How to Make an App Like Airbnb: Development Cost Breakdown

One of the most influential apartment-providing services worldwide and a travel app at the same time, it took more or less 9 years for the founders of Airbnb to generate sustainable revenue out of their product, and to turn it into Airbnb mobile application finally, once starting with a website. So how to build an app like Airbnb? In this article we will go all the way through the building of an app like Airbnb, getting rid of potential losses and calculating the future development costs.

A Home-Away-From-Home Idea.

airbnb logo idea

There is no need to educate you about the purpose of the service created within a pure coincidence, a bit of luck and a genuinely creative idea. Speaking of which, it all started back in 2007, when two future Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had simply no money to pay their accommodation fee; so the solution they came up with at the time was to rent a mattress in their room using a B&B scheme, with an initial goal just to earn a few bucks.

As Business Insider claims, the realization this idea had potential hit both founders soon, and despite the numerous rejections they received from angel investors, they still managed to grow into Airbnb out of Air Bed&Breakfast by 2009, and by the time this article is published (March 2018) this platform can be found in 191 countries and more than 65 000 cities.

Universally-known fact - applications like Uber and Airbnb are considered to be the most progressive ways of human within-society interaction, as there are two factors they help with:

  • Building a “sharing economy” model, a system where assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a certain fee.

  • Building the famous “trust loop”, the environment where the credence among people is built via certain services and assets.

More to this, the globalization aspect comes into play; as we live in the century of the Internet, more free space and more interest in traveling and foreign cultures, it results in the rise of lodging reservation websites or reservation app development.

Read also: How to Develop a Hotel Booking Website

Airbnb's business model

Is a booking app like Airbnb successful? Let the numbers speak for themselves.

According to WSJ magazine, Air Bed and Breakfast earned almost $1 million in 2009, and then a dramatic hike has begun:

2010: $6.8 million
2011: $25 million
2012: $100 million
2014: $500 million
2015: $900 million

2 years after it now, and the “cash flow” tendency has only grown volumes ever since.

However, Airbnb is not the only service on Earth offering B&B within your own house: there are platforms like HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and so on; basically, all of these companies do the same job, attracting customers via various new features, intuitive user experience and loads of freebies. So, property rental app development - what does it take?

Inside the Airbnb Apartment

Guest and host Airbnb's profiles

First things first, and in case of property rental business, it is a business model that comes first - a simple, but high-risk one. The service you create needs to have at least 2 types of users: those who have something of value and want to share it; and those who don’t have a certain service but would be seeking to get it. You as a service would charge a small commission for your assets. The risk this model involves (so it has to be all well-thought) lies in why customers would call for your platform, and the ultimate answer is “for protection”.

Read more: How to Make a Business Model Canvas for Mobile App

Taking Airbnb as a role-model

Taking Airbnb as a role-model, their safety is exemplary because they have combined all 3 types of safety within the app. The mentioned 3 types basically are:

  1. Deposits for the services given. It doesn’t work if a client works with a service-provider though (e. g. Uber).

  2. Account verification via social networks. Social media today allow us to receive all the info we want, and when it comes to services like Airbnb, personal data helps to verify the person you’re going to live with is not going to fraud you.

  3. Post-charge option, when a credit card number is tied to a certain account so that your product charges for the assistance given. Although this is risky again, for the system first - there always are “empty card/no on-card money” options; so sanctions for these should also be assumed.

A perfect model for a startup aiming at an Airbnb clone would be the blended one - where deposit and verification systems are combined, under the circumstance that you as a service keep this deposit, just to be on the safe side.

Regarding safety issues, an important one is the insurance you need to provide - but don’t try to hit the 10000000 dollar one Airbnb currently holds; remember that Rome was not built in a day, and Chesky together with Gebbia once started with a 50 000 $ of insurance compensation per person.

So, the basic application structure would consist of several points (user’s interface):

  1. Listing platform - where all the relevant content (apartments, events, places, etc.) is posted.
  2. Users - logged and unlogged; the last ones can go through the whole listing, just can not interact with it, or whichever the option you choose is.
  3. Service verification model, to ensure deals go safe and sound.
  4. Deal model - as a connection between users + payment provider.

For Admin things should work in a slightly different manner:

  1. A role system (support, manager, owner for instance); support is required to consult users once there appear crashes in the system; manager needs to cover the communication issues and interact with customers; as an owner, you need to analyze the data in order to make it more lucrative.

  2. The system of financial accounts, integrated with a payment provider you choose, as your application is going to have in-app “purchases” in it.

  3. Analytics (to implement changes within the right time) about the top filters, best locations, favorite apartments and so on.

Though the system seems (and really is) enormously huge at first sight, bear in mind there has been a long way up to the top for the whole Airbnb team, so the success-bringing tricks in their way might not work for you samely. The best cynosure to follow is yet Air Bed&Breakfast company - but back in 2007, when their startup was launched.

