How to Build a ​Successful Travel App

The travel industry is growing rapidly: more and more people are traveling, from a casual tourist to a digital nomad. More and more interesting apps are created every day: some help you to book hotels, others compare airplane tickets for you, and others help you pack your stuff.

In this article, we will try to figure out how to make a travel app for iOS or Android, what we will need to develop it from scratch, how much time and costs it might need.

Table of contents
  1. Travel app types
  2. How to Build Successful Travel App
  3. Login and Registration
  4. Search and Filter
  5. Listing Info
  6. Messaging
  7. Payment details or Earnings
  8. Booking History
  9. Reviews
  10. Host: Create and Update a Listing
  11. Summary

Travel app types

Travel App - Types

Let's see what types of travel apps are out there:

Hotel/Apartment Booking apps - they help users to find a place to stay. There are traditional booking apps that allow you to book hotels, and Airbnb-like apps, where hosts can publish their apartment for rent. Both app types will need three sides: one for a user to book a place, one for a hotel manager (or apartments owner) to control their listing, and an admin panel for project owners to see all the listings, users, reviews, and more;

Airplane tickets booking apps: this type of apps helps a user to find cheapest airplane tickets. The idea is simple: we allow the user to select destination, dates, and app will check different airlines to find cheapest and quickest options. The main problem here is to find all the APIs needed to get all the info about flights, prices, dates, discounts, and more.

Navigation apps
Navigation apps help users to find the quickest way to get from A to B or to find interesting places around them. It is vital for navigation apps to work offline since tourists might not have a stable connection in another country. However, if your goal is to show interesting places around - this will be less important, but still nice to have. We will review how to make a travel guide app soon.

Taxi Services
Whenever a person arrives in a new city, he will definitely need to get to his hotel or apartment somehow. The easiest way is to book a taxi. However, sometimes it can be an adventure: not every driver will tell you a real price, not every driver will speak your language, and so on. Uber, Lyft, and other services came to the rescue. They will show you the correct price, trip duration, driver reviews, and much more.

Other Apps
Of course, there are much more to travel apps. Planners, guides, translator and weather apps. We will review them in the next articles.

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Main sections of Travel App

Travel App - Start

Curious how to start a travel app? Hotel and apartment booking market is growing rapidly, so it can be a great idea to learn more about it. For the sake of example, let's talk about Airbnb-like travel application. What would it take to create an app, that would help the user to book an apartment, or to share his own?

Let's start breaking down the app by sections to understand how to build a travel app. Then we will review each section, one by one. Average booking app will need two parts:

User app

  • Login and Registration
  • Search and Filter
  • Listing Info
  • Messaging
  • Payment details
  • Booking History
  • Reviews

Host app

  • Login and Registration
  • Creating and Updating host's Listings
  • List of host's Listings
  • Reviews
  • Earnings

In case you would like to make your own travel app, whether for iOS, Android, or other platfrom - just let us know at mail@mova.io

Login and Registration

Travel App - Authentication

Usually, this is a mandatory application section. In our case, we could still allow users to browse listings unauthorized - it would increase engagement a lot. And if a user would like to make a booking or message a host - he would have to sign up.

If you would like to simplify the user's life, you could also add social network integrations so that they could reuse their existing logins.

Booking applications usually need more info to keep users and hosts safe. So we will need to gather some additional info, like a user's personal info, some verifications, and others.

As for hosts - they would not have an option to use the app without registration. For safety concerns, their registration will have more steps - they will need to provide documents, read hosting rules, and more.

Registration: 40h, $1,400 ($35/h)
Social Networks integration: 10h or $350 per each platfrom ($35/h)

Travels aren't that good without some music. If you ever thought about making a music streaming app, just let us know. We've also made an article that helps to understand how to create a music app.

Search and Filter

Travel App - Search

One of the most essential functions of the app - to help the user find a place to stay according to his preferences, budget, dates, and so on. The more options we will give users, the better results he will get. O the other hand, if there will be too many options - it can become frustrating for the user, and he might get lost.

The app should be able to show listings by given parameters:

  • Location
  • Price
  • Dates
  • Number of people
  • Additional filters, like the Internet, Parking, Kitchen, and so on.

Besides, it would be beneficial to show listings on a map, so a user can visually see how far from the city center (or from a subway station, or some other places) is the listing. Besides, we could use geolocation services, to show all the distances from user to a listing, and from listing to all the interesting places around.

Whether we are developing an iOS app or Android app, we can choose different maps, from Apple Maps to Google Maps, or their alternatives.

Advanced search and filter screens: ~70h or $2,450 ($35/h)

Listing Info

Travel App - Listing Info

You can't create travel app without listing info. When user found something interesting user our sophisticated search, he will want to check more info about the place:

  • Apartment photos
  • Description
  • Availability Calendar
  • Apartment Rules and Cancelation policies
  • Host's Contact details

The more info user will see - the better. If he will see listing info and won't find an answer to his question - he is most likely to leave. However, we can also add an option to message an owner so that he can answer all the questions.

