Travel Application Development: From Scratch to Global Market

The article was updated on July 24, 2023.

Travel and tourism app development is a kind of market that depends heavily on the situation in the correspondent branch of the economy. That is why, in 2020, there were concerns about whether the travel industry can survive in the face of the pandemic. It can be traced when you look at the number of mobile travel app users that plummeted in 2020, while having been slowly recovering in the following years.

As for today, the travel application market has got back on its feet: The revenue of this sector is continuously increasing, and it is projected to grow by $730 million by 2027, almost reaching the $2 billion mark.

For those who want to get the most out of travel app development, we’ve compiled a full guide where you can find out everything you need to get into the market, from the most popular travel apps so far to some practical tips on how to make a successful travel app. Read on to find out more.

Travel apps are designed to offer a solution to one or several challenges travelers face from the starting point of their trips to the moment of crossing the threshold of their homes. That’s why you can find a wide spectrum of types of travel mobile apps in the market.

Here are some of the most common travel app types for your inspiration.

1. Flight booking apps

Online travel booking is aimed at making the process of searching for a ticket and buying it much easier than traditional methods. These apps usually offer a convenient system of filters for exploring the current flight landscape and making a deal in a minute.

But apart from having all the needed information in one device, the users of a travel booking app also enjoy lower prices, as the application finds the most beneficial offers and sends a notification when the cost for the chosen flight drops.

Examples: Skyscanner, Momondo, Hopper.

2. Accommodation booking apps

This kind of travel app acts as a travel aggregator platform that gathers together all available hotels, homes, and other accommodations for travelers in one place. Users can find an appropriate place to stay in a chosen location, see photos and videos of the rooms, and read reviews from previous visitors.

Same as for other types of travel booking platforms, it’s easier to find the best price-quality ratio according to your needs.

Examples:, Expedia, World of Hyatt.

3. Travel guides apps

Travel guides are popular travel apps that allow users to explore new locations on their own. Using general and thematic travel guides, travelers discover information about the most often visited sights, as well as hidden locations known only by local residents.

Users of the travel guides app have the whole city or village packed in one app and can make the most out of their trips, whether short or long ones.

Examples: TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet Guides, Culture Trip.

4. Booking tours and excursions

Activities booking apps are alternatives to tour guides. While the latter offers guides for users to explore themselves, tours and excursions app allow them to book a live guide and enjoy the exploration in company with a professional and usually other travelers. With these online travel bookings, you can choose the desired location and the group size in advance.

Examples: Headout, TourScanner, Viator.

5. Food search

Food search platforms are an integral category of tourism apps, as without even a short gastronomic tour, you cannot fully experience a new place and enjoy the full potential of your trip.

That’s why the demand for these apps will always be high. They offer a convenient way to choose a restaurant or a café based on your food preferences or your current mood, scroll through the menu, and read reviews of other visitors.

Examples: Burpple, HappyCow, LocalEats.

6. Travel planning apps

Any journey, even a short trip, is a project that needs to be thoroughly planned in order not to miss any opportunities and not to get caught up in the rush. For that, some mobile travel apps offer an all-in-one solution that helps users map out the route and determine the sights they want to visit or restaurants they want to have lunch in beforehand.

Examples: Wanderlog, TripIt, Roadtrippers.

7. Deal alert apps

This kind of platform combines several types of travel apps, as they can help you find the best offer whether for your flight, stay, or activity. They are perfect if you need to find a last-minute or same-day deal without emptying your wallet.

Also, they can notify you when there are discounts or better offers for the kind of ticket you need. For that, these travel apps get access to relevant databases and analyze thousands of potential deals to provide you with the best option.

Examples: HotelTonight, One:Night, Google Flights.


Must-have features for a travel app

As you may have noticed, most of the travel app types work based on a similar principle: users create a profile, look for some sort of offer, book it, and leave feedback. That means, there is a basic feature set that makes up a framework of nearly any travel application.

So, what features would a travel app have to meet the lion’s share of users’ expectations and needs?

