Airbnb started the process of digital transformation in real estate and changed the way people travel. The idea behind Airbnb is that people can rent out their houses, apartments or rooms to other travelers to earn some extra money on the side.
The company’s success motivates business-savvy entrepreneurs to build websites like Airbnb. But while your startup is still in the idea phase, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Why is Airbnb so popular? What other sites are like Airbnb? How to create a real estate platform? And how can you be competitive enough to achieve Airbnb’s success? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions.
The Phenomenon of Airbnb
Airbnb is an online marketplace for people looking for short-term homestays and experiences, and for those willing to host them. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia. Although Airbnb has been criticized for a lack of regulations and rising apartment rents, its popularity is enormous.
Over the past 15 years, the company’s website has listed more than 6,000,000 flats, rooms and houses in over 100,000 cities around the world. It’s earned a solid reputation and continues to reap its rewards: in the second quarter of 2022, total revenue was $7.383B. But what type of business is Airbnb, and what is its key to success? Let’s find out.
Why Is It Popular?
In the beginning, of course, Airbnb had a lot of obstacles to overcome. It didn’t seem like a great startup idea, but with a smart business model and a change in direction, the company managed to achieve its goals and even go a little further. What exactly did Airbnb do to go from being an ordinary marketplace platform to the most popular company in the industry? Here are the characteristics that distinguish Airbnb from other similar businesses:
- Lodgings with the Local Atmosphere:
While hotels offer traditional accommodations, Airbnb hosts infuse local culture by designing their own accommodations and keeping many unique items there. So, when customers rent an Airbnb apartment, they become involved in a local story as they live like locals.
- Encourage Large-Scale Adoption:
This rental marketplace allows its customers to search for local accommodations around the world and supports more than 6 million listings. Airbnb’s wide reach has contributed significantly to its success. But without its 150 million enthusiastic users, the startup wouldn’t be as successful as it is today.
Nevertheless, Airbnb is so successful mainly because it solves the problems of our society. The marketplace platform allows travelers to choose a cheaper option and accommodation that suits their tastes and preferences. It also gives local renters more opportunities to make money and share their culture with foreigners.
Since advanced services like Airbnb didn’t exist in the early 2000s, the tourist world was craving such a platform. They were looking for a solution that would offer relatively cheap accommodation from local hosts, and this is where the digital transformation in the real estate industry began.
Main Keys to Success
If you wonder how to start your own Airbnb, first you should build your own strong technology for the startup. Airbnb started building its machine learning models in 2013 to make sure its search engine worked well.
Airbnb’s success is based on technology. It’s not so obvious, but the company relies heavily on ML (machine learning) and AI solutions to make the booking system work. Not only that, but improving search, helping hosts optimize their prices, and preventing fraud are other goals achieved using these technologies. With the use of ML and AI, the company also manages to connect people with the most relevant offers and services around the globe.
In developing its product, Airbnb has concluded that the users visit the site not just in search of any apartment or experience, but looking for a perfect match. Applying machine learning algorithms and AI is one way out to ensure users find the best variant. If you want to build a solution similar to Airbnb, here’s what you should consider:
- Build a deeper understanding of images. Airbnb’s technology detects images that a user has uploaded upside down, for example, and automatically fixes them to ensure that all photos are of good quality, depicting what they are supposed to be.
- Support for advanced search with NLP. Airbnb’s users can easily find what they are looking for thanks to effective natural language processing (NLP). They can search for “one-bedroom apartment in New York” and get results based on both images and text.
Airbnb founders also saw shortcomings in how Smart Pricing works and decided to improve it. This way, the company could push its search engine and hosts could price their listings based on the optimized features, such as occupancy rate or price per stay.
Are There Any Analogues?
Airbnb is a popular service to rent out living space. But there are many other platforms similar to Airbnb that have sprouted up recently. We’ll introduce you to some of the most popular ones and show you how they compare to Airbnb.
The first company we will talk about is Couchsurfing, an international network of travelers who offer their couches for others to sleep on for free. This site was developed in 2003 and has over 20 million members worldwide. This service is great because it’s free, but it offers less privacy than Airbnb and doesn’t include the same powerful search engine.
The next service we’ll talk about is Vrbo, which was founded in 1995 and has already listed over 2 million properties worldwide. This is the perfect platform for those looking for a higher standard of rental properties, for example with more space or a backyard. As a service for a large group or a family, Vrbo is better than Airbnb, but it doesn’t offer specific options for those who want to find cheaper accommodations.
The third company we have to mention is OneFineStay, which was founded in 2009 and offers only upscale accommodations in luxury hotels around the world. In total, there are 500 thousand reviews from guests. But just like Vrbo, it also offers more expensive deals, so the target audience is smaller.
So, one of the main differences between Airbnb and similar companies is that the first one can satisfy any customer regardless of their budget and preferences, while others focus on a specific audience and are not as user-friendly.