Average Listing Info screen with all the info needed can take around 60 hours to develop and will cost about $2,100 with a $35 hourly rate.

Messaging

We can't leave an apartment booking app without a chat. Whenever a user has questions, the only message to an owner can resolve the issue. How far is a bus station from the apartment? How to get to the place from an airport? Can user take a pet with him? Also, when booking long-term, a chat will help resolve lots of other issues between hosts and clients.

In most cases, it is okay to have the simplest chat possible. Users won't need any audio-calls or video-calls in most cases. It can take around 60 hours to add a text messaging feature to the app (or $2,200 with $35/h).

Payment details or Earnings

Travel App - Payments

Whenever user found a place where he would like to stay, he will need to book it and pay for it. To do it, we will need to use payment gateways like Stripe or Braintree - they will simplify payments integration, and will make sure we won't have issues with transactions.

Ideally, we will need to add Payment Info page, where a user will be able to add his credit card or bank information. Besides, we will need to add a payment confirmation and invoices screens, to show how much the user will need to pay, and a proof that the transaction went through.

As for a Host, we will need to use that same Payment Info screen, but we will also need an Earning screen, where the Host will be able to see how much did he earn this month.

Payments logic is simple: when a user found an apartment, we will charge him for his stay, and project's commision as well (in case you and your business would like to have some profit from it). At the end of each month, we will transfer the money to the place owner. The payment gateway will have its commission as well, so it is essential to calculate everything well so that nobody will lose money.

Making a bulletproof payment system can take around 40 hours, and would cost $1,400 ($35/h)

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Booking History

Travel App - Bookings

The app will not be completed without booking history. It will help a user to find those nice apartments where he stayed last summer. It will also help to resolve issues if some will arise: whether payment went through, for example. And it is just a nice section to view, to see where have you been over the last couple of years.

Usually booking history has a list of all previous bookings, and actual booking details: hotel or apartment info, its address, photos, payment details, user's review, and more.

Since we will only show existing data, this section is easy to develop. We will only need to request all the previous bookings from the server, and show them in a list. As for details - we will have to show everything that we have related to a selected reservation in one screen.

Average development time for booking history and details: 30h, or $1,050.

Reviews

One of the main parts of the application is a reviews system. It will help users to find the best places to stay, will make the service safer, and will improve the quality of available apartments.

When the user checked out of the apartment (and if the payment went through), we will show him a simple screen where we will ask him to rate his experience. It will help new users to understand if the place is safe, if it looks like on the photo, if there are any hidden issues, and more.

Even though user interface changes will be simple, back-end logic will be slightly more difficult. We will need to make sure that user has to leave a review. For example, if a client did book an apartment but never paid - he should never be able to leave a review because we don't have a proof of staying at the selected apartment. We also have to remind users to leave a review after checkout and show it at the Place Details screen.

On average, review system can take around 30h to develop and can cost about $1,120.

Host: Create and Update a Listing

Travel App - New Listing

Whenever new host signs up, he will need to be able to add his place to our database. This is a long and serious process, where we will ask the user about:

  • place address;
  • photos;
  • Detailed description;
  • additional services;
  • Prices;
  • availability Calendar;

And much more. On the admin side, we will also need a mechanism to approve new listings or ask hosts to add some changes to make it available first.

Making something similar to Airbnb's system will take at least 140 hours, and will cost around $5,000. However, it can always be simplified.

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Summary

Making a travel application that helps people booking apartments, and allows hosts to create apartments is a complex process. Basically, we will need to make an app that will work for three types of users:

  • A user, who will search and book apartments
  • Host, who will list his places in our database
  • Admin, who can view all the users, hosts, places, transactions, and more.

As with any project, it is a good idea to start only with a minimum viable product. It will help to release faster, only with core features, will save money, and will help to generate very first feedback earlier.

Let's see how much time can it take to make an Airbnb-like application, and what would it cost:

Feature Hours Costs
Login and Registration 40 $1,400
Search and Filter 70 $2,450
Listing Info 60 $2,100
Messaging 60 $2,200
Payments and Earnings 40 $1,400
Booking History 30 $1,050
Reviews 30 $1,120
Creating and Updating host's Listings 140 $5,000
Total 570 or 4 months $16,720

This is an estimation for all the main features of an Airbnb-like application. Depending on designs and number of screens, the price can be reduced or increased. You can also view a complete interactive estimation for Airbnb-like application, where you can select only features that you will need, and then view the timeframes and costs in real-time: Airbnb Interactive Estimations

Whether you would like to make a similar application, its lighter version, or any other mobile or web project - mova.io team is ready to help you out. Just write to us at mail@mova.io, and we will be ready to help.


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