  • User personal area – Travel apps are usually highly personalized, and to achieve it, you need to allow users to create lists of favorite locations or activities, see previous bookings, and set preferences.
  • Third-party data aggregation – No travel bookings are possible without a relevant database, so make sure you utilize an API to provide access to flight schedules, available hotel rooms, or advertised tours.
  • Search filters – Make sure to include basic filters, as well as more detailed ones to make the searching process as customizable as possible, so that users spend less time trying to navigate through the chaos of hundreds of offers.
  • Navigation and geolocation – An interactive map is one of the core features of any travel app, as it allows users to navigate to a new place without leaving your app. You can also include options for offering activities to nearby users to help them get the full experience from their trip.
  • Listings – Another convenient feature is including a listing on your app, so users can get access to all options available nearby, as well as some additional information such as photos, descriptions, prices, available rooms, etc.
  • Booking – Allow users to book desired things right in your app. Additionally, you can partner with the representatives of the travel and tourism sector to present more beneficial offers to your users.
  • Payments processing – In-app payments should be thoroughly designed and secured. In this way, users will enjoy the fast process of paying for a service and be sure their personal data is protected.
  • Notifications – When it comes to trips, having control over all planned events is crucial. Notifications will help users not to miss any flight or activity, or even price changes for things they laid eyes on.
  • Chat – Usually, travelers want to contact hosts directly, so it’s a good idea to include a messaging function in your travel app. Also, you can use chatbots for users to provide them with round-the-clock support.
  • Rating and reviews – To make a travel app more trustworthy, allow users to leave honest comments and reviews for things they have booked or experienced. Not only will it eliminate the need to leave the app and look for the rating on service providers’ official websites but it also can help future travelers make a more informed decision.

With these features, you should not worry about whether your travel application will be viable. This set is enough for developing a travel app that is both operational and convenient.

Looking for travel app development services?

With deep understanding and expertise in building apps for travel and tourism sector, we at Eastern Peak can help turn your travel app ideas into reality and bring them to the market smoothly.

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Advanced features to include in a travel app

To bring your basic travel application to a new level, you may want to complement the standard set of features with advanced capabilities that will perfectly assist your users in planning and experiencing their journey.

So, what features shape the best travel app?

  • Weather forecast – While traveling, people mostly adjust their plans based on weather forecasts, whether it’s a specific activity or even an outfit choice. That’s why including a weather feature with corresponding tips would be highly appreciated among your users.
  • Personalized recommendations – This feature is a great example of how you can make use of the basic functionality of your travel app. If you allow users to create a personal profile, add favorites, and give feedback, you can utilize this data to prompt individual suggestions.
  • Itinerary planner – A trip planner that allows you to highlight intermediate points and plan a route is a highly handy and valuable feature, which is often ignored by popular travel apps.
  • Fare price prediction and price drop alerts – Although this feature is not absolutely necessary, you can do a favor to your users by helping them hunt for the best pricing option.
  • Currency converter – This feature may become extremely helpful, especially when you focus on travel booking app development for international trips, as it will allow travelers to plan their expenses properly.
  • Transportation service – Although there are enough taxi services available on the market, you can take a step further in creating an all-in-one travel application and save your clients from the inconvenience of booking a cab separately.
  • Emergency services – Adding local emergency phone numbers or a separate button for calling a rescue service doesn’t take much effort, but it can become a life saving feature.

These are only a few additional features that can polish your app. However, building travel applications is also about creativity and prediction of needs, so you can come up with even more ideas, from in-app translation and travel journals to washroom locators.

How do travel apps make money?

There are many ways to monetize your travel app. Moreover, judging by the revenue of the leading OTAs, running a travel booking platform can be beneficial.

Thus, we would like to outline some of the main monetization options to consider:

  • Service fees and commissions. While this is the most popular monetization option, more hotels and airlines are promoting direct booking to avoid additional service fees. That is why this option will soon become inefficient.
  • Partnerships and affiliate programs. You can either cooperate with other businesses in related spheres or build partnerships through affiliate programs, by offering white-label solutions for other businesses.
  • Advertising. Introduce featured listings or add banners to your app. But remember, no one likes ads. So keep the number of promoted items reasonable and advertise only relevant services or products to add value to your product.
  • Paid subscriptions. As an online travel agency, you can offer additional paid services to your customers. For example, personal travel assistant services, travel disruption management, or special bundle deals delivered weekly or monthly.
  • Paid offer promotion. Many service providers strive to grow in the travel industry by being listed in a travel aggregator app. That is, you can charge an additional price for placing some offers on top of the lists and recommendations.


