How to Build an App Like Airbnb? Process + Cost Estimation + Technology Stack + Alternatives

The dilemma of living in a strange place during traveling has come to an end, for more than a decade now, and the reason is, of course, an app like Airbnb. From its launch to the date, the recognition Airbnb has gained as an app is commendable as it helps the users to save money on vacations, meet people with trust, and just live like another local.     

But did it happen in a blink of an eye?

No. They started out from scratch in 2007 with just one vision in mind for a website and today, fast forward, Airbnb has over 150 million users covering over 65,000 towns and providing them powerful travel services with the support of multiple platforms such as tech startups, web apps, and smartphone apps.

Seeing such a huge success of the Airbnb app, do you also want to replicate it? Keep on reading this blog to find out how.    

What is Airbnb?

The Airbnb-like app is a travel service that offers one platform for renting options for apartments all over the world. Airbnb offers tempting marketplaces for landowners and short term rentals or lodging seekers. 

In simple words, if you create an app like Airbnb, it provides you an online portal that ties people who want to rent out their vacation homes with people who need accommodation.  

Airbnb has transformed the way people look for flats for a long time now as Airbnb offers captivating opportunities. For example, if travelers fly overseas and rent a private room from a local family, they’ll get a comfortable, homely feeling as Airbnb gives a slice of cultural immersions, and an ability to linger in an authentic neighborhood. Isn’t it a cool experience? 

In addition, even in its simplest form, websites like Airbnb are used by both the ‘hosts,’ the property owners who have chosen to rent them out, and the ‘guests’ who book the accommodation through the service.  

Moving forward, your Airbnb alternative will be successful only when you consider the app development process in detail step by step. Let’s understand what those are.

How to Build an App Like Airbnb?

How to build an App like Airbnb?

Step 1. Set an Idea

You can float around and get nowhere unless you have an idea and plan! So, the first action to build an Airbnb-like app is to have a vision and write down your high-level business plan for booking service. As you know, the numerous mobile app stores have hundreds of home rental apps and travel apps in diverse niches, and only a handful of them make an exceptional impact and dominate their booking Airbnb business model canvas. Therefore, create significant goals that allow you to target your application audience.

Step 2. Choose a Platform

Getting a huge user base with a cross-platform product is a myth. The safest choice when creating a new app like Airbnb is to select any of the platforms at the beginning between Android and iOS, that’s a fact. A better device environment is provided by choosing one platform for your application at the beginning. Once you analyze the market and target audience response for your product, you can build for other mobile app platforms as well, depending on the user experience. 

With regard to figures on the android app for OS versions, Android has the highest market share, of approximately 80 percent user base. So, it is perfect to aim big. The remaining 20 percent of users that use iOS are mainly elite with high power expenditure. This means that it will potentially earn you more short-term travel sales to deploy the software on iOS.

Step 3. Build UI Design

Once the idea is ready and the platform is set to operate on your goals, you can start designing your app with the help of professional app designers and app developers. This step includes, 

  • Sketch,
  • Wireframes,
  • Mockups,
  • Prototypes, etc.

However, you might be wondering why to design the UI of the app before coding, so one of the main reasons is it lets you fulfill your goal for the graphics app and visuals. To make the different visual characteristics usable, software developers of the backend development team should simply follow the lead of the visual guide to write codes. It thus helps to save development time duration, and also development cost. 

Step 4. Integrate Unique Airbnb Features

It’s more common these days for how to build an app like Airbnb to start with a simple Airbnb feature list. For example, Airbnb’s main app functionality come in three groups such as,   

  • The Host Features
  • The Guest Features
  • The Admin Features

The Host Features: 

  • Accommodations⟶ For the tenants and hosts, the key function is the opportunity to make an ad regarding their lodging. They need to explain all the information and databases such as setting the style of the apartment and the number of guests. Also, you must allow images and videos to be posted and the price per night to be set.
  • Requests ⟶ Property owners would need to have a display and high screen resolutions for all travelers’ requests. Any appeal is therefore granted an option to approve and deny.
  • Push Notifications ⟶ The owner will receive an immediate message as soon as the traveler requests for a stay. This is in pertaining to hosts of unchecked demands, reservation updates, and host approves.  

