How to Develop an App like Airbnb – A Detailed Guide

how to build an app like Airbnb

The online travel industry has experienced a huge boom since the end of the pandemic. Travelers prefer comfortable accommodations of vacation rentals. And more and more people are listing their properties on apps like Airbnb to generate huge profits. To take advantage of these two trends, you can build an app like Airbnb with improved usability and accessibility.

The article below will guide you in building an app like Airbnb while also sharing the relevant statistics, marketing strategies, and advanced features for your app. Let’s dive in!

About Airbnb

Airbnb – Air Bread and Breakfast, is an online vacation rental service that connects people who want accommodation with property owners who wish to rent their homes. The company’s recent headquarters is in San Francisco. Airbnb’s online hospitality services are available all over the world and you can access them both through a mobile app or the web.

The service benefits both the host and the guest. The hosts get a relatively stress-free way to generate real estate revenue without worrying about any potential vacancies. Meanwhile, the guests can easily book a stay and find themselves a comfortable vacation home. Compared to hotels, Airbnb is a much more reliable and low-cost option. As a traveler or a guest, you can easily converse with the host and clear any questions you have.

Airbnb Important Statistics and More

First established in 2008, Airbnb now has more than 150 million users with around 45,00,000 listings worldwide. The company’s revenue was estimated to reach approximately $6 billion in 2021. As of 2022, almost 14,000 new hosts have joined this platform each month. The hosting services are accessible from more than 190 countries with the U.S and France having the highest number of listings. You can further read about the company’s current valuation and other statistics here.

The company has been working hard to improve its user experience by providing a list of reviews of different accommodation services and restaurants for travelers. Some local hosts will also provide tour guides and sightseeing tours to their users.

However, even with such giant numbers, Airbnb has only got 10-15% of the vacation rental industry under its service. Around 40-50% of this market is available for other startups like Airbnb, an opportunity you can avail of.

How does an app like Airbnb function?

So what does the working process of an app like Airbnb looks like? Let’s have a look at it.

  • The platform allows the hosts to list out the description of their property and accommodation services for the guests like home rules, property type, the number of guests allowed, etc. This allows the user to search for a home by setting different criteria/filters like price range, property features, location, vacation rentals, and many more.
  • After selecting the expected place, the user will fill out the requested information (personal info and payment details) and book their stay. Also, check out the host’s details, previous reviews, and available media of the property to ensure everything meets your demands.
  • It will be up to the property owner to accept or reject the booking request of the host. If the request gets accepted, the deposit will be deducted from the guest’s account. The rest of the amount is paid after the stay.
  • Airbnb also ensures a secure and encrypted conversation between the host and the guest.

Essential Features of an App like Airbnb

The app has two main versions, for host and guest. In both versions, you will have to sign up using an email address or connect through social media accounts. For registration, you have to provide different details like email, name, ID, and address. By using the feature of Manage Account, both the hosts and guests can update their personal information, like changing their password. However, both versions have some distinctive features enlisted below.

App Features for Guests

Search Filter – Apply the search filters like property price, size, facilities, available dates, etc to locate your desired property. This feature helps the user find a home that best suits their expectations and saves a lot of browsing time too.

Set Dates – Set the approximate number of dates for your stay. Extend the result range according to your need.

Chatbot and Chat Notifications – Interact with your host before booking a property with this feature. Whenever you get any message, you will be notified through chat notifications.

Maps – The map will display all the available places along with price tags for a day and the whole stay. The user can locate their desired property as well as navigate the surrounding area by using maps. You will also be provided with a list of accommodations below.

Booking – Finalize and book a vacation rental for yourself. The feature also keeps a record of your past bookings.

Wishlist – In case any property is unavailable for booking in your desired hours, you can add the listing to your wishlist and book it for any future travel.

Payment – After finalizing your stay, check out different payment methods like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, WeChat Pay, and so on. Set the currency of your area and payment method accordingly. You also get to view your transaction history through the payment feature.

Help – To ensure a user-friendly experience, Airbnb helps its users understand the app better by answering the FAQs and giving solutions to their problems with this helpful feature.

Review – Share your thoughts and experiences about the stay by giving honest reviews. These reviews will, later on, serve as references for other users.

Sharing – For better marketing, the app enables its users to invite their friends and family to join the app.

App Features for Hosts

For registration, the property owners have to fill out some important details like price range, location, available facilities, and so on. After this, the owner and their listing gets registered on the host application. The following are the distinctive features of this version:

Manage Listing – The host can update or change the details of their listing like adding new pictures, changing the price, updating the amenities available, etc.

Request – You will be provided with a list of users who are interested in staying at your property. As the guest sends a request to book a property, the owner can accept or decline this request.

Booking Listing – here you have got an organized list of your previous and upcoming bookings. In your calendar, you will find the respective bookings under each date.

Chatbot – Just like the passenger version, here too, you have got a messaging feature to enable a productive conversation and sort out any queries before the final booking. The host will be notified whenever a chat appears.

Reviews – A host can rate and review any traveler based on their conduct and behavior.

Account Details – Keep a track of your payment transactions and booking deposits through account details. You get to further add or remove this account information according to your need.

