Creating a Travel App: Profit, Model, Functionality, Expenses


Whenever it’s time to set up for a journey, all of us depend on smartphones as never before.

According to Travelport digital, 80% of travelers rely on applications to plan their trips.

That’s why travel app development is a vast field for investors. But in order to build a real game-changing app, you will have to wisely plan the business model, develop functionality, and properly manage your resources.

Let’s get to business.

Travel app design concept

How to Travel Apps Work

Businesses use travel apps more broadly than just for listing hotels and restaurants. Nevertheless, delivering valuable and rich content is their ultimate way to generate leads.

With the help of travel apps, companies gain a more user-friendly tool for purchasing tickets, booking hotels, etc.

Some mastodons (Expedia and TripAdvisor, for example) contain all of these features inside a single app.

How to Monetize a Travel App

So, what is the source of profit for these apps?

There are three income models for tourism applications:

  • Merchant model
  • Fees
  • Advertising

Merchant model

Most of the earnings made by Expedia are a result of the merchant model.

Here’s the deal: the company rents a big amount of hotel rooms and then offers them to guests. Because Expedia rents apartments in bulk, hotels remain happy because of the income.

And customers are satisfied because they get their accommodation cheaper than the initial price was.


Small hotels don’t have tons of money for ads at their disposal. If so, their best opportunity to gain clients is to get listed on leading and trusted platforms like

In return, companies who own the app get a commission from each transaction. As an example, gets from 10% to 30% of each booking made.


The most suitable approach for small agents who wish to develop a travel app is the advertising model.

You can display related ads like hotels, tour operators, airline ads, and so on. Or rent out advertising space to companies in the relevant industry.

Of course, advertisements do not ensure the growth of bookings. But a hotel, which is at the bottom of the list, can significantly increase its traffic with the sponsored placement.

Read Also: Top 13 Business ideas in the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Essential features of a Travel App

Starting tourism app development, you should definitely pick some MVP features.

Some of the must-have functionalities are listed below:

  1. Sign-up/profile management
  2. Searching system
  3. Listings
  4. Chat with hosts
  5. Booking
  6. Reviews
  7. Notifications

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

1. Sign-up and profile management

No matter what type of application is being built, it definitely should have registration.

It’s great if users could scroll the app without logging in. Nevertheless, registration is necessary during bookings, saving payment details, or chatting with the host. 

The majority of apps use email/phone number and password combination for signing users up.

Hosts should also have accounts as well as customers in order to offer their property. Also, registration ensures that the host will provide documents confirming their ownership, agree to the terms, etc.

Travel app UI: registration panel

2. Search and filters

Tourism apps aim to help travelers that are in search of a place to stay. Besides, the offer should also match customer’s wishes, the number of people, budget, dates,

and so on. The more detailed filters your app has, the more accurate result your clients get.

Here are some basic filters users should have access to:

  • Location
  • Dates
  • Price
  • Amount of people
  • Additional services(parking, Wi-Fi, etc.)
Travel app design concept

3. Listing information

When users find a hotel or a restaurant according to their tastes, they will obviously wish to find out some additional information about this place.

Usually, travelers want to see these kinds of information:

  • Photos
  • Available booking dates
  • Description
  • Reviews 
  • Rules and cancelation policies

4. Communication channels

You can implement a chat between customers and hotel representatives. If user is struggling to find something in the application, he will ask personnel directly.

5. Booking

The majority of travel applications make it possible to book tickets, hotels, tours, etc. This feature is achieved by using various technologies and APIs.

Travel mobile app design sample: booking feature

6. Review systems

The review system can help users to understand the real condition of the accommodation they’re going to stay in and avoid unpleasant situations that might happen during the trip.

7. Notifications

If you’re developing an app that is not used constantly, push notifications will serve you great for informing customers about updates or sending them reminders before the trip.

 Push notifications are used for:

  • displaying new deals, special offers, price changes;
  • delivering some reminders or information about booking changes to customers;
  • reminding about the services that left unchecked;

Building a Travel app

Now, let’s figure out steps needed to create a travel app.

1. Work For Your Target Audience

Find out who will use your app.

Trying to become popular among young travelers on a budget? Offer them some discounts, provide assistance with finding hostels, and inform them about upcoming sales.

Focused on luxury segment? Deliver them luxurious and outstanding offers. Make sure their experience will be top-notch and never forgotten.

2. Select the Reliable Team

When your plan is already set up, it’s time to search for dedicated development team.

It is profitable to hire an outsourced development team abroad. Software development services in Europe and Asia usually offer better deals compared to the USA and Canada. And the quality they deliver remains the same.

3. Cooperate with the Hosts

Nor design, neither efficient performance will satisfy clients if the app doesn’t grant solid offers. So, aside from clients, you should take care of cooperation with hosts.

Hosts should have access to all of these basic features:

  • Monitoring bookings;
  • Exploring general information about clients;
  • Communication with technical support;
  • Receive notifications;

Ensure that you choose proper partners. In case anything goes wrong during the client’s trip, travel application will be the first to blame.

Technical stack for tourism application development

Technologies are meant to help your app achieve the highest performance and fast loading.

When we’re talking about iOS development, the most common languages are Swift and Objective-C. When it comes to Android, developers might choose Kotlin or Java.

Below you can see an example of a possible project development stack (iOS, Android, web):

App development:

  • Swift
  • Java 

Web tools:

  • JavaScript
  • Angular.js
  • Node.js
  • Passport.js


  • GitLab
  • Crashlytics

3-rd party services:

  • Facebook
  • Google Maps API

Nevertheless, each set of technologies may vary depending on your project demands.

Wrapping up

So, travel apps today are a massive field for investments. Furthermore, there are a lot of business models available, so you have a choice of how to act. Thus, make sure to select the proper audience and hire a team of professionals.

Author’s bio:
Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys telling about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.

Leave a Comment