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Booking App Development [Features & Cost Estimate]

for your business📲

Getting started with booking app development

Source: Booking App Development [Features & Cost Estimate]

Do you enjoy being on the phone to book an appointment?

Like millions of people across the globe, the team of Jellyfish.tech prefers online booking rather than making phone calls. We believe it’s much easier and faster to schedule an appointment online instead of waiting for somebody to answer your call.

We’re sure that booking apps make our life simpler and enhance our customer experience, allowing us to book anything, anywhere, & anytime right from our phones.

From taxi booking to scheduling a doctor’s appointment, online booking applications are a convenient way to get service providers and customers together, making a flexible, user-friendly, and automated booking system a must-have solution for every service business.

Travel industry booking

Travel companies with an app will get 60% of their bookings via mobile devices

Condorferries.com

Before the pandemic, the number of travel accommodation bookings (hotels, hostels, apartments, etc.) made from mobile devices was growing significantly.

Now, this number is predicted to exceed the pre-pandemic levels.

The situation with flight booking is the same; the only difference is sometimes customers tend to go to a booking website to buy flight tickets.

Taxi booking

Online taxi booking helped us adapt to a new normal during the pandemic; no wonder the industry became one of the fastest-developing, showing an annual growth rate of 22.3% in 2020–2021 (according to ResearchandMarkets).

Uber is a great example of a taxi booking app booming right now (and you definitely know it:).

What is more, the mobile taxi booking services market is expected to reach $41 billion in 2025. Promising statistic for everyone looking to validate a business idea connected with on-demand taxi/cab booking services.

Restaurant booking

More than 80% of customers prefer googling the information about the restaurant before actually making a reservation.

They usually check up on your reviews, menu, and search for the directions. Thereby schedule slots for online table booking could become a final destination for your customers.

Beaty & spa booking

The market of salon & spa applications is predicted to grow annually by 7.11% in 2021–2026 (based on the Mordor Intelligence data).

The lion’s share of this software implies online appointment booking and customer management.

Since all-in-one solutions for salons and spas are rather pricey for small and even medium-sized businesses (including the installation, staff onboarding, and training costs), investing in a lightweight booking app integrated with a free CRM could be a wise decision.

Why online booking rocks

For business owners:

  • Workflow automation. With a booking tool, you could get the appointment details sent directly to your CRM. It helps gather the customers’ personal info for marketing purposes automatically, set up notifications and follow-up emails reminding a customer about the appointment, checking the service quality, or asking for feedback.
  • Paperless management. A switch to paperless management not only saves the time of your team allowing them to access any data online but also optimizes operational costs and reduces the environmental impact.
  • Better employee time management. Your team could manage higher-priority tasks or focus on services enhancement, while the system is scheduling the appointments automatically. This helps increase the efficiency of your operations, allowing a beauty master, for instance, to be more efficient in doing their work without having to process numerous reservations by phone simultaneously.
  • Booking available 24/7 turns the spontaneous decisions of your customers into real appointments that help your business grow.

For customers:

  • Around-the-clock booking, available from any location. It personalizes the booking experience for every customer, allowing them to live at their own pace. No matter where your customers are, there’s always the possibility to open a taxi booking app and book a ride without hassle or make a hair appointment during the meeting:)
  • No manager’s help is needed. Who really likes getting dozens of phone calls? The question is rhetorical. I chanced to have met those who hate speaking on the phone with a stranger and those who don’t mind. So if both types are among your target audience, it’ll be great to give them the possibility to choose the most convenient way of booking a service.
  • Notifications about the upcoming bookings. The integration of a booking app with a customer’s calendar to remind them about the event is one of the coolest features, making their life easier. Customers could also check the booking statuses, review the booking history, and browse the information about the company or a particular service through a mobile app.

Pre-development stage: how to minimize risks & cut costs

Steps to creating the first version of your booking app

For large service providers (airlines, hospitals, fancy hotels) creating a booking app (and sometimes a website) isn’t usually a resource-consuming process. However, for small local companies or even medium-sized businesses, it could be much harder to allocate a sufficient amount of resources to this task. That’s why we found a solution that helps reduce the time required to develop a booking app MVP, and thereby cut costs.

Any app has a set of features common for every digital product: authorization and login, media upload, basic content management, APIs integration, payment integration, etc.

The team of Jellyfish.tech took this list of typical functionality that is usually built from scratch for every project and set up an “assembly line” — a custom starter development kit (SDK), universal enough to fit every project after a little adjustment. In this way, we save your time (= money), reduce time-to-market, and making the web development process more predictable and thus manageable.

In such a way, you could get your MVP released in ten weeks with the guidance of product owners and professional advice from our team.

But enough about us, let’s get back to the booking app creation process!

