How to Make a Booking App & Website: Step-by-Step Process, Features, & Tips
Do you know how to reign supreme in the world of service or goods provision? If you have an efficient booking app, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. This detailed guide on how to make a booking app walks you through all of the essential points.
Once you’ve read this article, you will have learned all about:
- Why you need to create a booking service
- The types of booking systems
- How to make a booking website;
- The best approach to create a booking website: a custom or ready-made solution
Reasons to Invest in the Development of Booking Apps
After the success of Booking.com and Airbnb, hotel reservation websites and hotel booking apps doubled their profits. Investors are in a rush to sink money into the sector, and start-ups are pushing for information on how to make a booking app that beats competitors. For example, the aggregator GetYourGuide has collected $484 million in investments to build their own app.
Statistics also state that the eTravel market grows by 7.5% every year. Based on this figure, the market will reach $1.5B by 2023. This includes only websites and applications for hotels and transportation. Other online scheduling software like appointment apps and scheduling websites are slated to see a similar boost.
One thing is clear: This is a good prognosis for everyone that thinks they may need to create a booking website or app. A website reservation system or a mobile booking app is a must-have for most industries and the benefits are promising:
User-centricity & convenience - users love instant services and online reservations offer liberation from the hassle. This is also a good prompt when considering how to make a booking website: booking should be as fast and convenient as possible.
Connectivity with clients - with great online scheduling software, you never stop collecting data for personalization. Then, it is possible to come up with special offers and thus increase sales.
Marketing utilization - data-powered marketing depends on a user's plans, behavior, and demographic information and can help to better craft promotional efforts that convert to higher profits and customer satisfaction. When thinking about how to make a booking app, it is important to focus attention on its future marketing utilization.
Brand recognition - a mobile booking app or website is the first point of contact with your company and your chance to make a first impression on the market. If the service and online booking system have high-quality standards, usability, and security, users will recognize your brand and spread positive feedback.
Multiple revenue streams - with an online booking system, you can multiply profits via additional monetization models, such as income from fees, commissions, subscriptions, affiliate programs, ads, etc.
Our team knows how to make a booking website and an app to propel any booking business to a new level. One of our ongoing projects is GoPuff - an on-demand delivery service and online booking system operating in 20 US states.
Want to create a top-notch booking application?
Reach out to our team for a free consultation and we will elaborate on your project idea, explain to you all ins and outs of booking app implementation as well as estimate its cost and timeline.
How to Make a Booking App: Types & Examples
On-Demand Booking Apps
On-demand booking apps are used when a customer has an immediate need for certain services (e.g a taxi, delivery or cleaning), makes an order, and tracks the delivery online. In the early stages of wondering how to make a booking app, a good practice is to learn from existing successful online booking systems, namely:
Perhaps one of the most famous cases is Uber. With more than 8 billion users, Uber has become a top player in the market of taxi services worldwide.
With a service like Landtran, which allows for the reservation of deliveries, companies may completely outsource transportation needs. They then also benefit from a fast and reliable online tracking service that allows for better planning and cuts expenses.
Founded in the 1950s, the home service company Sears is still leading the business of home improvement, repair, and maintenance due to the implementation of online booking. A hassle-free online order reservation, so loved by busy customers, lets the company increase its clientele annually.
Cleanly has launched an online scheduling app that helps with the laundry. All a customer needs to do is pack up their dirty laundry and place an order. A skilled cleaning concierge will pick up the order and return clean clothes within a set timeframe. They now deliver fast and effective services to New York and Washington DC and the audience is only growing.
In-Advance Booking Apps
In-advance booking apps help users book appointments and services using calendars. If you are thinking about how to make a booking app that lets users reserve your services beforehand, the following examples might be helpful:
Food and beverages
After finding success with its taxi services, Uber launched a food delivery division, Uber Eats, in 2014. They started an independent app that allows users to read menus from partnering restaurants, place orders, and pay with only a couple of taps. After a successful start in California, they now deliver food in 200 cities in 20 countries around the world. This is a great example of how to make a booking app that is simple and user-centric at the same time.
The beauty industry has effectively adapted to a new business reality. The company StyleSeat has an online service that allows users to book an appointment with a beautician in hundreds of locations at any time.
Hotel booking engines
With more than $1 billion USD in revenue, TripAdvisor manages bookings for rooms, apartments, and villas around the world.
Flight booking engines
SkyScanner, a company founded in Edinburgh in 2016, is a local online flight booking service that is now used by 60 million people around the world each month.
