The global travel market has long been divvied up not only on soil, but in the Internet space just as well. It is no secret that on the Web it is dominated largely by two industry stalwarts: Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group that own the most successful and prominent online travel booking websites out there. These websites include such giants, as Booking.com, Kayak (Priceline), Hipmunk, Expedia, Trivago, HomeAway and Hotels.com (Expedia Inc.).
Regardless of the geography from which you are setting out on your journey to success with an online travel agency startup, you are bound to be up against exactly this set of competitors, with their brand loyalty programs, universal presence, iconic brands and ample service offerings. We are not even talking about the plethora of smaller-time online travel sites, touting for similar service offerings.
The overall picture becomes all the more bleak for you as a startupper if you add rental booking sites like Tripping.com, FlipKey, VRBO and others to the bunch. Although geared, generally, toward lodging seekers and, sometimes, those eager to share their travel experiences, they are, often, at a vantage when it comes to grabbing (and, once grabbed, never letting go of) potential travelers’ attention. The popularity of such sites has been continuously on the rise and this tendency is showing no signs of letting up.
What can help you make an app like Kayak or an app like Expedia, or, at least, become a success with the result of your travel app development effort in a select niche or geography?
1. Fight Fire With Fire: Use Whatever the Travel App Industry Already Offers Gratis
If you are not a big-time investor, able to shell out upward of $200 000, it would, most probably, make sense to start slow and small. However, while not being able to invest much, you can still start offering the same array of services major travel app developers offer. The several API-empowered affiliate programs are the thing to start with in this case. Expedia, Agoda, Booking.com and several other heavyweights offer great APIs that allow you to offer a broad range of services while turning a profit.
2. Mobile is a Must-Have
To an even greater extent than in other industries, it's no longer about brick-and-mortar in the Travel vertical. It's not even about the Web. You will have probably already guessed, - yes, the greatest disruptor is, currently, mobile.
Talking of examples, according to Criteo, in 2017, mobile travel sales in Asia-Pacific have exceeded 50% of the total travel sales and are expected to reach ¾ of all travel sales in China by 2020.
However, it’s not only about the need to embark on the trend in order to keep abreast of the times and developments. Harnessing mobile allows you to keep the user hooked on your services throughout their journey. There are several features your mobile app can include to help you ensure that, such as a user account, geolocation, a currency converter, notifications about current or forthcoming events, taking place in the user’s vicinity and more.
Certainly, user-friendliness of such an app would be paramount. That is the reason why, while considering developing a travel app, you should choose a software provider with significant Android and iOS development experience. Given this approach, your travel mobile app development effort has much greater odds to become a success.
3. Make Your Travel App Target a Relatively Big, But Particular Niche
Given the vast numbers of online travel apps, there is one approach you can never succeed with, - being all things to all people. With no massive investment involved, it would be extremely hard for you, if impossible, to make it to the big leagues or gain a significant business presence: in this time and age, a startup player with a standard service offering is doomed to lag behind the pack or even, eventually, go out of business.
The one thing that can help you as an online travel startup is to find a unique or not so well-trodden niche and funnel all your efforts into becoming the best provider in it.
Moreover, this way you can count on winning part of the audience you would otherwise never be able to win: by definition, your gargantuan competitors cater to, more or less, the whole world. Someone who would love to play a game of city quest in another country and be taken over with their ilks for this purpose would most likely favor your city quest travel site over a conventional travel website. Someone who wants to visit the setting of their favorite novel and, perhaps, even take part in acting out some of the plots, is sure to come to a site that offers this kind of entertainment and not just a trip to this location.
4. Harness Innovation to Enhance Your Travel App’s Uniqueness
The Artificial Intelligence technology is fast becoming the greatest game-changer mankind has ever seen. It can not only improve the customer experiences various apps deliver and give you invaluable marketing insights, but it can also enhance the uniqueness of your service offering, thereby helping you discover a lucrative market niche and fill in it.
You can add a distinctive customer experience-related feature, such as, for example, an AI-powered gathering of all negative comments, bearing on a user-selected location, or you can target an audience that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Regarding the latter, great opportunities are created by multilingual chatbots.
According to Digitalist Magazine, presently, only 40% of all content on the Web is in English. The share of other languages in this content is constantly growing.
However, to be able to attract a foreign-speaking audience, previously one had to employ foreign-speaking staff, make it work different shifts due to time zone differences and, thus, incur significant additional expenses.
With a multi-lingual chatbot, you can avoid all this. You can make your service offering appealing to an audience at an overseas location that, as you feel, lacks your kind of service offering or level of service.
How much does it cost to make a travel app?
The cost of having a travel app built for your business depends on the market niche you are targeting and the functionality, required to cover this niche.
In this sense, your development costs can range from $ 10 000 for an unpretentious travel app that has simple functionality and focuses on a single location, attraction or service, to around or even more than $ 250 000-270 000 for a versatile, large-scale (and, possibly, AI-powered) travel application.
You can, normally, get a fair travel app that will allow you to position yourself as a full-fledged market player, providing a relatively broad range of services, for around $ 25 000-30 000.
© 2017, Vilmate LLC
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