How to Make a Website Like Airbnb with WordPress

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Ben Sibley

“Follow the plan outlined here and you can create your own website from scratch without writing any code for less than $300.”

Ready to launch the next Airbnb?

As popular as Airbnb has become so quickly, there is plenty of space for competition. Especially if you have an idea for a unique twist on the concept.

All you need to do is target a more specific niche that could use a service like Airbnb and thanks to their scale, people will already be familiar with the model.

And the best part?

You can build a complex and profitable site like Airbnb for about $100 using the tools outlined here.

Let’s check it out.

A sneak peek at your site

With the modern tools available, it no longer takes expert developers, months of work, and thousands of dollars to make a rental site like Airbnb.

If you follow the steps provided below, with a little computer-savvy and elbow grease, you can be up-and-running with your new site in a matter of hours.

Here’s a sneak peek at the site you’ll create:

RentalHive

This is a screenshot of the RentalHive WordPress theme. It comes bundled with all the tools you need to build your rental marketplace.

I know the design is the most exciting part of the site, but before we dive into the theme, let’s check out the steps it takes to make this website.

How to make a site like Airbnb

There are five steps to create a site like Airbnb:

  1. Find an available domain name
  2. Get web hosting
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Install HivePress
  5. Install RentalHive

Following this outline, you can put together a professional rental marketplace very quickly, and for an extremely small cost.

The first step is to find an available domain name.

1. Find a domain name

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a domain name is the name you enter into your browser’s address bar to visit a site. For instance, this site’s domain name is competethemes.com.

find a domain name

When choosing a name, you want to keep it short and memorable. This will make it easier for people to type it in and recall the site later after seeing an advertisement.

The less confusion for potential customers, the better. If you’ve already named your business and the name isn’t available, search for the closest and simplest alternative, including easy-to-remember acronyms.

If you don’t have any experience with finding domain names, check out this guide before moving on.

But don’t buy your domain name just yet because there’s a way you can get it for free.

2. Get web hosting

The next step is to sign up with a reputable hosting company.

Your website needs to be stored on a server so that people can access it 24/7, and companies that allow you to rent space on their servers are called web hosts.

While you’re free to select whichever host you’d like, my recommendation is to use Bluehost.

I hosted my first WordPress site with Bluehost in 2010 and they still remain reliable and affordable for new WordPress users.

There are two reasons why Bluehost is an excellent choice for beginners.

1. They register your domain for FREE

As a signup bonus, Bluehost will let you register your domain name for free.

Not only does this save you a few bucks on the domain purchase, but it also lets you skip the DNS configuration, which many beginners find confusing and time-consuming.

2. They auto-create your WordPress site for you

After you create a Bluehost account, you’ll automatically get a WordPress site.

All you have to do is signup for the hosting, and they’ll ask you for a few details about your site and set it up. Then you can log in and get to work customizing.

Speaking of which, let’s look at how to customize a WordPress site now.

3. Install and customize WordPress

Installing WordPress is a bit technical, but it doesn’t require any coding experience.

That said, if you use Bluehost, you can skip the installation altogether.

Once you have your site online, you’ll need to learn the basics of WordPress. You can follow along with my free 17-part video series to learn how to create and customize your site.

Or if you want to dive in and start customizing right away, you might like this article:

31 Easy Ways to Customize Your WordPress Website

After you’ve reviewed the video above and have gotten comfortable with the WordPress interface, the next step is to install the HivePress plugin.

4. Install HivePress

At its core, Airbnb is a directory of rental properties.

To create a website like Airbnb, the most important feature is the ability to create rental property listings, and HivePress is the perfect plugin to do that.

HivePress

HivePress is totally free to use and adds a new interface to your site where you can create new directory pages and categories.

With HivePress, you’ll be able to publish rental properties and add meta information like the price per night and available amenities.

And this brings me to the next point…

Adding rental properties yourself would be fine if this was truly a directory website, but it’s more than that; it’s a marketplace.

The next most important feature of Airbnb is that it allows two different types of memberships: travelers and hosts. You need to have regular accounts for people to login and rent spaces, as well as a second account type for hosts, so they can manage their properties and review their sales.

For these features (and a lot more), we turn to the RentalHive theme.

5. Install RentalHive

RentalHive is a premium WordPress theme made by the same developers who make HivePress.

RentalHive Website
The RentalHive website

It’s designed to integrate flawlessly with HivePress, giving you beautiful layouts for all of your directory pages.

Furthermore, it also integrates with the following HivePress extensions:

  • Bookings
  • Marketplace
  • Tags
  • Favorites
  • Messages
  • Reviews

These extensions cost $107 if purchased separately but come bundled for free with the RentalHive theme, which is only $79.

Besides Bluehost ($35.40/year), this is your only other expense to build the site, bringing your total cost to $114.40.

Rentalhive Listing Page
This is what property listings look like

Using RentalHive and the bundled extensions, your site can do amazing things:

  • Let hosts create new listings for their properties
  • Travelers can book trips easily
  • Accept payments on your site
  • Hosts and travelers can contact each other with on-site messaging
  • Travelers can “favorite” properties for later
  • Every property can be rated and reviewed
TaskHive Seller Dashboard
Here’s what a host’s sales dashboard looks like

To summarize, you’ll get your WordPress site online with Bluehost, then install HivePress for the directory functionality, and then add RentalHive and the bundled extensions to add the remaining functionality to create a site like Airbnb (marketplace accounts, messaging, etc).

The best part is that the integration between your theme and the add-ons is reliable because they’re all made by the same developer.

Rentalhive Booking Form
A booking widget is added to each listing

Other alternatives require integrations between multiple plugins and themes all from different developers, which can lead to bugs and slow response times to get the bugs fixed.

While I highly recommend using HivePress and RentalHive to build your Airbnb clone, I have a few other recommendations you can review.

Alternative Themes

If you’d like to explore other options and compare different themes, here are a few suggested alternatives that might suit your taste and target audience better.

Listable

Listable is a good theme for making a rental directory site and will help you to manage a local or global directory. Monetize easily with WooCommerce support and various extension integrations. Sell listing packages, subscription packages, and whatever else you can come up with.

Listable

Use the listing cards for a variety of things, like places, events, and activities. Listable is incredibly advanced and can be used for virtually any niche.

The Listable team has done a number of usability studies to collect feedback and improve their product, and they’ve developed an impressive theme.

ListingPro

ListingPro is a WordPress directory theme with extensive documentation, support, and video tutorials to get you started as quickly and painlessly as possible. The team continues to introduce new features and keeps the design current and trendy.

ListingPro

This theme has an impressive 4.86 rating from nearly 2,00 customer reviews, making it a reliable choice for your Airbnb website.

Features include Google Maps integration, customized pins, a user-friendly dashboard full of useful tools, and an intelligent search feature that provides users suggestions as they type. While often used for Yelp-style websites, this theme can be used for an Airbnb-type service too.

Launch your new website

After successfully completing the steps above, you should be ready to launch your new property rental marketplace!

And it’s all possible at an extremely affordable price, thanks to modern developments in the WordPress plugin and theme market.

Let’s go over the steps one last time:

  1. Find an memorable domain name
  2. Signup for hosting (Bluehost)
  3. Install and customize WordPress
  4. Install HivePress
  5. Install RentalHive

It will take some time to get used to using WordPress and RentalHive, but there’s nothing overly technical about using them (no programming skills needed).

In fact, you can have a decent website online over the weekend using the steps outlined above.

Thanks for reading this guide on how to create a site like Airbnb, and if it helped you out today, please consider sharing it with your followers using the buttons below.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.