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How to Build a City Guide App For Travelers?

Do you like traveling?

What a silly question? Suppose you do!

But how do you feel about arriving in a new city for fun, business or temporary residence and not having a slightest clue of where to snack, where’s the best brew or how to get to that awesome new exhibition you’ve just read about?

What often stays behind the beautiful Instagram snaps is how you’ve just walked eight blocks in search of a normal place to eat. Being a new person in town often sucks.

That’s exactly why Lonely Planet has been rocking the shelves since 1972. With my deepest love for this guidebook, however, it’s often impossible to carry it around the entire day in a backpack.

But a mobile phone is always insider a traveler’s pocket with some freshly downloaded maps and trip recommendation apps.

Today, Alty team has prepared an exclusive sneak-peek inside the kitchen of custom travel app development.

What Exactly Goes into Development Of City Guide App?

So you want to build not just “some” app, but a great app both locals and tourist will actively use, enjoy and recommend to their friends.

What do great travel apps have in common?

They are quick to deliver all the information a user may need – where to eat, where to sleep, where to play, and most importantly how to get to all those places.

Highly adopted travel apps also feature both online and offline modes. As we all know – Internet roaming fees are terribly expensive and people won’t be using the app exclusively when connected to a nearby Wi-Fi. Or specifically run around the area searching for one 🙂

Multilanguage support is essential as well. Remember, your app is here to cater both locals and foreigners, so consider offering at least two languages – English and the local one. You may want to add a few additional languages based on the international tourists stats at your area – this shouldn’t severely impact the overall cost to develop a travel app.

Next, let’s have a look at the essential data you should include in your city guide app and where to retrieve it.

Stuffing Your City Guide App with The Best Information

The first question any travel app development company will ask you is – how many app screens do you need and which information should be on display there?

Let’s count together.

The Main Screen: Ok, so your users should not only get carried away by impressive design, but also intuitively understand what kind of info they can retrieve from this travel app.

You have two key options here:

  • Highlight the entire city map or zoom into the user’s neighborhood based on GPS data with points of interest dotted on the map.
  • A curated list of offers, recommended attractions, discounts and nearby events.

Further, the user can navigate to either of the four tabs for example:

  • Places – things to do and places to see organized in respective categories and subcategories;
  • Events – the hottest stuff going out around town: from new plays to underground raves;
  • Nearby Attractions – recommendations based on the user’s current location;
  • Offers – coupon codes and discounts from selected advertisers.

That’s neat right? But let’s dig a bit deeper.

Places (Points of Interests): Each POI dot on the map is clickable and delivers expanded information. Unlike most offline maps, a city guide should not just state that there’s a restaurant at Street Y, but offer additional information on the venue:

  • Address, telephone number.
  • Distance from current location.
  • Image(s).
  • Short custom description.
  • Website, social media links.

Ok, but where do I get that data? Leave that to our expert travel mobile app development team for hire 😉

The world web is full of user-generated content and powerful APIs you can integrate into your product. The good one’s to start with are:

  • OpenStreetMap – open source, human edited and regularly updated maps. The detalization is insanely accurate.
  • WikiVoyage and Wikipedia for some factual info on the sights and attractions. You can also grab images from the Wikimedia Creative Commons. Just don’t forget about copyright credits. Same applies to visuals from Flickr. You can obviously higher a photographer to shoot dedicated images, but for a startup that might be a little too much in extra costs.
  • Google Places API – hands up, the most comprehensive directory out there with over 95 million of local businesses and attractions listed globally. Their autocomplete feature is particularly handy as it hints suggestions based on what’s the user starts typing.
  • Facebook Places, TripAdvisor API , Yelp API and Foursquare API should give you enough information to stuff inside your travel app.

The developers you’ll hire for the project should advise you on the most appropriate solution and how to avoid/clean up duplicate or out-of-date listings. In fact, to make this simpler, users should be able to report/send feedback on different POI to keep all the information accurate and up-to-date.
Additionally, you may consider adding an in-app rating/review system for users to rank venues, add custom content and interact with each other. This kind of depth will increase engagement, yet may stand for an additional line in your budget called “moderation”.

