“I see a future of shared cities that bring us community and connection.” — Joe Gebbia
Born out of a necessity of two struggling art school graduates, Joe Gebbia, and Brian Chesky, to pay rent, with its many ups and downs, Airbnb is now active in 190 countries with around 150 million users. Many entrepreneurs see the benefit of creating similar solutions for the real estate market but how do you manage that and how much will it cost to create a website from scratch?
Here, you will find information about the essential features of Airbnb-like websites and an estimate of how much it would cost to develop a platform like Airbnb, including some tips on the website functionality, development technology, and prices.
What is Airbnb and how it works?
In simple terms, Airbnb is an accommodation sharing website, where you can rent out a property (house, apartment, bedroom) or find a place to stay short term.
More precisely, Airbnb is a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace. It uses the sharing economy business model where one person offers access to services or goods to another person for a fee. You can also call it P2P renting.
A huge advantage of starting a marketplace like Airbnb is that it doesn't require to own any properties. Instead, it facilitates interactions between hosts and guests. It is free to create an account, for both parties, but the company does charge a commission from hosting (3%) and renting (6-12%) from every booking.
Guests can search for accommodations through a number of filters, aside from the primary ones that are location, duration of stay, and the number of guests. After the booking is made, the host and guest can arrange a time and place to meet based on the guest's arrival time.
Main Features of the Airbnb-like House Rentals
Starting an Airbnb-like marketplace, be prepared for an interesting case. With house rental platforms, you are essentially creating three products in one: an interface for guests to find a property; an interface for hosts to list their properties for rent; and an interface for managing interactions between hosts and guests.
If you are building an MVP of such a website, it’s important to distinguish which features will go first. For example, a website like that can’t properly function without a search by location, check-in/out dates, and the number of guests. On the other hand, you can do without a host interface and let the site administration handle the properties.
Your features’ list will influence the cost to develop an Airbnb site since it takes time to develop them. Before you make a short list, let’s review all the different features Airbnb-like websites might have:
- ID verification for safety purposes;
- Setting rules for property availability, such as min/max duration of stay;
- Approval of guest applications;
- Calculating how much you can earn per month;
- Best price recommendations per night and during holidays;
- Payments after check-ins via different methods: PayPal, wire transfers, direct deposit, etc.;
- Payment guarantees (in case a guest doesn’t pay/show up/cancels the booking);
- 24/7 customer support (chat or calls).
- Instant booking: no approval required from the host;
- Search by property or experience;
- Map with property location
- Online chat with the host;
- Access to the host’s phone number (for communicating via SMS);
- Host, traveler, and website’s recommendations;
- 24/7 customer support (chat or calls);
- Guest reviews.
- Price range: some websites put up the lowest and highest available price for the current search;
- Home type: entire property, private room, shared room;
- Property type: house, apartment, room, BB, loft, etc.;
- Type of trip: family vacation, work;
- Amenities: kitchen, A/C, heater, Wifi;
- Facilities in the home: gym, hot tub, pool;
- Unique home types: treehouse, boat, yurt;
- Neighborhood: if there is city district distinction;
- Host’s language
- Property rules: no smoking, pets allowed;
- Accessibility for mobility needs: wheelchair ramp, lift.
You might want to put all of these features on your list or maybe even add some of your own. However, if you want to start a website similar to Airbnb as soon as possible, it’s better to define which of them are the most useful — that should be enough for the first launch.
What Technologies are necessary to Build a Website Like Airbnb from Scratch?
Airbnb uses technologies that speed up the development, are flexible and efficient, ensure security and scalability, can store and process millions of images and heavy traffic, and as a result, reduce the cost of development.
Choosing the right technology stack is important for the success of your project. You don’t have to go the same route as Airbnb creators to develop a website like Airbnb and use all of the same technologies, there are equally good software alternatives. Let’s explore some of the most suitable options you can use to make a website like Airbnb.
Backend — use general purpose frameworks, such as Django, Ruby on Rails or Symfony. It’s best to use the framework your developers are most familiar with. For example, our team prefers to use Django.