Help – This is where you get to learn more about the application use and attend to your confused guests and sort out their queries.

Booking History – In addition to keeping a track of your previous payments and booking, this feature also estimates the revenue that you generate.

Sharing – Invite your friends to join the app by sharing it with your friends and family.

An Admin Panel for an App like Airbnb

Dashboard – A centralized panel where you get to keep a track of all the users and hosts that have registered to your app.

Manage New Listing – Consider it a checkpoint where you can scrutinize and further process the new listings. The admin panel has the liberty to add, delete, or edit the listings according to the company’s needs and policy.

Booking History – This allows you to keep an update on each reservation, the information can be updated, edited, or deleted.

Feedback – View the feedback from your app’s users and sort out any complaints they are having.

Insights – Detailed insights help conduct future decisions.

Additional Features for your App – Improve User Experience

The foundation of your app is quite solid now. Now we will talk about the non-mandatory features that will lead to improved application usability and performance.

additional features to add in your app

User Verification

By implementing the feature of user verification, you will be able to create a trusted and secure travel experience for both the hosts and the guests. When a user signs up and registers for your application, immediately verify their online and physical presence. Ask them to provide you with images of their national ID, driver’s license, passport, and a scanned headshot. You can later match the physical and online documents.

comparison of various verification services

For your ease, you can use any of the third-party identity verification software.

Optimized Search Engine

When using an app like Airbnb, you are searching for something from a massive list of options. The more search filters you add, the more optimized your search engine will be. The result will be a fast and effective search experience. To optimize your search engine you can use ElasticSearch and AWS ElasticSearch.

  • ElasticSearch – offers a super quick search and can analyze massive amounts of data. But to get a precise search result, you have to put in a lot of work.
  • AWS ElasticSearch – a more feasible option that provides a hassle-free search solution.
elasticsearch vs aws elasticsearch

Optimized Booking Experience

Since a host can decline a booking request, the scenario often leads to poor user experience and booking cancelation. To make booking certain and easy, enable an optimized booking flow. When a host adds their listing on the app, the traveler must be able to book the rental immediately.

Use features like Instant Booking to increase your number of bookings. Instant booking allows the property owner to add their property to the instant booking option so the user can quickly access it without getting their request declined.

Payment Processing

If you are worried about security issues related to payment processing, you can use third-party payment gateways like Stripe and Braintree to help you out.

Explore with Ease

Before a user books their stay, they search through numerous options to find the place with the most comfort. In addition to the wishlist, you can also add a comparison feature. From the default list, the user can select or deselect properties and then compare them side by side along with their information description.

Last-Minute Trip Cancellations

Sometimes a host would cancel a booking at the last minute, despite the deposit being paid. However, your app can provide a better user experience by using a few solutions:

  • Charge the host a cancellation fee.
  • Display the number of cancellations on their profile.
  • Block the host from accepting any other request on that date after a last-minute cancellation.

It’s a bit tricky to effectively handle last-minute cancellations. To efficiently deal with them, look into what can be the best option for your audience.

Contextual Calendar

There is a close connection between last-minute cancellations and calendar checks. A host often forgets to update their calendars which can lead to huge losses. To avoid this, create a contextual calendar. Research the days and hours on which the host prefers to maintain their calendar. After that, you can send them a reminder email accordingly.

Payment Scams and Fake Listings Detection

Even on an app like Airbnb, people manage to play some scams.

  • Fake listings
  • Blackmailing a user for positive reviews or more money.
  • Fake reviews on the host’s profile.
  • Duplicate listings by using fake addresses.
  • Scam emails.
  • Illegal listings.

Prevent such scams by using the following solutions:

  • Flag Feature – A user gets to flag a listing if it is fake or duplicate.
  •  Machine Learning Algorithms – This will help you detect a fake listing based on fake images, host reputation, and other risk factors. The host will then be blocked immediately.
  • Use Payment Gateways – To secure the payment functionality and minimize payment fraud.
  •  Educating Alerts – Communicate with your users through a simple Twillo integration and help them stay alert.

Use Geolocation Maps

With geolocation mapping, the app will fetch all the available data of the property on the map. By clicking on the marker, you will get all the details of a property. To build an app like Airbnb, you can implement this feature by using OpenStreetMap with Mapbox Studio.

However, if you wish to use Google Maps services, then you can implement Google Autocomplete services. Google Matrix API is also a wise option as it will allow the user to get an estimated time and distance of their travel from the present location.

Enhance User Experience with AR VR

Real estate is rapidly improving its user’s experience by using AR VR technology. It brings benefits to both the host and the guest. A host can showcase the best features of their property and a guest can leverage this by checking out the details of the property and the provided facilities. To get this feature, consider using providers like Augment, VIRO, Argon, Babylon.js, Google VR, ARCore, etc.

Weather Forecast

Build a module of the weather forecast in your app for travelers who are planning an international vacation through third-party services.

Discounts

For the user who has just registered and is about to book their first listing/vacation rental, allow them a small discount. It will be a great way to boost your marketing and increase the number of users.

