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How to Make a Hotel Booking App: All You Need to Know to Succeed

13 Jun 2021

21 Min

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The success stories of such mammoths as Airbnb and Booking.com have pushed the eTravel industry forward, stimulating phenomenal growth. That’s why not only hospitality professionals are wondering how to make a hotel booking app but many startups and entrepreneurs from various industries too.

In this post, we’ll guide you through hotel booking app development aspects: from types of hotel app to required features and monetization models. You’ll also learn how to build a high-quality and client-oriented product.

All this will help you with your own hotel booking app development. You can watch our short video to find answers to some of your questions and then continue with this detailed article.

How to Create a Hotel Booking App?

Online Travel Market Analysis

Despite the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel and tourism market demonstrates significant growth over the next year and is going to reach $833.5 billion in 2025. Apart from that, the online travel market is developing fast too. Let’s take a quick look at the statistic:

  • The number of users in the Online travel booking market will reach $823.6 million by the end of 2023. In turn, 72% of worldwide sales in tourism and travel will be made online by 2025.
  • 70% of users research where to travel on their smartphones.
  • The conversion rates on mobile apps are 5x higher than on the mobile websites.

The stats above clearly indicate that creating a booking app is still a good idea for anyone thinking about this opportunity. The digital addiction of the travel industry will only be continuing to grow with time. Since the demand is constantly growing, there is enough market space for healthy competition, and you're at risk of losing a large slice of cake.

Major Players in the Booking App Niche

Best hotel booking apps according to the App Store US ranking

NameActual place in the App Store ranking
  1. Airbnb

5th

  1. Hopper

7th

  1. Booking.com

11th

  1. Expedia

10th

  1. Marriott Bonvoy

31st

  1. Priceline

19th

  1. Hilton Honors

43th

  1. Hotels.com

16th

The rating above is formed by SimilarWeb and based on the Travel category on the App Store. It only contains apps with the capability of booking a hotel or apartment for a stay.

Best hotel booking apps according to the Google Play Store US ranking

NameActual place in the Google Play ranking
  1. Hopper

17th

  1. Booking.com

4th

  1. Airbnb

5th

  1. Expedia

7th

  1. Hotels.com

13th

  1. Hilton Honors

19th

  1. Marriott Bonvoy

22nd

  1. KAYAK

40th

The rating above is also formed by SimilarWeb and based on the Travel category on the Google Play Store.

Note: These rankings are dynamic, so they can change by the moment you read the article.

Why did I list all those apps? The data-driven statistics will help you identify the main competitors and learn a lot from their apps. Correspondingly, the in-depth analysis can help you better understand your needs and objectives before proceeding with a hotel booking app design and further processes.

Things to Consider Before You Start Off

You should clear up several details before answering how to make a booking app of your own.

Choose a Booking App Type

  • Online Travel Agencies or OTAs. These are online services that are mostly focused on multiple booking capabilities: hotels, car rental, flight tickets, etc. Trip.com, KAYAK, Hopper are some of their representatives.
  • Hotel aggregators. The primary focus of these apps is to aggregate hotel data and provide it to users. Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, etc.
  • Hotel chain apps. This type of booking apps is created for a specific hotel or chain of hotels and only allow to book a room inside that chain. Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards belong to this type.

If you're a hotelier, I suppose you already know what you need to create a booking app for. Or maybe you want to partner with other companies in order to complement the app with car rental and booking flights? It's up to your business objectives.

In case you're a tech entrepreneur or just an enthusiast with a fresh look at booking apps, you should probably choose between an OTA and a booking aggregator.

Choose a Distribution Area

This is another important detail to settle before getting into the booking app development.

Sure thing, it's always better to run the app worldwide rather than on a local market. However, it takes time and considerable financial investments to scale up to that level.

You can save some time and money by starting with a local market. In addition, this approach can help you test the product and see how well it works.

Unique Value Proposition You Can Offer to Users

Conquering users is all about choosing the right positioning and value proposition. So if you're wondering how to create a booking app and succeed in a certain niche, you have to determine the UVP.

