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An ultimate guide to building a website like Airbnb: cost, time, features

When aiming to make a website like Airbnb and generate revenue, it is crucial to plan out a budget and estimate the timeline necessary to launch a product. In addition, an organization needs to research competitors to discover their strong and weak sides.

To create a quality solution and achieve success, you should partner with a trustworthy marketplace development company that will provide assistance in prioritizing features and choosing a technology stack.

This article considers how to build a platform like Airbnb, including project cost and implementation time. Our software experts have also described the story of the Airbnb online lodging marketplace to identify the winning formula. Let’s get started.

Design of a vacation rental marketplace like Airbnb

Experts at SWEOR report that 88% of customers will not revisit a website after receiving a poor experience. According to WebFX, design has a 75% impact on the audience’s credibility to the web solution. Therefore, it is important to focus on this stage of building a website like Airbnb.

When making an online lodging marketplace, it is essential to:

Provide a seamless user experience (UX). Travelers and hosts should be able to easily find everything they need while interacting with the product without thinking. For this purpose, designers have to provide search across numerous filters and categories. The navigation has to be smooth, the flow of pages or screens has to be logically organized, menu structure must be simple and convenient.

Create a self-explanatory user interface (UI). Pages of a vacation rental marketplace should not be overwhelmed with various elements such as text content and buttons. A color scheme should be clear and consistent.

Develop a unique branding theme. If you want to make a website like Airbnb while gaining a competitive advantage, you should develop a unique branding style that meets user preferences.

However, when using a market-ready template, there is a risk to meet a clone of an online lodging marketplace. Furthermore, it may be challenging to optimize a website for search engines in this case. To deliver the best user experience while preventing these issues, we recommend that you create a custom UI/UX design.

Ensure responsiveness. At the beginning of 2021, 54.8% of global web traffic came from mobile devices, excluding tablets. It is worth noting that mobile devices have been consistently hovering nearly 50% since 2017. Therefore, a website should look and perform great across all operating systems.

Time: 200 hours

To learn more about building a superior product, explore the top 7 principles of a quality software design described by Andrew Volchek, CEO and Co-founder at Arateg, who has in-depth expertise in UI/UX design.

The functionality of an online lodging marketplace like Airbnb

Features for travelers

1. Registration and authorization

A vacation rental marketplace has to enable customers to sign up/in for creating a user profile and booking accommodations. When building a website like Airbnb, it is crucial to provide various methods to sign in/up, for instance, via an email, phone number, Google, and social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

For the purpose of improving user satisfaction and preventing churn, do not force travelers to register when travelers visit a marketplace platform for the first time. Signing up should be obligatory to make a reservation but not earlier.

Time: 40-80 hours

2. User profile

A user profile is a key feature of an online lodging marketplace. The profile usually contains information such as name, surname, age, location.

To build a website like Airbnb, you need to use a peer-to-peer model, this way allowing travelers to act as hosts renting out properties and inversely. Thanks to this, it will be easier to attract and engage the audience.

Time: 80 hours

3. Accommodation search and catalog

When creating a platform like Airbnb, it is important to enable search across a catalog using a variety of filters, for example, location, arrival/departure date, the number of guests and rooms, property type, price, basic and additional facilities, as well as languages known by hosts.

You should also enable users to search for accommodations by house rules such as “pets allowed” and “smoking allowed”.

Time: 100-120 hours

4. Accommodation description page

An online lodging marketplace has to provide property descriptions to facilitate search while helping vendors attract travelers. The page generally contains information such as overview, address, price, photos, amenities, as well as host’s name and contacts.

For the purpose of boosting customer loyalty, you can display customer reviews and the overall rating score on the page. When building a website like Airbnb, it is reasonable to let users set up the arrival and departure dates for checking out reservation availability. Furthermore, consumers should be able to view the property on the map.

Time: 100 hours

5. Reviews and ratings

By adding this feature to a vacation rental marketplace, you will increase user credibility in rendered services. To prevent fake testimonials, it is crucial to allow only registered customers who have actually stayed in accommodation to leave their comments and score services.

With reviews and ratings, travelers will be able to estimate the quality of rendered services and make more informed booking decisions. Hosts, in their turn, will have the opportunity to find out what attracts their customers and what pushes them aside.

Time: 120 hours

6. Geolocation

Geolocation is another key feature of a vacation rental marketplace that serves for identifying user location. Thanks to this, a software platform like Airbnb can create personalized offers, for instance, showcasing accommodations situated near customers.

Time: 120 hours

7. Accommodation search by moving the map

Search by moving the map is a valuable feature that allows users to seek accommodations in certain locations using zoom in/out. Thanks to this, travelers will be able to view sightseeing attractions, cafes, restaurants nearby.

When building a website like Airbnb, online marketplace developers can provide the possibility to look through property previews and make reservations with a few clicks. As a result, you will improve customer engagement and increase the conversion rate.

For this purpose, software engineers can integrate an application programming interface (API), for example, Google Maps or Google Places. Using an API, the team will not have to implement this functionality from scratch, this way saving you time and costs.

Check out third-party services —for inventory tracking, order management, data analytics, digital payment, and more—that you can integrate into an online lodging marketplace.

Time: 60 hours

8. Accommodation booking

Accommodation booking is an essential feature of a marketplace platform like Airbnb. When creating a marketplace website, software developers have to enable reservation by property type, arrival and departure dates, the number of guests and rooms, amenities, price, and other characteristics.

Time: 160 hours

9. Online payments

According to Invesp, 11% of customers abandon their shopping carts due to a complex checkout process while 7% of users say they are not willing to make a purchase when the system does not offer enough payment options.

To prevent these issues, a marketplace development team can integrate a payment gateway acting as an analog of a third-party virtual terminal. With a gateway solution, you will allow for carrying out transactions via a range of methods.

For instance, Braintree enables users to make money transfers using credit and debit cards, digital wallets, ACH Direct, as well as online banking services (e.g., Trustly, SOFORT, GiroPay). What’s more, payment gateways include features such as 3D Secure, CVV (card verification code check), and AVS (Address Verification System) to enforce security.

Popular gateway systems often take complementary measures to safeguard sensitive data. PayPal, for example, utilizes artificial intelligence to instantaneously identify suspicious activities and protect against fraud.

Time: 120 hours

Find out how to choose a payment gateway for a marketplace website like Airbnb.

Features for hosts

1. Registration and authorization

During registration on a vacation rental marketplace, vendors fill out information like name, address, contacts, property category, and available payment options. Hosts should also provide accommodation descriptions, and upload photos.

Time: 80 hours

2. Property listing

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