With a booking app for almost everything, the online reservation of medical appointments has quickly turned into a new demand. Companies like Zocdoc connect millions of patients with the specialists they need. You may refer to this service while thinking about how to make a booking app for the medical industry.
The online table booking service Yelp is now the number one app for finding restaurants and helps to book about 100 million dinners a year.
Event booking is a separate business niche, represented by companies like Cvent, that allows users to purchase tickets for movies, sporting events, or concerts. Similar functionality is starting to be implemented by almost every travel app (e.g. Booking.com), as an additional boost to attract customers.
Reservation companies like Square appointments provide a vast list of services to reserve. For instance, a user may book a school appointment with a child’s teacher, a party, or a meeting with a lawyer.
All these services use appointment scheduling software, including specific industry-related features like the number of seats at the restaurant table or insurance plan for a doctor’s appointment.
Interested in estimating your booking app development cost?
Check our article to learn more about software development and budget planning processes. To give you an idea of future expenses, you will find information on the main app cost drivers and a rough estimation of core app features inside: How Much Does It Cost To Make An App?
How to Create an Online Booking System: Important Considerations
The creation of an online booking system can be a daunting undertaking. Go through the following 6-step process to brush up on some important aspects regarding how to make a booking website and app successfully:
1. Define your UPS
What makes you different? A tough question when contemplating how to make a booking app that sells. The proper definition of UPS (Unique Selling Points) may help you outperform your competitors. This can be lower-priced services, the ability to share an apartment, or the opportunity to make last-minute bookings.
2. Ensure data security
During the booking process, a person exposes a lot of sensitive information like personal information (email, phone), payment information, and metadata like geolocation, etc. This data can become a source of immense possibilities for phishers and hackers. Interested in how to make a booking website or app that draws customer trust? Invest in security!
3. Integration with third-party services
The integration of third-party services gives access to multiple functions and variable data like payment possibilities, social network connectivity, availability of rooms, and more. When considering how to make a booking app, it is important to understand what tools are useful for your clients.
Big hotel aggregators, like Booking.com, install their software on hotel websites. The company has a dedicated IT-service that helps partners install the Booking.com API.
With regard to a hotel booking app, here is a list of APIs you may use:
- Zodomus - hotel listing API to manage room availability
- Google Places API - outlines places to visit in the vicinity. Google API includes other APIs like Google Hotel API or Google Maps API, which can be beneficial for every booking website or a hotel search app
- Uber API - allows clients to book transportation easily
- OpenWeatherMap API - tool that is inevitable when it comes to vacation planning
Overall, free data-scraping APIs are infinite. They are a great resource to refer to when thinking about how to make a booking app.
4. Opt for native app development
Interested in learning how to make a booking app from a technical standpoint? There are three development approaches you may consider, namely - native app, hybrid or cross-platform app, and DIY apps using app or web builders.
Precautionary note: People often buy into free options. Google is populated by searches like a free booking website, a free hotel booking app, or how to make a booking app for free. However, a zero-cost option may lead to many issues in the future.
Thus, it is recommended that you make a booking app natively. This is because these apps meet all the guidelines and requirements of a selected operating system (iOS, Android, etc.). The app functionality can use the device's hardware, resulting in smooth work and flawless performance.
Interested in discovering more details about the different ways to develop a digital product?
Our team has created a guide listing all the approaches: native, hybrid, web app builders. Learn which option is suitable for which needs inside: Native App Development vs. Hybrid and Web App Building.
The best answer to questions about how to make a booking app is simple: hire a professional software development company. These specialists can recommend app functionality, technologies to use, as well as guide you during the whole process. Logically, you need to plan your budget, but luckily there are options to get a dedicated offshore team with a great quality-cost ratio in areas like Eastern Europe (e.g. Ukraine).
5. Create a booking website too
Usually, a properly built website extends functionality and offers clients possibilities like access to information on success stories, high-resolution images, etc. When considering whether to create a booking website, think of the benefits you can get, namely:
- additional representation of the brand
- application of SEO and digital marketing practices for promotional strategies
- insight into user behavior and broad data collection for company strategies
- wider audience outreach, including options for segmentation, personalization, cross- and up-selling
- build-up of customer base via browser searches
So, the idea to create a booking website makes a lot of sense. It is possible to build a web platform in the first product version along with iOS and Android apps. Alternatively, you can plan to launch the booking website in a subsequent version.
Further, the article explains key insight on how to make a booking website with little fuss and lays out prospects for further marketing utilization.
