Building a hotel booking app or website is currently gathering steam as it satisfies the customer’s fundamental need: convenience. Does it seem lucrative to you too? Let’s talk about the cost of developing hotel booking solutions and ways to lead your hospitality business to the top.

Data from Statista suggest that hotel businesses going online succeed: the worldwide online travel booking industry is projected to reach $983 billion in 2027. Compare these figures with $517.8 billion in 2020, and you’ll see how significant this growth is.

The growing popularity of online businesses has pushed many hoteliers to expand activities to online spaces. If you’re one of them, Mind Studios is delighted to share our experience developing hotel reservation systems with you.

This article will tell you how to create a booking website or app, the pitfalls you should avoid, and the main valuation principles for such projects.

Benefits of developing a hotel booking system

benefits of developing a hotel booking website or a mobile app

Creating a hotel booking application can improve your customer engagement, help streamline business processes, and increase your profits. We’ll explain what benefits a booking website and/or a mobile app can bring to your hospitality business.

Automation of processes

You no longer need to perform many routine tasks manually with a booking solution. You can now automate reservations, check-ins, and check-outs. On top of that, you can even set up instant messaging with your visitors. The booking system will automatically adjust the number of available rooms in your location. Plus, such software can calculate the cost of living, extra room service, and more.

Centralization of all management operations

You know how challenging it may be to keep track of all the company’s operations at times. The front desk, housekeeping, room readiness, customer service, and other aspects of hotel management are essential. All this can be integrated into one platform allowing for real-time monitoring of everything that’s happening in your hotel.

Saving money

You probably wondered how spending money on developing a hotel reservation app would help you save. Consider costs on developing a hotel reservation app as an investment in a tool that will connect you with hundreds of thousands of potential customers. Your business will be profiting more with a platform that increases your clients' satisfaction with services they get. Those customers will want to come back and bring their friends.

Types of online hotel booking solutions

hotel booking process

A booking solution can refer to:

  • a hotel reservation system
  • functionality on a hotel official website
  • a specialized platform hosting offers from many hotels for booking by clients

We’ll talk about the types of hotel booking websites and apps and the advantages of each option.

Reservation module on a hotel website

reservation module integrated into a hotel website

Source: Dribbble

The reservation module is a feature you can integrate into your hotel website. It should blend in with the rest of your website design and have extensive functionality. If you consider implementing a reservation module for your hotel, don’t overlook making a mobile-friendly app design and supporting services like secure payment for food, drinks, and flowers delivery.

A booking module can offer you multiple benefits:

  • Reduce the cost of attracting guests (you’ll be saving on commission to intermediaries that can reach 20% of the booking price)
  • Allow you to send targeted follow-up offers to your website visitors
  • Allow your administrator to flexibly manage reservations
  • Provide you with detailed statistics for analysis
  • Show your available rooms on social network pages
  • Make it easier to sell additional services (transfers, excursions, VIP offers, etc.)
  • Allow clients to make round-the-clock reservations
  • Enable instant booking confirmation that can enhance customer interaction with your platform

With a built-in reservation system, you can increase the number of clients coming from your hotel website and even make it equal to or exceed the number of external bookings. Of course, this is possible only if you implement the reservation system correctly and the site itself is ready for direct sales.

Online travel agencies (OTAs)

how an online travel agency OTA works

OTAs are websites or mobile apps that allow people to obtain a range of travel-related services over the internet. These organizations resell hotel accommodation, transportation, package tours, and other services. How does this affect you as a hotelier?

The following are the main advantages you can get by working with OTAs:

  • Boost your hotel’s visibility
  • Increase the number of reservations
  • Attract new customers through OTA’s user-friendly platform
  • Reduce marketing expenditures since OTA handles them

If you’re thinking of building your own OTA’s website or mobile app, feel free to contact us to get your customized guide on how to create it on time and on budget.