Here are some of the models that are in use in this niche:

  • Last-minute booking deals. It's the most widespread value proposition model on the market offered by such companies as Booking.com, HotelTonight, Trivago, and others.
  • Cheap booking options. Some travelers (especially millennials) don't really care where to spend the night after tiresome city walks. That's why cheap stays work best for them. This model is chosen by HostelWorld, HostelBookers, and some other companies targeted at low-cost travelers. 
  • Apartment rental / Room sharing. The room-sharing business model was adopted by Airbnb, and this is what made this service popular. Apart from that, the company is focused on short-term apartment rental. Both these models are fresh and in demand.
  • Free stays. Such service as Couchsurfing.com allows users staying in each other's apartments for free. Figures speak for themselves: Couchsurfing.com is used by 12 million travelers from all over the globe. 
  • Short stays. This is a niche model for people who need to stay somewhere for no longer than one night. Dayuse.com company offers it's users one-day booking at a lower price.

Where Hotel Data Comes From

Data is vital for hotel booking apps. I’m talking about hotel listings where users will be able to pick the one they'd like to book a stay in. Nobody wants to use an app for booking hotels without a single option in it. So it’s extremely important to think over where to get all that data.

For example, Booking.com and many other hotel aggregators conclude an agreement with hotels. Then they install the software of their development at hotels to monitor the availability and other parameters. That’s how major aggregators get and maintain a constant flow of new booking options.

It doesn’t look easy, does it? Fortunately, there are a plethora of APIs providing access to hotel listings and related parameters. The most popular APIs for hotel search, booking, and ratings are:

  • Amadeus APIs. Amadeus API allows users to search, compare, and book hotel rooms at over 300,000 hotels worldwide. You get monthly free request quotas in the Test environment to test service APIs and develop your app. Once you proceed to the production environment, you’ll continue to utilize the free request quotas, but you’ll be charged for extra calls you make. The price varies between €0.0025 – €0.04 per API call.
  • Sabre APIs. This type of APIs allows you to shop and book the best rates, get reservation information, or manage profile data. The pricing structure consists of a one-time setup fee, monthly subscription fee, support fee, a fee per each transaction, and depends on the type of service.
  • Travelport APIs. Travelport APIs provide you with full-featured transactions to integrate hotel search and booking into your hotel booking app. Users can search for hotel rooms availability, images, details, and pricing. Besides, they can change, retrieve, and cancel reservations. You need to contact managers directly to know the pricing plan.
  • Zodomus APIs. Zodomus connects OTA travel and booking providers, like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, etc. These API methods are made for managing profiles, mapping, prices, room availability, reservations, booking content, and more. There is no setup fee, you pay a fee of €0.5 per listing per month (room, villa, apartment, etc.) plus €0.1 per new reservation. There is also a monthly fee of €15 per month.

You may also need additional APIs to bring more useful content to your travel app:

  • Google Places API. Provide information about nearby places (cafes, stores, etc.).
  • izi.TRAVEL. This type of API can help users to choose the destination. It tells stories about over 1750 cities in different languages.
  • Google Maps API is available for maps, routings, and address validation.
  • Uber API. Uber integration is the best option to rent cars.
  • In-app payments gateway integration. Stripe, Braintree, and Paypal are the most popular payment providers.

Admin Panel

Every mobile and web application requires it to be managed smoothly. Admin panel is an integral part of any hotel booking app: from chain hotel applications to aggregators and OTAs. It’s impossible to manage listings and keep track of important data without a well-thought-out, custom solution tailored to the platform’s peculiarities and needs.

To build a successful hotel booking application, it’s necessary to consider not only the costs of user-facing part of the product but expenses on infrastructure like admin panel and other related solutions.