In case you have got a different app idea:

We are working on a “How to Build an App like…” series. Here are other step-by-step guides for your help:

How much does it cost to build an app like Airbnb?

Now coming towards an important aspect. How much would it cost to develop an app like Airbnb with a dynamic and interactive user interface? The cost of development for this entire design will depend on the following aspects:

Development Team –

You will need a team of skilled specialists to work on your app. The following are the people you need to build a team:

  •  Frontend Developers
  •  Backend Developers
  •  UX/UI Developers
  •  QA Engineers
  •  Android Developers
  •  iOS Developers
  • Technical Architect
  •  Project Manager
  •  Business Analyst

Number of Platforms –

The cost to develop an app like Airbnb fluctuates immensely based on the number of platforms it is being built for. Based on your target audience, you can build your app for both Android and iOS. Moreover, the factor of app testing is also crucial.

Save the development cost by building a cross-platform application and outsourcing to Flutterdesk – a leading Flutter application development company.

Application Design –

The application design must be customized, interactive, and attractive enough to lure the user. New designs and advanced visuals will surely increase the development price. However, to check the cost of the essential functionality of the app, you can build an MVP – minimum viable product. It is quite a cost-efficient option way of testing your app design.

Complexity Level of Features –

The cost of development is decided by the number of hours spent on it. Categorize the features of your app into Simple, Medium, and Complex. The advanced and complex features will take more time.

Now, let’s talk about price estimation. Based on regions, here is a list of hourly rates of developers:

Cost of development in different regions

Tech Stack to Develop an App like Airbnb

To develop an app like Airbnb, you will need to familiarize yourself with the following frameworks and programming languages:

  • Programming languages – Kotlin, Swift, Javascript, or Dart (Flutter programming with Dart).
  • Front-end Framework – React.js, Angular, Express.js.
  • Back-end Tech – Django, Node.js, Meteor.js, Ruby on Rails.
  • Serverside Tech – Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, AWS, Azure.
  • Database Management – MongoDB, MSSQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL.
  • Services of Network Caching – Redis, Nginx.

Marketing Strategy for your Startup

Once the app is launched, it’s time to build a marketing model and build some recognition for your app.

Use SEO and ASO

By using search engine optimization and app store optimization, you can generate organic traffic for your product and increase the number of downloads. But there are some other conditions to fulfill as well. For a web app, remember to insert relevant keywords, and metadata, and ensure the optimized loading speed of the web page. For the mobile app, add updates according to the newest trends and use comprehensive descriptions.

Marketing through Social Media

Build an online presence and communicate with your audience through different platforms of social media. Keep the content informative and promotional. Also, benefit from the promotional ads and hashtags on Facebook and Instagram respectively.

Growth Hacking for an App like Airbnb

Growth hacking, also known as growth marketing, refers to a set of digital marketing tactics to grow and retain the users of your app. Following are the growth hacking tips you can use when you develop an app like Airbnb:

Growth hacking for an app like Airbnb

Drip Email – allows you to build a rent-sharing marketplace. Through this software, you get to easily schedule your drip email campaigns.

App Analytics – Use an app analytic tool to run various marketing campaigns and monitor the record of traffic efficiency of your application. Some helpful analytics tools include Mixpanel, Apsalar, Flurry, etc.

A/B Testing – Use Optimizely for the A/B testing of any specific feature of your app and get immediate changes. However, if you choose to go with Flutter development that makes use of Dart, you can easily make the changes and check them in real-time due to the hot reload feature.

User Segmentation – By identifying and predicting the user’s behavior, you can group and structure them accordingly to understand them better. It is a great source of growth for such an application. For user segmentation, use services like Leanplum and Braze.

Customer Service – The best way to grow your service is by providing excellent customer service. Help your users connect with you by using SDKs like Zendesk and Intercom.

Reviews and Ratings – Apptentive is a great way of gaining your user’s trust and improving your company’s credibility through reviews and features like “Love Score”.

KPI Tracking – KPIs help you understand and monitor your app’s performance so that you can make strategic decisions accordingly. Upsight is a great option to track the variables that impact your business. It also allows you to understand the user’s behavior.

Challenging Features of an App like Airbnb

  •  In the course of learning and developing an app like Airbnb, some factors can lead your app to failure. Here are a few important pieces of advice to follow as you battle these challenges.
  •  A huge sum of your app’s users is looking for a rental property to stay in. Instead of booking/renting a property, make searching services the core feature of your application.
  • Productive communication between the host and the guest is very crucial in such apps. APIs alone cannot handle booking services, search services, and chats altogether. What’s best for you is to create a separate service for chatting, with high resources.
  •  Failure of third-party verification services and payment gateways can cause the whole app to crash. To avoid this, always ensure that the payment services from both ends are running smoothly.
  •   If a user loses all the added information on an app due to a poor internet connection, you might end up losing a lot of customers. Therefore, it is essential to use database storage services so that the user’s data can be easily retrieved.

Sum Up

Hopefully, the details from the above guide will be enough to help you develop an app like Airbnb. After the complete implementation of your work, you can launch the application on different platforms and then start its marketing. Remember to consult with development partners to attain the best outcome.

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