Jun 27, 2022, Business

What is a tourist app – key functions for travel and business

John Oxley Business Consultant
a smartphone with a globe
There are two sides to a coin, as they say, and there are two functions of any mobile app. Every single software application ever developed has the same functions. Users and owners work together to interact and communicate with each other.

A mobile app is a type of software that runs exclusively on smartphones and tablets. It allows a similar service to PCs and laptops, albeit with less functionality.

Mobile apps are extremely widespread and are preferred by most, providing games, lifestyle, and travel-based to name a few.

By using a tourism and travel app, users are connected to a vast amount of information about everything to do with the travel and tourism industry. Searching for restaurants in your area is a breeze, as well as delivery options. A mobile app can answer all your questions. 

Over the last two years, domestic tourism has been the mainstay, with local people finding out just what their countries have to offer in the way of fine dining to boutique hotels and leisure tours for the weekend, with the trusty travel app providing the exact location.

But with Covid restrictions being lifted slightly if not completely, holiday lovers are getting ready to go overseas for their vacations.

So, a travel app is designed by a business with smart tourists in mind, and if successful, both parties win. Ease of travel, peace of mind and lifelong memories go to the users, with streamlined operations, larger profit margins and high quality reviews heading off to the businesses.

What can these apps do, why are they so popular with today’s travelers, and why should businesses make sure they have a strong digital footprint? Is it enough to just have a website for a travel business? Not any more.

Let’s study both sides of the coin and see what benefits there are for all parties concerned.

What can tourism apps do?

For the users

Tourism application users are different from normal app users. If you are looking for a solution to a particular problem, or to purchase a new book, it’s easy to go online and look for a result. With tourism, It’s all about change, unexpected delights, and many different outcomes.

Flight prices fluctuate, hotel rooms become cheaper in off season, and currency exchange rates change every day. A good tourism app will try to keep you updated as soon as news comes in, so planning remains smooth.

Bearing in mind that you will be taking your smartphone on holiday and not your PC, it is essential to have apps that will enhance your travel abroad and stay connected. And smart tourists know the apps to use, how to get the best out of them, and how to save as much money on the whole vacation as possible.

Advertising is everywhere. The travel and tourism industry uses TV, radio, billboards and public transport to mention a few. Imagine smartphone users sitting in an outdoor cafe when a bus drives past with a banner advertising Caribbean vacations at 25% off. 

Do they write it down, or take a photo of the banner? No, they pick up their smartphone and check the company website for any offers.

Similarly, walking past a vacation poster with a QR code, whip out your mobile phone and scan the QR code, then take a look at the offer.

Either way, it is simply easier to use the phone rather than a laptop or your home PC. It’s all about speed and ease.

From the outset, your tourism mobile app will give you all the information you need to plan your trip, right down to what to pack in your suitcase.

It’s not to say that the smart tourist won’t use a laptop or PC in the stages of vacation preparation, but the vast majority of investigations, bookings and reservations will be completed on a smartphone, using travel apps.

Planning a trip can be confusing. A solo excursion is probably the easiest to work out, but family trips that satisfy each member are a bit of a nightmare, unless all-inclusive resorts or tour packages are preferred.

Planning a trip with friends is probably the hardest. With so many opinions about destinations, flights and hotels, you can guarantee that at least one person will have their nose out of joint.

Regardless of the difficulties, you should have a selection of travel apps on your mobile phone that cover all of your requirements. No single tourism mobile app can do that at the moment, but some are nearly there. The travel and tourism industry is so vast that it is almost impossible to find a complete travel app.


Put together a vacation checklist of necessary things, such as:


Is there somewhere that sits in your bucket list? Or do you prefer last minute deals, ready to go on short notice? It depends whether you are a careful planner or a spur of the moment person.

Fix the dates

There may be a limited window in your planning due to work or education. Mark your dates, including travel time, and lock them in.


Work out what you want to spend on the whole trip, including travel, accommodation and entertainment. Train or plane, hostel or hotel, wandering or guided tours, they will all have differing effects on the price.

Travel Bookings

Use one of your selected tourism apps to book your passage, giving close care to any discounts and extras. You can always do a comparison between booking apps to see what each one offers. Buy midweek and travel midweek for extra savings.


Depending on your personal choice, use a travel mobile app and read the reviews to find the best hotel reservation value for money.


Check out all the places you have an interest in, find out if they will be open, local public transportation prices and routes, restaurants and anything else you think is worthy of your attendance. One of your travel apps will give you reviews and insights from fellow travellers.

All of this checklist can be done on your smartphone, complete with a personal itinerary and stored documents for easier access.

