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How to Build a Real Estate Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost?

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Yuri Musienko
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Airbnb was launched in 2008 to help two guys rent out a couple of rooms in an apartment. They had nothing grandiose on their minds, only a desire to make ends meet and somehow hold out until normal work appears. Seven years later, this seemingly simple idea turned into a company with a capitalization of $ 10 billion and millions of unique visitors per day.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost

Interesting facts about Airbnb

The success of Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, the founders of Airbnb, inspired many to create websites dedicated to short-term rental housing. And if you are also attracted by this idea, then you will find a detailed guide on how to create an analog site for Airbnb, and calculate the estimated cost of such a project.

#1 Do market research

When Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia started, they planned to make money quickly by renting out housing to the participants of the World Congress of the the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design / Industrial Design Society Of America (ICSID / IDSA).

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost in 2008

This is how Airbedandbreakfast.com looked like in 2008 (first Airbnb domain name)

The guys decided that hotels and hostels would be crowded with congress participants, therefore, they would have no rooms left, and if they did, they would be very expensive. And if you advertise cheap housing on the sites where forum participants gather and run targeted advertising on social networks, people will prefer this alternative to high prices in hotels. And so it happened.

This is an excellent example of analyzing the market and targeting the target audience - Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia paid off their rent for a short time and earned $ 1,000 in addition. And if you plan to create your own analogue of Airbnb, then you also need to decide in advance on the target audience and how to enter it.

Most likely, it will be people who meet the following criteria:

  • young (millennials) - they are more inclined to agree to live in someone else’s apartment, even with their owners;
  • economical - you need those who are willing to spend time and effort on finding a cheap alternative to a hotel room;
  • and, of course, these are people who go somewhere for a short time (tourists, people on a business trip, conference participants and others).

#2 Find the perfect domain name

Initially, the creators of Airbnb launched the site under the domain name Airbedandbreakfast.com, because the option they needed was taken and they had no money to buy it. The problem with Airbedandbreakfast.com is length.

Long names are hard to remember and they lack the powerful message that most of short names have. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia understood this, therefore, as soon as the opportunity arose, they bought out Airbnb.com.

Criteria for an ideal domain name:

  • short (maximum length - 12–15 characters);
  • easy to remember (it is desirable that the name consist of two syllables);
  • not associated with other brands and domain names;
  • repeats or beats the brand name;
  • “.com” domain zone (top-level domain, or TLD).

If you can’t think of a domain name yourself, use Namestation.com or its equivalent. The Namestation algorithm generates random names based on a list of keywords. At the same time, the site shows which of the generated names are free and which are already taken.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost domain

An example of generating a domain name based on the words "rental" and "housing". Two names are taken. Source of the image
If you like some name, but it is already taken, you may be able to buy it. The price may be different - from a couple hundred to several million dollars. View the approximate cost or find another option for purchase can be on sites:
  • Afternic BuyDomains;
  • ExpiredDomains.net;
  • DomainNameSales;
  • BrandBucket;
  • Godaddy.

#3 Develop the concept of the site

To create a site like Airbnb, it is important to determine what we really mean. Here are the main things that define such a site:
  1. P2P transactions. The site brings private individuals who donate their housing in the short-term, with those who wish to rent someone else's. This may be a room, apartment, bungalow, cottage or any other room in which you can live and which meets certain criteria of safety and comfort.
  2. Significance of location. On sites like Airbnb, the supplier and the customer must be physically close to each other in order to share the values. Search by using filters and maps.
  3. Reviews and reputation system. The parties should be able to leave feedback about each other after the conclusion of the transaction (completion of the transaction). Thus, you can create a reputation system that will help to toss out unreliable counterparties.
  4. Booking management. If the site offers rental services, it will need a booking management system so that landlords can indicate the availability of the service on a particular day, and tenants can book accommodation for the dates they need.
  5. Online payments through the website. The platform should have the tools to book and pay for services through the site. It is convenient and safe, and also allows you to charge a transaction fee.
  6. Delay and retention of funds. Protect users from fraud, for example, from fraudulent ads for renting out someone else’s housing.
In addition to these things, the concept of the site should also include the development of wireframe, design and interface elements. Usually, everyone tries to make the site as close as possible to the design of Airbnb, but this is a bad idea - why use something similar to Airbnb, if there is an original Airbnb. Better to create a unique solution, as did Booking.com, Wimdu, FlipKey and 9flats.

#4 Choose an approach to development

If you have a domain and concept ready, the next step is to develop the site directly. And here you will have two options: use a ready-made script / theme / template or hire a professional developer. This is a very important decision, so consider both options in more detail.

Individual solution. Outsourcing development is a great option if you need to create a website with unique features, technologies and design. You can find a development company on Clutch.co, Appfutura, Goodfirms.co, Extract.co and Adnify. There is a brief description of the companies, contact details and customer reviews. You can also search for developers on the professional social network LinkedIn and on the Quora and Reddit questionnaire sites.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost Pros

Ready-made solutions. WordPress themes, scripts, and clones of the Airbnb website speed up and simplify development. But they have significant limitations on setting up the functionality and design. The most popular WordPress themes for creating websites like Airbnb are Listable, Listify, ClassyAds, SpotFinder, and Love Travel Theme. Among the scripts are in demand Dropinn, Airhotels, BistroStays, Burrow, Renters and Inout EasyRooms.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost cons

#5 Create useful content

Content is articles, pictures, and videos. Airbnb was unusually successful because it showed apartments and rooms in a unique way with a lot of additional content. The company employs people to take professional photos and write relevant texts.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost photos

Beautiful photos attract people by forcing them to click on an ad and study it. Source of the image

Thanks to high-quality photos, people can imagine themselves in the apartment they are planning to rent. This enhances the positive user experience and contributes to an increase in conversion, which in turn increases the site profit.

