What makes hospitality software so important for hotel chains, resorts, and motels? Well, a convenient app simplifies and automates booking, payment, customer support, and marketing.
According to Statista, in 2022, 68% of worldwide sales in tourism happened online. By 2026, online sales will make up 74% of all revenue in the travel industry. This includes not only booking fees but also additional services, such as room upgrades, dining and drinks, spa treatments, excursions, amenities, transportation, and others.
In addition, 54% of travelers want to receive discounts or loyalty program offers from their favorite lodging establishments. And hoteliers should consider it when developing apps for hotel booking and management.
Of course, creating a hospitality app that keeps your clients happy isn’t as easy as it sounds. On the contrary, initiating the development process without a plan resembles running through one under artillery strikes.
That’s why we want to help you pick the features, architecture, and technical stack for hotel app development project. So, let’s get started!
❓ What Type of Hospitality App Do You Need?
The days when only the biggest hotel chains used booking apps are far behind, with even the smallest businesses today understanding the usefulness of mobile apps. But before you start creating a mobile app for your hotel, let’s look at the most common bespoke software types:
- Booking hotel apps. These apps are used to find and reserve rooms, apartments, and guest houses. Since the booking requests are automated, it helps your managers process them faster and with lesser room for error.
- Hotel aggregators. The platforms enable users to search for and book hotels from different providers. Despite the 10-25% commission fee, hotel aggregators are a helpful tool for hoteliers to reach a wider audience and increase their bookings.
- Hotel chain apps. Such apps allow guests to book rooms, check in and out, order room service, and receive hotel events and promotions notifications. They improve customer experience and reduce operational costs.
- Professional apps for hotel owners. Hotel staff app typically includes property, revenue, and channel management, guest communication, and analytics. A centralized platform help hotel owners and managers supervise their operations more efficiently.
But here’s the deal. If you look at successful hotel apps, you’ll notice that most go beyond these classifications and combine multiple features. That’s why once you build a hotel website or app, you should focus on the functionality you need.
⭐ Features to Consider for a Hotel App
Hospitality software is built around your customer, which is why it’s critical to meet their expectations. So, we’ve prepared a list of key features your guests expect to see in any hotel app.
Bigger chains will have more advanced functionality, but the bare minimum search categories should include:
- Location (country, city, and district)
- Date of arrival and departure
- Number of guests and their age
- Room properties (number of rooms, area, number of beds, and other amenities)
Your guests will love to see which hotels have elevators, free WiFi, restaurants, SPA, or fitness rooms. They’ll probably like to sort the results based on ratings, the proximity of the city’s center, and the in-room bathroom. You should also remember about special services, like amenities for people with disabilities.
And not to be verbose, enrich your hospitality app with a virtual hotel tour showcasing its rooms, amenities, and public areas.
Direct online booking is the second most important feature to consider if you create hotel website or mobile app. It should help guests look through your accommodations, see their photos and descriptions, and book rooms on selected dates.
Additionally, users would want to select an approximate check-in time, book a parking lot, or leave comments. This would make the reservation process quicker for the user and your administrators who process the request.
Guest profiles help users save their privacy settings and payment information for future bookings. They also help you determine customer segments and target them with personalized offers.
You may also add profiles for managers and room cleaners to monitor their activity and schedule their work. Additionally, you can include profiles for travel agents and third-party booking platforms to manage sales activity, invoices, commissions, and revenue streams.
Loyalty Programs and Personalized Offers
Your software can analyze your guests based on their location, travel destinations, widely used amenities, and other preferences. This could help you encourage users to pay for extra services, airport transfer, or grocery delivery, providing personalized offers.
Hotel apps can inform guests about specials with emails and push-up notifications. You can also develop loyalty programs and reward regular customers with welcome gifts, complimentary amenities, or good old discounts.
Adding a live chat & chatbot to your hotel app allows you to assist guests with pressing matters, offer incentives, or help those too lazy to use your knowledge base. You might also add AI-powered chatbots for handling low-priority tasks and common questions. According to the 2019 study by Deloitte Digital, chatbots improve customer acquisition and reduce operating costs by 15-70% by relieving support teams from repetitive tasks.