The Guest Features: 

  • Registration ⟶ The client has to register to start using software like Airbnb. The simple alternative to Airbnb is to provide users with registration via email address and password.
  • Login ⟶ Once the registration is made on an app like Airbnb, the user needs to login shortly with many options like Google access, email address, and social media accounts like Facebook. 
  • Search and Favorites ⟶ Guests and users must be given a search system with filters like area, space to schedule their next trip dates, availability, etc. and allow them to save as favorites as their wish lists in case they need to plan their trip in advance to create an app similar to Airbnb.
  • Live Chats ⟶ The guest and host can converse for a stay to discuss all of the details. This chat feature also offers to submit a picture or video in the chat interface while having advanced options like typing and reading messages.
  • Booking Option ⟶ It is the core feature of any concierge service business – booking a queue service. If the accommodation options are open on the chosen days, people can pick the flat or house type to stay in and can book it from the search engine. 
  • Payments ⟶ Provide consumers with an avenue to make a purchase without any complications. Payment gateways have to be reliable, safe, and simple to use, like any other financial transaction history.

The Admin Features: 

  • Admin Panel & DashboardThis function and section allows the system administrator to control all outsourcing companies operations and microservices. Check all of the service requests on a single page with necessary details such as name, time, and payment system for travel destinations.  
  • Assign Requests Manually ⟶ One of the core features that enables the admin to manually delegate the service requests on behalf of the customers to the delivery driver or service provider from the admin panel based on the guideline.
  • Fare Project ManagementIt allows the organization administrator to handle the expense of the services in only a few clicks that improve scalability.
  • Admin Reports ⟶ Admin will be able to review the company’s full report such as the overall amount of queries, approved fees, participants, user behavior and drivers, or service providers commission. 

Such MVP app or web version core features of the service help consumers to get some feedback and consider their needs. After the MVP version, a few advanced features can be added to building an app like Airbnb exclusively.

Step 5. Test and Launch

The time to join the phase is up with the testing team once your development team develops the travel app. The quality assurance analyst team makes sure that your developed Airbnb-like solution is running smoothly or not. If there are any bugs found, it is to be eliminated and tested again to make sure users get a great experience and viability. Once it runs for debugging, the mobile application is ready to launch for the users. If you want to sustain in the market for longer, consider step 6 which is to maintain the app clone according to demands and technology lessons.

Does it mean the process to operate an app like Airbnb is complex? No. Read the below section to know how it works. 

Want to develop an application for your travel business with similar functionalities?

How Does Airbnb Work?

Airbnb is a dynamic app that offers consumers tonnes of tools. To develop an app like Airbnb, let us understand first the client’s point of view and then the host point of view. 

So, to name it, there are different types of users on Airbnb: travelers and tenants. 

How does Airbnb work for Travelers?

  • Go to the Airbnb service mobile apps or web version and sign up or logs in as a visitor with their email addresses or social media accounts
  • Complete the profile and provide information for authentication, such as the profile picture, names, living address, ID number, and more
  • Search and select the desired place to live in using different filters such as price, venue, the type of room, and more 
  • Request and book the service for a stay and receives the confirmation SMS notifications and push notifications
  • Pay through multiple payment gateways like google pay, credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Apple pay, etc. 
  • Travel, relax and enjoy!

How does Airbnb work for Tenants?

  • Go to the Airbnb service mobile apps or web app and register or sign up as a host from social networks
  • Register the property details on Airbnb and provide accommodation specifications such as venue, profile picture, number of guests, type of apartment, and more 
  • Upload real photos of your apartment with the help of professional Airbnb photographers and set the price
  • Deal directly with travelers when they request the service and discuss details like quiet hours, clean standards, etc.
  • Approve or reject people to stay, according to your convenience
  • Receive the payment in 24 hours after the guest check-in
  • Relax!

OK, it was all about end-users and their convenience, but what is the business model of Airbnb?How much does it cost to build and how much does an app like Airbnb take away from users? Take a look at the below table to understand it.

Airbnb Business Model
Key Partners
  • Host
  • Investors
  • Partners
  • Government
Key Activities
  • Marketing
  • Service
Channels
  • Website
  • Mobile apps
Value Proposition
  • Affordable apartment rental opportunities for travelers
  • Extra income for the host
Customers
  • Travelers
  • Hosts
  • Photographers
Revenue
  • Booking fees
  • Service fees

Need a tech partner for your Airbnb like app development process?

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How Much Will it Cost to Make an App Like Airbnb?

For most of the travel apps, the cost to create an app initially depends on many factors such as,  

  • Team size and location,
  • Platforms for deployment,
  • Number of developers and professionals
  • Real estate app features and technical complexity of it,
  • Tech stack and volumes,
  • Degree if design customization,
  • App architecture solutions and more.

