How to Build a Website Like AirBnB

Renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel has become a popular trend for travelers.

This model of business cooperation has become viable thanks to Airbnb, a peer-to-peer marketplace connecting travelers with local property owners.

In this article, we will share Airbnb’s success story and their journey from a one-page website to an internationally known company valued at $31 bln.

We will tell you about the business life hacks that Brian Chesky used to improve his product. Also, we will consider the functionality and workflow of Airbnb in detail.

We will outline the development process and its components. You will also learn how to build a website like Airbnb, what its costs are and how long it will take.

The Story of Airbnb

The company was founded in 2008, and its value is currently estimated at $31 bln!

Like most profitable modern-day businesses, Airbnb started its success story from MVP. Let’s look at their success story, and uncover tips for developing a startup.

The story of Airbnb began at a design conference in San Francisco. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, the founders of Airbnb, were short of money and decided to rent out part of their apartment to conference visitors. 

They created a simple site called airbedandbreakfast.com and added photos of their property. Over the next few days, they hosted three guests who paid $80 each.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnBHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB

The history of Airbnb

How to build a website like Airbnb: 5 tips

Tip 1: Start with a simple MVP that demonstrates your idea

The idea seemed to be promising, yet it was a challenge to attract investors. That’s why Airbnb creators needed to develop a Minimum Viable Product with only the key project features and functions.

In 2009, they got their first $20,000 via the incubator Y Combinator. They spent the money on market analysis, with both Chesky and Gebbia meeting the first Airbnb users in order to find out what could be improved.

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.

Read: Guide on Raising Investments for Marketplace Startups

Tip 2: 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 to find out the areas of 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.

Tip 3: 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. It helped to improve the user experience of both tourists and apartment owners, and united users into a community.

Tip 4: 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. If you decided to build an Airbnb clone, consider making it user-friendly as well.

In 2014, the company focused on the development of its brand identity: they changed the logo, and the design of the website moved closer to its current version. The company was worth $10 bln and received $500 mln of investments from TPG Capital, an amount considered huge even by Silicon Valley standards.

Tip 5: Pay attention to branding and developing the community

Customers are the reason for any product’s success. If you can create not only a product but a brand, your community will grow even faster. Nowadays, the traditional marketing methods are popular too, but community-building is even more useful. Becoming a brand that is defined by its buyers helps to establish the trust and interest of your target customers.

8 Core Features of Airbnb

Airbnb is a classic marketplace: acting as a mediator between two groups of users – travelers and apartment owners. To answer this question about how to build a website like Airbnb we should overlook its core features.

Let’s look at the key features of Airbnb’s online platform.

Peer-to-peer marketplace

Airbnb helps a large number of users find a suitable supplier or offer their services to the relevant audience. The users can be both individuals and businesses.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: peer-to-peer marketplaceHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: peer-to-peer marketplace

Peer-to-peer marketplace

Location-based

The traditional e-commerce marketplace connects buyers and sellers from around the world. In order to use the services of a location-based marketplace, the parties need to be physically close to each other. In terms of the development process, such platforms need to be integrated with online maps.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Location-Based ServicesHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Location-Based Services

Location-based services

Online payment

Airbnb 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 that they will receive the money from the clients. On their end, the clients can send money securely and be sure that they will receive the necessary service. The marketplace has a built-in payment system that enables users to securely send and accept transactions.

Online Payments on Airbnb 

Check out How to choose a marketplace payment solution

Reviews after transactions

Having finished their business relationships, the parties can leave feedback about their cooperation. The traveler can comment on whether the apartment’s conditions and location match the description (ie, if it was clean and convenient, or if the communication with the host was adequate). The property owner can provide an assessment of the guest’s behavior and communication.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: accommodation reviewsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: accommodation reviews

Accommodation reviews

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 and the apartment will no longer be displayed in the search results for that date. This helps avoid double bookings.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Booking ManagementHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Booking Management

Booking Management on Airbnb

Delaying payments or holding funds

In order to make sure that both parties completed their part of the deal, the marketplace controls the transactions. Upon the client’s payment, the money is not transferred to the host’s balance but is frozen by the platform. Upon completing the service, the funds are transferred to the host’s balance.

