In a world where innovation reigns supreme, you constantly grapple with a dilemma: how to stand out, disrupt the status quo, and carve your niche in the ever-evolving tech landscape.
Last year, 68% of all tourism transactions were online. And by 2026, they will make up 73% of the sector. So it’s a rather lucrative industry. If we take a look at the rivals in this sphere, the top one is Airbnb.
This pioneering platform, born out of a simple idea and sheer determination, transformed how we explore the world, connect with new cultures, and find a home away from home. But the path to creating an app like Airbnb is no walk in the park. It’s a journey filled with uncertainties, pitfalls, and complex decisions.
If you find yourself yearning to bring your vision to life, then this article is your guiding star. We’ll unravel the mysteries, share the secrets, and empower you with the knowledge you need to develop an Airbnb-like app.
Understanding the Airbnb model
Before you dive into app development, it’s crucial to understand why this rival’s model has been so successful. So you gain insights into what users value, what makes them trust a platform, and what encourages them to return. Learning strengths and weaknesses will help you shape your strategy and design.
User profiles and authentication
Airbnb’s user-centric approach starts with the user profile system. There is a robust authentication process, which includes identity verification and linking to social media accounts. This approach makes people trust the platform more. Implementing a similar system is a good idea for building trust and credibility in your mobile app.
Property listing and booking
The primary goal is to connect hosts with guests. Property listing features, complete with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, wishlists of favorite properties, and availability calendars — all help users to book accommodations seamlessly. That’s why you need to pay attention and try providing a similar, user-friendly experience.
Reviews and ratings
The power of reviews and ratings is unquestionable. Vacation rental apps rely on these to establish trust within their community. Consider implementing a review system in your product to allow guests to share their experiences.
Smooth and secure payment processing is at the heart of Airbnb‘s success. Your users will trust your platform with their financial and private information. Therefore, be sure to build in fraud protection, security systems, etc. Also, the hosts should have access to insurance coverage in case of liability claims. This improves security for property owners.
Messaging and communication
People also should trust the host and have the ability to communicate with them. To meet this demand, Airbnb offers a convenient messaging system. That’s why if you want to replicate this experience, consider building a messaging feature.
Market research and validation
Now that you are ignited with the idea of making a booking app, it’s time to switch to some practical tips. Where to start? First, you need to conduct a thorough market research. It is the foundation of a successful application. It helps you identify the current trends, customer preferences, and other potential competitors.
- Identify your niche: determine the specific segment of the hospitality market you want to target. Are you focusing on luxury vacation rentals, budget-friendly stays, or unique and offbeat accommodations?
- Competitor analysis: study existing Airbnb-like apps and identify gaps in their offerings. What can you do differently or even better?
- User surveys and feedback: gather feedback from potential users through surveys and interviews. Understand their preferences and expectations.
- Market trends: Stay updated on the latest trends in the hospitality and travel industry. This knowledge will help you adapt and innovate.
App monetization strategy
- Booking fees: сharge a percentage or flat fee for every successful booking made through your platform. Airbnb, for example, typically charges both hosts and guests a service fee for each reservation.
- Subscription model: you can offer premium subscription plans with additional features or benefits. These could include enhanced visibility in search results, priority customer support, or discounts.
- Listing fees: hosts can pay a fee to list their properties on your platform. It can be one-time, recurring, or based on the number of listings they manage.
- Transaction fees: charge a small fee for payment processing. Again, a percentage of the booking amount or a flat fee per transaction.
- Featured listings: an option to pay for a special listing that appears at the top of search results, on the front page, and increases visibility to potential guests.
- Property management services: offer cleaning, maintenance, and concierge services for hosts, and charge a commission or fee.
- Referral programs: allow people to earn rewards or discounts for referring new hosts or guests to your platform. This can help attract new users.
- Host verification: hosts can verify their account for a fee, which can include background checks, identity verification, and other trust-building measures.
- Cancellation insurance: sell cancellation insurance to guests to receive refunds in certain circumstances. It’s a great possibility to partner with insurance providers for this service.
- Partnerships and affiliates: partner with other travel-related companies, such as airlines, car rental services, or tour operators, and earn commissions for referrals or bookings made through your booking app.
- Data licensing: if you gather valuable data on travel trends and user behavior, consider licensing this info to businesses or researchers in the travel industry.
Development of an Airbnb-like app
Building a team
Your team is the backbone of your project’s success. Hiring talented individuals who share your vision and passion is essential for delivering a high-quality product. Here are the specialists you might need:
- Mobile app developers: they are a must-have for building applications for both iOS and Android platforms. They should be proficient in programming languages such as Swift (for iOS) and Kotlin/Java (for Android).
- Back-end developers: they are responsible for building the server side of the app, managing databases, and handling user authentication and data storage. The developers often use technologies like Node.js, Ruby on Rails, or Python.
- Database developers: these specialists design and manage the database structure of the app, ensuring efficient info storage and retrieval.
- UI/UX designers: obviously, they work on the visual aspects of the app, including layout, color schemes, and overall design.
- Quality Assurance testers: they are responsible for testing the app to identify and report bugs and issues. The testers ensure that the application functions correctly and meets quality standards.
- Legal advisors: legal experts can help you navigate regulatory requirements, including terms of service, privacy policies, and compliance with local laws.
- Data analysts: they gather insights from user data to make informed decisions and optimize the app’s performance.
Development costs for an Airbnb-like app
Your expenses will vary depending on the features you want to see in your application. The more you implement, the more money you will spend. Also, some cutting-edge options like an AR tour through the future accommodation are definitely costly.
However, you can lower the expenses. First, by opting for an MVP with only essential features. Second, by hiring an outsourcing development team. The agency usually charges around $40-45 per hour for development and $75-80 per hour for the design. An in-house team will charge around $150 per hour.
Let’s take a look at the approximate costs:
Simple app with 5-10 pages:
- Approximately 383+ hours ($17 235) for development
- Around 202+ hours ($16 160) for design
- Around 960+ hours ($43 200) for a custom approach
Total: ~ $33 395 or $59 360 for custom development
Complex app with 10-15 pages:
- Approximately 657+ hours ($29 565) for development
- Around 318+ hours ($25 440) for design
- Around 1776+ hours ($79 920) for a custom approach
Total: ~ $55 005 or $105 360 for custom development
To get an approximate estimate for your project, try Project Calculator. With its help, you can calculate potential expenses for development, branding, and UI/UX design.
Compliance and legal considerations
Different regions and cities have specific regulations related to short-term rentals, zoning laws, and tax requirements. Complying with these local laws can be challenging, as they vary widely. For instance, many areas impose occupancy taxes or tourist taxes on short-term rentals. Your app may be responsible for collecting and remitting these taxes on behalf of hosts, adding complexity to the payment processing system.
That’s why it’s vital to hire a legal expert and determine the liability of the platform in case of disputes or issues between hosts and guests. Successful cases make your clients more loyal, so they return to the app often.
The journey to creating an app like Airbnb is challenging, but it’s also immensely rewarding. Embrace the opportunity to disrupt the hospitality industry and offer travelers a unique and memorable experience.
Building a booking app requires careful planning, a dedicated team, and a commitment to delivering exceptional user experiences. With the right strategy, technology, and execution, startups and product owners can transform their visions into successful reality.