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How to make an app that is better than Airbnb

How to develop Airbnb alternative

Add fresh notes to the Airbnb idea to launch an outstanding rent condo app

So you've decided to make an app like Airbnb. That's a great decision – Airbnb is a hugely successful company, and there's a lot to learn from them. But before you start coding, there are a few things you need to do to set your app up for success.

First, you should not try to create a complete Airbnb clone because users will be unlikely to choose an unknown service over a well-recognized brand.

Second, you need to focus on the product quality, so you don't release a cheap knockoff that no one wants to use.

Third, you have to come up with a fresh idea to help you win your own audience.

To meet all three challenges, you will have to do a lot behind the scenes. This guide will reveal how to develop an Airbnb alternative and how much it might cost.

What’s wrong with Airbnb?

You must have faced a situation where you start watching a series, and it catches your attention in the first season. Over time, the series gains more fans but becomes less exciting. So, in season 3 or 4, you watch it with less interest or abandon it altogether.

Unfortunately, software products often experience the same cycle. When the product enters the market, it offers awesome rewards for the customers. Yet, when the audience grows, the customer loyalty program becomes less loyal, and the customers begin to feel that they are not getting value for their money. 

Recent customer complaint research shows that Airbnb doesn't always keep up with the test of time. Guests, who pay a lot for accommodation, regularly face poor customer service, scams, canceled bookings, unsafe conditions, and discrimination.

Most common complaints about Airbnb
Most common complaints about Airbnb

Additionally, some sources claim that Airbnb uses the tactic of raising prices based on the customer's IP address. That is, if a user regularly browses and books accommodation on Airbnb from the same IP, the reservation prices gradually grow for them.

5 must-have features your Airbnb clone should have

Airbnb was a pioneer in real estate app development, but now this industry is teeming with various property management tools. While every new app tries to refresh the user experience with more advanced functionality, there are features that are still essential for your Airbnb clone.

KYC check

If you want to develop an Airbnb alternative, you must take care of customer safety. It is important to ensure that hosts and guests are who they say they are and that meeting them does not pose a threat to other people.

By developing a KYC procedure similar to that of Airbnb, you can verify the user identity, confirm they have reached the age of majority, and make sure their bank accounts are eligible for financial transactions. Of course, you must guarantee the confidentiality of the data provided with no chance for third parties to reach and exploit that user information with malicious intent.

KYC check at Airbnb

GIS integration

Guests who rent through Airbnb are usually travelers or businessmen who value time and comfort and don't want to spend hours getting to places of interest. Given this, the location of the accommodation is a critical factor when deciding whether to rent it. To develop the clone, you should choose a reliable map service and integrate it into your rent condo app through a special third-party API. 

The common developers' choice, in this case, is Google Maps. Its displayed data has a high degree of accuracy and handy documentation is provided for adding maps to your Android or iOS app.

Searching accommodation by location
Searching accommodation by location


If you want to create a competitive Airbnb alternative, you should provide your customers with a smooth experience when searching for accommodation. 

Currently, Airbnb users can filter available offers by:

  • destination

  • check-in and check-out dates

  • number of guests

  • type of accommodation

  • number of rooms

  • price

  • cancellation rules

  • facilities

  • etc.

Additionally, users can indicate their reason for traveling and find appropriate housing for either business travel or vacation. What’s more, they can search for unique listings such as islands, treehouses, tents, castles, or even caves.

Airbnb filters
Airbnb filters

Ratings and reviews

The reviews are critical both for guests and hosts. While the former rely on them to choose accommodation, the latter use them to accept or deny particular guests.

If you want to build an app like Airbnb, you need to enable users to rate offers from 1 to 5 stars and write feedback for listings they had experience with. You can also use the Airbnb practice of preventing the host from reading the guest's review and vice versa until they submit their own review. Another nice feature is to write private or public feedback so that it can be seen only by the addressee or, alternatively, all Airbnb users.

Leaving feedback at Airbnb
Leaving feedback at Airbnb

Payment gateway

Airbnb users can pay for accommodation only with credit cards. No other payment methods such as cash or bank transfer are accepted and are against Airbnb's terms.

To enable online payment in your rental house software, you need to develop or integrate a payment gateway, a service that authorizes and processes debit/credit card payments for online merchants. 

It is important to ensure that the payment gateway supports not only the payment function itself but also refunds, recurring charges, and multicurrency. Additionally, you will have to develop functionality to freeze the guest's payment after the reservation and credit it to the host's account as soon as the guest enters the accommodation.

How online payment is organized at Airbnb
How online payment is organized at Airbnb

5 features Airbnb still lacks

There are a few features that Airbnb still lacks, and if you're looking to create an app that's better than Airbnb, you'll want to take these into account.

Ask for review

Some listings may lack reviews and ratings or have very few of them. In this case, it would be helpful to let potential guests ask previous guests about their impressions of staying in the accommodation of choice. Also, to encourage reviews, you may consider credit bonuses on the user's account for each review left.

