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Online Booking App Development: A Full Guide for Your Business

posted on 6th December 2018
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Need to book an airline ticket, a hotel room, or a table in a restaurant? With a mobile booking application, you’re now able to book and arrange practically anything with just a few clicks. Even a decade ago, people could never have imagined that the booking process would become so convenient. But today, one can hardly resist the temptation to use online booking systems. Online booking platforms give us much convenience and offer a win-win solution for both businesses and customers. Business owners are able to control their bookings within one app and users can make arrangements and reservations effortlessly.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of developing an online booking app.


Types of online booking apps

All booking apps can be roughly divided into two categories: on-demand and in-advance.


On-demand booking applications

On-demand applications are fast and provide services that can satisfy customers’ needs in no time. A user chooses a good or a service, orders it, tracks its delivery, and receives it.

There are several industries that benefit from the on-demand economy.


Taxi services

Demand for taxi booking applications is strong. They offer many conveniences to those who want a solution to parking problems and other issues related to modern transportation.

If you’re looking into taxi booking app development, you need to know the types of taxi apps. There are a few types of taxi booking applications:

  • For business owners who already have cars
  • For businesses who don’t own cars and have drivers (like Uber)

The second type of taxi app can be implemented in two different ways:

  • The simple way — A single app contains a list of different taxi services and their prices, usually per kilometer or mile. A user chooses the best option and orders a ride from the app.
  • The complex way — There are two separate applications for drivers and passengers. In addition, the complex approach involves building partnerships either with cab services or individuals.

Key vendors: LyftOlaUber


SOURCE: OLACABS.COM


Dedicated delivery services

Maintaining your own fleet of vehicles and drivers can be a challenge. With dedicated delivery services, goods providers can outsource their fleet operations and concentrate on business rather than recruiting personnel and managing deliveries. These services handle every detail of goods transportation. Some, for example Landtran, even offer distribution services and warehousing if required.

To request service, users need to enter delivery details, a description of goods, and some personal information such as name and contact information.

Key vendors: Landtran24-7 CouriersADS


SOURCE: 24-7COURIERS.CO.UK


Home services

Maintaining a home isn’t a problem anymore, nor is repairing appliances. Plumbers, electricians, air duct technicians, handymen, house painters, cleaners — whoever you need can be easily accessed through home service applications with just a few clicks. TaskRabbit, for instance, asks you to first enter the address where you want service to be delivered. Then you set an approximate time frame: 1 hour for small tasks, 2 to 3 hours for medium-sized tasks, and 4+ hours for big tasks. The last step is to include any necessary details about the job.

Key vendors: SearsTaskRabbitMr. ApplianceServizHandyPlumbalHomee on Demand


SOURCE: MRAPPLIANCE.COM


Laundry services

With laundry service apps, customers can have their laundry done effortlessly. This is how it works: enter your zip code and street address, add any notes, such as instructions for pick-up or delivery, choose a time for clothes pick-up, and wait for the courier. Once the service does your laundry, they deliver it back to you.

Key vendors: CleanlyFlyCleanersRinse


SOURCE: CLEANLY.COM


In-advance booking applications

In-advance booking apps let you schedule appointments using calendars. There are many sectors that benefit from in-advance booking.


Hospitality services

This industry is quite broad, and comprises multiple sectors.


Food and beverages

Online food delivery is a vast segment of the on-demand market, and amounted to $82.714 million globally in 2018. This popularity is due to the fact that food apps offer food pre-ordering, meal ordering and delivery, easy table booking, and more.

Ordering food is easy and takes only a few steps. This is how Deliveroo does it: The company lets you choose a restaurant from a list of available places. Once you pick a restaurant, you can see its menu with prices, ingredients, and allergy information. After you’ve selected items to order, you’re provided with the total cost, which includes subtotals for food, delivery, and tips. The last step is to choose a delivery date and time and enter your address and contact information.

An online reservation system for restaurants is a perfect solution. It improves the customer experience and minimizes the work for staff. Customers, in turn, don’t need to call a restaurant to check for available tables and book them. Instead, they can make reservations in just a few clicks. Royal Plate makes it simple. To make a reservation, just enter your name, number of people in the party, your email, and a date and time.

