How to Develop a travel app like Airbnb?
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert
Everyone loves to explore new places. We always look for an excuse to escape from our routine lives and travel to adventurous and unexplored destinations for some rejuvenating experiences. Travelling creates some beautiful memories that we can cherish for a lifetime. And, when the world is our oyster, we have so much to explore, isn’t it?
We believe that the ever-booming travel industry is proof of our passion for travelling. Here are some facts and figures that confirm our belief.
- As per the report from the World Travel & Tourism Council, the travel and tourism industry has contributed to a total of 10.4% of the global GDP.
- As per the report by the US Travel Association, $1,036 billion was spent on travel in 2017.
- On average, Americans usually spend $1,978 on summer vacations by Allianz Travel Insurance.
Talking about vacations… What is the first thing that crosses our mind when we think about traveling? Yes, you’ve guessed it right! It definitely has to be quality lodging and boarding facilities at reasonable prices. We all know that unkempt Inns and lousy food are capable enough to ruin our trip. Hence, you need to ensure to book the best hotel or rented accommodation that not only serve quality food but also offers a good package deal.
Airbnb is one of the most promising online booking portals where you can find the best deal for rentals that too within your preferred budget. It is a benchmark of superior deals in the travel industry and is known for its excellent customer service.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service provider, offers vacation rentals and other travel experiences. It was founded in 2008 and has become one of the renowned companies in the hospitality sector. An interesting fact about Airbnb is that it does not own any hotels or inns or other properties. It merely functions as a mediator and earns commissions per booking.
When you visit the Airbnb website or app, you can find a list of vacation rentals. You can choose as per your preferences, budget, and convenience. It has 60 million users across the globe, with its presence in 57,000 cities, 191 countries and 640,000 hosts. Moreover, the website and app both, allow its users to chat with the hosts to discuss the accommodation details.
Airbnb provides an equal opportunity for hosts who want to rent their property or space and for the users who are looking for affordable vacation rentals apart from hotels. In a very short span, Airbnb has captured the world market by its seamless, innovative and feasible services.
Airbnb Business Model:
In case, if you are planning on investing your hard-earned money to build a service app similar to Airbnb, you need to understand its business model first. It will help you to get a better insight into how it functions.
The business model is quite simple. There are hosts in every city with available properties. If they want to lend out their properties for a short period, they can list it on the Airbnb portal. They can add details about the ownership, rentals, timings for check-in and checkout and other such information.
Users who are looking for accommodation can visit the Airbnb portal and search rentals. They can choose from the available options according to their preferences. They can even chat with the hosts to know specific details about the properties.
Airbnb’s business model solely works on sharing economy, where it functions as a mediator that creates a platform for both – service providers and service seekers.
Who are the significant associates for Airbnb?
- Users who are looking for quality rented properties
- Hosts who are the actual owners of their properties
- Freelance photographers who can visit the host’s property and click photos with high resolution
- Travellers who are looking for affordable rental places for their vacations including business travellers and families
- People who are adventurous and love to visit a new location with a limited budget
- Property owners who want to earn some money by lending out their properties for a short time
- The development and maintenance of the app and website
- Online payment platforms such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, etc.
- Marketing and promotional activities
Why users prefer Airbnb?
( Image Courtesy: thumbor.forbes.com)
There are various reasons why people prefer Airbnb over other portals. Affordability and popularity being the significant factors, it urges most of the tourist to opt for Airbnb as compared to other travel portals. Users think of it as a wise option, as it not only helps them save on rentals, but it also allows them to spend on other relevant local and cultural activities. Airbnb offers the best fares in the market that are far less as compared to hotel rooms.
Majority of the properties listed on Airbnb are villas, castles, and apartments. These properties are ideal for people who travel in groups. Families would prefer to rent a home rather than a hotel as the former gives a personal touch. Such sharing accommodation helps cut down the expenses.
