How to make a travel app like Expedia or TripAdvisor

Qasim Hussain
7 min readJun 19, 2018


On the oversaturated market of the travel business, how is it possible to attract new customers, and, what’s more important, to turn them into your regular clients? As you may have already guessed from the article’ title — a travel app may be a great solution. But how will it benefit you, which essential features should it contain and, finally, how to make a travel app itself? All of these questions are covered further on.

Benefits from a travel app

Whether you are in traveling business (travel agency, hotel, museum etc.) or just a developer, your interest towards such app may differ, and a lot. Thus, it may bring you direct and indirect benefit. And knowing how to make a travel app is a necessity.

For example, if you own a travel agency, your app should, first of all, provide comprehensive services for your clients, so they could stay satisfied with your services, in the end. The app’s aim is not to provide you with the income, but to be a support for your main business. That is an indirect benefit, which may be represented as:

  • Promoting your *you name it*.
  • Entertaining your clients with fancy things like VR and AR tours.
  • Providing assistance to your clients (info, geolocation, support, etc.).
  • Facilitate the job for your employees and cut the losses on it, as well (automatic guides).
  • Helps you to stay in touch with your client, and receive feedback from them.
  • Increasing brand recognition via your presence on app stores and reviews on the app.

However, if you are interested in such app as a product itself, you’re counting on direct income and ASAP. First thought may be to put a price-tag on your trip organizer or flight booking app. But in such case, it should possess tremendous functionality and design along with brilliant marketing campaign. As nearly all apps in this category are free, especially on the Android. Usually, travel app makes its money in such ways:

  • Commissions for direct traffic.
  • Internal purchases.
  • Ads.
  • Subscriptions.
  • Through services which it provides (transportation, hotel booking, entertainment fees).

Features necessary for a decent travel app

To create a travel app it is a greate idea to imagine yourself as a regular tourist. Usually, every trip goes through pretty similar steps. And going this way you’ll know how to make a travel app with a great functionality.

1. First, you have to plan your trip. And here you would need a

  • Trip planner: it is an organizer for a whole trip, where the one can store his tickets, schedules, destinations, contacts, etc. Top examples here could be TripIt and Google Trips.

2. And now, after you’ve planned everything, you need to book yourself a place to stay.

  • Hotel booking: find and book the cheapest, coziest and most suitable hotel, hostel or apartment. Though the market is dominated by giants like, AirBnB, and Trivago, good thing is that these players also provide their APIs for free. Therefore, all you might require is a map with geotagging/geolocation and some hotel booking API like Zumata or the one from those aforementioned.

3. What about transportation? You won’t get far without a ticket on a plane/bus/train or renting a car.

  • Tickets booking: global players like KAYAK, Skyscanner and Expedia rule the parade here. But this is also the most competitive segment, as nearly every major transportation company has its own app. Also, this is a point where local players might be better, because of the better understanding of internal transportation system, especially buses and trains. And keep in mind carpooling, which is widely represented by BlaBlaCar, but has lots of local analogs. All that is needed for this feature is a map with geolocation for visual presentation. Also, you’ll need access to the data of transportation companies (FlightStats or Uber APIs) or social aspect in case of carpooling.

4. But before you finalize your plans and book anything, you might want to check reviews and get some feedback.

  • Reviews and feedback: relevant not only for the places to stay but also for the places the one would like to visit and for the services he is going to use. The best example here might be the TripAdvisor app. And the good news for you is that TripAdvisor provides their rating content via API for free!

5. One last, but not least, detail before you start your journey — a weather forecast.

  • Weather forecast: minor, but nearly “must have” feature in your app. We won’t even bring in an example, as there are hundreds of such apps. The best way to introduce such feature into your app is to use any of those available free APIs, like OpenWeatherMap API.

6. As you’ve started your trip, the first thing you’ll need is a proper navigation. Especially if you are traveling on your own.

  • Maps and geolocation: a backbone of every travel app. You’ll need it more or less anyway. Whether it will be used for visual presentation or will be a core feature of your app. There are well known (default) players like Google maps and Apple maps, and smaller ones, but with their distinctive features like HERE WeGo and The best part here is that there are available comprehensive Google maps SDK and Facebook and Google Places APIs which are provided for free. And, by the way, one more “must have” feature — it has to work offline.