MVP Features to Create a Hotel Booking App

Follow this short checklist to create a booking app:

  • Step 1. Make analysis of online travel market.
  • Step 2. Choose a type of your hotel booking app.
  • Step 3. Create a list of competitors of your hotel booking app.
  • Step 4. Decide on the app distribution area.
  • Step 5. Define your Unique Value Proposition.
  • Step 6. Make a list of app's features for MVP.
  • Step 7. Consider additional features for the app.
  • Step 8. Find and hire a software development company with expertise at hospitality or form an in-house team.
  • Step 9. Tell about your business objectives and expectations.
  • Step 10. Be involved in the app development process when it starts.
  • Step 11. Make sure your employees or software development company delivers your vision correctly (take part in meetings for this).
  • Step 12. Draw up and launch a marketing strategy if it's necessary.
  • Step 13. Launch the hotel booking app on your target markets.
  • Step 14. Collect feedbacks, scale, introduce new features. 

This is sort of a skeleton that was made up by our business analysts. It can be used in case you don't know where to start from and how to concentrate your efforts.

  1. Sign Up

This is one of the basic features that almost any app needs. It allows you to establish personal touch with each user, link information to a particular person, and use entirely retargeting and marketing tools. The important detail here is to let users utilize the core functionality of your hotel booking app in a guest mode without creating a profile.

On top of that, it’s vital to provide several registration options (e.g., email/password + social media account). This step can help you double the user base. However, email/password method is time-consuming, and a part of your users may abandon registration. In turn, the Social Login feature makes the whole process faster and more convenient for the users.

Concept of hotel booking app design by Cleveroad

Hotel booking mobile app design concept by Cleveroad: Sign in / sign up page animation (Source: Dribbble)

  1. Accommodation Booking Screen

The main purpose of any booking app is to let their users find a place for a stay with ease. That's why booking app development demands a well-thought-out booking screen.

Don't overload it with unnecessary details, making sure it has appropriate fields for all the important data.

It's also a good idea to integrate the location tracking feature. It's especially suitable for last-minute bookings. A simple 'Near me' button on the booking screen could make the user experience much better.

Here is a concept of flight booking our UI/UX designers have created. It's booking parameters are pretty similar to the ones for hotel booking apps.

Flight booking app design concept by Cleveroad

Flight booking app design concept by Cleveroad (Source: Dribbble)

  1. Search Flow

Your online booking engine should work flawlessly. If the search flow is too slow or complicated, users won’t use your app. To facilitate the searching process, you should provide users with the following parameters:

  • Destination (city, hotel name, or its address)
  • Date (check-in/check-out dates)
  • Number of people and information about pets
  • Number of rooms
  • Other individual parameters (like rooms for people with disabilities, guests with pets, or rooms with special prices)

There are some additional features to improve the searching process:

Filtering

Filters make the in-app search as flexible as possible. It enables users to look for accommodation that meets their specific preferences (like hotel brand, price, proximity, review score, available amenities, etc.).

Search filters to create a booking app with flexible in-app search

Hotel booking app design: Example of filters of Booking.com and TripAdvisor

Map

The right approach to visualizing search results can help you conquer more loyal users. For instance, showing available accommodations on a map is considered to be a good practice as it allows users to make more informed decisions. HotelTonight has added the map to their main screen to build a better experience and visualization.

Thus, your users can select the hotel by visually estimating its location.

How to make a booking app with great visualization

Hotel booking app design: Example of accommodation search on a map by HotelTonight and Hotels.com

Sorting

This feature forms the search results in a particular order. Users can prioritize results by price, distance, rating, recommendations, etc. However, if you have up to 5 hotels in the cities, there is no sense in implementing the Sorting feature.

How to make a hotel booking app with sorting feature

Hotel booking app design: Example of sorting of Trivago.com

  1. Accommodation Details Screen

It's logical that after users have entered all the booking details, got search results and applied filters to them, they will probably want to take a closer look at chosen accommodations.

To create a hotel booking app, you should ensure the presence of the following data on your accommodation details screen:

  • Photo gallery
  • Map 
  • Price details
  • Basic information (address, stars, etc.)
  • Hotel facilities & policies
  • Call-to-action button
  • Sharing button
  • Add to favorite button
  • Reviews
  • Any other information you think is important 

These are some of the basic information most travelers would like to be aware of before booking the stay. It's important because the more details you show, the more chances that users will finalize their decision and book the stay via your app.

