Aug 5, 2022, Business

Tourism app features

John Oxley Business Consultant
a picture of smartphone travel app features
There is a dizzying array of mobile travel assistance in the marketplaces of iOS and android apps, and I think it can be difficult to work out which one is the best for the job. I will go as far as saying that I don’t think there is a single travel app that provides everything a traveler needs. Every travel app development company is distinct, and they use independent features and functionalities as they see fit, or as requested by the client.

Travel apps fall into niche categories, with some aimed at the family style of all-inclusive, while others target the wandering souls who don’t want anything to be packaged by the travel industry.

A family vacation probably wouldn’t need an emergency services travel app, nor would an RV road trip need a hotel booking app.

People are unique and have different tastes and requirements, but in travel app development, there is a constant need to address those tastes and make a successful travel app.

The most important parts of any travel app are a top quality user interface (UI)and user experience (UX), things that all travel app development companies strive to achieve.

Without that, a mobile travel app will wane and slide down the rankings in the travel app industry..

Keeping this in mind, here are some mobile app features that need to be looked at, depending on the specific needs of the vacationer.

They are in no particular order, as I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that I know what type of traveler you are.

Let’s start off by breaking down the mobile travel app development market into classifications.

Classification of travel apps

Business travel apps

Traditionally, business travel and planning trips was organized through a physical travel agency that either specialized in corporate travel or was connected to businesses. 

Nowadays a company will use business travel apps online and the traveler will have no input into the bookings of flights, hotels and event tickets.

Family all-inclusive travel apps

Once again, going from a high street travel agency to planning a family vacation from the comfort of home, these mobile travel apps are a one stop shop, supplying all the necessary features for booking flights, accommodation, tours and transport.

Single traveler travel apps

Aimed more towards the backpacking tourist, these types of dedicated travel mobile app provide the traveler with points of interest and safety guides, alongside social media connections for blogging.

Budget friendly, they offer a wide variety of places to stay, public transport routes, and a GPS based location service.

Road trip travel apps

These apps give multiple routes to a destination so an individual or group of friends can choose which one is best depending on timescales. 

Road trips tend to have an ultimate destination, and how the group gets there is entirely up to them. 

Once again, as per the single traveler apps, they provide social media connectivity and GPS for guidance.

Itinerary planning apps

A really complex vacation can be organized using these apps. Combining the knowledge and advice of friends and other travelers, an itinerary can be planned well in advance of the trip. Some apps allow others to include special sights to visit that may not be commonly known.

Flight aggregator travel apps

For those who are looking for the best deal on flights, and the best time to book, these apps will notify the user when a specific search request has been selected.

The is usually one of the first apps that travelers use in the search for a perfect vacation.

Review and ratings travel apps

Although usually not standalone and bundled into larger tourist apps, they provide accurate reviews and ratings of restaurants, hotels, and other company services that give food for thought.

Public transportation apps

As shown, these mobile apps are designed to assist travelers in moving around a city or country. Local and interstate travel is visible, as well as other forms of semi-public transport such as car sharing.

Accommodation travel apps

These apps specialize in offering alternate ways to stay in a location. Everything from camping to hostels to 5 star luxury hotels.

Most popular uses are local houses and apartments to allow full interaction with the culture.

Key features

Like having a big box of Lego, a travel app development company, in partnership with their clients, can form any travel app ‘shape’ to suit a certain market.

A bit of this, a dash of that, and lo and behold there’s a unique product to be served up to the public.

With over 20 features listed as useful for travel mobile app development, there are almost 1 million possible combinations. And with that astonishing fact, I don’t think there are more than a thousand travel apps out there. 

Granted, some of the combinations might be extremely weak and not acceptable to the traveling public, but it still leaves an enormous amount of travel app ‘shapes’.

So there is always going to be room for a new travel app to appear on the market.

Let’s go feature hunting.

Social media integration

Being able to sign in to an app using a social media profile is a real bonus for some people, as there is one less username and password to remember.

Additionally, it provides a convenient link between the traveler’s experiences and their contacts and helps the travel industry gain data to use for making more personalised suggestions.

Social media integration is highly popular with Gen Z as they travel around the world displaying their passion for learning and discovering new cultures and this feature for a social networking app is a key offering.

Travel Itinerary

For those who like to plan their vacation down to the smallest detail, this feature is a must.

Using personal research and advice from friends and relatives who share the itinerary online, a complete travel package is built by people who can add custom landmarks.

Everything is stored on the smartphone, and can be accessed offline when mobile connections are spotty or nonexistent.

Tickets, documents and other important files are kept in a clear concise order and are easy to see.

Push notifications

Many travel apps have push notification features, allowing users to be informed of last minute changes or alterations to their trip, and also deals and discounts to many services.

These features inform the user if the airport departure gate has changed, or if there is a delay.

In some way, it’s like having a personal assistant to provide all necessary information.

Event Ticket bookings

While a traveler is at a location, there may be some special events that were not previously advertised or known.

By using an event ticket booker, the user can go online and get information about prices, number of vacant places, start and end times, and can book or reserve the number of tickets wanted.

Navigation and location services

No-one wants to be lost on holiday, and a GPS feature such as google maps will certainly mitigate this risk. A quick look at the screen will give all the information needed, including different ways to get to a destination quickly and safely.

