Renting an apartment has become a popular trend for travelers worldwide, thanks to Airbnb. Airbnb had a tremendous success journey from a one-page website to an internationally known company valued at $113B. So, different global companies want to replicate their success and learn how to build a website like Airbnb.
We will outline the development process and its components to familiarize businesses with the Airbnb website.
How to Create a Website Like Airbnb: Step-by-Step Guide
Creating a website like Airbnb can be exciting if businesses sort out all aspects of development on the shelves. Since a website like Airbnb is not a single offer on the market but rather a competitive niche, companies must find a reliable service provider and then think about how to create their new marketplace product.
Deciding on Solution Type to Create a Website Like Airbnb
If companies want to start an apartment rental business and are building a website like Airbnb, there are three popular ways.
Each of them can be suitable, depending on the marketplace business goals.
Custom Development from Scratch
If a company dreams of creating an online platform for dealing with the real estate market, it’s high time to develop a custom solution. The desired project will be a full-feature web application created by a team of professional programmers.
The end product will have the proper functionality and business logic companies need. Businesses should remember that custom development has lots of benefits inside. Still, it is a complicated and rather costly project that can be performed by agencies that specialize in web development.
For more than 10 years, our Sloboda Studio team has been gaining a profound understanding of the business and technology aspects of custom building marketplaces at different levels for startups and existing businesses. Our experts are building e-commerce marketplace software and service marketplace platforms. We know how market research, ideas analysis, and design are essential for each marketplace business.
So, let’s continue our story with the pros of custom marketplace development.
Pros of Custom Development of Airbnb-Like Website:
- Full control
Before choosing custom marketplace development, real estate companies should understand that they will communicate frequently. Their project managers, developers, designers, and business analytics will take some time and give their expertise back.
- Working with an experienced team
If companies choose custom rental marketplace development, they can select all the developers involved. And the best choice would be to look for niche experts in marketplace development.
Sloboda Studio has been developing marketplaces and rental websites for nine years, and we have many marketplaces in our success stories.
Expertise. Building a rental website like Airbnb, companies need quality expertise. Airbnb was written in Ruby and Rails. If entrepreneurs want to hire a team with expertise in particular technologies, they can focus on niche expertise developers. It will help to ensure they are professionals in that field or not.
Before companies develop their rental marketplace, they must choose who they will cooperate with. Recruiting people to create a new project can be long and stressful, but outsourcing a product can be the best practical solution.
Ready-Made Marketplace Templates
If companies do not want to clone Airbnb’s platform fully, we recommend they consider using an open-source marketplace constructing platform. Such platforms will help companies make an Airbnb alternative that will be a customized solution on the front-end side for a moderate price. Among the most famous constructing platforms is Sharetribe, written on Ruby.
However, the ready-made script may be suitable for quickly constructing a small platform. Yet it is impossible to customize these templates, and their abilities will be limited to the initial functionality. Additionally, such platforms are hardly scalable and are not powerful enough to handle high users loads.
Ready-made tools features
Conducting a Discovery Phase
The Discovery Phase is the mandatory element that should not be missed when creating a website like Airbnb.
The Discovery Phase is the stage before project development, which involves
- validation of an idea
- study of competitors in the market
- analysis of functionality and necessary features
- creation of a product roadmap that can further implement all tasks
In simple words, the discovery phase help to avoid the mistake of creating an unnecessary product for users and spending a lot of time and money.
Using the product discovery stage to create a product like Airbnb, companies will receive a document that will describe
- best technologies for creating a product
- users and market analysis
- best proposals for creating a unique concept
- vulnerable points of the product, etc.
Defining the Core Features Needed
Starting an MVP, it is essential to understand which primary and secondary features are necessary for the platform. First, let’s begin with an overview of the functions that should be presented for users in such a service as Airbnb and similar ones.
This step requires the creation of two types of user profiles for the platform: travelers and property owners, registering the new users and logging in existing ones. To add this feature, we will use Devise and CanCanCan Ruby gems.