Mobile Check-in and Check-out
Hotel booking apps should allow guests to bypass the front desk and check in or out using mobile devices. As a result, they can avoid long lines and unnecessary delays, improving their travel experience. From a hotel’s perspective, it can save costs by reducing the need for front desk staff or, at least, lowering the workload so employees can focus on other tasks.
Additionally, hotels can gather valuable data about their guests’ room preferences, arrival and departure times, and stay duration — and use it to provide a more relevant and tailored experience. But you must ensure the process is secure and compliant with industry standards to protect clients’ personal information.
A hotel room service app with an in-app concierge provides guests personalized recommendations and services during their stay at a hotel. It helps travelers plan their trips, make reservations, book activities, and find local attractions, increasing their satisfaction and loyalty.
For hotels, an in-app concierge can help to increase revenue by promoting hotel services and amenities, such as spa treatments or restaurant reservations. Also, it reduces operational costs by automating guest requests. But you should carefully plan recommendations to provide relevant and valuable options.
A mobile key is a convenient and secure way for guests to access their room with a mobile device without using a physical key card. It eliminates the risk of losing or destroying the card, which often happens to consumers.
Adding this feature to the hospitality mobile app, hotels can collect valuable data about guest behavior and preferences and increase the efficiency of marketing campaigns. However, implementing mobile key requires significant technology and hotel infrastructure investments.
A detailed location map could be helpful in an app for a resort. Then, your guests wouldn’t get lost among all the restaurants, swimming pools, ski tracks, transportation, and other facilities. Alternatively, you can integrate a map with places to see and things to do near your hotel. And don’t forget to include the weather forecast in your hotel reservation app.
Payment and Billing
In-app online payment brings users one step closer to making a reservation. So, you should integrate a secure payment gateway to allow your mobile and web apps to securely process card payment data.
If you don’t want users to abandon the purchase, the checkout process should be as easy as possible. So, limit the amount of information the user must share to a minimum (like name, contact info, and credit card data).
Review and Feedback
Customer feedback is critical for hospitality businesses, especially for local hotels. According to the 2022 Local Consumer Review Survey, 77% of customers always look for reviews before dealing with a vendor. What’s more, 57% of people are suspicious of businesses that don’t have reviews.
What does this mean? Two things: your hotel app must include a review system, and you should actively manage feedback. You might go a step further and use reputation management tools to scan and evaluate reviews about your hotel on other platforms to respond to their comments.
Dynamic Pricing & Forecasting
Using forecasting, an online hotel booking app can predict future demand and occupancy levels. It allows you to make informed decisions about pricing, inventory, and staffing levels and optimize operations for better efficiency and profitability.
You can include a dynamic pricing feature to maximize your revenue. For instance, AI-based analytics can automatically optimize your pricing by tracking local events, trends, weather forecasts, and competing rates.
That sums up the hotel booking app features guests would want to see in your app. But there’s still much work to be done because you need to think about how your app will look, feel, and perform.
📱 How to Build a Hotel App
How to create hotel booking website or app and not screw up? Let’s get acquainted with the tech side.
Behind every motel reservation software lies a complex architecture and technology stack that powers its features and functionality. Its understanding is essential for hotel app development if you want to meet the needs of guests and hotels alike.
Hospitality App Architecture
The architecture defines how the components of your hotel app interact with each other. It could make the app run butter-smooth or be riddled with lags, so here’s what you can do to ensure your app works as intended:
- A multi-tenant SaaS architecture requires fewer upfront expenses, has fewer maintenance costs, and allows distributable computing resources for better performance
- Microservices architecture allows you to build, test, and update software components without impacting the whole system
- Serverless platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide ready cloud infrastructures to help you design, develop, and deploy your app
You can further enhance your system with dynamic content pre-rendering, load balancers, and content delivery networks. But, most importantly, you should use appropriate technologies.