Ratings on map

While Airbnb displays accommodation prices on a map, it would also be helpful to see listings' ratings there. Such a feature could save users a lot of time because they wouldn't have to open every offer to check the rating and feedback. Instead, customers could immediately filter out offers with insufficiently high ratings, if this is a critical factor in deciding about their upcoming stay.

Share rent

People who rent on Airbnb often travel with friends or relatives. For such cases, you could develop the functionality of mutual payment in your property management app. 

This would greatly enhance the user experience as customers would not have to do calculations outside your system. Additionally, such a feature would freshen up the idea of renting and help you step ahead of your main competitor.

Guide as a service

Many self-planned travelers spend a lot of time researching travel itineraries and places to visit. In your Airbnb-like app, you could offer an opportunity to plan a vacation based on the dates of stay and the customer's budget.

You could use artificial intelligence to analyze the customer's previous trips and consider the answers to the trip questionnaire. Based on the input data, the app could generate a complete travel plan with time and money calculations.

Rent car

Many travelers prefer to rent a car while on the trip. You could add this feature during the property management app development and allow customers to rent a car directly from your app.

You could also offer hosts the option to rent out accommodations together with cars. If the guest rents the house and the car from a single host, they could receive an extra discount. Thus, by including car rental in your bonus program, you can increase sales and grow profits.

Five features to make an app better than Airbnb
Five features to make an app better than Airbnb

Developing an Airbnb alternative: a step-by-step plan

Starting a project like Airbnb is challenging but not impossible. If you pay enough attention to research and planning, you will get a product that will help your business thrive. If you've made up your mind to develop a rent apartment app, here's a step-by-step guide to follow.

Step 1. Develop product strategy

Product strategy will help you outline business goals and the ways to achieve them. It will define the target audience and the product value for your customers and for your company.

Three elements of a great product strategy are:

  • business goals

  • market needs

  • product features and differentiators

Three elements of product strategy
Three elements of product strategy

As a part of the process, you will have to develop a product vision, development roadmap, user personas, feature breakdown list, and goal-oriented roadmap template. 

Step 2. Build MVP

MVP (minimum viable product) is a version of your product that's just good enough to get people using it. By building an MVP, you'll get feedback from your target audience and then shape your product according to the customers' expectations.

It's important to remember that your MVP doesn't have to be perfect. It just can’t be. The goal is to get something in the hands of your users as quickly as possible so you can start learning from them.

Considering that you are going to make anAirbnb clone, look back at Airbnb's origins and remember the MVP they released. It was a simple site offering guests to rent a "bed and breakfast" in the area nearby to the IDSA conference. By renting out their own apartment to three guests, the Airbnb founders validated the product idea and spent the minimum cost on the MVP. After confirming the demand for housing, they got involved in more advanced product development.

Airbnb MVP vs. Airbnb today
Airbnb MVP vs. Airbnb today

Step 3. Attract investments

Attracting investors is a critical component of any successful launch plan, and it starts with a great pitch deck. Investors want to see that you have a clear product vision and that you're passionate about your project, similar to Airbnb. 

Once you've got the investors’ attention, it's time to lay out the numbers. Guys with money want to see evidence that there's potential for return on their investment, so be sure to highlight how much money you need and how you plan to use it.

And finally, be prepared to answer any questions about the tech stack of your Airbnb-like app, security measures in place, and compliance with local laws.

The more information you can provide, the more likely they are to invest.

Airbnb original pitch deck
Airbnb original pitch deck

Step 4. Grow your audience

Even before you release an app like Airbnb, you should start growing your audience and getting people excited about what you're doing. At this stage, you will need to develop a promotion strategy and involve various resources to make your brand recognizable.

You can start with creating a landing page where people can sign up for product updates. This will help you collect email addresses and keep people in the loop.

You can also use social media to spread the word about your Airbnb clone. Post project news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and make sure to use hashtags so that people can find you.

Finally, reach out to bloggers and websites in your niche and see if they're interested in writing a review or interviewing you. The more people know about your project, the better.

Airbnb social media campaign
Airbnb social media campaign

Step 5. Obtain unique users

When creating an app like Airbnb, you do not have to fully clone it. Instead, you should come up with a fresh idea, diverse features, and a unique user experience. And don't forget to think bigger. You may collaborate with landlords, hostels, or even farmers. By providing innovations and finding your market niche, you will gain more loyal customers for your product.

How much does it cost to develop an app like Airbnb?

The cost of an Airbnb app as it is now can reach several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just imagine that 150 million people use Airbnb to book their vacation and business stays. 

To serve as many users as on Airbnb, you need to rent powerful cloud processing resources, set up extensive data storage, and use advanced technologies to establish ongoing and glitchless app work. 

However, if you are just starting a project, you do not need to pull a pile of money out of your pocket. As already mentioned, you can begin with an MVP. So, if you develop a simple site with such features as the ability to:

1. Sign up and create a profile

2. Find a place to stay

3. Find a car to rent

4. Make a reservation

5. Pay for a stay

you will need to spend $40000-50000. For more information about developing a product similar to Airbnb, please, contact our consultants. After learning your business and requirements, we will provide you with a detailed estimate.

September 15, 2022