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Product Strategy

How To Create The Next Expedia?

Amit Ashwini
September 2, 2017

The digital revolution is a welcome movement for all holidaymakers. In today’s market, the real winners of the travel industry have understood and embraced the importance of personalized service. Back in the day, planning a trip involved a visit to the local travel agent or purchasing a good guide book for the more confident traveler. Today, digitization has brought us choices. We’re a generation of DIY travelers looking out for cheaper, more personalized ways to travel.

For travel brands, this means you have to adapt and get smarter as the expectations of your consumers rise. As travel is inherently mobile, your users would enjoy a mobile application which enriches their trip experience. Merely approaching a travel application development company with lofty ambitions of launching the next Expedia won’t cut it. The title of this blog is in a sense misleading. You shouldn’t be focusing on creating the next Expedia but building your brand. Ponder over what makes you stand out from the crowd, what value are you bringing to the table? In other words, think about the features which will help your travel application stand out. Below, we’ve penned down a few things to keep in mind and a list of features which you might want to include in your application.

Things to consider:

1.Understand your target users

Your passion for creating the best application in the travel industry might cloud your ability to recognize what your users are looking for. Take a closer look at the needs of your personas. Who are these people? What is their income? Do they prefer standard tourist spots or do they prefer to explore unknown places? Here you need to find out how your idea aligns with the needs of your customers. The better you know and understand your audience, the more valuable your proposition will be for them.

2. Competitor research

The market you’re targeting is quite busy as it is. But the good news is, the key players have freed you from a huge pool of work by providing their resources and databases. For instance, TripAdvisor API gives you access to a massive database of UGC (user-generated content) including photos and reviews. So, make sure you don’t end up doing extra work.

3. Choose the right development team

In the initial meetings with the team building your application, apart from the usual research, you do on the team, observe how the delivery team helps you define the concept based on market trends. How are they determining the project milestones? How much do they contribute to help you find the best performing solutions? All this will give you a good understanding of whether they are the right partners to team up with or not.

4. Travel app monetization

Typically, travel applications earn using the services they provide like transportation, accommodation and tour fees. Apart from these, there are some more options you can consider like commissions for direct traffic, advertising, inbuilt purchases, subscriptions and more.

The feature list:

1. Travel itinerary generator

This is the most crucial feature and in a way will set the tone of your application. All travel applications come with an itinerary generator. What makes yours unique? An efficient itinerary generator only asks the user to mention the locations they want to visit and using that, automatically creates a travel plan based on the history of the user. This is where the personalization bit plays a huge part.

Implementing the complex algorithms required is time-consuming and has to be done right, but it is a worthy task. With the itinerary, the user should be able to add custom destinations, set up schedules and store e-tickets and QR codes. Link your booking service with the itinerary, try not to make your users manually fill the details into the itinerary. It’s nice to have an inbuilt option for transport, hotel check-ins and a loyalty program in one single application. Your user might have different apps for every purpose, but it is a lot more convenient to have one travel organizer application for all these objectives.

2. Geo-tracking services

Don't compromise on the successful integration of GPS based location services. Your travel app should get a GPS lock fast, track your location and fetch results quickly. An important aspect of the navigation services of your travel application is its ability to work offline. Native app development will ensure your application performs well even without wi-fi. This feature is necessary even in MVP and beta-version. Consider adding a location-based emergency service, including emergency phone number and services based on the current location of your user. Or maybe they could launch an app like HelpMe to cater to an emergency.

3. Trip reviews and recommendations

Allow your users to review the places they visit and share their experiences with other tourists within your application itself. There’s nothing like happening upon a non-touristic spot thanks to a review on your application. These moments you facilitate are what help build brand recognition. One of the key players in this market is TripAdvisor, and they provide developers with their API, meaning you could consider integrating this service into your application.

4. Language Translator

This is a tricky feature to implement, but if you can get it working, your travel app will be an instant favorite. In many cases, your users won’t be familiar with a regional language, and if it isn’t a destination used to tourists, they’ll have a tough time trying to communicate. Apps like Google Translate let travelers scan texts for visual translation, translate real-time voice data and written text as well. Also, if you have the time and budget, go a step further, like adding an augmented reality feature which could translate all streets signs.

5. Weather forecasting

It’s a good idea to integrate a real-time climate forecast. It’ll come in handy to alert the traveler of what weather they need to expect when they are creating their travel itinerary. Check out apps like AccuWeather, which display weather reports for a huge number of locations all over the world. It allows users to check wind speed, cloud formation patterns, humidity and several other important factors before planning trips. Your app could even suggest the kind of clothes to pack. It’s small touches like this which help you stand out. Your development team can always make use of any one of the free open source API’s to integrate this feature in your mobile application.

6. Travel journal

Here, I’m not talking merely about written notes but also photo and video content, and even audio records for that matter. Your travel journal feature might even turn into a wonderful traveler's blog.

7. Currency converter

Your users shouldn’t have to look beyond your travel app to know the currency exchange rates. XE Currency tracks all the current and past variations in currency rates, consider integrating this feature within your travel app.

8. Local cabs and transport

Consider partnering up with a local cab service which might be cheaper than say an Uber for your users. Suggest bus routes, metro services, and timings according to the budget of your user. Additionally, partnering up with a local taxi service could turn out to be another source of income. In fact, Uber pays you a steady amount per user referred which is a very good idea for a successful business model.

9. Washroom locator

Apps like SitOrSquat and Toilet Finder have gained huge popularity amongst travelers in helping them find a restroom in case of emergencies. Consider integrating these services.

10. Integrating social media apps

Real time social feeds like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. let tourists interact with their friends and followers by sharing snapshots, experiences and also letting them know where they are.

Good luck.

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