7. So now you have arrived at your destination point and need to get to your hotel.

  • Local transportation: that is where local developers can and have to shine. Giants like Google maps and Yandex maps (public transport) or Uber (cabs) might seem to win a global market, but they lose in precision on a lower scale or aren’t present on some markets at all. Hence, that’s where you might get your share using aforementioned Google maps SDK, by providing proper service on a local market. Of course, if you know how to make a travel app right.

Hiring? Find top developers!


By the way, we have an article about how to create an app like Uber, so you might find it very useful.

8. And at this point of your trip, you might want to see something uncommon and unique, besides usual touristic spots.

  • Guides and spot finders: one more point where locals have an advantage over huge players. Use Google maps API, put some unusual places in your city on it, describe them, add some cool interesting story about it and some photos/videos. Et voila, you have a ready to go travel app.

9. You need somehow to communicate with locals, don’t you? Obviously, you’ll need some proper translator to do that.

  • Translator: it is hard to compete with such giant as Google Translate. Respectively monetizing such stand-alone app won’t be a trivial task. But using the Microsoft translator API (which is free for 2 million characters per month) will make a nice addition to your app.

10. Everything goes great, you’re enjoying your travel, and suddenly you have this itchy feeling to share it with somebody…

  • Socializing: adding a social component to your app is a great idea. Starting from trivial sharing and posting possibilities and till integration with preferred social networks through APIs like Facebook API. Or adding comprehensive messaging or friend-finding feature on your own. But creating a social travel app may be a better idea. Thus, creating it will require from you a bigger effort and some crazy idea for it.

Sure thing, your travel app can’t be limited only by these features. It is all up to you to decide how to make a travel app: with all features included, or a stand-alone app with one feature. But know, there are numerous other options like:

  1. Emergency services finder.
  2. Wifi finder.
  3. Washroom finder.
  4. Currency converter.
  5. World clock.

How to make a travel app

After all these issues have been covered, with a little help ofhow to make an app” guide, we can start developing process. But first, you have to answer these questions:

  • how many features is it going to have and which ones?
  • is it going to be a web, hybrid or native app?
  • what aim and whom should it serve?

Answered? Great! Now there are three main ways for you left how to make a travel app.

1. Make it on your own from a scratch.

Directly depends on your or your team’s programming, design and marketing skills. Of course, we assume that you are going to use all available APIs and SDKs which we have mentioned in the section above. But anyway this option appears to be drastically time-consuming. So, here are some summarized pros and cons:


  1. Absolute freedom
  2. Low expenses
  3. Complete control over development process


  1. Utterly skill-demanding
  2. Very time-consuming
  3. Result rarely meets up with the expectations

2. Use available app-building platforms.

There are some app-building platforms available which propose ready templates like Those allow you to build your app much faster as you don’t have to bother much with UI, alleviate coding for both mobile platforms and ease API integration aspects. This way is somewhat better than doing it on your own, but it is still no match to an app made by professionals. So, main pros and cons here may be:


  1. Less time-consuming than developing on your own
  2. Less skill-demanding
  3. Control over development process


  1. Requires lots of time to make a decent app
  2. Above-average coding skills are required
  3. Hard to build a big and well-optimized app

3. Trust development to professionals, outsource your app.

The most optimal choice in terms of expenses and quality. It is, indeed, the most expensive choice among these three, but you can be sure about the quality of the product. The complexity and functionality of your app are limited only with your budget. And, of course, you can be sure that your app will be produced as fast as possible.


  1. High quality
  2. Rapid development speed
  3. Unlimited possibilities


  1. Cost of a project

In conclusion

Whether you want to create the “Frankenstein” with all mentioned features in it or just a stand-alone app which serves to one aim — ThinkMobiles is ready to help you out. But it totally doesn’t matter if it is a cross-platform, hybrid or native app — our team is skilled in every field. Trusting development of your app to professionals is always the best solution.