However, if you consider making an app like Airbnb, it would take software engineers around 130 days and the Airbnb app cost would be varied from USD 60,000 to USD 160,000, depending upon hours, project requirements, and goals (ask project manager for details like objectives, and mechanisms).  

For more details look at the below table to understand better. 

Development TypeTotal Hours (Approx)Total Cost (Approx)
Web Development1200 hours90,000 USD
iOS Development800 hours67,000 USD
Android Development800 hours63,000 USD

While this is just a fundamental study of the variables of how much does it cost for iOS, Android, and web, it could influence the cost of production parameters. To assess the application’s pricing, the average cost of production will be determined with the expected development time for each attribute that will differ from company to company and from country to country. There can also be a mobile app development company that might charge based on hourly rates.

Airbnb Monetization Strategy

Now, when we know how much does it cost to build an app like Airbnb, what is the profit aspect? How Airbnb makes money? Let’s shed a light on it. 

Airbnb has over 6 million listings in over 200 countries. With an average of six tenants checking into an Airbnb-listed property every second, the site has more than 150 million users including hosts and guests.

So, what’s the primary source of income for Airbnb? 

1. Service fee

  • Hosts are charged a 3% service fee for every completed booking process
  • Guests are made to pay a nonrefundable service fee based on the type of listing with a maximum of 6 to 12%

2. Taxes

The value-added tax (VAT) can also be charged by Airbnb, although this relies solely on local and foreign tax laws. 

3. Exchange Rates

  • Guests are often subject to exchange rates if they are charged in another currency for bookings with the help of a currency converter, and the tariffs are decided by Airbnb.
  • Hosts are also subject to a value-added tax that is excluded from booking listing and reservations revenue received.

Apart from this, Airbnb plus has integrated the Apple pay getaway into the booking app for payments as part of the strategy, so now iOS users are also likely to spend more on the vacation rental app.       

5 Airbnb Alternatives

If you are still confused about whether to make an app like Airbnb or not, look at the below-mentioned alternatives who are giving tough competition to Airbnb. Don’t you also want to join them? 

  1. Booking.com

    Booking.com boasts links to more than 27 million options worldwide. It manages a lot of travel inventory, much like TripAdvisor, but it specializes in accommodation. A number of online travel businesses are owned by Booking.com, including Agoda, Cheapflights, Kayak, Priceline, and Rentalcars.com.

    Total Downloads: 100,000,000+

    Ratings: 4.7 stars (Google play store), 4.8 stars (Apple app store)

    Features: 

    • Sign up
    • Hotel comparison
    • Accommodation search functionality
    • Deals and discounts
    • Booking sites request
    • Hotel reviews
    • In-app payment

    Pros and Cons:

    ProsCons
    • Easy to use user interface
    • Displays an all-in price range for a property rental business
    • No tricky per day or per week rates
    • Detailed info such as number of guests
    • Limited and expensive rental inventory in the United States
  2. HomeToGo

    HomeToGo is the Airbnb app like which is a holiday aggregator for holidays with 17 million vacation properties listed from all major locations including Eastern Europe & Western Europe. It offers customer service to guests and hosts in 8 different languages such as English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Russian.

    Total Downloads: 500,000+

    Ratings: 3.8 stars (Google play store), 4.8 stars (Apple app store)

    Features: 

    • Search results
    • Profile verification
    • Filter option
    • Compare prices
    • Property listings
    • Save favorites
    • Booking request

    Pros and Cons:

    ProsCons
    • Gives you a quick overview of what’s available in progress
    • Easy to use the booking app
    • Tons of ads
    • Lack of accuracy in prices
  3. TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor is one of the best property rental app alternatives that incorporate a vacation rental marketplace in its app that allows users to find the perfect cheap flights to deal with luxury retreats and hotels to even book a table at a nearby restaurant to sample local food for both guests and hosts.

    Total Downloads:100,000,000+

    Ratings: 4.4 stars (Google play store), 4.7 stars (Apple app store)

    Features: 

    • Search filters
    • User profiles & Property type
    • Short term rental options
    • Food tour
    • Ratings and reviews
    • Get answers from other travelers
    • Booking options or booking changes
    • Great deals and promo code redemption
    • Multiple payment methods 
    • 24 hours service

    Pros and Cons:

    ProsCons
    • Easy to use the configuration from both client-side and server-side 
    • Unique resources with both reviews and photographs >
    • Users have an access to a variety of opinions
    • Expensive toolset than other platforms and vacation rental websites
  4. Vrbo

    Vrbo is also an app similar to Airbnb that offers users to set up the perfect break with about 2 million exclusive locations that can be checked to linger in 191 countries covering 65,000 cities including Eastern Europe & North America for both guests and hosts.  