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 accomodation, and the second one is charged two weeks before the trip.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Split PaymentsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: Split Payments

Airbnb split payments

Checking apartments pictures

To ensure that the photos of an apartment are real and depict the accommodation as it is, landlords can verify the pictures. This helps customers to choose accommodation they will appreciate both pictures and real life. Moreover, it is possible to invite a professional photographer like Airbnb and to take clear and quality pictures of the place.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: professional picturesHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: professional pictures

Professional Airbnb pictures

Ability to search by moving the map

It is convenient to use. Let’s pretend our customer looks for accommodation in the city center or near some particular concert hall. All he or she needs to do is zoom the map near the searched location. After that, all the possible apartments start to appear on the map around this area.

Moreover, it is possible to click the location and look through the quick accommodation preview.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: map searchingHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: map searching
How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: map searchingHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: map searching

Ability to search by moving the map

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 types of profiles: guest, host, and admin. The functionality of the guest and host profiles is created according to their needs. Let’s consider the features of each type of profile.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: homepageHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: homepage

Homepage

On the Airbnb homepage, visitors see a search form for finding their first apartment. The platform also offers to create a profile, to login to an existing profile, or to register as a host. Having scrolled down, users see a list of the best offers from around the world.

Search & Filtering options

In order to make the first booking, the guest only needs to enter the necessary parameters: location, date, and number of travelers (adults, children, and infants).

The results can be filtered according to basic and advanced criteria. The filtering options allow guests to find, for example, pet-friendly apartments, or accommodations suitable for handling certain events. All booking options are displayed on a map.

Then, the basic details of the apartment are displayed: the number of beds, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other accommodations.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: search & filtersHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: search & filters

Apartment details

By opening the apartment profile, the guest can see a detailed description: the full list of amenities, traveler reviews, and information about the host. The guest can see 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.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment detailsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment details
How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment detailsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment details
How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment detailsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: apartment details

Booking & Wishlist

The users then go to the booking page. There are two ways to book the apartment: to pass the verification by providing an ID document or to 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 in order to save it for the future.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: booking & wishlistHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: booking & wishlist

Payment system

To confirm the booking, it is necessary to pay the full amount instantly. With Airbnb, you pay the cost of the apartment + 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.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: payment systemHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: payment system

Profile details

The traveler’s profile contains a dashboard for managing the account settings. The users will be asked to enter the basic profile details and to tell a bit about themselves. To pass verification, it will be necessary to provide an ID document and to confirm the email address and the phone number. In the account, the users can manage their feedback about the hosts and the hosts’ feedback about them.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: profile detailsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: profile details

Push notifications

In order to keep the customer updated on news and promotions, the application sends notifications to the user’s account, mobile device, and email.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: push notificationsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: push notifications

Property listing

Upon signing up as a host, the user must provide more information about the apartment: its type and basic characteristics (number of rooms, beds, bathrooms, facilities, etc), photos, if it is private or shared, etc. The host must also set the exact location of the property, even though it will be only displayed to the guests who confirmed their booking.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: property listingHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: property listing

Verification

The verification procedure is similar both for the hosts and the guests: it is necessary to provide a photo of a government-issued ID and to confirm the mobile number and the email address.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: verificationHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: verification

Setting the price

After filling out all the necessary points, set the price for the accommodation. There is also an option to set discounts for the first three guests and long-term bookings.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: setting the priceHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: setting the price

Setting the payment details

The host selects the preferred payment methods and provides the necessary information.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: setting the payment detailsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: setting the payment details

2 Ways to Create a Website Like Airbnb

If you want to start an apartment rental business and are willing to create a website similar to Airbnb, there are three methods.

Each of them can be suitable, depending on your goals.

Ready-made marketplace templates & Airbnb clone scripts

If you do not want to fully clone Airbnb’s platform, we recommend you consider using an open-source marketplace constructing platform. They will help you make an Airbnb alternative that will be a customized solution for a moderate price, with more space for creativity. Among the most famous constructing platforms is Sharetribe, written on Ruby. 

However, the ready-made script may be suitable for the quick construction of 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 not scalable and are not powerful enough to handle high loads.

