January 13, 2020

How to Build an AirBnB-like Vacation Rental Website

When I first discovered Airbnb, the idea of staying in someone’s home seemed weird.

But tall praises from a friend and sky-high hotel prices eventually (however grudgingly) led me to their website. Once I was there, however, it was hard to not be convinced.

To be fair, the gorgeous properties did most of the work. But it didn’t hurt that I could also see all the amenities and details, filter & narrow down my searches, see guest reviews and conveniently book the dream vacation home. The whole experience was smooth and effortless.

Now if you’re setting up a website like Airbnb in WordPress, that is what you want to achieve. The user should be able to find their ideal stay, cross-off everything from their list, and make a decision quickly.

In this article, we hope to help you do just that! Here’s the complete list of plugins and themes that can easily (and cost-effectively) help you build a website like Airbnb and add in all these nifty features while also setting up a sleek website design.

1. Setting up an engaging interface the easy way – Listify theme

When you open up the Airbnb site, you see this amazing, snazzy home page. Instantly makes you trust it more, doesn’t it? 

You really have to appreciate the design of the website. It’s minimal while still displaying important information. It is aesthetically pleasing, homey, and welcoming – exactly the emotions Airbnb wants its guests to experience.

But, now you’re probably wondering how you achieve that without a team of developers behind you.

Well, thank god for WordPress themes.

The one we’re using is Listify. It is a versatile listing directory theme for WordPress that helps you set up your basic website in minutes. It’s fast, SEO- friendly with high-quality code. 

While Listify takes care of how your website looks, functionalities are handled by plugins.  To create a functional listing website with Listify you primarily need two plugins :
1. WP Job Manager: To handle listings
2. WooCommerce: To handle e-commerce and marketplace related features 

Note: You’ll be required to install these when setting up Listify. We’ll go over these further in the next section. 

Coming back to Listify.

The setup guide helps you with all the initial set up. And then you can start playing around with the customization options to make the website your own. 
To give you an idea, this is what the demo site looks like with the Listify theme:

However, you can customize it to a great extent to suit your business and your taste. After all, we want to build a website like Airbnb, not a clone. 

Here’s what some of the businesses have tweaked Listify to look like:


Visit site: https://breweryfinder.org/

Visit Site: https://www.gatheredhere.com.au/

Another reason why we decided to go with this theme is it has a lot of location-based services like geo-filtering. And you can also let the user list their own properties. All these functionalities are powered by WP Job Manager.
Which brings us to our next section…

2. Managing your listings without any hassle – WP Job Manager

Listify requires you to install WP Job Manager for everything related to putting up listings, editing them and managing them.

If you’re familiar with Airbnb you’ll know that their listings are quite detailed. This part of the job for our website goes to WP Job Manager. You can have hosts add their property through a ‘submit a listing form’ like the one below:

You can create listing pages, add all the amenities, let guests leave reviews and more. Here’s an example what your listing pages could look like from the Listify demo:

You’ll need to create 3 pages – A ‘Listing’ page that displays all the listings, a ‘Submit Listing’ page and an ‘Edit Listing’ page.

WP Job Manager gives you handy shortcodes for all these functionalities that you can now add to these pages. You can also create listing categories and add a location map where listings are geotagged. The plugin and its add-ons also take care of the reviews and rating feature, favorites and assigning listings to specific regions.

Listify’s Setup guide and comprehensive documentation should walk you through everything.

There’s also this article you can check out on how to set up Listify.

Once everything is set up you can move on to the marketplace aspects of your website.

3. Handling the E-commerce of it all – WooCommerce

Airbnb, at the end of the day, is a marketplace. It’s a marketplace where people put up properties for rent and others pay a fee to stay there. While simple in concept, there’s a lot that goes on in this process behind the scenes. While Listify supports these functionalities, it needs you to install the WooCommerce plugin to carry them out.

WooCommerce is undeniably the most popular e-commerce solution for WordPress.

It takes care of all the features you need to run a marketplace successfully. WooCommerce lends functionalities like payment gateways, my account pages, checkout pages, etc to Listify.

But Airbnb is not just a marketplace where you buy products. You also need to have booking functionality. For this, we’ll just be extending our WooCommerce shop a little using the next plugin.

4. Making your listings bookable  – WooCommerce Bookings

WooCommerce Bookings is a plugin by WooCommerce that you can use to create ‘bookable products’.  To make your listings bookable, you would need to first create a bookable product and then link it to your listings. When customers book a property the ‘bookable product’ will get added to their cart. Something like this:

The process of creating a bookable product is the same as the one for creating a product for your WooCommerce shop. However, this product is time-based. You can select the duration to be anything from an hour to a day.  Since you’re renting out your property this would be days.

Airbnb also has the option to book experiences and activities. This includes guided tours and cooking classes and whatnot. If that is what you have in mind, the duration can also be in hours. 

The plugin gives you the option to either have fixed bookable time slots or have them be ‘customer-defined’. For our purposes, make sure to switch this setting to the latter to have customers book the time that’s convenient to them.

If you’re wondering how this doesn’t lead to multiple bookings in the same time slot WooCommerce Bookings allows you to block off any time slot you need. So you’re never double booked and can also block time off for yourself.