User Profile for Host and Guest
The host can create a platform profile for his apartment (or apartments) and accept payments. The traveler looks for the condo in the necessary location and books it for the required dates. Having added their billing details, the traveler pays the amount required.
Having created the profile for the apartment booking, the host adds its physical address. Therefore, the house can be displayed on a map. The property owner also describes the condo. Then adds photos and sets the rules and the price. When the profile is published, the property becomes publicly available. Therefore it is displayed in the search results.
As part of the general Airbnb search, the map also serves as a separate tool when a guest is looking for a particular location.
All the available accommodations will appear on the map when you zoom in to the desired booking location. It is also possible to click the total on the map to see a quick preview.
Search & Filtering
To find a flat or a house, travelers enter the location and add booking filtering criteria. Like a type of apartment, price, number of rooms, beds, smoking/non-smoking, pet friendliness, etc. The system filters the properties available in this location. Then displays the most relevant results according to the customer’s requirements. The search & filtering system can be implemented with the help of ElasticSearch.
Booking System Development
After finding a place to stay, tourists move to the booking. The user should enter all the required details and click the booking button to book an apartment.
Usually, the booking confirmation proceeds automatically for the guests with verified profiles. But in some cases, the guests should wait until the hosts approve the booking.
Besides the booking, this feature usually includes observing and managing all the bookings.
For users to stay informed about the activities on their profile, the system will send notifications to their mobile device or desktop. For example, hosts will be notified about new apartment bookings.
To give travelers the possibility to discuss any details with their hosts, we will introduce a built-in messaging system.
To allow both parties to send and accept the payments, we integrated Stripe as a perfect payment tool with a highly-ranked security option.
To make the application available to users from different countries, we will localize it to several languages. For example, English and the language of the target country. This can be done using the internationalization & localization system to get a text.
Upon finishing the trip, the traveler can rate the hosts apartment. Also, it is possible to leave feedback about the living conditions and the communication with the host. The property owner can also rate the customers who live in his house.
Admin Panel Development
An admin panel must manage user accounts and property profiles and handle financial issues. We can develop an admin dashboard by using the ActiveAdmin and RailsAdmin gems.
Choosing Tech Stack
To make the features listed above work, it is necessary to understand which tools and technologies can let you implement them. It is essential to choose the right technologies as they greatly influence the time of the functionality development and its cost.
So, Airbnb’s stack of technologies should include:
Passing the Pre-Development & DevOps Stage
When creating an idea for the new product, companies must consider the best way to pass the pre-development & DevOps stage.
This idea stage is necessary to find technical difficulties and ways to solve them even before the start. Thus, the company will be able to assess the impending risks and prevent such critical moments as:
- delay in the development of functionality and interdependent features
- additional costs for the working time of developers
- postponement of the project’s entry into the market
Creating a Unique and Intuitive UI/UХ Design
Creating a design is essential when developing an Airbnb-like marketplace idea because simplicity and uniqueness in real estate platforms play the most crucial role. The marketplace can be packed with excellent functionality and exciting solutions, but the lack of a user-friendly design can play a cruel joke.
Companies should consider the design to the smallest detail so that it is easy to find real estate, view its description and location on the map, and book quickly.
Building an MVP
Creating a minimally viable product (MVP) when developing a marketplace like Airbnb is a step that significantly saves development time. It also makes it possible for a product to enter the market quickly.
Here companies kill two birds with one stone; they get a product with key functionality and have the opportunity to provide it to a loyal audience so that it gives feedback on what to improve and what is missing. Thus, products like Airbnb get an active marketplace and do not spend much money on developing a wide range of functionality that the audience may not appreciate.
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How to Build a Website like Airbnb: 5 Expert Tips
Start With a Simple MVP That Demonstrates Your Idea
The idea seemed promising, yet it was a challenge to attract investors. Airbnb creators needed to develop a Minimum Viable Product with only the critical project features and functions.
In 2009, Airbnb got its first $20,000 via the incubator Y Combinator. They spent the money on market analysis, with Chesky and Gebbia meeting the first Airbnb users to find out what could be improved with further building of the platform.