Before proceeding to app development, we should draw up a list of features it will include. Selecting the “killer” features that will be part of the first version of your app should be based on your industry and your target audience.

Here are the best practices we use to find out which features your audience needs:

  • Thorough market research & analysis. At this stage, you dive into industry research, forming as many accurate product assumptions as possible. Ask yourself “What problem will your booking app solve?”, “How can my product be better than the solution existing on the market?”, “Who is my audience?”, “Will my product really solve the problem of my audience?”.
  • UX research & customer development interviews. Testing your hypotheses with the real customers is a must, as it helps understand if you’re moving in the right direction. In fact, you should now compare your answers to the above-mentioned questions with the customer responses and measure how accurate you were to adjust the overall strategy. For this purpose, a UX expert makes user research aimed at understanding and visualizing your users’ mobile booking journey. The main goal of this stage is to define the ways to ensure the best user experience, eliminating the possibility for users of being stuck or confused.
  • Proceeding from your available budget. Having more resources means having more hours of the dedicated team, thereby getting the opportunity to include more features. Even if these features play a secondary role in app functionality, they can still enhance your product’s usability that may also become a competitive advantage.

P.S. You could also spend a part of your budget on app designs. However, if your resources are limited, we advise you to focus on the core functionality, cutting it to the minimum and saving on designs using the UI library that incorporates the best practices instead.

Top booking app features & rough cost estimate

As our largest booking app development project will remain under NDA until the market release, I’ve asked our designer Igor to create booking app screens to use for features description.

On getting inspired by the actual MVP we built, he did an amazing job creating the designs for a mobile booking app, so enjoy:)

Authorization & login. It’d be great to provide your customers with the best way to sign up/login into your application. You could set up the authorization through Gmail, Facebook, or even Apple ID if it is the most convenient option for your users (this is exactly what UX research is about). The number of options is actually limitless: we can even offer an automated registration during the first-time booking process to make the user’s interaction with your app as smooth as we can.

Booking app: sign up/sign in options

User roles & profiles. Depending on your booking app type, you’ll actually have either two or three user roles: customer, vendor, admin with different user permissions, and a specific profile template for each type of user.

Booking app: vendor profile

Home page. A simple yet functional home page with a convenient menu should help a user easily navigate across the app, having the required functionality handy (search, recommendations, hot vendors’ offers — the list of features and their priority you could find out when doing a UX research).

Booking app: homepage example

Advanced search & filters. The number of search filters and their type will depend on your industry and, of course, should be relevant for your users. Understanding the customer journey is the key to coming up with the “right” set of filters.

Booking app: search & filters

Schedule slots & booking. The process of booking should be customized to the type of your business. For the restaurant booking, it could be the number of people, table location (outside or inside, smoking or non-smoking zone, etc.). For hotels, it will list the room size, type, view, etc. The point is to take into account every detail and really provide a possibility to book a service without additional communication with a company’s representative.

Booking app: booking process

My booking/booking history with an option to repeat a booking.

Booking app: customer’s bookings

Rating & review. It’s hard to imagine a booking app without a review & rating section: it’s a must-have feature for both customers and service providers (especially when cooperating with multiple vendors).

Booking app: rating & reviews

Recommendation system. Customization of recommendations is a good way to engage your customers, feature the relevant service providers, and enhance user experience.

Booking app: tailored recommendations

Admin panel. This feature could work for different user roles:

  • for vendors to check the number of bookings, get reports on profile statistics, booking, user engagement, and even keep the income records;
  • for the app team to verify vendors’ & customers’ profiles, provide support, manage user access levels.
Booking app: vendor’s admin panel

Payment system integration. Define which payment system is the best option for your target customer and make sure it works seamlessly.

Multi-language (nice to have if you’re planning to market in more than one country.)

Third-party integrations. A booking app may require integration with third-party services for different purposes:

  • Google calendar for adding the appointment details and getting the notifications about the upcoming bookings.
  • Google (Apple Core) Location API (or similar tool) for getting the customers’ geolocation data.
  • Booking.com or Airbnb to import and manage specific property listings, their pricing & availability, reviews & ratings, etc.
  • CRM for getting the appointment details and user information directly to your customer relationship management system and set up manually or trigger automatically a sequence of actions (follow-up emails, reminders, surveys, etc.).

P.S. We are sure these designs are worth being implemented, so we’ll give them away as a bonus if getting booking app development done with us.

What will it take to build a booking app including the above-mentioned features? Our backend tech lead Dima Dmitryk made a rough estimate for you:

Rough booking app estimate: features
Rough booking app estimate: additional activities
Rough booking app estimate: total

Testing your booking app with real users

The first thing to do after getting your MVP done is to show your app to the real users and collect their feedback. At this stage, our main goal is to confirm or disprove the assumptions, based on which we’ve built the product (both its value proposition and technical features implementation should be examined) and understand if our target customers validate the app.