Property management system (PMS)

structure of a hotel property management system

PMS is a software that helps you streamline your front and back-office operations. By establishing this management system in your hotel website, you can simplify the process of arranging and planning the following property management functions:

  • Room reservation and distribution
  • Check-in and check-out
  • Keep track of reservation information
  • Inventory management
  • Analysis of customer data
  • Billing

With a PMS, you’ll be able to:

  • Automate many routine tasks
  • Conveniently manage data having it all in one place
  • Secure data
  • Improve customer experience by completing tasks quickly and efficiently
  • Monitor your revenue by using PMS visual reports

Mobile booking apps

a mobile booking app

According to a Travelport Digital global study held among 955 travelers, 53% of respondents stated they would prefer an accommodation booking app to a website. So, it’s difficult to exaggerate the value of such a solution for your company.

If you’re planning to develop a hotel booking mobile application, consider the several varieties available, such as an OTA, an app representing a particular hotel or a whole chain, and a hotel aggregator.

Developing a mobile reservation app will give your business the following benefits:

  • Ability to engage users easier via the notification system and personalized recommendations
  • More reservations since customers can book accommodations anywhere and at any time
  • More feedback is possible thanks to in-app polls, reviews, and other features
  • Valuable data on user behavior
  • Ability to sell additional services

Best online hotel reservation systems

Guided by the eBizMBA Rank, we picked up five booking systems that display offers of various hotels worldwide. Let’s analyze their unique features.

1. Booking.com

Booking.com is an online travel agency launched in Amsterdam back in 1996. In addition to accommodation services, the company provides ticket purchasing, car rental, and other tourist activities. The hotel booking portal offers more than 28 million lodging opportunities, giving it an edge over other similar platforms. Thanks to a solid investment in analyzing user feedback, Booking.com managed to build a convenient app architecture that resulted in a user-friendly app interface.

2. TripAdvisor

This online travel company based in the United States provides customers with a convenient website and a mobile app. Booking accommodation, transportation, and restaurants are just a few of the services on this platform. Tripadvisor’s true strength is in tons of detailed hotel reviews written by its users. When we talked about tons, we weren’t kidding. As of February 1, 2022, Tripadvisor has published one billion reviews.

3. KAYAK

KAYAK is an OTA and meta-search service for traveling. This platform compares different offerings depending on selected filters and sorting options. The service currently operates in 18 countries. It is also an accommodation and flight booking website that enables users to search for travel packages and cruises.

4. Expedia

Being one of the leading online travel agencies, Expedia allows tourists to organize their trips from A to Z. This service is convenient since it enables users to plan vacations, draw itineraries, and book flights and accommodations independently.

Expedia’s stock prices skyrocketed in late 2021. From a minimum of $138 per share in August 2021, their value has already risen to $181 in early November of that year. The primary cause for this increase was that the service was selling experiences, not accommodations or tickets.

5. Priceline

This platform is similar to Expedia but with car rental and cruise booking options. Furthermore, as its name suggests, this portal allows clients to search for the best deals and discounts on travel services including hotel reservations.

Using Priceline, travelers can also buy airline tickets. In May 2021, the company bought a startup Flyiin that allowed airlines to sell tickets through travel agencies. Priceline plans to use this technology for airfare sales.

Start a hotel booking website: business model of Booking.com

Booking.com business model

The business model of a hotel booking company is quite simple. Booking.com connects hoteliers and those who want to rent accommodation. The portal gives an overview of all hotels in an area, shows prices and visitor reviews, and allows users to book and pay for rooms. Owners of Booking.com-like websites, hotel owners, and travelers — all find Booking.com beneficial.

Benefits for website owners

  • Hotels that have an agreement with Booking.com-like website will be unable to offer their rooms at a lower price than on its website.
  • The website owner gets 15% from each transaction; since the number of transactions has no limits, so does the income.
  • The website owner can also use mobile applications both on iOS and Android platforms to widen their user base like Booking.com does.

Benefits for hotel owners

  • Hotel owners can set the price for renting rooms themselves, and a 15% commission will be subtracted from this price.
  • It’s possible to reach a vast number of users worldwide.
  • The platform covers the cost of search and marketing promotion.
  • It’s possible to track the effectiveness of your hotel down to every room.
  • Booking.com constantly introduces new features for the convenience of users.
  • The site has a thorough review verification system to get feedback from real guests.
  • Booking.com provides its clients and partners with an assistance center in more than 40 languages.

