How do you think the flight search and hotel booking industry should work in the age when Elon Musk says he's going to develop a neural interface for telepath-like thoughts exchange? I'll describe it in two words: fast and easy. Oh, wait, that's three words…
Nevermind, queues at the air ticket offices and blind looking for a place to stay at night have turned into scary stories for kids. Thanks to apps, travellers are now informed about nearest and most comfortable hotels, cheapest tickets and whatever else their hearts desire.
This time we'll talk about how to create a hotel booking website or flight search app that will bring customers to your door, discuss some innovative ideas for app development and provide a few tips on how to survive in the travel agency business through adopting the latest tech trends.
Everything goes mobile. We discussed this in our recent article about prospects of the mobile first trend. This approach is particularly well applicable to the hotel app development as mobile devices offer more flexibility for travelers. Indeed, recent searches in Google reveal that people research more on mobile than on desktop for the travel types seeing strong growth, such as family vacations, luxury trips, honeymoons and couples travel.
Having the possibility to book hotel or airline ticket on the go is so handy, isn't it? Many people like to travel with hot tours, when the hottest tour packages can appear just a couple of days before the actual journey! Mobile users are less likely to miss "hot" deals thanks to devices in their pockets or bags and some push notification magic.
Travel apps are also extremely useful in situations like flight cancellation, being late for the train, bus or plane or if you go on a spontaneous journey. Such things happen all the time! Instead of rushing around in panic, all you have to do is to use one of flight booking apps and pick the offer that suits you best. Busy (or lazy) people love spontaneous journeys, because they may not have time to plan the vacation in advance or have no idea what country to visit. They will apperciate the opportunity to book an interesting and well-organised tour via app in minutes!
A great example of a functional app is AnyWayAnyDay, a popular iOS and Android application for buying air tickets and booking hotels all over the world. It's really huge! AnyWayAnyDay's database contains more than 330,000 hotels worldwide and the system analyzes about 800 airline companies to find the best deal for you. Flexible filters allow maximum customization of your request, so you can sort the flight options by price, departure and arrival time, airports and other criteria to find the optimal one.
Database and filter system in AnyWayAnyDay is definitely a good reference to have in mind. Operating worldwide, having a huge hotel directory and providing wide filtering options so that users could find exactly what they want should be the goal of your app. However, that's only a hidden side of things. Now, let's turn to a more visible part and talk about the power lying behind back-alley design.
Imagine that you want your car fixed. You have two options. The first one: you may take it to a car repair centre, which is a nice clean building, where everything is official and staff is gentle but their technical skills are average. Option two is to bring it to the old Malcolm's garage - a rusty stinky place with oil and whiskey spilled everywhere, nothing official, the owner is rude and drunk most times but he can make ride anything that have at least one wheel. What would you choose?
As for me, I would go for the first one, because old drunk Malcolm doesn't look like a guy who can solve my problem. Even if he REALLY DOES, I'd spend days beating sceptical thoughts and I wouldn't be sure in result if I entrust my car to him. I think you've got the idea. Old fashioned 2005-style flight booking websites had OK functionality, but they looked exactly like the ones from the Spongebob series. Incorporating progressive design trends will allow your app to look better then its less visually appealing competitors. Because design matters!
In terms of design, a good example to learn from is BahamaGO. The slogan on the website says: "700 islands, 1 click". That's the way you should look at your application and its design. Make it as simple and fast as possible. And don't forget to make it pretty. BahamaGO looks pleasing to the eye and sets the mood for a good vacation. The design is simple and intuitive, which is amazing.
Users don't want to spend hours reading manuals on how to use your app, they want to find their way seamlessly around your app with minimal to no direction. So, the key idea is to make the overall app design and particulartly the booking process so sleek and visually intuitive that the user would understand it at first touch.
Smart, innovative, unique
Today, people want apps to be more than just good looking and practical, they also want them to be intelligent. Let's take a look at a winner in the Standout Startup category of the Google Play Awards 2016 - Hopper app. It's a flight search app that uses predictive analytics and finds the best deal according to the latest trends and price movements. It's another feature that your app users will definitely appreciate, because who in the world wouldn't like to have the best deal?! Besides, it shows that you care about users and with such attitude they will most likely install your app and never ever delete it.
Modern technologies and innovative app ideas are the things that you just can't ignore if you want to be successful in this business. If your goal is the opposite you may develop another Spongebob-style site.
Virtual reality is now one of the hottest tech trends and it fits perfectly into the hotel booking space. Would you refuse a hotel app offering a free 3-dimensional tour in a hotel of your choice? Hell no! You can clearly see room conditions and feel an atmosphere of the place. If this hotel won't meet your expectations, you can move to the next one. But you'll do that at home sitting on your sofa with Cardboard or Oculus and without paying a penny or wasting too much time.
Another major element of your app success is being original. We talked about this many times in our blog because it's really important. Do something new, do something different or do something better - that's the point. If you look at Tripaneer you'll see that it's the same flight and hotel booking app. However, this site offers you specific themed tours, such as yoga or martial arts vacation. That's a great option for people who have no idea where to go or who want to try something new. Sometimes good offer is all we really need.
Below is the basic recipe of how to create a great flight search or hotel booking application:
- make a mobile version;
- have a good database of hotels and airlines;
- use predictive analytics to offer the best deals on tickets and hotels;
- create a yummy design;
- incorporate modern technologies to make things exciting;
- and add something special to make your app stand out among the others.
Hope you enjoyed this article and find something useful for making your sweet flight or hotel search app.