Having implemented the ideas of the early adopters, they managed to increase the number of travelers and apartment listings and gathered a further $600.000 of investments for the building and updating.
Use the Product Yourself
In 2010, the founders decided to focus on their initial location and traveled across San Francisco, staying in Airbnbs.
This helped them find the areas for improvement for the hosts; for example, one common problem was the poor quality of apartment photos. They rented a professional camera and took attractive pictures of the property.
Concentrate on the Narrow Niche and Use Your Product
In 2012-2013, Brian Chesky concentrated on improving the quality of the service.
The company hired the owner of a successful hotel network and focused on improving proficiency. They held numerous educational events for the apartment owners and developed a set of rules and standards as a part of their business building strategy. It helped improve the user experience of both tourists and apartment owners and united users into a community.
Constantly Improve the User Experience of Your Audience
Since Brian Chesky was a designer, Airbnb was initially created as a user-friendly platform with a simple and attractive interface. Consider making it user-friendly if a company wants building an Airbnb clone.
In 2014, the company focused on developing its brand identity: they changed the logo, and the website’s design moved closer to its current version. The company was worth $10B and received $500 M of TPG Capital investments, considered huge even by Silicon Valley standards.
Pay Attention to Branding and Developing the Community
Customers are the reason for any product’s idea success. If businesses can create a product and a brand, their community will grow even faster. Traditional marketing methods are popular too, but community-building idea is even more helpful. Becoming a brand that its buyers define helps establish the trust and interest of your target customers.
Sloboda Studio has been a leading software development provider for 13 years, which helps to develop marketplaces that become successful and recognizable among guests and property owners.
Below companies can help you understand their idea and learn more about projects we’ve created.
Property Rental Marketplace
Property Rental Marketplace
Our client, UK rental marketplace, had the idea to expand the functionality of the current MVP with a set of unique functionality features.
Having conducted a thorough guests and product analysis, our team detected essential issues with the platform. Our tasks were to complete code refinements, fixes, and an overhaul of the significant user features and then add the new functionality.
As a result, the Sloboda Studio team upgraded the platform with such functionality as
- Admin panel
- Messages and Email functions
- Apartment creation
- Collaboration page
- Apartment filters
- Booking cancellation
- Payment feature
- Integration with Stripe
- Integration with Hostaway and Wheelhouse
- Referral system
Very soon, the platform performance increased by 90%.
Our Belgium marketplace client, Airbnb-like accommodation rental startup Moovle, asked Sloboda Studio to create an MVP project. It was done in a tight timeline of 1.5 months, so our client could present the solution to investors.
This task was attractive to us; we wanted to create the most incredible possible product in a short time to meet the needs of the client. The work was challenging, but we managed to cope on time and provide the client with the best solution.
6 Key Pages to Build a Website like Airbnb
Despite the simplicity of the interface, Airbnb is a complex platform combining numerous features.
First, there are three marketplace profiles: guest, host, and admin. The functionality of the guest and host profiles is created according to their needs.
Let’s consider the functionality features of each type of marketplace profile.
On the Airbnb homepage, visitors see a search form for finding their first apartment.
The marketplace platform also offers to create a profile, login to an existing profile, or register as a host. Having scrolled down, users see a list of the best offers worldwide.
By opening the apartment profile, the guest can see a detailed description:
- complete list of amenities
- traveler reviews
- information about the host.
The marketplace guest functionality includes the search the final price of the booking, including services. There is also a map with the nearby sights.
For security reasons, the exact address of the apartment is disclosed only after the booking confirmation.
Airbnb: Apartment Page
Booking & Wishlist Pages
Booking and wishlist pages go after the apartment page. There are two ways to book the apartment on the platform: pass verification by providing an ID document or send the request to the host. In the first case, the booking will be approved instantly. In the second case, the host must confirm it. It is also possible to add the apartment to a wishlist to save it for the future.
To confirm the booking, paying the total amount instantly is necessary. With Airbnb rental marketplace functionality, people spend the apartment cost + additional host and marketplace fees and taxes. As previously mentioned, the funds will not be transferred to the host’s balance instantly but will be held until the guest stays in the apartment.