How to Make a Booking App: Tech Aspects
By this time, you should already have an idea what kind of online reservation system you need and some presumptive ideas about how to make a booking app that sells.
The next step is fixing the key and advanced features of your future app.
Key Features to Create a Booking App
When thinking about how to make a booking app, most people overlook key features and instead tend to elaborate on advanced ones. However, it’s the usability of core components that makes booking software popular, namely:
- User registration & profile
The user registration process is a pitfall for many businesses. Here’s why: it’s the first point at which users decide if they will stay or drop the app. Make this procedure as easy as possible and require users to fill out only the key information. Alternatively, authorization via social networks (Facebook, Instagram) allows a user to register with only one click.
Be sure to attempt to predict customer behavior. Include different spelling options and enable searches by different categories and filters. If we take a hotel niche as an example, the best hotel search app gives the same result for “a hotel in Spain" and "Spain hotel." As well, eliminate zero search results by adding suggestions on neighboring locations, dates, etc.
- Booking process & details screens
The booking process is both a visual and a habitual experience. Whether it is a hotel reservation website or a taxi app, all sections and buttons should be where they are expected. Those who discard the importance of design waste money, as the clicky audience of today quickly loses patience. Customers need pictures of apartments, maps of locations, basic information, reviews, and so on for correct and quick decisions.
Before considering how to make a booking app, think over payment methods to include. If a customer decides to pay in advance, the process should be fast, flexible, and transparent, so be sure to include all possible payment methods, such as PayPal, credit card, cash, etc, and design a user-friendly one-page checkout system.
- Review & rating
Do you know what makes any business successful? Review-sharing! For example, the best hotel aggregators like TripAdvisor work as social media platforms for experience sharing. A rating system would be beneficial to users trying to make informed decisions more quickly.
- Booking cancelation policy
Make sure a customer can cancel a booking with ease and the least inconvenience possible. An easy booking cancellation process accompanied by a friendly email is a great tool to convert visitors into friends.
- Push notifications
A well-thought-out notification system makes life easier for end-users. Check-in and check-out alerts, friendly reminders, or recommendations can increase the level of customer satisfaction. As well, you may include weather notifications, price discounts, and other relevant alerts.
So, you want to know how to make a booking app that wins new clients? Include special deals, discounts, or launch a bonus program that users might be interested in.
If the core features are enough for this stage of your business development, you may go ahead with the budget planning right away.
Advanced Functionality to Create a Booking App
It is possible to attract more users and increase revenue by implementing a unique app functionality. In this section, you will learn about how to make a booking app that stands out from the crowd.
- Dynamic pricing
So, you would like to know how to make a booking app that makes people use the service even if they did not plan to do so? Last-minute bookings and seasonal sales are the perfect answer. A random price drop in Hawaii may generate a spontaneous trip. Make sure your online booking system is ready to take advantage of this possibility by developing smart forecasting algorithms.
- Suggestion engine
Sometimes people on the other side of the screen look for silent advice. If you are thinking about how to make a booking app that communicates with the customer, think about a suggestion tool. In the long run, it is possible to include a lot of data feeds from different places like weather forecasts, lists of events, etc. Personalized suggestions based on collected and analyzed data could skyrocket your income.
- Availability forecasting
With availability forecasting, a search app turns into a tool for planning, which expands the customer flow. Forecasting mechanisms are the same as those used for dynamic pricing or a suggestion engine, but on the user end, you get an additional feature because users will see free rooms, beautician seats, etc, on the best dates.
So, are you intrigued to know how to make a booking app that drives seasonal searches and builds forecasts?
The developers you hire should include seasonal trends, discounts for transportation, weather forecasts, and even market fluctuations. The more data you feed in, the better functionality you get.
- Visual media integration
Pictures and animation entertain users. They also negatively impact speed. Once Google included mobile speed to ranking factors, the balance between visualization and page size is now an outstanding factor. So, do you want to learn how to make a booking website that drives sales, but keeps things light in terms of format?
The solution lies in sacrificing image and video resolution and minimizing animations to make sure the load time of your booking application is under 500 milliseconds.
- Multi-language & global currency support
Auto-detected language and currency options can boost the user experience. Many APIs cater to the pain-free implementation of these features and are a great investment in order to increase product personalization.