Technical Stack for Hotel App Development
Now, how to build a hotel booking website or app after dealing with the architecture? Let’s observe reliable and user-centric platforms and tools.
Use popular programming languages to simplify hospitality app or hotel booking website development. Here are the tools we at Acropolium often use in our web and mobile projects:
- React.js for its pre-built components, downward data flow, and component updates
- React Native can help you with cross-platform mobile app development
- Node.js for fast frontend rendering during web app development
We also use PHP, Python, and Django for more advanced management systems. That said, most booking apps don’t require complex technologies.
Application Programming Interfaces (API)
APIs allow integrating third-party features into your app to save time and money on room reservation app development. Here are the services you could use:
- Amadeus Hotel Search API enables to search for hotels by location, check-in and check-out dates, and other criteria. It provides rich content, including photos, descriptions, and reviews, helping make informed decisions. Integrating this API into hotel reservation apps increases visibility and attracts potential guests.
- Sabre Hotel APIs include Sabre Hotel Reservations API, Sabre Hotel Content API, and Sabre Hotel Media API, among others. They allow hotels to provide real-time availability and pricing information, manage bookings, and offer customized services, such as room upgrades and personalized recommendations.
- Expedia Hotel API lets hotels access the Expedia platform, one of the largest online travel agencies in the world. They get to operate real-time inventory and pricing data and manage their reservations, payments, brand content, and promotions. It helps reach a large audience and increase revenue.
- TripAdvisor API connects mobile apps for hotels to the TripAdvisor platform, a leading travel review website. With it, hotels can manage their listings, respond to reviews, and showcase their properties to prospects. You get valuable insights into your and your competitors’ performance and attract potential guests.
- Hotels.com API offers access to the Hotels.com platform, a popular online travel agency with real-time inventory and pricing data. It allows hotels to manage their listings and promotions, track their performance, and gain insights into customer behavior. As a result, companies can improve their offerings and increase bookings.
- Google Hotel Prices API lets hotels provide real-time pricing and availability data to potential guests directly through Google search results. Also, you can handle your listings and promotions, increasing business visibility and driving booking with a hotel app.
- Skyscanner Hotel API provides access to the Skyscanner platform, a popular travel search engine. Users will get real-time availability and pricing information, and you will access listings, promotions tools, and valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. Use it to reach the audience and increase your revenue.
Note: Integration of some mentioned APIs with your app for hospitality may require registration and/or paid access.
Low-code platforms help engineers build apps using intuitive graphical interfaces, reusable components, templates, ready-made code, and automation tools. These tools could allow people without coding skills to contribute to the development. Plus, they can help experienced engineers speed up development and reduce the overall time-to-market.
Backend as a Service (BaaS)
BaaS platforms automate backend development and handle underlying server-side processes. For example, BaaS solutions can take care of server setup, API integration, and CDN management, so you can minimize time-consuming tasks and focus on the frontend.
These programming languages, frameworks, and software systems can help your engineers quickly build a minimum viable product (MVP). The key is knowing the issues MVPs face most often and how to solve them.
📌 Challenges You May Face While Building a Hotel App MVP
MVP development lets you validate your app while spending the least amount of resources and effort, but things could go awry even here.
Successful hotel apps reach their target audience by solving their problems. What this means is you need to study your customers before sketching the first design mockup or writing the first line of code.
After creating the customer persona, you’ll need to look into your competitors. Dissect their apps’ specifications, features, target audiences, and marketing. Try to copy things that work and improve on their shortcomings.
Not Prioritizing Core Features
The first iteration of your MVP should have only the bare minimum of functionality that would address the target audience’s needs. So, what are the features you need the most?
For starters, you can build an app for hotel booking with a search engine, personal accounts, and payment gateway. This would let you collect feedback needed to improve the primary functionality. Adding other features will be much faster after you refine the core.