If you’ve been wondering or have even been engaging in research in order to find out how TripAdvisor makes money, we can say that it’s mostly through advertising. Bear in mind that, the majority of the successful products on the market combine two or more of the listed models.

Moreover, your app can bring you additional revenue through its thought-out structure and features, without designing a specific payment method. For instance, notifications drive users’ attention, so they are more inclined to go to the app and make a reservation or any other deal.

Travel app development: Best practices

As the world gradually recovers from challenges, the demand for travel app development solutions increases, and the market gets saturated with various platforms for travelers, so learning how to make a travel app is crucial to becoming successful in this branch.

A winning strategy would be to introduce a unique benefit that other market players lack. Here are some ideas to consider as well as some best practices for building a travel app.

  • Prioritize customer support. With regards to traveling, time often means money. That is why it is important to provide efficient and fast customer service. From travel disruption management (dealing with cancelled or delayed flights) to claims processing AI chatbots, which can be a real gamechanger and a powerful customer service tool.
  • Focus on performance. Although dealing with huge amounts of data and multiple APIs can be hindering, travel applications still need to work fast. For example, Expedia ranks pretty low in terms of search speed with 5.4 seconds (as compared to 2.1 seconds for AirBnB) according to the PacketZoom research. Thus, prioritizing speed and performance can give you a competitive advantage over other OTAs.
  • Capitalize on data. As an online travel booking app, you will have access to vast amounts of customer data. Thus, being able to turn it into an advantage might serve as a good differentiator for your product. Some of the main use cases for travel data include advanced personalization and predictive analytics. As mentioned above, you can even try to predict future price movements and offer users the best deals available.
  • Strive for simplicity. For travel apps and websites, it is a common mistake to “clutter” the UX with too many elements. Don’t overwhelm users with multiple tabs, advertisements, and suggestions. The booking process should be straightforward and include as few steps to checkout as possible (and a progress indicator for better visibility and understanding).
  • Target local markets. The decision to launch your product with a focus on a certain location or niche market (like business travel, couples/family trips) might help you get initial traction without much risk. A niche market is usually less saturated so you won’t need to compete with the “big guys” from start. Plus, better targeting is always good for marketing.

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6 more travel app ideas: A fresh perspective

If you think that travel app development for a startup can be too risky when working on standard and probably overused project ideas, we’ve prepared some more concepts of mobile travel apps that are rare to find on the market.

Get inspired with these examples and don’t be afraid to get creative with your project.

  • Virtual tours – Create an immersive environment for users who can’t travel physically in the near future or just want to see the place before they go there to plan their trip more thoroughly.
  • Travel security – Prioritize travelers’ safety by providing them with tips and recommendations on traveling in certain locations, contact emergency services or official institutions.
  • Travel checklists – A perfect solution for organization lovers and list makers, this kind of travel app can be dedicated exclusively to travel checklists, such as packing, destination, or just general planning checklists.
  • Social traveling – Whether a social media type app for travelers or simply a co-traveler searching platform, social travel apps can be helpful for those who want to find a company or make new friends while going to another city or country.
  • Low-cost travel – An evergreen question of how to save money but enjoy the trip at the same time can be solved with an app that contains advice and beneficial offers regarding flights, accommodation, and activities.
  • Travel inspiration – A Pinterest-like inspirational app can help users fall in love with traveling or just find a new idea for the next trip.


Building a successful travel app: Final word

Travel mobile app development can be a challenging and cost-intensive undertaking. That is why it is important to choose a reliable technology provider from the very beginning. By hiring skilled developers and product managers well-versed in the travel field, you are providing yourself with a higher degree of certainty that your requirements will be met, and the product will turn out to be successful.

How to get started?

The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.

The product discovery phase can help you:

  • define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for the project
  • set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
  • test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
  • craft a convincing investment pitch
  • get to know your team

We at Eastern Peak have extensive knowledge in a variety of business domains. By pairing our business expertise with outstanding tech talent, we help companies and startups build successful products from the ground up. Contact our managers now to get a free consultation on how to create a travel website or mobile app.

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