Build a Website Like AirBnb and How Much Does It Cost impressions

On Airbnb, there are not only ads, but also articles with tips, instructions, and stories from people about their experiences and impressions. Source of the image
Relevant texts also contribute to user engagement. Therefore, hire specialists to write many different articles:
  • about the cities where your landlords rent housing;
  • about the correct choice of apartment and the nuances of this process;
  • about tourist routes and attractions;
  • about other things that will be interesting to users.

Articles can be written by your users. To do this, enter a special section and hire people who will view sent by readers and, if necessary, edit texts with the consent of the authors.

#6 Hire employees

Modern business is a team type of "sport" where loners are doomed to failure, no matter how talented and assertive they are. Therefore, determine in advance the staff, management structure and salary for each position. This is necessary to calculate the project budget, and also helps to understand when and who to hire.

Where to look for employees:

  • Linkedin;
  • Freelancer;
  • Craigslist;
  • UpWork.

If you are planning to hire copywriters to fill the site with content, then this should be done before launching the project. The situation is similar with the support service. However, if you are planning over time to attract venture capital or to conduct an IPO, then you will need people for management positions that you should hire after the launch of the site.

What posts need to fill for an IPO (according to the method of Mequoda):

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO);
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO);
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO);
  • Chief Content Officer (CCO);
  • Chief Development Officer (CDO);
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO);
  • Chief Strategy Officer (CSO);
  • Chief Analytics Officer (CAO).

#7 Schedule a successful launch

This event is necessary in order to create noise around your project. But it cannot simply be appointed and await “grandiose success.” Launch site need to be prepared:
  • inform about the event the maximum number of people by advertising on social networks, on specialized sites and, possibly, in the media and on the radio;
  • use marketing influence - posts and videos of famous bloggers;
  • prepare special offers for the first customers - promotions, discounts, bonuses, gifts that will attract potential customers;
  • develop a marketing policy and prepare a brief history about you and your website - the mission, goals, advantages and target audience.

To track the success of an event, set several goals to achieve with it. What to seek from users:

  • booking is the main goal.
  • comments, feedback and suggestions;
  • subscription;
  • registration on the site.

Use Google Analytics to track goals and conversion rates. Good advice for increasing conversions is to simplify interaction with the site and remove distractions, such as unnecessary images, links to other sites and social networking buttons. These elements distract users from the main goal - room reservation. Place social media icons away from the booking button in the upper right corner (standard practice).

How much is a website like Airbnb costs

Domain name: from 10 to 5000 dollars. Registration of a free domain costs from 10 to 1000 dollars depending on the seller and the domain zone. Buying someone else's domain usually costs several thousand dollars, sometimes more expensive. For example, in 2010, the domain name Sex.com was sold for $ 13 million.

Web hosting: $ 50–300 per month. Choose popular services with good reviews, even if it costs two to three times more. You will work with confidential data and financial transactions, so you need guarantees of reliability and security.

Website development: from free to $ 50,000. The theme for WordPress can be free or cost about $ 100, scripts - from 300 to 700 dollars, development from scratch - from 5,000 to 50,000 dollars.

Content creation: from $ 500 per month. You need high-quality articles with unique photos and posts on social networks. They can be ordered at freelance sites, but it’s better to hire a few people who will do it on a regular basis.

Marketing: from 250 dollars per month. $ 250 is enough for email marketing. Advertising on social networks, media and on specialized sites is more expensive, but the effect of it is more. In addition, do not forget about promotions, bonuses and gifts, especially when it comes to popular people. Airbnb often pays instead of showbiz stars when they order services on their website - do the same.

Staff: 1000 dollars per month. Creating an Airbnb-like site, you can not do without customer support and staff that will serve the users. Such employees can be hired on the staff or outsourced. The number of necessary people is scaled with the growing popularity of the site.

Payment services: from 200 dollars. Users should be able to make instant online payments through your website, and you should be able to charge a fee for these payments. This requires integration of payment services, for example, PayPal, which will cost you $ 200.

Mobile application in 2021: from 3,000 to 50,000 dollars. Most Internet users use mobile apps for shopping, chatting and travel arrangements. If you want your site to be a success, you cannot do without a mobile application. And remember that an application, like a site, must support the roles of tenants and landlords.

The total cost of creating a site like Airbnb varies from five to several hundred thousand dollars depending on the development approach, functionality and marketing policy. This is more than in 2008 spent Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, but then they had no competitors and the requirements for the sites were much less.

The Airbnb project makes a lot of money thanks to the huge audience on the site. So according to statistics from Similarweb, more than 81 million users visit the platform every month. Airbnb is very popular because it offers the most favorable conditions for cooperation compared to competitors, for example, TaskRabbit. I take into account the company's capitalization and information from open source, the turnover for 2012 amounted to more than 1.7 billion dollars, at the same time about 190 million dollars is netcome. As you can see, real estate sites can bring quite large dividends.

Merehead does professional development of develop real estate website. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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