Airbnb: Payment process
Airbnb rental marketplace not only connects customers but also acts as a mediator for handling their payments. It is safe for both parties since the apartment owners can be sure they will receive the money from the clients. On their end, the clients can send money securely and be sure they will receive the necessary service. The marketplace has a built-in payment system enabling users to send and accept transactions securely.
Online Payments on Airbnb
The traveler’s profile functionality contains a dashboard for managing the account settings. While creating a profile, the users are asked to enter their basic profile details and tell a bit about themselves.
To pass verification, it is necessary to provide an ID document and confirm the email address and phone number.
In the account, the users can manage their feedback about the hosts and the hosts’ feedback about them.
The profile verification procedure is similar for both the hosts and the guests. It is necessary to provide a photo of a government-issued ID and confirm the mobile number and email address.
Upon signing up as a host, the user must provide more rental information about the apartment: its type and essential characteristics (number of rooms, beds, bathrooms, facilities, etc.), photos, if it is private or shared, etc.
The host must also set the property’s exact location, even though it will only be displayed to the guests who confirmed their booking.
Airbnb: Listing Process
The Business Model Canvas of Airbnb
Business Model Canvas graphically represents the project’s whole concept and business model.
A traditional business model canvas represents such blocks of business as:
- Value proposition
- Target Audience
- Customer relationship
- Cost Structure
- Revenue Streams
If you build a marketplace like Airbnb, it would be helpful to analyze
- core features, functionality, and their cost
- business aspects
Thus, you could compare functionality with your idea and prioritize the development processes accordingly.
Airbnb’s rental infrastructure consists of the partners and resources of the company. Moreover, the company also uses different digital tools and third-party providers to provide the best user experience for hosts and travelers.
- Hosts. People who use a rental marketplace to rent out their property.
- Investors. People who invest in the project to support and develop Airbnb’s business.
- Business travel partners. Airbnb collaborates with other platforms that organize business trips (Concur, Triplink).
- Listings. The primary resource of Airbnb includes accommodations and events listings and brings revenue to the company.
- Technical resources. Technical resources are needed to maintain the work of the Airbnb platform. These resources comprise platform architecture, machine learning algorithms, analytic tools, and hardware.
- Brand. Airbnb’s brand has financial value and acts as a trust factor for company clients and business partners.
The idea of short-term accommodation rental boosted Airbnb’s success. Though any great idea is just a part of success, you cannot create a decent project without activities that attract new and loyal users. At this point, Airbnb developed such users activities as:
- Smooth and easy transactions.
- A global users community that grows as the service extends to new countries.
- Experiences & Events that keep existing users interested and attract new participants.
- Extending the value proposition by adding recent events and Airbnb-Plus apartments.
- Additional income
- Smooth and easy transactions
- Meeting new people
- Ability to accept verified guests
- Booking management
- Transparent ratings of guests
- More budget stays than hotels offer
- More variety of apartments to choose from
- Smooth and simple transactions
- Ability to try local experiences and meet new people
- Transparent ratings and reviews of hosts
Airbnb’s types of customers are hosts and travelers.
- By type of accommodation: entire apartment, private room, shared room
- By location: countryside, city
- Travel type: business and vacation travelers
- Demographic: families with children, couples, retired people
- Income: looking for low-cost or premium home
- Digital advertising campaigns
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Free advertisement in travel blogs
- Additional opportunities for getting new income.
- Support in case of any issues.
- Support during all guest stays.
- Orientation on host success.
- Other benefits for Super Hosts.
- Platform development & maintenance: work of developers, office, hardware cost.
- Staff salaries: programmers and non-technical staff, support specialists, photographers
- Offices maintenance
- Transactions cost for the services of payment providers.
- Legal issues like lobbying & any legal proceedings.
- Customer support.
- Cooperation with various partners like other travel platforms or insurance companies.
- Marketing & Advertising.
Transaction fees from both parties
- Hosts – 3-5% from rental hosts, 20% from event hosts
- Guests – 5-15% from rental guests. Event guests pay no fee
Airbnb Monetization Model
Airbnb uses a few business monetization models. Let’s have a quick overview below.
