChat, and Google Assistant. In fact, travel bots provide a variety of services, from search and booking to complete travel management.
Imagine situations beyond your control, such as flight cancellations or delays, that require an immediate change of plans. On a business trip, the consequences can be significant. In any case, you will need on-site orchestration, which is a comprehensive solution that entails identifying potential disruptions based on weather, current delays, and other airport data, proposing a contingency plan, and executing it. This is the most useful feature in the travel industry.
Dynamic pricing is an important part of revenue management. Dynamic pricing functionality sets room rates based on supply and demand. This allows hotels to quickly respond to changes in market value, increasing revenue and occupancy. The practice of changing room prices twice a day is not new to hotels.
However, the traditional bandwidth/quantity-based pricing deprives hotels of a significant portion of their revenue. Pricing algorithms can at least double your income. For example, Starwood hotels uses a machine learning tool that takes into account hundreds of factors. The benefits are obvious. How else would they have won the battle with so many booking aggregator sites if it weren’t for cheaper direct deals?
Reviews and ratings
The value of this feature should not be overlooked when building a hotel booking app: 95% of vacationers read at least seven reviews before booking a vacation.
After completing the booking, the user will want confirmation. An automatically generated receipt can be sent to the user via email or mobile phone and will help the user keep all booking information close at hand.
AR hotel brochure
The practice of making brochures is not new. What’s new is adding an augmented reality layer to your hotel booking app. An augmented reality hotel brochure is a winning marketing tactic that engages your audience with its novelty. If you’re unfamiliar with this technology, here’s how to use AR to benefit your business.
Push notifications and alerts
Push notifications and alerts make life easier for travelers throughout the journey. You can notify your users in various situations. Suggest the best deals, alternative routes, rate changes, special offers, planned events, and travel plan notes. Use numbered icons to indicate incoming messages or booking reminders.
How much does it cost to build a hotel booking app?
The cost of developing a hotel booking app depends on these factors:
- Product features
- Product design
- Hourly rate of your development team
- Project size and complexity
- Technology stack
- Number of team members on the project
- Time frame
The biggest factor that influences a project’s cost is the hourly rate of developers, and that often depends on their location. For example, an application that costs $40,000 to build in the US will cost around $9,000 if developed by engineers in Ukraine.
Developing your project with a company based in Eastern Europe is cost-effective and gives you access to top talent.
Online and mobile communication is the new standard for the travel and hospitality industry. Many technological innovations are changing the market. Often, just one decision determines whether you are part of the past or the future. Make this decision wisely and thoughtfully.
If you want to create a hotel booking app but don’t know where to start, contact Mobindustry for a free consultation.