Benefits for tourists

  • Receive the guaranteed best offer
  • Book a room long before the date of travel
  • Get what they’re paying for
  • Choose hotels that meet their requirements by using search and filters
  • Receive instant confirmation
  • Make secure payments on the site
  • Get money-back guarantee for booking cancellation
  • Use the 24/7 multilingual support team

Keep in mind that just because this business model works for Booking.com, it doesn’t mean this model will work for you. You can identify the best strategy for your online hotel booking business based on insights from competitor analysis, customer interviews, feedback from dedicated employees, and unit economics calculations. The Mind Studios experts will eagerly assist you in this.

Key features for a custom hotel booking website & app

How can you build a custom hotel booking app and do it well? We have a list of criteria for the perfect solution:

  • Be functional. Fast-loading pages, easy navigation, and a simple and intuitive interface make the site easy to view.
  • Be informative. Offer detailed information, provide updates, add images, videos, and reviews.
  • Gather analytics. It’s worthwhile collecting information on the website operations and services to assess their effectiveness.
  • Provide good value to customers. By offering additional savings for website visitors, including promotions, discounts, and last-minute deals, you can make the site more attractive, increase audience loyalty, and drive traffic and conversions.
  • Be customer-oriented. Take an example from Booking.com and ask your customers what they want to see on your website or mobile app.

Creating a high-quality custom hotel booking website or app also means implementing necessary functionality both for customers and hoteliers.

For customers

Include the following features in your platform to provide a seamless experience for your customers:

Personal accounts

Users will be able to view previous orders, plan visits, create wish lists, and more from their accounts.

personal account in a hotel booking app

Source: Dribbble

Sophisticated search result filter system

Provide users with decent filters. Enable them to sort hotel booking listings by price, number of visitors, location, etc.

Search result filter system in a hotel booking app

Source: Dribbble

Support for multiple languages, time zones, and convenient booking calendar

This feature will improve the user experience and help visitors personalize the platform for themselves.

In-app hotel booking calendar

Payment security system

The latest trend in the hotel industry is blockchain technology with smart contracts that allow secure and anonymous transfers. For now, it is enough to add a secure payment system to your platform to keep users calm about their finances.

payment security system for a hotel booking app

Source: Dribbble

Convenient viewing of accommodation

It is a section where you can add a detailed description, photos, or videos of your hotel rooms. 3D tours can help you enhance the visibility of your hotel rooms and, as a result, increase user satisfaction.

Viewing rooms in a hotel booking app

Source: Dribbble

Cancellation of reservation

Set a cancellation policy that suits your hotel. Users are more likely to choose platforms with a flexible cancellation approach.

Cancelation of reservation in a hotel booking app

Source: Dribbble

For hoteliers

Here, we’ll talk about the functionality of the booking platform as an integral part of successful hotel management.

Personal accounts

The admin panel is necessary for a hotelier to control the internal processes of the platform including user data analysis.

Hotelier account in a hotel booking app

The possibility to manage free/pending rooms

The process of managing rooms becomes smoother. You can customize your booking software to automatically show booked and available rooms in real-time. Thus, you can avoid overbooking issues.

real-time tracking of hotel rooms' availability

Multi-level galleries

These features are simple to incorporate into your platform. Especially now when there is a wide range of plugins to choose from. Plugins are necessary to easily upload new photos to your system.

Multi-level galleries in a hotel booking website

Source: Dribbble

Review verification system

Visitors are more likely to choose a hotel with positive reviews. As a result, it’s difficult to exaggerate the value of client feedback for your company. A well-thought-out verification system will help you receive feedback from real customers.

OTP verification system for a hotel booking app

Ability to check payment status

Another essential feature that will allow you to control your profits. It is also crucial to track room availability, whether a room is booked or paid for, etc.

Checking payment status in a hotel booking website

How to make a successful booking website

To create a hotel booking app that can compete with a tourism industry behemoth like Booking.com, you’ll need a team of professionals and substantial investments. Keep in mind that any software project needs to go through development stages, subsequent maintenance, and marketing campaigns before it turns a profit.

Booking.com, of course, has successful competitors but each of them got a lot of money at start, a large skilled team, and put in hard work. It makes no sense to downgrade the scope of a hotel booking website idea implementation — its success is on its massive scale. It’s also meaningless to cut costs when building an online booking system for hotels because it’ll cause sacrificing must-have functionality.