Service Fees for Host and Guest
The core revenue Airbnb receives is from the guests’ and hosts’ (users) booking fees. A fee size depends on the reservation size: the more expensive accommodation is, the higher the fee. Guests must also pay a non-refundable service fee (usually about 15%). Moreover, Airbnb charges the host 3% for every successful users transaction.
Recently, a popular monetization model in the real estate industry is promoted listing that rise to the top of visibility. Thus, the last-minute top offers get a more significant response, whether renting or buying. However, companies must ensure high-quality offers get into the top listing not to lose users’ trust.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website Like Airbnb
Starting an Airbnb-like platform website, companies should know the two significant points in its development. First, it is necessary to understand how much they will pay for the project from beginning to end.
Then, calculate the cost of the website development alone.
The price depends on the team companies choose
- in-house or outsourced
- tools they can use
- what features companies want to add
We offer you to find out how much money needs to start the rental marketplace platform. Here we are going, summing up all the costs. The listed points are the most important, but the website should include several other features.
Cost of the Core Features
As mentioned above, a booking platform like Airbnb should have ten main features. Booking companies can determine which features are necessary for their project and start from this when laying down the cost.
The overall cost of your MVP for Airbnb-like platform will start at $40,000.
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Distinctive Characteristics of Airbnb Website
Airbnb booking is a classic marketplace that mediators between two users – travelers and apartment owners. If real estate companies dream of platform development and building a website idea like Airbnb, they should determine their Airbnb-like website’s core features.
Let’s look at the critical elements of Airbnb’s online platform functionality idea.
Peer-To-Peer Marketplace Type
Airbnb helps many users find a suitable supplier or offer their services to the relevant audience. The users can be both individuals and businesses.
The primary distinction between online message boards, such as Craigslist, and the Airbnb marketplace is that the boards provide users with the information while services like Airbnb help solve the issue.
In the case of listings, users must find a suitable offer. However, with the Airbnb marketplace platform, companies choose from the existing lists. That’s why geolocation plays an important role here. Users mostly look for rental housing with their exact location to understand whether it’s suitable or not.
When a person travels to another country, the first question is how to find a perfect place based on cost and location. And here comes Airbnb marketplace.
Airbnb connects not only customers but also acts as a mediator for handling their transactional payments on the platform.
The marketplace platform is safe for both parties. Apartment owners can be sure they will receive money from customers. This is due to the straightforward policy of Airbnb marketplace, which is legally responsible for every transaction on the site and bears financial and criminal responsibility for the legal actions of both property owners and landlords.
Moreover, the clients can send money securely and ensure they receive the necessary service. The marketplace has a built-in marketplace payment system that securely enables users to send and accept transactions.
Online Payments on Airbnb
Reviews After Transactions
After successful booking and staying in the apartment, the parties can leave feedback. It will reflect their satisfaction with the services provided and received.
- if it was clean and convenient,
- if the communication with the host was adequate.
The traveler can comment on whether the apartment’s conditions and location match the description:
The property owner can assess the guest’s behavior and communication on the marketplace.
Availability and Booking Management
While searching for an apartment, the guest can specify the date for the system to show available apartments.
Having chosen the accommodation, the client books it for the selected date. The property owner gets a notification. Then, the apartment will no longer be displayed for clients in the search results for that date to avoid double bookings.
Booking Management on Airbnb
Delaying Payments or Holding Funds
If a marketplace needs to ensure that both parties complete their side of the deal, it controls the transactions.
Upon the client’s payment, the money is not transferred to the host’s balance but is frozen by the platform. The funds are transferred to the host’s balance upon completing the service.
Moreover, the service allows its customers to split large payments and pay in two batches – the first half is paid once the customer books an accommodation, and the second one is charged two weeks before the trip.
Airbnb split payments
Checking Apartments Pictures
To ensure that the photos of an apartment are accurate and depict the accommodation, landlords can verify all the pictures published. This process helps customers choose accommodation they will appreciate both views and real life.
