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Systematic review of mobile travel apps and their smart features and challenges

Phoebe Yueng-Hee Sia (Graduate School of Business, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)
Siti Salina Saidin (Faculty of Hospitality, Tourism and Wellness, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Malaysia)
Yulita Hanum P. Iskandar (Graduate School of Business, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Article publication date: 29 November 2022




Mobile travel apps (MTA) smart features were identified based on recent travel application (app) trends and a literature review of MTA smart features. Subsequently, the MTA features that could be prioritised to increase user interest in MTA were determined. The MTA smart feature development challenges that should be mitigated were also identified.


The app identification and selection were based on the one-stop solution characteristics containing the common function of travel apps and eight MTA smart features. A total of 193 Apple apps and 250 Google apps were identified, where 36 apps that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses flowchart were selected for evaluation.


The high user ratings for apps from both app stores revealed the acceptance of smart technology in the tourism industry. Geolocation tracking services, travel itinerary generators, and real-time personalisation and recommendation were the three major features available in the included MTA. The challenges of MTA with smart features were highlighted from the tourism organisation, app developer and user perspectives.

Practical implications

The findings can guide tourism organisations and app developers on the smart features that MTA should offer for user engagement. Technological organisations could optimise their technology stack by considering the identified smart features. The findings are valuable for scholars in terms of MTA aesthetics and usability to gain acceptability. The development challenges included significant investment in technology, location accuracy and privacy concerns when implementing MTA smart features.


The previous literature mainly focused on evaluating app quality, assessing app functionality, and user ratings using the Mobile Application Rating Scale, and scoping reviews of MTA articles. Contrastingly, this study is among the first in which MTA smart features were examined from a developer-centric perspective. Moreover, it is suggested that MTA includes integrated smart features for better tourism services and market penetration in the tourism industry.



Sia, P.Y.-H., Saidin, S.S. and Iskandar, Y.H.P. (2022), "Systematic review of mobile travel apps and their smart features and challenges", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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