Apart from these accommodations Airbnb also lists hotel rooms, hostels and even a bed for rent. Further, the option to rent just one room or some extra space is apt for the solo travellers as well as the host who does not wish to rent their entire property.
Airbnb also provides a feature wherein the users can chat with the hosts. The users can inquire for any particular details about the rented property including additional fees, amenities, timings, and other facilities. This feature not only helps the user but also allows the host to know their guests better.
Major competitors of Airbnb
As they say- success has many fathers, post the successful launch of Airbnb, many other businesses have entered the market to grab the share. Some of the competitors of Airbnb are listed below:
The number one competitor of Airbnb is ‘HomeAway’. With its presence in 190 countries, it has more than a million rooms listed across the globe. A striking difference between Airbnb and HomeAway is that the later only offers rentals of entire properties, unlike Airbnb. Rest of the services is pretty much similar.
Unlike Airbnb, FilpKey does not offer shared rooms. However, it facilitates some attractive search filters like dog-friendly and kid-friendly options. With its presence in more than 160 countries, the USP of FlipKey is that it’s owned by TripAdvisor and provides a quality manual verification program for the users to help them verify rentals.
More than 300,000 rental properties and with a presence in more than 100 countries, Wimbdu, is amongst the leading European portal for renting city apartments. However, apart from renting apartments, they also rent out holiday homes, chalets, farmhouses and houses just like Airbnb.
Developing an MVP model based on your business ideas
Just in case if you don’t prefer to build an app that directly competes with Airbnb then, creating an MVP model is the first step. Experts suggest going local first and gradually spreading your wings. You can create an MVP model with basic features first.
Airbnb Revenue Model
Indeed, you would want to know the revenue model of Airbnb as it is the top most priority of any business. Airbnb does not charge from hosts for listing their properties. However, when a user books the room using the portal, that’s when Airbnb earns. Curious! Want to know how?
From property owners
When a user books a room through the platform, Airbnb directly gets 10% flat commission from hosts.
For every booking done on the Airbnb platform, users pay 3% of the booking amount as transaction charges.
Features to consider while developing an app like Airbnb:
Additional value adds:
Think of something that no other travel portal offers. For example, FlipKey provides users with a quality manual verification program to help them verify rentals. This feature adds to the trust factor amongst users. There are many such travelling pain points you can identify and offer a solution. Remember, creating a cloud copy of Airbnb will take you nowhere. Offer something unique and make a difference.
Keep everything simple:
One of the striking features of Airbnb is its simplicity. Visit the Airbnb website or app, and you will notice a highly comprehensive yet straightforward and a user-friendly interface that offers an exceptional experience to the users. Users love ease and honesty. So, while designing the app, do keep this in mind!
Keep the app size relatively small:
Try to develop an app that does not require a lot of space. No matter, which device the user might have, they’ll always face storage issues. Hence, a relatively small sized app will be appreciated.
Provide more filters:
Users find it intriguing when a high level of personalization is provided. For the listing page, you can create some unique filters that might seem to be useful for the users. FlipKey has equipped users with search options such as dog-friendly and kid-friendly properties. This add-on search option could be a deal breaker for many users!
Features for online booking Travel Apps
Traveller Mobile App
- Sign up/Sign in: Users can Sign Up/Sign in through the mobile app using their Email id/Phone number and password
- Explore Homes: Users can view various rentals that are available for booking at a selected location along with details like amenities, breakfast, the number of guests that can be accommodated, price and its reviews, etc.
- Explore Hotels: Listing of all the hotels along with their features and location preferences, space available for the users to stay, a menu for food (if provided) and the cost of the hotel that they plan to book
- Search & Filter: Listing of different homes & hotel for a selected location and filter the results using location filter, food category filter, and price filter, etc.
- Save Search: The option to mark the hotels or homes as the favourite so that the users can review it later
- Inbox: For communicating with either the host or the hotelier regarding their booking confirmations or cancellations.
