“Living like a local” is a popular concept among consumers — rather than participating in curated tourist experiences, travelers want to see a city from the perspective of someone who lives there. Moreover, for IT specialists this trend creates exciting opportunities in local mobile app development. With a local app, you can provide services for a travel-focused audience and receive advertising revenue from a variety of sources. Before you start the development process, it’s important to understand best practices for travel apps and identify the core features you will need.
Core Features for a Local Travel Platform
You probably already know that every travel platform is different. In fact, your unique features are the ones to set you apart from the crowd. To be successful, however, most platforms must have certain features in common — mainly because users expect them from any travel service. Whether you’re building an app, a website, or both, it’s a good idea to implement the following core features.
1. Location and Maps
When someone is using a travel platform, it’s probably because they’ve never been to the destination before. That’s why you should start with maps and locations, a truly essential feature for your app or website. At a minimum, you should provide the address for each of the places. However, it’s better to supply maps so users can see where the business is located. If possible, it’s a good idea to allow users to open the address in their preferred map app, as that way they can get directions in a format they are comfortable with.
Before travelers make decisions about where to eat, shop, or visit, they often like to look at photos of the destination. These pictures allow them to get a sense of the aesthetics and the vibe of a chosen place — something that’s particularly important for restaurants and cafes. To provide this opportunity to your users, your platform should include some way for a local business to upload photos and even videos. You might also consider allowing users to upload their own photos when posting a review, for a more realistic look at the space.
Many travelers rely on reviews to make decisions during their trip. As you’re figuring out how to develop a travel platform, don’t forget to integrate a review function. That way, users can leave their impressions of a business to help other potential customers. Reviews also act as social proof for your platform — they show that other people are using it, which builds confidence and real trust to your product.
4. Business and Location Profiles
Users open travel apps looking for specifics, such as, say, opening hours and prices in a restaurant they love. With a comprehensive profile, a business owner can fill out supply all the necessary information about a place and make customers want to visit it. Therefore, you should help businesses provide as many details about their places as possible, to ensure that customers can find what they are looking for.
Best Practices for Developing Local Travel Apps
As you plan the development of your local travel app or website, try to follow your industry standards and best practices. Those are especially important if you’re working with a dispersed team of developers, programmers, and designers because it keeps everyone on the same page.
- Mobile Optimization
Mobile optimization is the most essential best practice for your travel app development agency. If you’re building a website, it’s even more critical. Your site should have a user-friendly mobile format that offers the same functionality and great user experience as your desktop version. After all, users are the ones you’re doing it for — if your app runs smoothly on all major operating systems, they’re more likely to keep coming back.
- Business Involvement
With a local travel system, it’s almost always necessary to involve businesses directly. Since you’re concentrating on a smaller area, it’s helpful to have the cooperation of companies — especially with downtown app development projects. When one business gets on board, others are likely to follow. The way you do this depends on your platform. Word of mouth works well, but consider investing in ad campaigns targeted at locals that can find your platform interesting. And when it comes to making businesses more engaged when using your platform, you can boost revenue, offering “featured” business spots, where the owner pays a fee to appear at the top of a list.
- Frequent Updates
The world of travel changes quickly. Businesses come and go, prices vary, and locations shift. For your app to keep pace and stay relevant, it’s vital to offer frequent updates for consumers. You might want to follow ISO development standards and current trends to create a manageable, effective update process. As a bonus, regular updates help reassure users that their data is safe and that you’re committed to providing the best possible experience.
In the early stages, your travel platform is likely to be small. As it takes off, you might find that more businesses and users want to get in on the action. To allow this growth, it’s crucial to build a system that scales easily and support additional users without sacrificing speed or usability. Consider using cloud app development for this purpose.
- Support for Deals and Discounts
For businesses and consumers, discounts and deals can be an enticement to use a new local travel website or app. Companies can use discount codes to increase foot traffic, and consumers can use them to save money. As an app developer and as a business, you benefit from the higher user numbers. While you work on development, it’s useful to integrate this functionality — even if you don’t plan to use it right away.
- Data Security
Modern consumers are increasingly conscious of their data security, which means that they’re unlikely to use a platform that’s not encrypted and protected. If you plan to collect any information from consumers, including their names or email addresses, it’s crucial to have a security plan. Once you do so, be sure to advertise this improvement to your business partners and users; that way, they can feel confident in signing up with your new platform. Since data risks are ever-evolving, it’s also important to update your security procedures on a regular basis.
Are you planning to build a platform that users can access on the go? If so, geo-targeting is a must. When users enable this function, it allows you to suggest attractions nearby. This feature increases convenience for your users, which makes them more likely to keep accessing the app. With more target users and higher loyalty, you can bring in new business partners and increase traffic to boost your ad revenue.
The market for local travel systems is hot. By taking time to understand the most essential features and best practices in the industry, you can develop a regional platform that exceeds your customers’ needs.