Read also: Real estate app development

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

Airbnb like app

You may be wondering how much does it cost to start an Airbnb? Of course, every product has a price tag on it, and with the cost to create an app similar to Airbnb many questions might become resolved from the very beginning. For the start, when calculating the Airbnb startup cost, a wise step to make would be an MVP-version for iPhone first, to test the product’s performance and viability. According to our developers, An iOS application would require several stages of essences development (in hours) as for guest app, including:

  • Onboarding (sign up, log in, rules like privacy policy, T&C, etc.). This feature is extremely essential for the whole application’s security; having the user’s private data in the system would let you minimize the fraud risks 22 hours
  • Explore (homes and filter feature). Explore function itself might have a broad definition; in the case of property-landing service it would mostly be about loads of houses to choose from and various filters (location, dates, amount of guests, etc.) 96 hours
  • Home details (e.g. consisting out of picture gallery, facilities info, amenities, about, guest reviews, contact host). This info might also vary in your service, but the more details provided - the more chances to find your perfect home-away 192 h
  • Owner profile (picture, verified and personal info, connected accounts, reviews, homes). Once again, for the deal safety personal info would be helpful for trust-building 54 h
  • Saved homes (lists of saved homes and cities + filter), where users can keep the fancy rooms for future travels 46 h
  • Inbox (list of chats +send/reply to a message), for landlord-tenant communication 40 h
  • Customer profile (picture, personal & verified info) - for a landlord to cast an eye on before letting this person into his apartment 58 h

Though another huge part of an app is a host app, where the number of functions is a bit different, and it involves:

  • Home with reservation requests - 24 hours
  • Listings (your and edit function) - 32 h
  • Add a new listing (type of space, property type, location, rooms and beds, photos, description etc.) - 112 h
  • Calendar (calendar + edit date/price/availability) - 32 h
  • Statistics (boosting stats tips, monthly earnings, overall rating, views and bookings, hosting standards, unlock superhost) - 84 h
  • Profile (messages, community center) - 64 h

Overall iOS estimates for an MVP for an Airbnb-like app - up from 860 hours.

Airbnb design concept

For Android though these estimates will vary, due to a range of factors (fragmentation, longer testing hours); for a guest app:

  • Onboarding (sign up, log in, rules like privacy policy, T&C, etc.) 28 hours
  • Explore (homes and filter feature) 128 h
  • Home details (e.g. consisting out of picture gallery, facilities info, amenities, about, guest reviews, contact host) 274 h
  • Owner profile (picture, verified and personal info, connected accounts, reviews, homes)70 h
  • Saved homes (lists of saved homes and cities + filter) 60 h
  • Inbox (list of chats +send/reply to a message) 58 h
  • Customer profile (picture, personal & verified info) 54 h

However, the same as with iOS - host app is a different part of application development:

  • Home with reservation requests - 40 hours
  • Listings (your and edit function) - 56 h
  • Add a new listing (type of space, property type, location, rooms and beds, photos, description, etc.) - 178 h
  • Calendar (calendar + edit date/price/availability) - 56 h
  • Statistics (boosting stats tips, monthly earnings, overall rating, views and bookings, hosting standards, unlock superhost) - 90 h
  • Profile (messages, community center) - 64 h

If you want to create an app similar to UberEats or Postmates, see also our article: How to Make Food Delivery App Like Postmates?

Overall Android estimates for an MVP of a Airbnb-like app — up from 1150 hours.

There is also an important point to consider - called back-end development. The whole server part creation for iOS Airbnb-like app would take up to 300 hours - and the same things work for Android.

So, the final amount of hours needed to be spent: iOS - up from 1160 hours
Android - 1450 h and more.

Hourly rates might vary, depending on the service provider, platform and type of contract you choose. Therefore, the average cost to create an app like Airbnb for iOS would start at $40 000 and, Android Airbnb clone app development would cost $50 000 at it's minimum.

Read How to Estimate the Cost of Mobile App Development?

All the financial aspects to mention, iPhone and Android development are not the only two expense sources - as you also need to have a proper design solution done; additionally, a huge scope of hours (30% from the whole development time) would be needed for testing services.

Discover the benefits of developing for iOS and Android

Making Your App Generate Some Revenue claims Airbnb’s earnings to reach the peak of $3.5 billion a year by 2020, which is a high bar to clear. The two main points affecting the wages your business brings are a business model and monetization plan, which can be “different colors and sizes”.

With an app where you can offer apartment reservations services the best revenue-generating "map" would perhaps be in-app purchases once your platform charges a fee for its services. Of course, it is always possible to get some extra cash flow by adding in-app paid advertisement, but we wouldn’t recommend sticking to it. Imagine launching a new platform where the increase in the number of active users is the main goal for a first quartile...Statistics proved people are threatened by intrusive banners and rising-everywhere pop-ups, so it might cause a detestation to your app, and that’s something you definitely don’t want to happen right from the start.

“We Imagine a World Where You Can Belong Anywhere”

Make an Airbnb-like platform

The powerful slogan of Airbnb, which makes boundaries between different cultures look a bit more diluted. Ideas like this one shake the market as they come at the right time to the right marketplace, and the emotion they carry is even more important - it is powerful and user-reflecting, making your traveling customers feel like somebody has just read their mind. So maybe there is something about building your website like Airbnb that leaves users so attached to it?

Written by Max Mashkov and Elina Bessarabova.

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