However, you can always start with a niche app and grow from there. For this reason, before starting development, you need to clearly define the following:

  • your idea
  • your concept
  • understanding of competitors
  • your competitive advantages
  • your business plan

We’ve previously discussed how to develop a business plan and create a business model canvas. Doing these things will allow you to validate your ideas, draw up a business strategy, and predict your actions in a changing market.

Let’s get to the main steps in hotel booking app development.

Step 1: Discovery

This stage entails conducting preliminary market research and identifying chances to make your product appealing to customers:

  • Define your vision for the platform, the challenges it will cover, a unique value proposition, and potential revenue streams.
  • Consider your hotel booking app or website logic and its functionality; create an epics list.
  • Determine who your target audience is.
  • Design a plan for your product’s navigation.

After completing these tasks, you will have a working prototype of the booking platform that you can subsequently improve.

Step 2: Idea validation

This step requires significant investment of expertise and effort. You’ll need the assistance of a development team to accomplish this:

  • Perform comprehensive market research
  • Survey the target audience
  • Develop a thorough business strategy
  • Determine the primary and secondary features of a hotel booking system
  • Create mockups for the platform

At the end of this stage, you will have a trial version of the booking application or website which you can showcase to your potential users.

Step 3: UX strategy

This phase implies thorough work with your product’s interface. What will your team do?

  • Create an information chart that depicts the data linkages and structure
  • Develop a high-quality product prototype
  • Outline a clear development schedule with deadlines

You will then have a high-quality prototype of your booking platform closer to its final design.

Step 4: Design and development

It is the stage on which the development magic happens. The project development has several phases, the so-called sprints. Here is the sequence of them:

  • The design sprint is the process of approving the look and feel of your platform
  • The technical setup sprint is about defining functionality
  • The development sprint is, in fact, product development

As an outcome, you get a minimum viable product (MVP).

Step 5: Testing and improvement

It is the final stage that marks the launch of your platform. That’s what your team will do:

  • Test your product
  • Fix the bugs
  • Bring functionality to perfection
  • Analyze user feedback

Your platform is now complete and ready for use. It still needs maintenance, especially if you wish to introduce new features.

Typical mistakes made by hotel owners and how to avoid them

A reservation system on a hotel website and a booking portal pursue almost the same goals:

  • making sales
  • raising brand recognition
  • gaining customer loyalty
  • increasing profits

Wondering how to make a hotel booking app or website and achieve all of these goals? We’ll go through common mistakes in the reservation system/booking portal development and provide tips to avoid them.

Implementing a booking module “because everyone already has it”

Solution. First, you need to understand your specific customers. Web analytics data can help you make data-driven decisions to increase profitability. Studying your audience and your website is the right way to increase profitability.

You’re not paying attention to the choice of a development company

Solution. Look for a reputable software development company with a proven record of creating digital hotel solutions.

Ignoring the analysis of indicators (both visitors and bookings)

Solution. A bet on promotion in search engines, getting into the top 10 in search results, and getting many visitors to the site is a significant success factor, but it’s not yet an indicator of return on investment. You should analyze real bookings via your website module as well.

You think that an expensive solution means a professional one

Solution. Consider your booking website or mobile app development strategy carefully. Then you’ll understand what features your reservation solution needs and invest your money wisely.

How much does it cost to make a hotel booking website and app?

It seems to be the most frequently asked question of all startup founders since they tend to realize their ideas with a limited budget. But it isn’t possible to estimate the development cost precisely right here and right now.

According to preliminary estimates, the cost to develop an online hotel booking website can start from $60,240 and may vary depending on:

  • Project functionality
  • Design
  • Development company size and location
  • Technologies used
  • Developers’ hourly rate
  • Technical difficulties that may arise

Website development and its cost also include the following:

Project management

Project management is necessary to effectively organize the whole team’s work. It includes planning and supervising the task completion to timely implement a quality project.

Hours & cost:

Project manager’s services will take at least 100 hours and cost $4,000 or more.

Frontend development

The frontend is everything a user sees when opening a website. The development includes displaying functional tasks on the user interface.

Hours & cost:

The frontend development will take at least 450 hours and cost $18,000+.