How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: ready-made toolsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: ready-made tools

Ready-made tools features

Article:  How to build an online marketplace: from scratch or with a ready-made software?

Custom development from scratch

If the only thing that likens your idea with Airbnb is the idea of an online platform for dealing with the real estate market, it’s high time to develop a custom solution. This will be a full-feature web application created by a team of professional programmers. 

The end product will have the exact functionality and business logic you need. This is a complicated and rather costly project that can be performed by agencies that specialize in web development. Incidentally, the core specialty of Sloboda Studio is marketplace platforms. Now we will tell you about the process of developing a custom marketplace.

Pros of custom development of Airbnb-like website:

  • You are in control. 

Before you choose custom development, you should understand that you will communicate a lot. Your project managers, developers, designers, and business analytics will take some of your personal time and give their expertise back.

Besides, you will be able to say that you are fully in control of the product development process.

  • You are working with an experienced team. 

Well, maybe not yet. But if you are choosing custom development, you can choose your developers, too. And the best choice would be to look for niche experts in marketplace development. 

You can find an agency like Sloboda Studio that has been developing marketplaces and websites for 10 years now and there are lots of marketplaces in our success stories.

  • Expertise. To build a website like Airbnb you will need quality expertise. Airbnb was written in Ruby and Rails. In case you are looking for a team with expertise in particular technologies, you can focus on developers with niche expertise to be sure they are professionals in that field. 
How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: custom developmentHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: custom development

Custom development features

Two types of marketplace development: in-house development vs outsourcing

How to create a website like Airbnb from scratch?

Developing a full-feature marketplace platform is a complicated project requiring the teamwork of backend and frontend developers, QA engineers, and a project manager. So how to make a website like Airbnb and what specialists do you need to do this?

The process of developing a marketplace from scratch consists of the following stages:

Back-end Architecture Design

The architecture for an application is like the foundation of the house. This is the main stage of the development process and defines the way the server-side part of the application will work. During the architecture planning stage, the developers define the future functionality of the application and the way the functions will execute.

API Development and Integration

An API is a programming interface for developers to interact with a program. Writing custom software implementations requires a lot of information, and integrating a third-party API allows developers to get the data they need in a convenient JSON or XML format. In order to develop a rental website like Airbnb, you’ll need to integrate the Google Maps API for the app to operate with physical addresses.

Database Development

Your web app will also need to securely and conveniently store user information. For an Airbnb-like site, this will include data about the travelers’ trips, information about available apartments, and the billing details of both parties. To store this information, we use the PostgreSQL database management system.

Quality Assurance and Testing

In order to ensure the app performs perfectly, having a QA engineer to handle the process of testing is essential. We test the application’s workflow at every stage of the development process. This helps us create a higher quality product and to save our clients time and money. We use testing tools like Capybara, Postman, Selenium Webdriver, and others. You can read more about the testing process at Sloboda Studio here.

Deployment

When the development process is completed, it’s finally time to deploy the application. The deployment process is designed to get the product ready to operate in the new system, or in the new version of the existing one.

Maintenance

The application development work does not finish with its release. In order to be sure that it works properly, to make upgrades and constantly deliver new features, we provide further maintenance services on our products.

Technology Stack

  1. Server-side: ElasticSearch, Grape, I18N [2 languages], PostgreSQL, Rack, Rails, Ruby, Sidekiq
  2. Client-side: CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, React.js
  3. Tools (hosting, monitoring, etc.): Airbrake, AWS S3, BrowserStack, Codeship, Confluence, GitHub, Heroku, Slack, Swagger, Testrail, Youtrack
  4. Integrations: Intercom, localise.biz, Pexip, SendGrid, Stripe, Twilio

Read more on Technology Stack for Building a Marketplace

How much does it cost to build a website like Airbnb

A marketplace for apartment rentals can have any features and functionalities you need. However, if we are going to develop an MVP for this platform, there are some basic features any website like Airbnb has that should be included for it to function properly. Let’s see what they are and how much it will cost to implement them.

Sign-in/Sign-up

This step requires the creation of two types of user-profiles: 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.