Make sure your beta-testers pay attention not only to bugs but give an honest opinion about the relevance of the implemented features and value your app provides to them.

Here, you can also iterate to improve the UI/UX of your app or run a diverse focus group and ask them to produce several use scenarios to quickly detect the bottlenecks and iterate to fix them.

What to keep in mind

Don’t strive to please everybody. From the experience of our team, focusing on one service (two at most, and they’d better be related!) is the best decision when having a mobile app in mind.

When targeting everyone (=no one), you risk making your app too “general” so that nobody will appeal to it.

Besides, each service should definitely have either a bunch of specific features or deep customization of the typical booking features to a specific service. Without this, there’s barely a point in creating another booking system.

In addition, it would be easier to do customer development interviews having only one-two service(s) in mind.

Differentiate from your competitors. In an ideal world, you should know your unique value proposition for both service providers and customers (like in the case with marketplace development), and know exactly why and how your product is different.

However, I wouldn’t recommend getting stuck at this stage, as you always could get back to polishing your UVP after getting the first version of your app tested by real users.

Think of data security. The data breaches happening in 2021 made the digital community rethink a data security problem, making it one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

Of course, your users want their personal data to be stored properly. Of course, they don’t want you to sell it to a third party. Of course, they’re willing to use only reliable payment gateways (if any).

Secure authorization/authentication checks, advanced data encryption methods, implementation of sensitive data loss prevention strategies are must-haves for every application, as it’s a way to say to your customers you do care.

Get a native mobile app developed. Needless to say, any app should work perfectly, 100% complying with its functions. But when it comes to booking apps, it should do 120% giving a user zero reasons for frustration. Not to mention the situations when the integrated payment system doesn’t work, or the current schedule isn’t displayed, or a button can’t be pushed.

I think each of us experienced strong negative emotions when paying for the service online but seeing no update except for a loading icon that kept spinning. Oh, I remembered one more irritating thing: a progress bar where no progress is displayed. Oh, I’m starting to get nervous again.

So, not to piss off your future users, your app should be perfectly balanced: features should always work and the user experience should be excellent. Your customers should intuitively understand where to click and what will happen after.

There are two ways of ensuring this level of excellence: you do user research for each device (mostly Android and iOS) and build a separate app version. As you can tell, in this case, the price of the app will double.

Another way is to opt for cross-platform mobile app development with React Native.

React Native is a powerful instrument to ensure the native-like performance, usability, and easy optimization of an app. In this case, you’ll need only one team who’ll cover both Android and iOS development by reusing the code blocks, making it quicker as well. This is a way to save the budget.

Yes, React Native isn’t a magic pill, it won’t be effective for resource-intensive apps (i.e., AR, VR, etc.), but it’s still a good choice for many other products, including booking apps.

Decide if you need a booking website. Some people could browse the information from mobile devices but still get back to a web application to actually book a service. For example, in the travel industry, it’s still easier for the majority of customers to book from the desktop.

There are no rules, you should decide whether your business needs the website based on data, collected about your industry and your target audience.

Besides, having a website together with a mobile app could be an additional instrument for a wider customer outreach (in case you have a person who is ready to coordinate and lead the website efforts).

Booking app development case studies from Jellyfish.tech

Restaurant & beauty salon booking app, NDA. The cross-platform mobile app MVP we worked on is a local directory for vendors & customers where the latest can choose the best fitting beauty, spa salon, or restaurant by location and/or provided services, and book an appointment in one click. Using our SDK prepared in advance, we managed to develop a React Native MVP in five weeks, walking the customer through the process of mobile app creation and helping define the core MVP features.

Event booking marketplace, NDA. We contributed to the creation of a web-based platform (similar to Eventbrite) for browsing the upcoming events and booking tickets. This platform helps users create an event, add unique tickets, get real-time analytics, sell and buy tickets in one place with an up-to-date CRM.

HappyDogs is a local platform for dog owners to book a bunch of doggy day care & grooming services. Our team added a new feature: a daycare template for booking pets’ salon appointments and pick up/drop off options. We also updated Python/Django to the recent version and replaced old libraries with up-to-date solutions.

Wrapping up

Mobile booking, it’s the future.

The customer demand is now focused on simple, easy-to-use, and functional apps with a clean interface. Another key success factor is personalization: understanding your target audience and keeping your customers in mind at every step of app creation does matter.

Our team could guide you through the complex processes of UX research, collect and streamline the requirements, define the best features to include in MVP, and help build the first version of your booking app that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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Lisa Plitnichenko

Lisa Plitnichenko

Content Creator at Jellyfish.tech | Tech Enthusiast | Art Lover