Moreover, it is possible to invite a professional photographer and take clear, quality pictures of the place.
Professional Airbnb Pictures
Ability to Search by Moving the Map
Searching the map is convenient. Let’s pretend your customer looks for accommodation in the city center or near some particular concert hall. All they need to do is zoom the map near the searched location. After that, all the possible apartments appear on the map around this area.
Moreover, clicking the place and looking through the quick accommodation preview is possible.
Ability to search by moving the map
Here’s a table where you can learn the functionality of Airbnb in detail which adds up to the main picture.
|Customize your profile information||List your property||Compare various accommodation choices|
|Explore properties using search and filters||Create a visually appealing listing||Take immersive 360 virtual tours of properties|
|Access detailed information about apartments||Manage pricing and availability||Utilize advanced search filters|
|Reserve a property and add it to your wishlist||Configure payment options||Track accommodation activities on the platform|
|Communicate with hosts through an integrated messenger||Engage with guests through integrated messaging||Enjoy flexible date and stay options|
|View your upcoming and past bookings and reservations||Accept or decline booking requests||Utilize a translation tool for multilingual support|
|Receive timely push notifications||Check booking details and reservation history||Cancel bookings as per your preferences|
|Share your feedback and reviews||Provide feedback and reviews|
|Manage your payment methods and review transactions||Update payment methods and review transaction history|
What is Airbnb: History and Success Statistics
The brains behind this crazy new idea of Airbnb were two mates – Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky- in 2007 in San Francisco. They didn’t have enough money to pay for the rent. So they decided to convert their loft into a “Bed and Breakfast” opportunity by adding air mattresses and breakfast assurance for the guests the next day.
The founders created a website overnight, airbedandbreakfast.com, with a considerable boost from those who had attended one of the most prominent Design conferences in San Francisco. They knew they could pull this off because it was evident that the people who participated in the conference would find it difficult to find a place to stay for the night.
After the first good experience, Gebbia and Chesky thought they could be onto something, which could be a life-changing idea. However, this was just the beginning of the long-term business journey.
Despite the many obstacles that came their way during marketplace building, Airbnb continued to rise steadily each year. Companies can learn about this growth from the following statistics.
Once upon a time, Airbnb’s marketplace idea blew up the market and created a significant niche in the real estate industry as well as in the marketplace development niche.
Airbnb is among the most profitable rental marketplaces in the modern world due to its unique idea, technical features, and outstanding design.
Years ago, Airbnb became a pioneer in marketplace building and made a real breakthrough in the property niche, but even being a giant in 2023, there are many local needs that new projects will be able to close.
On the contrary, many marketplace companies, such as Booking, OLX, and others, started much later and are pretty successful and recognizable. If companies do decide to create their real estate marketplace like Airbnb, it will be a good idea:
- providing market analysis prior to development stage
- finding a reliable software development service provider
- choosing the best development technology, as well as a way to develop
- creating an MVP product with crucial functionality and unique design
By starting the development of their new marketplace product as Airbnb in the hands of an experienced vendor, companies will be able to take an important place in the real estate market. It is only necessary to start the development process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long did it take to create Airbnb?
Back in time, it took almost 13 years of marketplace building to create a modern Airbnb, but if companies want to create a website like Airbnb in 2023, it can be 4 months before going public.
What language is Airbnb built-in?
How much does it cost to build a website like Airbnb?
The final cost of building a website marketplace like Airbnb can reach approximately $90000, but if a company wants to create an MVP, the cost to build a website like Airbnb will start at $40 000.
How do businesses build an Airbnb website?
When building a website marketplace like Airbnb, it’s a good idea to follow these crucial steps:
– Validating an idea as Airbnb using Discovery Phase
– Choosing the best business model
– Defining the essential features a website like Airbnb needs
– Knowing how to build an Airbnb-like website quickly and affordably
– Launching an MVP
– Planning a business growth path
Is running an Airbnb-like website profitable?
Airbnb marketplace hosts make, on average, about $900 a month, according to Earnest research. Of course, that income can vary depending on the location, home quality, services, and property attractions.