- In-app messenger
An in-app messenger is an excellent feature for any booking app, whether it is a hotel aggregator or appointment scheduler. Logically, you need to have a support team shooting responses or a pre-programmed chatbot to cover customer questions. By utilizing AI and Machine learning technologies, it is possible to provide instant and qualified feedback. However, note that this functionality may take a considerable amount of time and cost to implement.
All in all, any app functionality, simple or advanced, should be in line with customer expectations.
Yet, whatever tricks you use to make your app perfect and increase prospects for success, the experienced business owner might want to also create a booking website. In the next section, we will explain how to make a booking website to boost your business performance.
How to Make a Booking Website
The reason you should create a booking website is simple: due to functionality, a booking website gives brighter features, in-depth information, and better possibilities for analytics. The necessity to create a booking website is especially true if you want to build a hotel aggregator similar to TripAdvisor.
Before you decide on how to make a booking website from scratch, first consider evaluating user needs, decide on a unique website functionality, and study competitive booking websites.
The next phase is hiring a professional team, providing web development services, that knows how to create a booking website quickly and effectively. Your collaboration with developers will likely follow the following steps:
- Define user needs and expectations
- Develop product backlog listing website functionality
- Create UI/UX website design following the best practices
- Implementation of the corresponding functionality
- Post-launch support and maintenance
To create a booking website, you need to do your homework. Future success doesn’t merely fall on the shoulders of developers who think day and night about how to make a booking website that will bring profit. There are points where you will have to step in as well:
- eliminate any communication issues with your software vendor
- provide timely feedback during all stages within the project development lifecycle
- put extra effort into developing an effective marketing strategy to shape a website’s functionality according to future advertising needs
Do you want to know what budget to allocate for website development?
Check out our article for details on developing a website and to learn how the total website price is formed inside: How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website in 2019?
How to Make a Booking App & Website: Bottom Line
The development of a booking system is a complicated process that requires multiple details. Once you decide to create a booking website or app, it is necessary to undertake the following 12 step procedure:
1: Analyze the industry. Check out some booking websites and booking apps that already exist. Their business solutions, partnerships, history of growth, and expansion routes will be a valuable source of answers to the question of how to make a booking app that will win the market.
2: Study your competitors. The competitors may have a lot of great points to follow, as well as annoying features to avoid. This will make for a great piece of knowledge when deciding how to make a booking app that sells, and may turn into a real treasure basket if you manage to collect all the best features and implement them in one place.
3: Choose the type of booking app you want to develop. Is this in-advance or on-demand booking software? Do you also need to create a booking website? Does it presuppose partnering with other companies in the instance of aggregators?
4: Identify USPs and critical values. The best online scheduling tools are all about bringing unique value. Some offer specific services like room sharing, while others cater to the needs of a certain customer niche, like dog-lovers. Whatever you choose, make sure your booking service stands out from the crowd.
5. Define your business goals and expectations. Are you thinking about how to make a booking app to rock the global market and beat Lyft? Or would you rather concentrate on your niche? These are important questions when it comes to software development and, correspondingly, the cost of the project.
6: Hire a capable vendor for booking app development. Consider outsourcing software development as a relevant solution. Regions of Eastern Europe, namely Ukraine, are well-known for their great technical base, specialists, and affordable rates.
7: Plan the functionality for your booking system. A product backlog created by the business analyst and software architect helps to list the project functionality, while taking into consideration the business and technical requirements like product scalability and user experience.
8: Create UX/UX design. Your team will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills with regard to product usability and interface. It is vital that the process of customer interaction with your app or website is straightforward and flows nicely.
9: Get significantly involved in the app development process. Lots of discussions and your feedback are a necessity, especially during the initial steps. Since you are the person that knows best how to make a booking app that suits your needs, be prepared to take an active role and cooperate with a development team during all software development sprints.
10: Plan and launch a marketing strategy. As you create a booking website and an app, let your audience know about the launch. Craft a strong marketing campaign to drive customer flow to your business.
11: Test, deploy, and launch the booking app. Ensure that your digital service does not have any screen freezes or system bugs. As well, ensure that the booking app is launched properly in app stores and meets their guidelines. Let your audience utilize your product.
12: Connect with app users, collect feedback, and plan further improvements. Your task is not just to care about how to make a booking app in order to start an online business. It's also about always keeping your online booking website and app up to date.
In conclusion, as you may have already figured out, your two keys to success are a professional development team and flawless communication.
Want to develop booking software that incorporates the best practices of design and development?
Receive an immediate initial consultation from a business and technical perspective, as well as a preliminary budget estimation for your booking service simply by reaching out to our team.