Key vendors: Uber EatsStarbucksDoorDashDeliveroo


SOURCE: STARBUCKS.COM


Travel & tourism

One-third of travelers worldwide show interest in digital assistants while booking a trip. No wonder, since travel apps help users search, schedule and book flights and cruises, and rent cars. To book a flight, for example, you just need to enter a destination city, and flight dates. Then the travel application provides you with the best deals. Some apps let users book tickets right in the app; others take users directly to airline websites where they can book.

Key vendors: TripItFlightStatsSkyscannerMaven


SOURCE: TRIPIT.COM


Hotels

Hotel booking apps offer users countless benefits. They help travelers find and book hotel rooms for vacations and business trips. On top of this, they give users access to hot deals and last-minute bookings.

If you decide to use the Hotels.com app to find a hotel room, you’ll need to enter some details like city, date, and number of people. In just seconds, you’ll be provided with a list of available rooms. Once you choose a room, you can book it with one click.

Key vendors: Booking.comHotels.comHotelTonight


SOURCE: HOTELTONIGHT.COM


Events and entertainment

Event and entertainment apps open up many possibilities, from booking venues for events to renting boats. This sector encompasses a lot of activities including sports, games, festivals, and other events.

PVR Cinemas is an Indian movie ticket booking app that lets users buy tickets to any cinema available in the application. Just choose a movie from the list and a cinema to watch it at. All cinemas are filtered and listed according to distance and show times. Once you’ve chosen a cinema, you can choose a seat and order food. After you confirm the order, you can pay for it.

Key vendors: Sailing CollectiveBoatsetterOyeplayEventbriteAppy Couple


SOURCE: BOATSETTER.COM


Beauty services

There’s no more need to leave home to get a new manicure, haircut, or any other beauty service. The salon will come to you. The only thing you need is a beauty appointment scheduler app on your phone. You can choose a service, a suitable date and time, and a stylist and book an appointment.

At SteelKiwi, we recently developed the Hello Barber app. This application provides users with a list of barbers and hairdressers available in the area, along with their portfolios and ratings. Customers can also pay for service right in the app.

Key vendors: TreatwellMissbeezStylistedbeGlammed


SOURCE: HELLOBARBER.COM


Doctor’s offices

mHealth booking applications allow users to easily and safely schedule doctor’s appointments online through a device. As soon as the date and time are chosen, the system confirms the booking and registers it. No staff is needed for this process. A medical doctor appointment app also enables vaccine bookings and scheduling of on-site seminars.

Key vendors: ZocdocFigure1Practo


SOURCE: ZOCDOC.COM


How to develop an online booking app

There’s nothing better than learning from the example of those who have already been there when it comes to booking app development. At SteelKiwi, we have experience in booking app development. We’ll go into detail about building the best online booking app by drawing on our experience.

One of the best examples of a booking system app we’ve recently built is Snaapy. This is a Kuwaiti and Qatari marketplace that helps both freelancers and offline businesses market their services. Similar to TaskRabbit, Snaapy connects customers with service providers in multiple fields such as healthcare, beauty, education, and cleaning and helps them book appointments. This application offers many handy features.


App booking system

Once users choose a category (for example, clinics) and a service provider (in this case, a particular medical clinic), they can select a time slot. Snaapy provides users operating hours of the chosen establishment and lets them book at a suitable time. Customers can add any details they consider important for the provider, including address and contact information. The last step is confirming the booking.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Schedules

The Snaapy system enables Kuwaiti and Qatari business owners and freelancers to set custom schedules. Businesses need to list the range of services they offer, the time needed to provide these services, and the prices for services.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Payments

The platform provides users with multiple in-app payment options: credit card, K-Net, and cash. Businesses get money paid into their accounts every two weeks minus a fee that the platform charges for successful orders.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Ratings

Customers can rate businesses and leave feedback after service has been provided.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Promotional tools

Snaapy is a marketplace for promoting businesses and lets vendors offer discounts and other promotions to encourage customers to book services.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Management tools

The Snaapy app lets admins perform different operations using the control panel. To efficiently manage business processes, Snaapy offers three business roles: admin, receptionist, and service provider. You can see what each of these roles is responsible for in the screenshot below:


SOURCE: SNAPPY.COM


How much does it cost to develop a booking app?