- Payment: Review the final amount of booking a home or hotel through the application and opt to process the payment based on the option selected.
- Rate & Review: For the users to share their feedback of the hotels & homes based on the experience of their stay
- Cancel Reservation: Users can cancel their rental bookings directly through the mobile app
￼Host Mobile App
- Sign up/Sign in: Hosts can Sign Up/Sign In to the mobile app using their Email id/Phone number and Password
- List Property: Hosts can list their property simply by sharing details of the property, number of people it can accommodate, breakfast if provided, and the location of the property
- Inbox: For communicating with the travelers regarding the property booking status or availability or any other requirements and enquiries in particular.
- Calendar: Calendar will save information regarding the reservations made for a particular day/days of the listed property or hotel
- Listings: Hosts can review their property listing or add new ones. They can also view, add or edit details about their property
- Total earnings: View the total revenue of the host, earned through their property or hotels listed in the application
Super Admin Panel (Backend Panel)
- Dashboard: View various details regarding the entire property/hotel listed, total revenue generated by property and hotels
- Cities management: Add/Edit new cities in the application where the users can add their property or hotels at a particular location
- Manage Property Listings: Admin can add, delete or manage details regarding the properties that are listed
- Manage Bookings: Admin can manage the booking, booked by the traveller, including the payment details
- Payments: Payment management for the host of the property and the amount of the property booking after deduction of commission
- Transaction History: View the transaction id, booking summary, booking id, transaction date and method of payment for a particular reservation
- Booking History: View past bookings along with the time of booking and booking summary
- Push Notification: Send push notification to the traveller or host regarding any system related news/offers
API & Synchronization
- SMS Gateway: Integration of SMS API into the mobile application to send SMS notifications related to the bookings/promotional offers
- Payment Gateway: Integration of payment API for the ease of payment for travellers
- Email: Integration of email API which will allow the system to send automated email for booking confirmation to travellers
- Analytics: 3rd Party Analytics API to get the analytics regarding the number of traveller registrations, booking confirmations and successful booking completions
- Geo Location: Integration of API to get the geolocation of the travellers and the host who have listed their property/hotel
The estimated cost of app development for an app like Airbnb:
￼Many factors affect the overall cost of developing an app like Airbnb. Some of these factors are- platform choice, the number of employees hired for the project, in-house or outsourced development, and the use of advanced features and functionalities. Usually, a basic app with simple features would cost from $25000 to $35000, and the app with advanced features would vary based on the features and functionalities to be added.
Team of Experts
You will need a team of experts who can put efforts to build a highly functional and feature-rich app. The team should consist of a project manager, UI/UX designer, developer, and quality control analyst. You can even hire a trusted mobile app development company and outsource the project. The main advantage of hiring a company is that they already have a full-fledged team of experts with the latest technology and resources. Outsourcing will help you save time on hiring new skill and also the cost of training the recruits. Additionally, once the project is over, you won’t have to worry about the additional staff. Not to forget, you also won’t face the risk of hiring underperforming staff as the outsourcing firm assures you of quality and experienced team of experts.
Travelling has never been more comfortable as it is today. Travellers have multiple options to choose from an array of hotels, mode of transports, and amenities. The travel companies make sure to come up with innovative ideas and value-added services to make the travellers’ journey easier and comfortable. Make sure to think of some new facility or functionality that could be of value add, while building a travel app like Airbnb. Also, make sure to keep in mind the two beneficiaries- Hosts and Travelers. As you need to understand that by merely keeping their interests intact, you’ve won half the battle!
An enthusiastic entrepreneur, interested to discuss new app ideas, rich gadget tricks and trends, and admires signature tech business styles to readily embrace. He enjoys learning most modern app crafting methods, exploring smart technologies and passionate about writing his thoughts too. Inventions related to mobile and software technology inspire Ashish and he likes to inspire the like-minded community through the finesse of his work.