Frontend — the leading technologies are Angular, React, and Vue. We prefer Angular.
Storage — for starters, to create an Airbnb marketplace, you would need Postgres or Mysql. There are other technologies you can add for maintaining more specific parts of your website:
- MongoDB for storing cache;
- Logstash and Elastic for storing logs;
- S3 or Minio for storing documents.
Search — Elastic and Solr are both great options for incorporating search capabilities on your website
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Site Like Airbnb?
Before taking on a fully-fledged application, it’s good to start with an MVP — a version of your project that has the minimum set of features to show you the maximum useful data.
Here are some questions and criteria that will help you create one
#1. What problem is your startup designed to solve? How can people benefit from it? Essentially, you need to pre-define the value of your services to the target audience.
#2. What is your target audience? It goes along with the previous question and defines the whole course of action. Are your potential users/clients students or freelance working travelers, is it a specific age group or a whole range or different ages?
Tip: Defining the target audience will help you identify what filters you need. Could they be traveling with pets or listing a property where pets are allowed? That option should definitely be in the filters.
#3. Who are you up against? It's important to look realistically at your competition before you make an Airbnb-like site. Analyze what set of features they offer and if your service can be more beneficial to your potential clients than that of your competitors.
Tip: It’s not just other Airbnb-like websites you are up against. Don’t rule out retail platforms that allow users to list all kinds of products and services, including renting out an apartment. Look at their functionality and capabilities to see if it has something that could be beneficial to your website.
#4. What is the customer's experience like? Think about the website you are going to build and the functions you are going to offer from the client's' point of view. If you were a client, how would you search for the services you need, what kind of information would you need to reach your goal.
At this stage, after answering the questions, it's good to have the list of all the features you want your website application to have. Decide which ones are most important to release with the launch of the website and arrange the others on the roadmap of your project.
Estimated prices for an Airbnb-like website
The price for building an Airbnb marketplace depends on your project needs. The table below shows the average time certain tasks require.
|Task/features||Time for development, h||Approximate cost, $|
|Pre-development (planning, site structure, requirement clarifications, etc.)||100||5,000|
- Registration and client profiles;
- Property catalog;
- Property details.
- Editing property details;
- Editing available dates and prices.
- Rent approval;
- Rent cancellation
|Administrator interface for monitoring and conflict resolution||250||12,500|
- Online chat;
- Review and rating system;
- Notifications and notification settings.
Web design should be estimated separately since it’s a whole other set of tasks. It usually costs up to about 50% of the total cost of the project development and largely depends on what your MVP will include.
Our Experience in Developing Airbnb-Like Websites
The sharing economy is not a new concept but now we are starting to embrace it more. There’s South Korea that repurposed hundreds of government parking spots in Seoul to be shared by residents and started a homestay network connecting student without a place to live with empty nesters. And there are numerous businesses that have found how to incorporate this model into different segments in the form of a marketplace.
Here are a few prominent examples of platforms that are sharing economy marketplaces like Airbnb:
- Lyft — a ridesharing platform.
- Task Rabbit — connects people with ‘Taskers’ who can help you get things done around the house.
- RubberDesk — a platform for sharing spare office space.
At Gearheart, we have extensive experience in building different types of web applications and have practice solving all sorts of issues that come by. One of our latest projects was, in fact, a P2P platform. The key issue with P2P platforms is that they only exist when two parties are involved (e.g., buyers and sellers). We reduced this holdup by incorporating a pre-made database of businesses that could be later claimed by their owners once both parties start interacting.
Advantages of working with Gearheart
We make sure to clarify all the essential information about your future product (the request, project goals, priorities, product functions);
If you’re hesitant which application features are more important for the first release, we can suggest the best course of action based on our experience;
You can keep track of the development process, getting status updates about each task on the roadmap;
Our experienced developers can produce formidable results as soon as two weeks into the working process;
We work in sprints which allows us to complete tasks more effectively and make timely corrections if needed.