The cost of developing a booking application will vary depending on its type, features, design, and testing. At SteelKiwi, we’ve developed various booking apps and would like to share our knowledge regarding the time it takes to create mobile solutions for different categories.


Marketplace

The Snaapy app is an online booking marketplace that allows producers and consumers to interact. It took us nearly two years to build. This is a pretty long time, you might think. But it took this long because we faced some challenges related to implementing the Knet payment gateway, which is available only in Kuwait. Additionally, we developed the Snaapy app from scratch, providing our full-stack software development services: backend, frontend, UI/UX, and native iOS and Android apps. Our team still supports the platform, constantly perfecting it.


SOURCE: SNAAPY.COM


Healthcare

Nova Vita is one of our medical projects, which we delivered in seven months. The application features online booking to let patients schedule doctor’s visits from their mobile phones. The app also lets users have appointments online, either booked in advance or held immediately in case of emergency.


SOURCE: NOVAVITA.NET


Sports

Another interesting application we’ve developed is Snow Sensei. It helps users find and book snowsports instructors in Japan. It took us four months to build this platform. Users of Snow Sensei can search for snowboard and ski professionals by date and time.


SOURCE: STEELKIWI.COM


Events

We also developed Eventio, which is a great example of an event booking app. We spent 10 months creating this application. Eventio helps event organizers find venues, security, restaurant, and entertainment services and book them for events. The application is also equipped with a ticket booking system, allowing users to buy tickets for arranged events and creators to track ticket sales for their events.


SOURCE: STEELKIWI.COM


Benefits of booking apps and must-have features

Core benefits of booking apps for businesses

  1. Custom calendar. This perfectly suits any business. Using a custom calendar, employees can easily track their shifts, vacation days, sick leave, and public holidays. Employees can also indicate days when they will be absent.
  2. 24/7 customer access. There’s no need for a client to call a manager to book a service or item. Customers can reserve what they need on their own whenever they want. A booking app allows businesses to reach more clients and process more orders.
  3. Timely notifications. Minimize downtime by automatically informing your customers and employees about upcoming appointments, cancellations, and rescheduling.
  4. Convenient payment options. A booking app simplifies the payment process. A business owner can take payments via PayPal, Stripe, Square, Braintree, and other payment gateways.
  5. Business analytics. Businesses can monitor the number of bookings and website visits, most popular services, and employee workloads.
  6. Data encryption. Modern applications enable businesses to safely store and back up employee and client data, enhance online payment security, and ensure secure communication among employees as well as between customers and companies.
  7. Custom features are relevant for particular businesses, such as promotional offers, marketing of outside service providers, ratings, feedback, and so on. Uber, for example, provides a dual rating system. Both drivers and riders can rate their experiences and leave feedback. Riders aren’t obliged to rate each trip, but they have seven days to offer a rating via the Uber app or up to 30 days via the Uber website. Drivers who are constantly given poor ratings are deactivated.
  8. Integrations and APIs. Add external libraries to your app, such as for maps and social sharing. Booking.com, for example, uses the Google Maps API to show hotel locations. Google Maps, in turn, integrates the Uber API to offer rides.

SOURCE: BOOKING.COM

Airbnb implements social sharing APIs such as the Facebook API and Twitter API:


SOURCE: AIRBNB.COM


Core benefits of booking apps for customers

  1. Online booking. This enables customers to book goods or services anytime and anywhere without phone calls.
  2. Notifications and reminders. These are useful for reminding clients about upcoming appointments.
  3. Honest feedback. After receiving service, the system can automatically request that customers rate the service. Customers can also leave feedback and view comments from other clients.
  4. Cancellations and rescheduling. Clients can easily cancel or reschedule their bookings, and service providers can be informed of this with notifications.
  5. Payment. It’s easy for customers to pay for goods or services with an in-app payment system. Clients also have an opportunity to receive bonuses and special offers.

Powering bookings with mobile tech

If you want to boost your sales, increase brand awareness, and get more traction with customers, an online bookings system app is the perfect solution. An online booking application offers significant benefits for any niche from healthcare to the hospitality industry.

Looking for an app development team? SteelKiwi is ready to help implement your ideas. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions on how to build an appointment scheduling app.

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