Backend development

The backend is the basis of any website without which its frontend part wouldn’t work. It is everything that runs on the server-side.

Hours & cost:

The backend developer’s services will cost at least $18,000 and take 450+ hours.

Admin panel

The admin panel is, in fact, a content management system. It is necessary to operate and modify the content of a website.

Hours & cost:

The cost to develop an admin panel will start at $3,840 and take 96+ hours.

UI/UX design

Design is the visual component of a website. Whether a customer stays on your platform significantly depends on its quality. The work of UI/UX designers is not only to create a beautiful visual part but also to provide convenience and clarity on how to use your website.

Hours & cost:

The UI/UX designer’s services will take 160+ hours and cost $6,400 and more depending on the design complexity.

Testing and improving

Testing is necessary to identify and fix all possible bugs on a website. It is impossible to develop a high-quality functional product without this.

Hours & cost:

It will take 250+hours to test a website and cost at least $10,000.

In the table below, we’ll give you an estimate of a hotel website design cost.

Hotel booking website approximate cost
Stage Cost Hours
Project management $4,000+ 100
Frontend development $18,000+ 450
Backend development $18,000+ 450
Admin panel development $3,840+ 96
UI/UX design $6,400+ 160
Testing and improving $10,000 250
Total $60,240+ 1506+

What about a mobile application? You also need a team of specialists to develop it. Here is the information on the approximate cost to build a mobile booking application separately for iOS and Android.

iOS hotel booking app cost Android hotel booking app cost
Project management $1,800+ Project management $1,800+
iOS development $18,800+ Android development $18,000+
Backend development *to be used from website $6,500+ Backend development *to be used from website $6,500+
UI/UX design $3,200+ UI/UX design $1,600+
Testing and improving $4,000+ Testing and improving $4,000+
Total $34,300+ Total $31,900+

The Mind Studios experience

Our company knows how to create hotel reservation solutions not just in theory but also in practice. We’ll share our two significant cases with you.

Rentorr: a platform for renting accommodation in South Africa

Mind Studios' platform for renting accommodation in South Africa Rentorr

Rentorr is a web-based rental system with thousands of leasing possibilities. Renting in South Africa became easier with this service, as our team created a hassle-free website where you can sign a tenancy contract in minutes.

The primary goal was to create a product that would help residents of South Africa rent out their accommodation and locate decent and trustworthy tenants. On the other hand, our team aimed to make it easy for people to discover comfortable apartments in a suitable area.

Main challenge

It was hard to check the reliability of the potential tenants.

Solution

Our team reached an agreement with South African banks to work with their API. By doing this, Rentorr platform could determine a tenant’s total trustworthiness score. Landlords were able to analyze those scores and make informed decisions about whether to rent apartments to particular tenants or not.

We started with an adaptive web version to ensure maximum audience coverage and financial efficiency. Our developers used Vue.JS for the frontend and Ruby-on-Rails for the backend.

Mushroom: A platform for renting accommodation in Ukraine

Mind Studios' booking platform for Ukraine Mushroom

During the project execution, our team had the following task: Develop and deliver to the Ukrainian market a convenient service that would allow customers to promptly book apartments in resorts and tourist destinations.

Main challenge

One of the requirements was to aggregate information for a landlord (our client) on his real estate items. The thing was that those apartments were often advertised on various websites and rented over the phone. The apartment renting status was not updated as quickly as it should have been, causing a mess.

Solution

We synched our system with the multiple modern booking websites and developed an intuitive interface for making apartment reservations, ensuring that the information was as up-to-date as possible.

Then, we created an iOS and Android applications for users allowing them to quickly find and book apartments. Our team also added numerous filters into these mobile solutions. We implemented the web version in Vue.JS/Ruby-on-Rails and the mobile apps in Swift and Kotlin for iOS and Android respectively.

Mind Studios – your reliable partner in developing booking solutions

It takes a lot of effort to set up a booking system for a website and/or an app. Though, all contributions are well worth it. With an online booking platform, your hotel business will reach new heights, attract more guests and, consequently, bring in more profits.

We hope we could fully illustrate the potential of creating hotel booking systems and the cost of their development. If you consider building a booking website or a mobile app for your hotel, Mind Studios’ developers and business consultants are ready to help.