Important elements on the accommodation detail screen for booking app development

Important elements on the accommodation details screen: Example of Booking.com

  1. Booking a Stay and Paying a Bill

Finally, the user decides to book a stay and pay for it via your app. The payment stage can be divided into 2 stages:

  • Checkout. At this stage, users need to submit (if they haven’t registered before) or confirm their personal information. So, create a screen where users could see all the necessary information regarding the stay.
  • Payment handling. To make in-app payments processing possible, you’ll need to integrate a payment gateway in your app. At this stage, it’s better to cooperate with an experienced software development company.

Wondering how to integrate a payment gateway into a mobile app? Check out our article describing it in detail.

Take care of confirmation screen when you create a hotel booking app

Booking app development and design peculiarities: Example of Booking.com confirmation screen

  1. Cancellation Policy

You either have it, or you don't. However, keep in mind that users want to feel protected and appreciate the opportunity to cancel their booking in case of an emergency.

Some hotel booking providers allow users to cancel their requests or rebook until the last day. This option is attractive to customers but causes difficulties to hotel owners and OTAs. Fortunately, most hoteliers apply an anti-cancellation strategy in hotels.

Create a Booking App With Broader Functionality

Hotel booking app development isn't only about basic functionality. Your product must be packed with features that would be the icing on the cake for users. Not necessarily must you add all of them into the app's release version. You can do it through some time after the launch when you'll have a feedback from users and a solid understanding of what direction should you move.

There are several ideas you can make use of and adapt to your vision.

User Profiles

This is vital as you want the customers coming back. All the information about the users and their booking history will be stored in the user profile. Besides, it enables users to make wish-lists, select a language, currency, and more. You’ll be able to send your clients personalized offers based on the information gathered from the profile.

Recommendation Engine

Suggestions are always a good booster for conversion. Especially the ones based on user search queries and personalized for their objectives.

For instance, Booking.com suggests alternative destinations, while TripAdvisor has included ‘Just for You’ custom hotel recommendations. You may also provide users with alternative dates or routes, flights, car rental deals, local events, and entertainment.

Accommodation Price & Availability Forecasting

Price changes or lack of accommodations due to seasonal demands, holidays, or whatever is a great motivator for the user to book a hotel right away which undoubtedly influences your earning. All you have to do is inform users about peak demand, say prices that will go through the roof, and offer to book accommodation beforehand.

To build an algorithm forecasting accommodation availability and prices, your software developers have to feed it with historical data. The data may include the following:

  • Seasonal demand & trends
  • Special offers by airlines
  • Other deals

Underneath, you can see how Airbnb informs their users about possible difficulties in booking an apartment for the set date. They don't only generate more profit in this way but care about their customers too.

How to create a hotel booking app with forecasting feature

How to make a booking app with the price and demand forecasting: Example of Airbnb

Smart Travel Assistant

Virtual travel agents will improve travelers' experience by providing 24/7 support and navigating through the most common concerns. In fact, travel bots offer a range of services: from the search for hotels to booking a stay to overall trip management.

Automatic Language Detection & Currency Exchange

Adapting language and currency based on user location provides a way better personalization and enhances the overall customer experience of your app. That's why it makes sense to add them after the main part of hotel booking app development is completed.

In-App Messenger

An opportunity to message a hotel to clarify some details or ask something is a good addition to the product's MVP functionality.

By the way, our engineering team wrote an article on how to create a messaging app like WhatsApp and how much it costs. Check it if you're interested

Such players as Booking.com and Airbnb have already implemented built-in instant messaging opportunity in their apps, though their strategies vary a bit. While Airbnb has a familiar messenger, Booking.com has chosen a path of semi-robotized chat. They have built a sort of chatbot that answers FAQs and in case that's not enough -- users can contact property representatives by messaging them.

Developing a hotel booking app with built-in messenger

How to create a booking app with the built-in chat: Example of Booking.com and Airbnb

Flexible Push Notifications

Push notifications and alerts are another way to earn more and bring a better user experience at the same time.