How to Start Your Own Airbnb?
This company has been around for 10 years and has become one of the most popular ways to find lodging while traveling.
To create a strong competitor, it is necessary to understand what makes Airbnb so successful. Airbnb is able to provide an easy and affordable way to find accommodation at any time of the year, anywhere in the world. This ease of use and accessibility can be mimicked by creating a similar website with the essential marketplace features, but also different enough from Airbnb to avoid being sued by them.
A competitor should also have better customer service than Airbnb because that will help it stand out from the competition. Creating a UI/UX optimized website is also vital, as well as making it more attractive than other sites like Vrbo, which are not as user-friendly as Airbnb’s one.
Let’s go into detail to create services like Airbnb. Follow the practical tips listed below to succeed.
Compulsory Parts Of A Real Estate Platform
Not to build an Airbnb clone, but to develop something better, you need to be clear about what problems you want your real estate app to solve. Airbnb, for example, is a multipurpose digital product for homeowners and travelers who want to rent out their home and make a short-term stay. As a solution, your real estate app needs to quickly and efficiently solve your customers’ problems—the hassle of finding a place to stay. Here’s how your product should help:
- find the perfect rental for customers;
- cater to the needs of renters and buyers with an extensive range of properties;
- customers to contact the hosts;
- retrieve as much information and images about the accommodation as possible.
All of the above are mandatory components of a marketplace like Airbnb, so keep them in mind while building your platform.
Make Your Platform Interactive
There are some pillars in terms of design and hosting that will ensure the success of your platform. If you want to make sure that your customers enjoy interacting with your website, you should take a close look at the following practices:
- Website speed.
Search engine optimization is your way out to improve the content of your blog and make it more relevant to search engines. In 2022, it’s more important than ever to level up your site’s ranks and conversion rate by decreasing web page load time. If your page load time is longer than 3 seconds, you need to upgrade your site with more effective SEO practices.
- Intuitive navigation
Don’t let your users wander around your site looking for the information they need. That will make them leave the platform and never come back. Instead, your marketplace solution should be easy to navigate. With a clearly structured design and a well-thought architecture, your website will guide visitors smoothly through all categories and information.
- Responsive design
To achieve responsive design, you should ensure a platform works perfectly on all types of devices. It shouldn’t only work, but also be attention-grabbing and comfortable, so that users will want to stay longer. Besides, the Google algorithm ranks websites higher if they are responsive.
Invent The Best Way Of Monetization
Once you’ve finally figured out how to build a website like Airbnb and have your rental marketplace ready, it is time to start thinking about how to monetize your solution in the future.
Below, we’ll introduce you to 3 popular monetization models for real estate solutions:
- charge a listing fee: You take a payment for each home listed on your website.
- offer advertising for an additional fee: If a homeowner wants their listings to be high up in search results, they can pay extra money for this option.
- traditional advertising: you can allow companies to advertise on your website.
Prepare Unique User-Oriented Features
To keep users loyal to your platform, it should offer more than just a list of available accommodations. So if you’re starting a business like Airbnb, don’t forget to add these features, without which your marketplace platform can’t exist:
- Listing System;
- Publishing and visualization of accommodations;
- Search Filters;
- Direct Messaging;
- Push Notifications;
Prepare A Comprehensive Database
When customers come to your website, they should be able to see the real estate listings with all the necessary descriptions and images to make the best decision. And you should ensure that homeowners can easily add their listings. Make sure that the database you use is flexible enough to expand. The wider the list of listings is, the more popular the marketplace website will be.
With an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) integration, you can post both your listings and those in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) — an extensive database of rental properties from various agents. This allows people looking for a property to review more options, while homeowners can add a larger list of housing listings.
How To Choose The Right Team To Develop Your Product?
This is an important process you should take seriously, as the team you choose is the key factor in developing a quality product and making it successful.
There are a few critical factors to consider when choosing the right team. You need to know their skills and experience, their approach to similar projects, their hard and soft skills, as well as goals and motivations.
LITSLINK has a team of 300+ tech professionals with 5+ years of experience. We’ve successfully launched 60+ startups and are ready to develop even more quality marketplace software solutions for startups and SMEs. If you want to know more, contact us!
Build a highly-performing marketplace similar to Airbnb & take the real estate industry by storm!
Want to contribute to the “sharing economy” as Airbnb does? No doubt you can. Look through the article for the second time and start turning your marketplace idea into a viable product. Airbnb is a strong competitor, so you need a skilled software services team to build a solid product and not be overshadowed, but be a successful business. To be competitive in the industry, your product should perform well, be attractive and user-friendly UI /UX and offer something unique.
To take this burden off your shoulders, contact our expert LITSLINK development team to create your own rental marketplace software no worse than Airbnb.