With a location service such as this, services can be displayed on the map for users, including shopping, transportation and restaurants.

It is one of the most important must have features for users.

International flight bookings

Getting from point A to point B is made simple with a flight booking feature. These collect all flight details from various airline companies to and from your chosen destination, and find ones that suit your budget and time constraints. Your air ticket can be processed online.

There are some core features that can offer different carriers on the outbound and homeward journeys, making the cost even smaller.

Important information such as time zones and costs of transport to the destination can also be included.

Integration of payment gateways

If a trip is being planned using a mobile device, it makes sense to include a feature that allows for payment of all costs, instead of leaving the app and using another service.

Payment gateways are considered completely secure, with many levels of protection built in for the users and the businesses receiving the payment. 

Guided tours and tour packages

While not for everyone, guided tours through ancient cities are sometimes the best part of a holiday, especially if the tour is professional and well thought out.

Many people miss some of the history while out wandering around, and to have a tour feature on a smartphone will offer a choice to the user, to go with the flow or not.

Hotel bookings

Where to stay. A good question that can be answered by a hotel booking feature. Depending on the budget, the user will be presented with a wide choice of hotels, guest houses or hostels, even to campgrounds if wanted.

Even if a traveler has not booked a hotel in advance, this type of feature will offer rooms available on the same day at the destination.

Public transport

Getting into the culture and background of a city or town is always improved by using public transportation. But the problem is language and schedules.

A good public transport feature will offer these details in the user’s native language, including when to get off at the correct stop, and will list bus and train stations for longer in-country trips.

Linked to geo tracking services, the user will always know their current location and how far it is to the nearest public transport hub.

Review and ratings

Few people want a bad experience on holiday, and reviews and ratings play a star role in preventing this.

Leave the bad stuff to others, and follow the advice of seasoned travelers to find the perfect hotel, restaurant or existing tourist attractions. 

Tourists interact with each other to show the good and bad sides of the tourism industry.

Weather forecasting

Discovering monsoon season when you have just arrived is not a good idea. A weather forecasting feature will indicate which times of the year are better or not for visiting a particular place.

Even local weather shifts from day to day, hour to hour, and any information about these changes in weather reports will be appreciated and is an important feature.

With a real time climate forecast, including cloud formation patterns, travel planning is a breeze.


Unless you have a gift for languages and can get by in many countries, there will always be a time when you need the help of an in app language translator.

Whether it is to find out when a place opens or closes, the nearest police station, or simply ordering a meal, a translation app will give you the route to communication.

Currency conversion

Tourists are prime targets for getting cheated at popular destinations, and knowing the currency rate is vital to avoid disappointment and empty pockets.

Finding out beforehand if you can haggle over a price is good knowledge, but a currency converter will ultimately help you decide if the price is acceptable.

Safety and emergency

This feature is extremely useful for solo travelers or road trippers, providing up to date information on many concerns.

Contact details of all major emergency services as well as hospital locations will greatly assist the traveler who gets into a tricky situation or has an accident.

Road trip assistance

Planning a road trip without using this feature may prove problematic. Things break, and it doesn’t matter how many times they are checked.

Punctures, oil leaks and shredded fan belts have an uncanny knack of popping up when you least expect them, messing up your travel plan.

Keeping track of fuel stops, roadside emergency assistance and garage mechanics is necessary to reduce any stress of driving.

Taxi and connected services

Sometimes it is too far to walk, the bus doesn’t go there, or you’re carrying a load of shopping, and that is when you can take advantage of this feature.

Taxi numbers, ride sharing participants and local uber lookalikes are all listed and can be used in a flash.

Restaurant guides

Few restaurants are listed in the Michelin guide, but there are many places that come close to that illustrious book’s requirements.

Let other experienced travelers give you the lowdown on restaurants that either serve great food, or serve it with a great price. This includes ones to avoid.

Pictures and menus can be included to help you make a decision on what to chew on next.

All-inclusive packages

The well known family choice, a feature such as this will take all the stress away. Parents and kids can sit down together and work out a travel package that will keep everyone happy.

The destinations are built to be kid-friendly and relaxing for the older guests, and it is a well balanced design that will fit every families’ expectations.

The final takeaway

There are so many permutations and combinations of travel mobile app development that it would be unlikely that two apps are the same.

There are those travel apps that are similar in their design, offering many of the same services, but the results are different.

Like a stage show performed by two different acting groups, the production will be similar but different in its final presentation.

And of course there are some travel app developers that focus on specific types of users, whether they are looking for high octane adventure or simply a long trek.

Starting with a base idea, a client and a travel app development company work together to build a travel app that ticks all the required boxes. 

Using application programming interfaces (API), the app can be linked to other travel platforms to use their data, so the choices are almost limitless.

APIs are like waiters in a restaurant, taking the order, giving it to the kitchen, and then delivering the food.

For example, Google Maps API is the best choice for road travel planning, where users can plan a route, make adjustments for side visits, and know the total distance to the destinations.

For hotel bookings, a connectivity API is needed for registering and modifying hotel information on a larger hotel platform.

The travel app industry is always looking to design a smartphone app with essential features for their target audience and other leisure travelers.

With an accurate review system for users, mobile app development companies can roll out new additions to the software based on past variations to provide the best services.

So it’s back to that big box of Lego, with a lot of creativity, careful planning and production. Easy.