While the plugin is great it does lack a few key features that we need. Which is why we need our next plugin as we build your personal Airbnb-like website.

6. Enhancing WooCommerce Bookings – Accommodations

The Accommodations add-on for WooCommerce Bookings takes care of the most important features of running a hospitality-based business – it lets you turn your normal property listing products into hotel/vacation listing products.

It adds a new ‘Accommodation’ tab that lets you specify the booking duration as ‘number of nights’. It makes it more convenient to rent out your property.
You can set up check-in and check-out times and also add special rates for the holiday season or tourist season.

So this add-on is quite helpful for you renting out your place like a hotel or bed-n-breakfast. You can now manage Events, Activities, and Stays seamlessly.

7. Managing hosts and commissions – Product Vendors

Now you can’t go around managing everything for every single listing. You need the hosts to add their listings, manage them, set prices, and add images. For this functionality, we need another add on for the WooCommerce Bookings plugin – Product Vendors.

This add-on allows hosts to access a limited backend of your website and manage their own listings conveniently.

This add-on also takes care of another very important function of your website which is commissions. Once you approve the vendor (or in our case, the host), you can set commission rates for each. Payments to the vendors can be made using PayPal. You have the option to do this manually or schedule it. But for our website, manual settings are preferred. This way you can pay the hosts once the guests have actually stayed at the property.

The add-on also allows hosts to create their own profiles, receive commission payouts, and manage their bookable products.

So, now that we have our basic functionalities in place, we can talk about a few user-focused functionalities of our website. 

8. Social login – WooCommerce Social Login / YITH WooCommerce Social Login

WooCommerce comes with its own registration facilities already set up. And you can use WP Job Manager to set up Registration pages. Users can create their own accounts and track their bookings from the same. However, what we are going to talk about is adding social logins. 

Nobody wants to create a new account on yet another website and have another password to remember. Which is why social logins are so popular.

They allow users to log in quickly and conveniently through Facebook or email, bypassing the entire process of creating an account on the website. The plugin we’re using to add this functionality is WooCommerce Social Login.

It gives your users to log in using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, PayPal, Disqus, Yahoo, and VK. Social logins are a familiar functionality and users are more likely to sign up when it takes them fewer steps.

While it makes sense to pick WooCommerce Social Login as we are using WooCommerce, it is a little pricey for just one functionality. However, YITH WooCommerce Social login is a good option you can use instead. You can get it for free off the WordPress.org repository. 

9. Narrow down searches with filters – FacetWP

The first thing that you see when you open up the Airbnb website is the prominent search bar right at the top.

 It goes without saying that a search feature is essential as you build your vacation home rental website like Airbnb. But not just a simple search, you also need to give users the ability to narrow down and find properties that match all their requirements.

This is called a faceted search. A faceted search lets the user filter their searches. A great feature of Airbnb is that it lets users search properties based on location, using a map.

FacetWP is an Ajax-based search and filtering plugin that gives readers smartly filtered results quickly. It works with any theme to seamlessly blend with your website’s aesthetics.

FacetWP includes many facet types to filter your search results, including checkboxes, dropdowns, date ranges, sliders. In addition to that, it also allows you to filter results using proximity or geolocation as a facet type.

The Map Facet add-on will display a map on your website and display properties as the user moves around the map. 

FacetWP uses your site’s existing post types, custom fields, and taxonomies. If you want to improve the accuracy of your search result you can also use it with a compatible search plugin, like SearchWP or Relevanssi.

Recommended for you: SearchWP vs Relevanssi

10. Getting in touch – Contact Form 7

Often users have questions about the amenities, location, local facilities etc. So you need a way for users to get in touch with the hosts. You can do this by putting up a contact form on your listings so users can leave their questions and queries. Contact Form 7 is a very popular contact form plugin for WordPress. You can use it to manage multiple contact forms, customize it to your liking, and even add features like ReCaptcha to block spam.

…And you can do all this under $500

Here’s are plugin prices for single-site licenses:

Listify$69
WooCommerce Free
WP Job ManagerFree
WooCommerce Bookings $249
WooCommerce Accommodation Free
WooCommerce Product Vendor$79
WooCommerce Social Login $79 (Optional)
Yith WooCommerce Social loginFree
FacetWP $99/year
Contact Form 7Free

$496

Important Note: The prices are true as of the date of publication of this article.

Your grand total comes up to $496.

A full-fledged website under 500 dollars is not bad at all. All the plugins are easy to set up and come with heavy documentation to help you through all the setup. Yes, it’s a little more hassle, but you have complete control over your website.

Endnote

When Airbnb first arrived on the scene, it was a game-changer.

The peer to peer lodging service is now roughly valued at $35B. It’s crazy to think it all started with someone renting out an air mattress in the living room.

And while we can’t replicate their website and all its wonderful features, we can try. Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of which plugins you can use plugins to set up your own Airbnb-like vacation rental website!

Do let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post might be affiliate links. When you purchase through a link on our website, we receive a small commission, at no added cost to you, which helps us run Epitrove and keep producing great content. This does not influence our recommendations; we only recommend products we work with or love. Thank you for your support!

Lavanya Deshmukh
Lavanya Deshmukh

Computer Engineer, food enthusiast and die-hard Harry Potter fan that now writes content full time for Epitrove

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