How to Make an App like Airbnb

How to Make an App like Airbnb

01 December 2021 • 12 min read

In an age where most people have a smartphone, apps are becoming the new go-to method of getting things done on the go. From ordering takeout to checking out hotels, apps have completely transformed how we travel and conduct business online. Over the forecast period of 2021-2029, the global mobile travel booking market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 12.2% from $1,067.3 Mn in 2020.

Airbnb is one of the most successful booking services these days, reaching $110 billion in current valuation from people's willingness to travel and live with locals in the new city. According to Statista, it's among the top 5 most downloaded travel apps worldwide, with 42 million downloads by 2020.

In this article, Softermii experts will share insights into the technical peculiarities of Airbnb like app development. Here, we'll feature all the development stages, killer features, and technologies needed to win customers' hearts with your business idea and develop an app similar to Airbnb.

Slava Ivanov

Slava Ivanov

Global IT partnerships and Strategic development

Contact Slava to get all the information on real estate and proptech software development

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Required Features to Create an App like Airbnb

To build a platform like Airbnb, you would need a dedicated website or app. Having both options is always better because users can choose how they want to access your service. Most businesses start with making a desktop version, but mobile app development offers an outstanding ability to push your company into a whole new realm of possibility.

Also, follow the example of this booking service in creating a personalized experience for different target audience categories. Consider building an Airbnb business model that anticipates the needs of both sides of the renting process, meaning guests and hosts. To make the booking comfortable for both sides, Airbnb has designed a separate set of features elegantly, neither misleading nor limiting the functionality for different users.

Here are some features that you might want for your new Airbnb-like platform.

Read Also: Rental Property Platform Development Guide

Airbnb Features for Travelers

How to build an app like Airbnb: Features for Travelers

For Airbnb, their target audience is single travelers, families traveling for holidays and/or business purposes that wish to stay comfortably in a house or an apartment at budget-friendly prices. For guests, the app collects a fee on every booking.

When travelers enter Airbnb, they follow the next process:

  1. Register as a traveler.
  2. Add personal details in the profile, including a real photo and ID number.
  3. Use the Search panel to find the place to stay.
  4. Request a stay in the preferred apartment. Usually, confirmation is automatic.
  5. Negotiate the extra details with the landlord (if necessary) and complete the payment.
  6. Check-in on arrival, so the host receives the payment.

The must-have features you should develop for travelers in an app like Airbnb:

  • Sign-in/Sign-up: Users should have an opportunity to enter the platform with their email or social media profile or manually fill in the registration details.
  • Personal Profile: The place to store, change, and manage personal information mentioned during registration.
  • Search Panel: The field where people can start looking for apartments in their preferred city and filter them by dates, room types, prices, and facilities.
  • Messaging app: The space where communication between hosts and travelers happens. Travelers should have the freedom to participate in conversations, ignore them as message requests, or decline offers.
  • Payment processing: Airbnb supports in-app purchasing, which enables the fully digital process of renting an apartment. Make this feature support several currencies, show transaction history, and work as a secure payment gateway.
  • Preferences: Let travelers save apartments they loved but didn't rent in Favorites for greater personalization. Consider supporting this feature with notifications to remind users to come back to your app to see again what they already liked.
  • Maps: The ability to see and track location is a must-have feature for any traveling app, and Airbnb is not an exception to this rule.
  • Help Center, FAQ, and chatbots: The places where travelers can request support, find answers to their questions and get assistance in communication with hosts.
  • Rate and review: The place to provide feedback on the stay to generate extra information about the hosts for new travelers.
  • Sharing: The engaging element in an app like Airbnb that assists in the promotion. Travelers can invite their friends to join Airbnb and get rewards from the system for this.

Airbnb Features for Hosts

Airbnb like app development: Features for Hosts

Hosts are homeowners and property owners looking to lease or rent their place of accommodation on Airbnb. They get paid a commission on each booking. According to the iProperty Management report, the average Airbnb host gets $9,600 per year while using the service.

When hosts enter Airbnb, they follow this process:

  1. Register as a host and confirm the age.
  2. Register the property and add the essential details about it.
  3. Add real images and determine the booking price.
  4. Communicate with travelers requesting a stay on the property.
  5. Approve or decline the request.
  6. If approved, the payment for stay is processed 24 hours after the guest checks in.