Here are several ideas on how you can utilize them in your booking app:

  • Check-in / check-out alerts. Remind users that it's time to check-in or out of the accommodation. You may not believe it, but such a notification can be really helpful.
  • Interesting places and activities nearby. Become more than just a booking app for your users. Tell them what they can do in the city of their stay and send them notifications when they pass by interesting places.
  • Special deals, offers, discounts. You certainly should use push notifications to inform users about upcoming sales that can be of interest to them.
  • Weather info. Another useful application for push notifications.

How to Earn Money With Your Hotel Booking App

So, you are aware of how to make a booking app of your own and what features to add. Then It's time to look into the future and determining the most suitable monetization strategy.

There are three monetization models that fit really well to hotel booking apps:

  • Service fee. You can charge a fee for every booking made via your application. Airbnb charges commission from users, while Booking.com charges it from hotels and apartments that were booked by users.
  • Subscription. You can offer users to purchase a subscription if they want to get access to more interesting deals and discounts in the future. It's also applicable for premium functionality.
  • Advertising. Let hotels pay for advertising within your platform to be ranked first in the search results by a certain query (e.g., city or region). 
  • Marketplace. Charge fees from hotels that want to be listed on your platform. It can be a one-time payment or subscription.

It's not the ultimate list. You can adopt any other known monetization strategy for your product and make use of it.

Hotel Booking App Development Cost

Let's now consider the time and cost you need to create a hotel booking app.

Mind that the hotel booking app development cost described below is based on general MVP features. Each product is unique and should be estimated individually, even if apps have similar features. If you want a more accurate app quote, please contact our manager for free.

The time required for hotel booking app development (development only)

ModuleCore MVP featuresApprox time, iOS + Android (hours)Approx time, Backend (hours)

Register screen

  • Register by Email + password
  • "Terms and Policy" screen

26

5

Login screen

  • Login by Email + password
  • Login using FB
  • Forgot password
  • Log Out

70

22

Search screen

  • Search with suggestions
  • Set date
  • Choose quantity of guests
  • List of Apartaments

260

88

Favorites screen

  • List of Apartaments

30

10

Trips screen

  • List of upcoming trips

42

15

Messange screen

  • List of messanges
  • Conversation detatils screen
  • Archive screen

264

89

Profile screen

  • Edit profile
  • Payments screen
  • Settings screen
  • FeedBack

136

49

Order screen

  • Checkout by Card

76

27

Landlord features

Create advertisement screen

  • Requests management

322

85

Push notifications

  • Notifications

28

16

GPS Location

  • GPS

40

-

Total development time

1294

406

The prices above are based on two platforms. You can contact our managers to get a consultation and request project cost estimation for one platform.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, all hotel booking apps require a thoughtful admin panel for managing users’ profiles and listings.

Hotel booking admin panel development time

ModuleCore MVP featuresApprox time, Backend (hours)Approx time, Frontend (hours)

Authorization

  • Sign up
  • Sign out

3

4

Users management

  • Manage users

38

41

Apartments management

  • Manage apartments

35

38

Categories Management (CRUD)

  • Manage categories

10

16

Reports management

  • Manage reports

20

15

Total development time

106

114

In the tables above, you can see an approximate development time by modules telling that developers will spend about 1920 hours to implement those modules for iOS and Android platforms.

Dividing that time into smaller parts (called sprints), we'll get about 9 development iterations. Keep in mind that software developers aren't the only specialists you need on a team to build such a complex product.

Here's the full team composition you'll need:

  • Front-end developer (2X) - all sprints
  • Back-end developer (2X) - all sprints
  • UI/UX designer - sprint 1-8
  • Business Analyst - sprint 1-8
  • Project Manager - all sprints
  • QA engineer - all sprints
  • DevOps engineer - all sprints
  • Team lead - all sprints

Given that team composition and the amount of work, it'll cost you approximately $159,175 to create a native hotel booking app. As a software service provider, we can guarantee successful product delivery within a specified time frame only if all needed specialists are on the team.

Hotel Booking App Development Process

There are two main approaches to hotel booking app development: ready-to-use software or custom software.