    Total Downloads: 1,000,000+

    Ratings: 4.4 stars (Google play store), 4.8 stars (Apple app store)

    Features: 

    • User profile information
    • Browse and search capabilities
    • Search filter
    • Property descriptions 
    • Photos and reviews
    • Virtual assistant
    • Book and pay
    • Share tips with friends
    • In-app messaging feature set
    • In-app payment methods
    • 24 hours service

    Pros and Cons:

    ProsCons
    • Easy to find and share location
    • Responsive user interface
    • High-quality services
    • Real-time images and videos make it attractive for each other
    • Security over personal data like email id, telephone number, an account password, profile picture
    • Glitchy software and disruption
    • Currency confusion for non-Americans
    • Grabs high fees
  5. Flipkey

    Flipkey with more than 300,000 vacation rentals by Rv owners around the world is one kind of holiday home rental marketplace. The most innovative aspect of Flipkey is its pay-per-booking pricing platform for guests. This suggests that when users have a reservation, then only they will have to pay.

    Features: 

    • Search and filter
    • Property profile and data storage
    • Check-in & check out
    • User profile information
    • Instant booking services
    • Free to list option
    • Payment gateway

    Pros and Cons:

    ProsCons
    • User-friendly iOS and Android apps
    • Plenty of choices for users and renters
    • High-quality Airbnb clone app
    • Security of personal data
    • High deposits

Need an app developer for your business idea?

Technology Stack to Make an App Like Airbnb

Now you know the process, but what are the learning curves and specialists do you need to convert your idea into real-life success? Don’t worry. We have curated the complete list of tech stack for you. Let’s start from the ground. 

What specialists do you require?

  • Booking Business Analyst 
  • Project Manager
  • UI/UX designer
  • Android developers
  • iOS developer
  • Back end developer
  • Front end developer
  • QA engineer

What technology do you require for building an app? 

Tech Stack
Programming languages
  • Ruby
  • JavaScript
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
Framework  (Front end development and back end development)
  • Ruby on Rails
  • React.js
  • React Native
JS Automation Frameworks
  • RSpec
  • Capybara
  • PhantomJS SQL
Cloud Storage
  • Amazon S3
  • EBS
Cloud Database and Web Server-Side
  • Amazon RDS
  • MySQL
Data
  • Presto
  • Druid
  • Airpal
Utilities
  • Google Analytics
  • Twilio SendGrid
  • Twilio
  • Mixpanel
  • Visual Website Optimizer
  • Braintree
  • Lottie
  • Superset
  • Nexmo
  • Native Navigation
  • Urban Airship

FAQ About How to Build an App Like Airbnb

  1. How do I build an app like Airbnb?

    • Define your niche and do research 
    • List out basic features you want to integrate
    • Search professional frontend and backend developer for both iOS and Android 
    • Search project manager
    • Design and develop UI by UI designer 1
    • Launch
  2. What code does Airbnb use?

    Ruby is the primary programming language that the Airbnb app employs.

  3. Who built the Airbnb App?

    Airbnb app launched in 2007, when Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, then 27, who had met at the Rhode Island School of Design five years earlier, struggled to pay their rent. Brian-Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk are now CEO, CPO, and CSO respectively.

  4. What type of app is Airbnb?

    Airbnb app is a travel service that offers a forum for renting options for apartments all over the world.

 

Conclusion

So folks, did you like our analysis on the business model of building an app like Airbnb? The process, Airbnb features, Airbnb competitors, and app development cost – has any of them motivated you to create your own travel app to earn millions in this gig economy? 

If you are still doubting whether the online travel industry will keep on rising or not in the future, tell me who doesn’t like to travel? Everyone loves it, right? So investing in a travel app like Airbnb would certainly make a significant profit for your building startups. However, if you’re confused with your own app ideas, do not worry! We, as an app development company, are here to realize your all needs and to give you the best solutions. Just write to us at any time and our software builders will get back to you soon. See you there!

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Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel
Designation: Co-founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies

Mr. Rakesh Patel is a Founder and CEO of Space-O Canada. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.