Interested in our vacation rental website builder guide?
This is a huge market for those that get it right.
Numbers don’t lie.
Back in 2018, the vacation rental industry clocked up an impressive revenue of $44.3 billion, as this Statista report shows. Its rapid growth, at a CAGR of 5.16%, puts the expected revenue at $107.70 billion by 2027.
A “Vacation Rental Marketing Blog” (VRMB) report states that vacation rentals would have overtaken the hotel industry by 2020, however, this has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is a vacation rental?
The vacation rental market is quite different from hotels. Here, vacation rental owners or property managers offer short-term accommodations to guests in a residence. Note that it’s a residential property, not a hotel. Also, note that the short-term typically refers to less than a month.
It’s also called “short-term rentals”, “vacation home rentals”, and a few other similar terms. Guests are also called “vacation rental guests”, “short-term renters”, or “occupants”. The duration of stay is short enough to avoid conferring any tenancy rights to the renters.
Note that this is a relatively new market, therefore, regulations to govern this industry are still evolving. To know more about it, you can read “What is a vacation rental, anyway?”.
Vacation rental websites like Airbnb.com facilitate vacationers to find short-term rental homes. They also enable homeowners or rental property managers to put their property on rent. These listing sites typically charge a fee from the owners or property management persons or companies.
Note that the vacation rental space might face a disruption since blockchain-powered vacation-rental marketplaces are entering this space. These blockchain start-ups charge no commission from homeowners, which might transform the industry.
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An example is LockTrip. However, in this guide, we will focus on vacation rental websites as they are today.
Examples of existing vacation-rental websites
It’s time we review a few popular vacation rental websites. I offer a few examples here, however, you can read “Top 10 vacation rental websites for listing your vacation rental property” for more.
We have not included any OTAS websites which allow online bookings for packages and tours and include property listings as part of their service. Other sites such as TripAdvisor, while not acting as a direct booking website, supplement these sites by allowing guests to review their stays.
One of the most popular vacation rental websites, Airbnb offers a wide range of vacation rental choices across geographies. It’s easy to use, both for vacationers and property owners.
It has a great high-quality website design. The ‘User interface’ (UI) is simple yet elegant. It has a robust and one of the best booking search engines. It allows easy searches and a seamless booking experience.
Users can make direct bookings via the platform with a few clicks of a button. Payments are handled via debit or credit card and allow potential guests a free cancellation period.
The company offers top-quality customer service, furthermore, hosts are covered for damages to their properties. They have a credible vetting process, therefore, vacationers and hosts get the required assurance. They have Android and iOS mobile apps.
Another popular vacation rental platform, HomeAway has a wide presence. They list over 2 million properties in 190 countries. The easy-to-use UI helps both vacationers and hosts. They operate using 50 websites in 23 languages. HomeAway has mobile apps for both iOS and Android mobile devices.
Booking.com is one of the largest travel marketplaces, moreover, they aren’t confined to vacation rentals. Their hotel segment is big, additionally, they also deal with flights, car rentals, and airport taxis.
In regards to web design, its UI offers a wide range of features including a user-friendly search feature and a simple book now button to complete the booking.
Booking.com’s domain name is known the world over. It operates in 227 countries. The website has over 40 language options. 1.2 million room nights are reserved daily using their platform. The company has Android, iOS, and Windows mobile apps.
VRBO, a highly popular vacation rental website like Airbnb has a great UI that makes it easy for vacationers. Property owners too find it easy to use. VRBO is part of the HomeAway family, however, VRBO focuses on the US.
Maui, Palm Springs, etc. are their popular destinations. They list over 200,000 properties. The platform offers a wide range of choices, e.g., Condos, Apartments, and Villas. They have Android and iOS apps.
Features that a vacation rental website needs
A successful vacation rental website like Airbnb needs the following features:
- You must have a great homepage to capture new users. The UI must be elegant, additionally, it should look professional. Remember that vacation rental homes are not hotels. Most vacationers wouldn’t know about the properties. They need assurance. Your website is their first, and only place to get this assurance.
- With the exponential increase in mobile Internet traffic, you must have a responsive website. It’s non-negotiable.
- Users should be able to navigate easily on the website. Consider the “3-click rule”, i.e., users should be able to navigate using 3 clicks.
- The website should be optimized for conversion. It means several things, such as fast page loading speed, mobile responsiveness, avoiding clutter on the landing page, a clear ‘Call to action’ (CTA) button, etc.
- A robust booking engine is, well, self-explanatory! Read about its’ importance in “5 essential features of vacation rental software”.
- You need to offer a mobile app for both Android and iOS. Consider widgets to help offer information quickly to your users. It’s important in today’s era.
- Displaying the featured vacation rental properties on the website in an attractive manner is important. Consider using a carousel to display featured properties.
- Make it easy for your customers to do the transaction: Email support, customer service, and payment gateway integration are important considerations.
- Social media integration and email marketing are important features to have. These help in your marketing and SEO efforts too.
Read more about the desired features in “Top Seven Features of Vacation Rental Websites”.
How to build a vacation rental website like Airbnb without coding?
You can build a vacation rental website like Airbnb without coding. The popular open-source ‘Content Management System’ (CMS) WordPress enables you to do that. There is a rich ecosystem for WordPress. Likewise, Wix also offers similar advantages and features to create a custom website.
Many providers create and sell WordPress themes. Themes control the look and feel of the site, and they come with customizers. This enables you to incorporate your branding information, change the colors, choose a suitable font for the content, and much more.
For this project, I recommend you use the “Hotel + Bed and Breakfast Booking Calendar Theme | Bellevue”. You can publish and offer properties for rent. Owners can sign-up and publish their properties for rent.