Sign-in/Sign-up feature development takes up to 132 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 60 hours
  • Front-End: 32 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 20 hours
  • Project Management: 20 hours

User profile

The host can create a profile for his apartment (or apartments) and accept payments. The traveler looks for the apartment in the necessary location and books it for the necessary dates. Having added their billing details, the traveler pays the necessary amount.

User profile feature development takes up to 170 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 80 hours
  • Front-End: 40 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 40 hours
  • Project Management: 10 hours

Property listing

Having created the profile for the apartment, the host adds its physical address. Therefore, the house can be displayed on a map. The property owner also gives a description of the apartment. 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.

Property listing feature development takes up to 144 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 60 hours
  • Front-End: 32 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 32 hours
  • Project Management: 20 hours

Search & Filtering

To find a flat or a house, travelers enter the location and adds filtering criteria. Like a type of apartment, price, a 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.

Search & Filtering feature development takes up to 102 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 40 hours
  • Front-End: 32 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 20 hours
  • Project Management: 10 hours

Notifications

For users to stay informed about the activities on their profile, the system will send notifications to their mobile device or desktop. Or send them SMS-messages and emails. For example, property owners will be notified about new bookings for their apartments.

Notifications feature development takes up to 162 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 80 hours
  • Front-End: 32 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 40 hours
  • Project Management: 10 hours

Messenger

In order to give travelers the possibility to discuss any details with their hosts, we will introduce a built-in messaging system.

Messenger feature development takes up to 180 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 80 hours
  • Front-End: 40 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 40 hours
  • Project Management: 20 hours

Payment integration

To allow both parties to send and accept the payments, we integrated Stripe.

Payment Integration feature development takes up to 122 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 48 hours
  • Front-End: 32 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 32 hours
  • Project Management: 10 hours

Localization

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 by using the internationalization & localization system to get a text.

Localization feature development takes up to 56 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 20 hours
  • Front-End: 8 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 20 hours
  • Project Management: 8 hours

Feedback

Upon finishing the trip, the traveler will be able to rate the 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 lived in his house.

Feedback feature development takes up to 26 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 8 hours
  • Front-End: 8 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 8 hours
  • Project Management: 2  hours

Admin Panel

An admin panel is necessary to manage user accounts and property profiles, handle financial issues. We can develop an admin dashboard by using the ActiveAdmin and RailsAdmin gems.

Admin Panel feature development takes up to 88 hours in total for:

  • Back-End: 40 hours
  • Quality Assurance: 40 hours
  • Project Management: 8 hours
How to Build a Website Like AirBnB: costsHow to Build a Website Like AirBnB: costs

Our Experience

HOME FIT OUT

Home Fit Out is a Canada-based digital platform that offers cutting-edge furniture solutions. 

Home Fit OutHome Fit Out

Our Solution:

The customers are able to order a preliminary designed room. Such a room includes all the designs and furniture. After the order is set, the company delivers the furniture. And sets everything as it was designed online, once the order was sent.

TikkTalk

TikkTalk is an open digital marketplace for interpretation services. It works over a video conference in customers’ browsers.

Our solutions:

Our team created a Minimum Viable Product. MVP allowed showcasing the most important features to the first customers and investors.

After this, the startup customers were able to:

  • create and book new assignments
  • choose interpreters
  • check current assignments, favorite interpreters
  • statistics
  • assignment calendar
TikkTalk HomepageTikkTalk Homepage

TikkTalk homepage

Conclusion

Now you’ve read this guide on how to build a website like Airbnb. Let’s sum it up.

We have looked at the success story or Airbnb. Here are core tips for developing Airbnb-like business:

  1. Start with a simple and usable MVP that will demonstrate your idea
  2. Conduct an analysis of your initial target audience
  3. Concentrate on a narrow niche that will use your product
  4. Constantly improve the user experience of your audience
  5. Pay attention to branding and developing the community

Depending on your requirements and current resources, there are 3 development approaches to create Airbnb:

  • Clone scripts
  • Ready-made marketplace templates
  • Custom development from scratch

Each approach has its own pros and cons. And the technical requirements of your project must first consider your project idea. Sloboda has been in this niche for 10 years. We are open to provide you with a free consultation.

Posted by Contributor