For the business

The other side of the coin

The tourism industry has taken a big hit since the pandemic started, but now it’s moving in the right direction for businesses. Many people are planning big, once-in-a-lifetime holidays using funds that had been set aside for planned and then canceled trips.

Expecting a boost to their industry, many companies involved in the hospitality services are beefing up their technology and applying new ideas to promote their business to potential customers.

One of the latest trends is that some hotels are placing smart speakers in guest rooms for lighting, heating and information. Others use augmented reality to give guests more information on their mobile phones about the services offered, from spa opening times to dry cleaning, and much more.

QR codes are being used to brighten menus, providing images or short films of food production, ordering, and payment. They can redirect guests to the hotel website or brochure, and give helpful information about any subject the hotels wish to promote.

There are mobile solutions for government agencies, with customized travel apps for convention markets, tourism boards, trade fairs, visitor bureaus and destination marketing organizations. Available in many languages, these types of travel based mobile apps really bring a huge bonus to any destination and local businesses.

One of the most important factors of travel based mobile apps is that the general public have access to real and trusted reviews, instead of possibly biased opinions of a travel agent. 

Good reviews are like gold for any business, but especially for those in the travel and tourism industry. People naturally steer towards a 4 or 5 star review. A single negative review on a mobile app can be put down to personal tastes, but several can be damning to a business.

Most online tourism reviews on mobile apps are at least two years old due to Covid, and I hope that the travel and tourism industry has taken steps to improve any problems that might have been highlighted back then. 

Outdated web pages continue to be a problem. Many smaller companies involved in the tourism industry choose not to invest in updating their website, but it is a fact that half of online visitors do not choose to recommend a website based on bad user experience.

So how can these mobile apps help businesses?


Marketing makes business. Maybe not entirely true, but close. Working with the travel app industry, app development will help to make the company message defined and distributed widely. Promotions can be directed to foreign markets, with online travel brochures.

Customer satisfaction

Customer experience will be enhanced by using tourism mobile applications, as they will be able to glean information quickly and smoothly without too much input, especially if there is a feedback form available electronically. Customer loyalty can be achieved with follow up marketing and discounts.

Ease of bookings and payments

A business can streamline their operations using tourism mobile applications, showing availability and price, booking requests, online registration, currency rates, prepayment and confirmation on one screen.

Document storage

Why carry paper? Give your guests the ability to store important documents on their smartphones. Airline tickets, boarding passes, hotel receipts, tour tickets, all readily accessible and secure.

Push notifications

Let your guests know beforehand that they can upgrade their travel booking if they wish, or just to tell them that everything is ready and waiting for their arrival. It’s great for real time alerts. It also works after the trip has ended. Send out push notifications on mobile apps about places that were positively mentioned in a feedback form, and include discount offers for the next trip.

Offline content

Some visitors will be coming from outside the country, and will not have access to mobile data on their mobile phones. Good offline information for mobile apps makes a big difference to travelers.

24/7 Chatbots

Support goes a long way in making any vacation the best one possible, and providing a helpline for any requests, concerns or comments can work to reduce any negative feelings from the user.

Reviews and ratings

As mentioned above, good service will potentially get a good review. I say potentially, because if things go well, some people might expect that and do nothing else. But one of the biggest advantages of social media is that it places a certain amount of pressure on users to make comments, and nobody really wants to say they had a terrible experience!

Local recommendations

In the tourism industry, it might appear to be cutthroat, but in reality most businesses know they have to work together to keep the tourists coming. A hotel with a restaurant might also give a nod to other local places or competitors, offering a good selection to the guests.

Regional Development

It is worth mentioning that a good tourism app will add to the development in that region, not just in one business. Everyone in the hospitality industry profits from visitors.

Pocket power

When guests visit a region, all the research that they have done is on their smartphones, and they will continue to use the phone while on holiday. Using a tourism app, or several, will allow them to see the sights, enjoy the spectacles and realize why they chose the region in the first place.

Wrap up

Tourism and travel apps provide endless sources of information for tourists travel, and can and do make vacations more enjoyable and memorable. For the businesses, these apps can fine tune their target markets and grow their popularity. 

Apps can store photos and videos in a neat package alongside a holiday diary and are getting really good exposure. Itinerary apps help rookie travelers to plan and fulfill their dream holiday.

New technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics allow apps to show recommendations to people, based on their previous experiences and search histories. Getting a recommendation is as good as being on the first page of Google search.

It’s not only about saving money, but it is all about the total experience, from the first initial thought of a vacation to the culmination of it. Travel apps will generate savings for the users, and sales for the travel and tourism industry.

With mobile tourism apps for a travel and tourism business, it’s not a question of if they get onboard but of when. The general public has the apps and are using them to book weekend getaways, family holidays and luxurious villas.