The theme is adequately integrated with the well-known WordPress eCommerce plugin WooCommerce. This theme is responsive and comes bundled with a front-end design tool.
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Plugins are like apps. They address specific functionalities. Multiple providers develop and sell WordPress plugins for various functionalities. I recommend the “Hotel Booking – Property Rental WordPress Plugin” for this project.
This plugin is a complete hotel and vacation rental booking tool. It offers the required features, e.g., the listing of properties, a pricing table, a real-time search function for availability, payment gateway integration, etc. You can add custom fields like location, type of room, price range, etc.
You need to buy a hosting account. A vacation rental website will likely have a high number of visitors. Given this, I recommend you choose a performant and reliable hosting plan. While there are several options, I suggest you use WP Engine, which is a highly reputed hosting provider.
The cost to make a vacation rental website in this approach includes the hosting, theme, and plugin costs. You don’t need to hire developers.
How to build a website like Airbnb with the Lodgify vacation rental website builder?
It’s another no-coding option, therefore, it enables you to launch your website quickly using vacation rental website builders. Lodgify offers such a vacation rental website builder. You can use the direct channel technology they offer. Payment gateway integration is easy, furthermore, you can implement an efficient booking engine quickly.
The company offers attractive website templates for the vacation rental business. You can check their template here. Check their pricing page for their plans, however, note that you need to contact them if you have more than 100 properties for listing.
Create a vacation rental website with custom development
I will now explain how to develop a vacation rental website like Airbnb with the custom-development approach. Custom development takes longer. You need a skilled development team however, you can incorporate custom features.
This approach has the following steps:
- Select a ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) provider so that you can focus on the development alone. The PaaS provider takes care of infrastructure, middleware, etc.
- Develop your website on the PaaS platform, and use ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ (APIs) for common functions.
Onboard your custom development team
You need the following skills in your team:
- Business analysts;
- Web designers, with HTML and CSS skills;
- A project manager (PM).
I recommend the “Agile” methodology for this development since it’s suitable for iterative development. You can check our guide “How to build an Agile development team” in this regard.
Select a PaaS provider
Start-ups often don’t have the budget to invest in costly infrastructure upfront. Moreover, several start-ups don’t want to spend time on infrastructure and software license management.
PaaS providers handle the cloud infrastructure, networking, middleware, operating system (OS), runtime environment, database provisioning, API integration, and scaling. This allows one to focus on application development and application data.
There are several PaaS providers. I recommend you use the IBM Cloud PaaS (formerly known as IBM Bluemix). This is built on the IBM Cloud ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ (IaaS), additionally, it has an impressive array of cloud services that your web app can consume.
You can use the “Liberty for Java” runtime environment. Check the IBM Cloud databases webpage to know your database choices on the IBM Cloud PaaS. You also need a robust suite of DevOps tools for automated testing, build management, deployment management, etc.
Check the IBM DevOps webpage for more details. Note that these are already integrated with the IBM Cloud PaaS.
APIs for common functions
Depending on your requirements, you might need to use a combination of APIs. There are clear instructions on the IBM Cloud PaaS platform about integrating 3rd party APIs. Check out the following APIs:
HomeAway, the vacation rental website also offers APIs for developers to build their own apps. You can access the APIs here. You can incorporate the following features with these:
- Listing information;
- User accounts;
- Scaling, by integrating with the partner ecosystem of HomeAway.
To use the HomeAway APIs, you need to establish a partnership with them, by contacting them. The API documentation is available here.
MyVR, the vacation rental software platform offers APIs, therefore, you can consume their services on your website. Access their APIs here. With their RESTful API, you can access the account data. By using ‘MyVR Connect’, you can build using data they monetize on their platform.
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To access their APIs, you need to register your web app with them. You need to sign-up with them for that. Their API documentation can be accessed here. Visit their pricing page to view their plans.
Managing your vacation rental website development project
I recommend the ‘Scrum’ technique since it fits well with iterative software development. Your PM will be the ‘Scrum Master’, whereas a ‘Product owner’ (PO) provides the requirements in a document named the ‘Product backlog’.
Developers and testers work together in a ‘Scrum team’. They estimate features, and the scrum master uses this estimation to plan ‘Sprints’, i.e., iterations. Once a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) is launched, further enhancements can be done in subsequent sprints.
The team holds a ‘Daily stand-up meeting’ to discuss the project status, while the scrum master resolves the project issues. The project stakeholders approve a sprint in a ‘Sprint review meeting’ if the features work demonstrably.
The team also conducts a ‘Sprint retrospective meeting’ after the sprint, to learn lessons from the sprint. You can read our guide “How to build a Scrum development team” for more details.
Remember to use effective PM tools. We have suggested several such tools in our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools”.
The cost to make a website by custom development without a vacation rental website builder
IBM Cloud PaaS pricing details are available on their website. API providers either display their prices on their website, or you need to contact them. Your requirements and the labor rate in your geography will influence your development manpower cost.
Note that custom development is a complex end-to-end project, therefore, you may need professional help and find expert WordPress developers for hire.
Check our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to know how to conduct due diligence before you engage a development partner.
Click this link if you are interested in how much it costs to create a mobile app like Airbnb. Moreover, send us your initial project specifications, and one of our managers at DevTeam.Space will contact you to discuss how our managed and vetted field-expert software developers can help you with your rental website building.
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Frequently Asked Questions on vacation rental website builder
The biggest and most widely used vacation rental site is Airbnb. Tripping.com, HomeAway, and HomeToGo are also very good apps.
Provided that you have the developer expertise and project management skills then it is possible to build your own website. If you do not, then you will need to onboard developers from a reputable company like DevTeam.Space.
The cost to build any website depends entirely on a number of things including its complexity, the number of developers required, and how efficiently the project is managed. Contact DevTeam.Space for an accurate quote.