The must-have features you should develop for hosts in an app like Airbnb:

  • Sign-in/Sign-up: Users should have an opportunity to enter the platform with their email or social media profile or manually fill in the registration details.
  • Personal Profile: The place to store, change, and manage personal information mentioned during registration.
  • Manage property: Hosts create listings in the system that should contain categories of facilities available, photos, and descriptions.
  • Manage booking: The best choice is to present the information about upcoming bookings in the calendar view.
  • Request panel: The place to see the users that want to rent the apartment.
  • Messaging app: The space where communication between hosts and travelers happens. The messaging can start before and after the booking.
  • Help Center, FAQ, and chatbots: The places where hosts can request support, find answers to their questions, and get assistance in communication with travelers.
  • Rate and review: The place to provide feedback on the stay to generate extra information about the travelers for new hosts.
  • Sharing: The engaging element in an app like Airbnb that assists in the promotion. Hosts can invite their friends to join Airbnb and get rewards from the system for this.

Admin Panel

Airbnb like app development: Admin Panel

As a service provider, you need access to the following features:

  • Dashboard: See all the users registered in the system in one place.
  • Manage listings: See all the apartments registered in the system and be able to check them.
  • Bookings: See the history of bookings and the current status of reservations.
  • Feedback: See all the ratings, reviews, and complaints about hosts, travelers, and the service itself.
  • Analytics: Insights into the service performance for future decision-making.

Technology Stack to Build App like Airbnb

As you can see, following investing in separate feature sets for guests, hosters, and admins will let you create an Airbnb clone app that wins the travelers' hearts and generates revenue for hosts. In this section, we'll explain the tech stack required to make these features work.

Airbnb runs as iOS, Android, or a web app, with the ability to support smartwatches.

If you're creating a web app, it might be easier for your users if you have certain sections on your website that are completely separated from each other. These sections are what you call admin panels. While they aren't accessible by end-users of your website, they allow you to modify different settings and content on certain pages of your site without affecting others.

Front end

The main features for travelers and hosts can be delivered with JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3. For extra services, knowledge of Amazon S3 (for cloud storage) and Twilio (for messaging and communication) will be helpful too.

Back end

To create your admin panel, you'll need to use Ruby, Node.js, Express, and MongoDB on your server. For SQL data storage — PostgreSQL. You can use Meteor or any other modern JavaScript framework to build out both basic and advanced admin panels for your rental app.

Airbnb-Like App Development from Scratch

The development process to build an app like Airbnb should consider numerous nuances. You'll need to push and educate hosts to add great photographs of their listings, showcase real information about rental spaces, and offer good prices.

In addition, many guests want some assurance that their money is going into a safe system. It's important to invest in buying a professional-looking domain name and SSL for guests' peace of mind and credibility. The quality and usability of your service rely on your ability to provide everything needed for a mutually respectful and user-friendly experience with your app.

To make the process smoother and not miss anything important, we'll share here Softermii's experience in building DogVacay, a pets owners app we've developed by following the core functionality of Airbnb. It allows booking a sitter or a hotel, checking out ratings and reviews, availability, geolocation, and providing an online communication feature.

Discovery phase

Each Airbnb-like app development project starts with proper planning. For DogVacay, we've determined whether the product will be marketable, analyzed the industry demand, and evaluated budgets and other resources available.

After that, we've designed the plan to action that included the following information:

  • Business goals
  • Key stakeholders
  • Team composition
  • Competitor analysis
  • Tech requirements
  • Mockups and prototypes

In a written form, all these insights became the background for the Software Requirements Specification (SRS) document that mentioned the goal, an overview of the process for product developers, and special requirements.

Design

UI/UX design started after we had completed all the initial discussions. For DogVacay, we draw a rough sketch and outline of technical and commercial features to detect the best solutions, select the best methods, and address potential issues. In essence, creating a layout helps to visualize the business idea and check its accuracy with the client again.

Development

We've selected a team of a back-end developer, front-end developer, UI/UX designer, QA engineer, and project manager during the discovery phase. This relatively small team size allowed us to cover all the critical development stages and work on a minimum viable product (MVP) or an initial product release with one feature that still provides enough value to its users. For extra accuracy, it's recommended to include a PoC (proof-of-concept) to test assumptions and ideas.

Generally, an MVP can result in software prototypes, product designs, demo videos, landing pages, and a piecemeal, depending on the project tasks. In any case, building even the simplest version of the product requires attention from the developers, specific knowledge, and professionalism.

Testing

It's really important to make sure your software is free of bugs and defects. If you don't, you could lose out on sales. There are many ways to make sure your new application is working correctly!

First, your QA engineer can test it manually, sitting there with the app open and checking every button for bugs. Alternatively, the developer can write some code that does testing automatically — it'll cost less, but you'll have less control over what exactly is being tested.

Anyways, your app becomes truly user-friendly after testing, not irritating your customers with bugs and unexpected errors.

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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Marketplace App Like Airbnb

The Airbnb app cost structure comprises support for the online platform, maintaining workers, managing payment processing platforms, investing in marketing and promotion, and covering insurance-related aspects.

