Hotel Booking App: All You Need to Know to Succeed

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These days, the question of how to make a booking app for hotel rooms is quite relevant for diverse groups of people. The success stories of such mammoths as Airbnb and Booking.com have pushed the travel industry forward stimulating phenomenal growth. In fact, this is why not only hospitality professionals are wondering how to create a booking app but many startuppers and entrepreneurs from various industries too.

This article is written with the intent to help you create a booking app and make this process less questionable. I’m going to guide you through the hotel booking app market, show the most suitable basic and additional features, monetization models, and many more.

All of 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.

Online Travel Market Analysis

The travel and tourism market demonstrates a steady year-over-year growth and is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the globe. Apart from that, the online travel market is developing fast too.

The research by Criteo revealed the following data:

  • 80% of last-minute reservations are made via mobiles.
  • 45% of bookings for Online Travel Agency (OTA) fall on mobile devices.
  • The conversion rates on mobile are 5x higher than on the mobile web.

The stats above clearly indicate that mobile bookings are gradually becoming the ultimate way for users to book and pay for the stay. This tendency is also seen in digital travel sales that grow annually.

Hotel Booking App: All You Need to Know to Succeed

Create a booking app is still a good idea for anyone thinking over this opportunity. The digital addiction of the travel industry will only be continuing to grow with time. Since the demand is growing constantly, 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

Name Actual place in the App Store ranking
Airbnb 5th
Booking.com 13th
Marriott Rewards 21st
Hotels.com 22nd
Hilton Honors 23rd
Trip.com 25th
HotelTonight 34th
TripAdvisor 35th
Skyscanner 40th
KAYAK 41st

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

Name Actual place in the Google Play ranking
TripAdvisor 4th
Airbnb 8th
Booking.com 12th
Expedia 17th
Hilton Honors 23rd
Marriott Rewards 28th
Hopper 32nd
Hotels.com 36th
KAYAK 43rd

This rating is also drawn up by SimilarWeb and based on the Travel & Local category on the Google Play Store.

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

There are several details you should clear up 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 one 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 on 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. 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 that’s 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 to stay 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 its users a 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. 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 drawback is that almost every available API has its own conditions of providing access to its database. It can be a considerable fee for listings, affiliate programs, and many other points that might not suit every project type.

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 not possible to manage listings and keep track of important data without having 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 the user-facing part of the product but expenses on infrastructure like admin panel and other related solutions.

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