Events: When you are a stranger in town and want to make friends your best bet is to start mingling with like-minded peeps. But, you need to know the addresses and venues, right?

That’s exactly what should be featured in events section – jazz concerts, Comic-Con, alternative theater plays, Pokemon Go themed pub crawls (yep, that’s now a thing) and more traditional types of entertainment like good old cinema and opera.

If a major event is coming in town e.g. the annual summer music festival – make sure no one’s gonna miss it by featuring the information on the app home screen.

This way you’ll not only help the “struggling” artists to gather the crowd, but will solve the problem of “what should I do in a foreign city tonight” for relentless explorers and bored locals.

You can structure the information in this screen the following way:

  • Today’s events.
  • Most popular upcoming events in the next 3/7/14 days.
  • List of subcategories – music, theater, cinema, art exhibitions, sports, parties etc.
  • Subscription form to get notified about new events in the specified category.
  • Custom search field.
  • Event details – time, venue, price, where to grab tickets, images, website etc.

Near Me Screen: “I’m lost and hungry and have no idea where all the fun things are” – says any new person in town during their first week.

Help them solve this problem with one quick tap by incorporating location-based data suggestions. This could be easily done via the phone’s GPS.

Word of caution: Choose a reliable 3rd party service and API provider for location data as those are notorious for snooping on users’ geo-location more than required and re-selling the information to advertisers. Our trip app developers for hire will suggest you trustworthy integrations in this case (personally tested and tried and scrutinized till the rock bottom).

Offers: Planning to monetize your travel app? Instead of stuffing it with annoying advertising or selling for a premium price, team up with the local small and large businesses for a location-based marketing campaign. Considering the rising demand for it, getting some good partners on board shouldn’t be a problem.

This app monetization strategy is an absolute win-win. The users receive cool perks e.g. drink/food/admission discounts or promo offers, venues get additional walk-in traffic and you receive a pleasant cash bonus in return. Sweet, right?

Now, what else can you cook into your travel app apart from these 4 essential screens?

Public Transport Guide and Prices: Navigating the metro or figuring out the bus system in a new large city is hell of a nightmare for anyone (hey Paris, New York and New Delhi). Include a detailed transport map, possibly interactive, to get the lost wanderers back on the right track.

Additionally, you may consider adding a simple trip planner, which would suggest the best route, approx. time of travel and price of getting from point A to point B.

Useful Numbers and Addresses: This section can feature a short contact book with the key addresses and phone numbers – airport, train station, tourist information offices, hospitals, police stations, reliable taxis and possibly official institutions e.g. embassies.

Parking Places: Yeah, finding parking place is no one’s favorite. List the largest parking spaces with prices if possible.

Do you already envision how to build a mobile travel app that users will adore and use actively?

You should have some ideas by now.

Of course, the list of custom functionality doesn’t end with the outlined essentials. Dcovery app, for instance, allows users to clip information from all around the web into their highly personalized trip guide. Some travel apps allow instant venue bookings, other’s place the emphasis on social networking and encourage travelers to exchange tips, ideas or even organize meetups.

Mobile tourism app development have reached a completely new level and your budgets are the limits to what kind of sophisticated functionality could be weaved into your product.


So How Much Does it Cost to Develop Trip Mobile Application?

Now, the best part – some numbers and cost breakdowns.

As you already know from our previous guides – each app development project is hard to evaluate without knowing the exact specifications.

Before you decide to hire travel app developers, ask yourself the following questions:

  • iPhone or Android app? Or both?
  • How many features do I need? How many user stories should the app solve?
  • What’s the approximate time-to-market?
  • Do I want an MVP or a full-fledge product?

And here’s some additional break down in terms of what goes into the final price:

  • Number of people on the project. To build an app as we’ve outlined above you’ll need a team of 8 including two iOS developers, one UI and one UX specialist, one back-end and another front-end engineer, a project manager and one QA ninja.
  • The region where you decide to outsource and average staff salaries.
  • The complexity of the project and required timeframe. In this case it would take approximately 13-15 weeks to build the product.

So what’s the cost again? An experienced mid-sized company like Alty can help you build your travel app for roughly $25.000-$40.000 total. Sounds intriguing? Don’t be a stranger and let’s chat!

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