Thus, building such a quality, marketable product requires more than just great developers. You also need business analysts, designers, and project managers to make an app like Airbnb — all of whom will have different cost estimates based on their areas of expertise.

Read also: How to Estimate Software Development

So how much does it really cost? The answer depends on your budget and whether you're working with internal or external resources. In the table below, we calculated the approximate cost to start an Airbnb-like app.

# Stages Time Cost

1

Estimation, Research & UI/UX design

280 hours

$8 400

2

Development

640 hours

$25 600

3

Testing

240 hours

$6 480

4

Creating technical documentation

40 hours

$1 600

Total

1 200 hours (5 month)

$42 080

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1. Estimation, Research & UI/UX design

Time: 280 hours

Cost: $8 400

The development process always starts with the discovery phase. That is when a general overview of the product, its steps, and features will be discussed. We study your requirements, needs, and wishes for your project. Then our company creates a list of items for analysis. We collect all the necessary data and process it to find patterns that are relevant to your expectations. And our company approves with you all details of your future app.

After business analysis, there will be wireframing and prototyping. This stage is devoted to UX design, understanding the target audience, and creating user journeys and flows. The UX deliverables will be hi-fi wireframes and low-fi prototypes. Once the client has agreed to the prototype, that's when UI design starts.

2. Development

Time: 640 hours

Cost: $25 600

Depending on its main purpose, you'll decide what technologies to use to implement your features. We together figure out what database to use and also what program languages and CRM. It's also critical to find out the best solution for your app realization to meet your timeline and budget, like using real estate APIs integrations, SDKs, or building features from scratch as well.

3. Testing & Launch

Time: 240 hours

Cost: $6 480

The development stage happens along with continuous testing run by QA engineers – we do many different tests to check if everything works correctly in your application. Our team corrects errors if they occur. How much time IT specialists need to complete your app will depend on its complexity.

Hence, now you should get a clear understanding of the development of an app like Airbnb.
Then we agree with you on the final version of your real estate solution and our team launches your project.

4. Creating technical documentation

Time: 40 hours

Cost: $1 600

The company's IT specialists create a document that contains all the necessary information about your application.

Note that the final price may differ from the ones mentioned in this table. When it comes to software development, numerous factors can affect the final price. For example:

  • Team composition: The more sophisticated app you request, the more specialists its development requires.
  • App type: Native app development and cross-platform app development have different pricing models. Also, the number of platforms and features affects the cost significantly.
  • Location-based hourly rate: On average, developers from the USA and Europe are paid more than their colleagues from Ukraine and India. That's why we recommend all our clients to consider outsourcing to cut expenses.

Contact Softermii directly, and we’ll calculate the price for your project.

Bringing IoT into the property rental industry

A fully IoT-powered rental showing process that doesn't require the agent to be physically on-site.

Read more

Bringing IoT into the property rental industry

Softermii’s Experience

For over seven years, we've been developing real estate solutions for different companies, needs, and complexities. We've completed more than 60 successful projects, including professional software development for apartments, houses, and condos, providing solutions for landlords, tenants, and real estate professionals.

For example, RadPad. It is an end-to-end platform for landlords and renters. It features over a million apartments, condos, and houses in Los Angeles and New York and is updated daily. The project required the third-party libraries and SDKs integrations for features like event tracking, analytics, customer support, social networks, and scanning credit cards. We also aimed to create custom UI/UX elements and renovate the customers' credit reports to make the app work seamlessly.

Another one of our projects is Rently. It is a one-of-a-kind digital product that brings IoT into real estate and makes it integral to the property showing process. Rently's physical Smart Lockbox allows potential renters and buyers to visit properties with little to no involvement on the owner's or agent's part. It has property listings, a landlord's dashboard, a payment feature, and custom map filters.

Softermii offers various unique real estate development services that enable us to produce customized products with various technologies. We follow GDPR, regulations, local data privacy, and protection policies. We keep up with legislation regularly to ensure that our apps are secured and easy to use.

Launch an App like Airbnb with Softermii!

Long story short, the task to build an app like Airbnb requires a strong business idea, precise attention to features, and tech expertise to make them work the best way. Our experienced consultants and software engineers will help you with the rest if you already have that game-changing idea in mind!

If you're ready to create your own app, don't hesitate to reach Softermii. We'll pick the most appropriate approach to iterate at the needed pace, ensure development excellence, and deliver the relevant result. We work with ten methods, including Agile, Waterfall, V-model, extreme programming methodology, and many more. This flexibility allows us to make changes accurately and constantly communicate with our clients from start to finish.


Softermii can consult more on the topic and challenge making an app like Airbnb for your business idea! Contact us now to discuss the details.

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