Data Management Issues
You need to store and process large quantities of data generated from daily interactions. To prevent your storage from cluttering, you need standardization and filtering tools that automatically remove the clutter. Besides, excessive demand could lead to downtime, which could bring your business to a temporary and quite expensive halt.
The best solution might be to use a cloud-based infrastructure like the above-mentioned AWS. You would also cut a chunk of expenses on on-premise hardware and maintenance because the provider takes care of that for you.
Privacy and Security Problems
Data breaches can compromise your guest’s names, credit card details, passport and social security numbers. As you can imagine, this would hit your reputation hard. On top of that, the government will fine you for inappropriate technical measures to protect users’ privacy. A case in point is the Marrion hotel chain that was fined £18.4 million (about $24.4 million) after a data breach in 2014.
You need to adhere to local data privacy laws, industry standards, and ISO/IEC 27001 security policies. From a technical standpoint, this requires implementing multi-factor authentication, automatic log-off, data encryption, and role-based access control. It’s equally important to establish policies for secure data management and train your employees in cybersecurity.
Integration of the Hospitality app with Existing Systems
Hotels typically operate with multiple platforms and mobile applications in the hospitality industry, including property, point-of-sale, and customer relationship management. These solutions often use different programming languages, databases, data structures, or even security requirements, making communication between them more complicated.
To address this challenge, you should work with an experienced IT partner. Developers will create custom integrations for each system to ensure seamless data transferring and improve staff and guest experience.
🔹 The Reasons for Building a Hotel App
As technology advances, many businesses adopt booking apps for hotels to enhance the guest experience and streamline operations. While there are many benefits of hotel apps, we will focus on three key ones:
Improved Guest Experience
With a hotel application for guests, travelers can easily manage their stay and get all the information without interacting with hotel staff. The software allows customers to check in and out, access apartments, order room or housekeeping service, and even control lighting and temperature.
In addition, a hotel reservations app can provide guests with personalized recommendations for nearby attractions, restaurants, and events, improving their overall travel experience. This way, hotels build loyalty, receive positive reviews, and attract more prospects in the future.
Hotel apps can increase their revenue by providing upselling and cross-selling options. For example, the ability to upsell room upgrades, late checkouts, and other amenities through the app. Also, you can add to your hotel booking management app personalized promotions and discounts, restaurant, spa, or excursion recommendations, and products like souvenirs or event tickets.
Enriching a hotel guest services app with self-service options, such as check-in/checkout or ordering room service, you’ll reduce the workload for front desk staff and eliminate the need for paper-based processes. Accordingly, proper hotel management can lower operational costs, minimize the risk of errors and improve overall efficiency, increasing profitability.
🏆 Our Approach to Hotel App Development
Over the last 15 years, Acropolium, as a hospitality app development company, has delivered over 45 HoReCa software solutions ranging from booking systems to complex management platforms. Our specialists can help you ideate, plan, or develop your product. We also can help you digitize your business and create hotel booking website or app tailored to your needs, as we did for Premier Hotels and Resorts.
The company needed to upgrade its legacy platform into a scalable infrastructure capable of processing large quantities of data. We started by moving the legacy hotel app into the cloud to make it scalable, optimizing its subsystems. Next, our dedicated team implemented a marketing module and developed companion apps for Android and iOS.
Our multi-platform management software helped the company improve its profits by 30% and cut 40% of operational costs. And the best part? You can achieve the same results with hotel booking app development services provided by Acropolium.
🔎 Final Thoughts
Hotel app development offers many benefits for guests and hoteliers, from improved service and personalization to reduced costs and revenue generation. By leveraging the latest technologies, hotels can build robust and scalable solutions that meet the needs of their guests and drive business growth.
However, hotel app development can also be challenging, requiring a deep understanding of business operations, guest preferences, security protocols, and integration issues. This is where Acropolium can help.
Our experienced developers and project managers will guide you through each stage of the development process, including research, design, coding, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
Want to plan your development budget more appropriately? Try our subscription-based service, covering the whole building cycle at a monthly fee. Contact us today to discuss opportunities for your business and create an efficient hotel booking application.