Let’s take a quick look at how to make a hotel booking app based on a template:

  • Choose a template. The Hotel apps template already has a set of features and tabs necessary for effective hotel booking management.
  • Brand your hotel app. Ensure the design of your mobile app (color scheme, images, etc.) aligns with common design concepts.
  • Make the app. Add all required information users need from your app (hotels, rooms, bookings, etc.)
  • Release your app. Launch the product on target markets to test the whole idea of your project and collect initial feedback.

Even though out-of-the-box solutions require less money and reduce time to market, they can’t satisfy all business requirements as such software is made for the mass market rather than a specific company. In turn, custom software considers individual business needs and saves money in the long run.

As a hotel booking app development company, we’ll describe how the software app development process works at Cleveroad.

Hotel booking app development stages

Steps to develop a hotel booking app from scratch

Step #1. First Contact

It all starts with a hotel booking software development application you left on the vendor’s website. It is sent directly to the Business development manager. After processing the request, the manager gets in touch with you to discuss your project’s details and terms of cooperation.

Step #2. Discovery Phase

Discovery phase helps to organize the project information. Business analysts gather tech requirements and formulate a detailed project specification along with a clear development plan. Based on the collected information, the business analyst makes a final project estimate. Apart from that, UI/UX designers make wireframes for each app screen.

Step #3. UI/UX Design

Once all wireframes are made, designers start making mockups for your future hotel booking app (screen by screen). They combine wireframes designed during the previous stage, project requirements, and modern UI/UX methodologies to create a top-notch app prototype aligning with your personal vision and corporate style. After that, the UI/UX designers submit the project to developers and take a supporting role. This is one of the UI/UX design services we offer before the development.

Step #4. Development Process

The development stage is about transforming eye-catching mockups into a working hotel booking app under the approved requirements, including coding, testing, and deployment. Development is divided into sprints (fixed periods) during which the team has to complete a specific part of the work.

Step #5. Quality Assurance

During this stage, QA engineers conduct multiple tests to make sure the software is bug-free and meets all specification requirements. When tests are completed, QA engineers enter results into bug reports and give them to developers. Bug reports show the state of the app’s functionality during which the problem appeared. This information helps developers to find the bug and fix it at once.

Step #6. Release

The development team makes final polishing to ensure the hotel booking app works as expected and ready for release. Once polishing is over, the app is launched on target markets to get initial feedback and make improvements if required.

Step #7. Maintenance

In some cases, the cooperation doesn’t stop after the app is built. The team can support the app by adding new features or updates and maintenance the product based on users’ feedback.

We’ve made an A to Z software development process overview to keep you aware of all stages your application goes through.

We’ve also prepared a list of some tools that will help you to build a top-notch hotel booking app:

  • Set of products by Cendyn (for marketing and sales tasks)
  • StayNTouch solutions (assist in staff onboarding, communication issues, mobile check-ins/check-outs, and a lot of other tasks)
  • Social media APIs (for implementing Social Login feature) TripAdvisor Content API (for adding reviews about your hotels from various services)

Wrapping Up

The creation of a hotel booking app is a laborious process that demands the participation of dedicated specialists.

At Cleveroad, we provide enterprise-level travel and hospitality software development services. We’ll create software that helps you keep all hotels in one place and manage them using different criteria like affordability, availability, comfort level, and more.

Welcome to look through our portfolio to see what projects we’ve developed before and find ideas for your business solution.

Tell us more about your project

Our software engineers and business analysts will provide you with a free project cost estimation.

Why Should You Start Your Business from MVP?

Frequently Asked Questions

You should analyze competitors and find ou their value proposition and key functionality. After that, you’ll be able to make a list of MVP features for your hotel booking website. And add some additional functionality if needed. The next step is to think of your monetization strategy and tech partner who’d develop the platform.

After users book a room online or offline, the room availability data is updated across the channels. Once customers confirm their reservation, they receive a confirmation email with the information about their booking. Finally, after the guests check-out, they get an email to motivate them to leave a review, and promo codes.

Regarding hotel booking app development, you have two options: build an app based on a template or hire a dedicated software development team with in-depth expertise in travel app development services to design a product from scratch.

It costs approximately $159,175 to create a hotel booking app. However, the final price will vary depending on required features, type of hotel app, server architecture’s requirements, and developers’ rates.

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