How to Create Your Own Custom Vacation Rental App Like Vrbo
Booking tickets, choosing where to stay, planning the trip, and searching for places to visit… This already sounds tiresome, doesn’t it? Businesses like Vrbo don’t really need to think hard about the pain point of their customers — it’s right there.
Online vacation rental market overview
Vacation rental platforms like Airbnb or Vrbo help people take care of their stay without too much hassle, and their strategy has proven to be working — today, Airbnb has 150 million users around the world, and 7 million listings.
Vrbo, a smaller Airbnb-like platform has 2 million listings today, but it’s growing rapidly both in terms of listings and the user base. The demand is soaring as well: even despite the COVID-19 hit, which tampered with the travel industry for almost two years, now people are hungry for travel, and the tourism industry is bouncing back.
This graph demonstrates it perfectly: it’s a value of a worldwide hotel and resort industry — as you can see, in 2020-2021 it dropped, but in 2022 we can see a rapid recovery.
Online platforms for vacation rentals have been in demand for years — over 80% of all travelers make their hotel and rental reservations online, and the online travel market size is expected to grow from $800 billion to almost 1,500 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 10.6%, according to Research and Markets.
In this article, you’ll learn how to build a Vrbo clone for vacation rentals. We’ll talk specifically about the mobile presence of your business, but like other market leaders like Airbnb, you’ll likely also need a web version of your service.
What is the Vrbo app?
Vrbo is a vacation rental platform for users all over the world. It’s very similar to Airbnb but has slightly different rules and regulations for both the hosts and renters. Vrbo offers rooms, flats, condos, and other properties for short-term rental, usually up to a month.
They’re also a part of an extended network of Expedia, Homeaway, Canada Stays, and Hotwire — this means, that their properties can also be listed in the mentioned organizations.
Just like Airbnb, Vrbo charges both guests and hosts based on a volume of a reservation. The host fee is 8%, and the guest fee can vary from 6% to 12%. Let’s now look at what a user journey looks like at Vrbo.
How does Vrbo work?
Vrbo makes the process of finding and booking a rental property as effortless as possible. The first thing a user sees when they open an app is a selection of properties in a target area. Then it just takes a few simple steps to get the stay during the vacation covered.
If you want to build a rental booking app like Vrbo, you need to grasp its user journey and business model. Let’s go through its most important features.
Vrbo requires your full name, email address, and password to register. You can also sign up through Google and Facebook. After your account is confirmed, it’s time to search for a property.
A search bar at the top of the app allows a user to choose a location. They can also give Vrbo access to the device’s location, to explore the nearby properties. After a user chooses the location, they need to set up the check-in and check-out dates, and preferred parameters like the number of guests, rooms, etc. Then, Vrbo will show you all your options you can filter further until you find a perfect rental property.
Payment and confirmation
After the user chooses the property, they’re charged for it, and a fee is automatically deducted from that amount. The money minus the commission is then sent to a host, and they confirm the rent for the selected days.
Let’s now explore the features of a vacation rental booking platform like Vrbo that you need to implement to create that user journey for both guests and hosts.
Let’s now look at the features you need to include in your Vrbo clone software to make it successful.
Features of a rental booking app like Vrbo
The first step to building an app like Vrbo is the product discovery phase, where we define the product requirements and functionality, and create technical documentation.
Here are the features that will likely be included in such a document, as they’re essential for any rental booking service.
Create and edit profile
Make the onboarding process as quick as possible because often users are lost at this stage. Implement social media logins through Google or Facebook to make the signup process a matter of seconds.
A profile should have all the necessary information about the user: their email address for confirmations and notifications, and a full name to use for property booking. Here you can also place the app settings and preferred payment options.
Property search and filter
This is one of the most important features, especially the filters — allow your users to sort thousands of properties with the help of advanced filters that include:
- Property location
- Number of guests
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Type of property
- Property rules e.g. “no pets”
- Property features like hot tubs, private pools
- Property reviews
- Precise location
- Nearby activities
- Accessibility features
- Virtual tour availability
- Booking options
For users that care most about the location, the ability to choose a property right from a map will be a great part of their user experience. Show the available properties in a certain area and allow users to learn more information by tapping on a pin. Consult with your Vrbo clone developer to choose the best map service for your app.
The interest in the property sparks, and now a user wants to learn more. Provide all available information about the property in an accommodation profile. It should contain the description, photos, rules, and availability.
Currency converter and language support
Vacation rental apps offer services to people from all over the world, so make sure it’s convenient for your users to view and compare prices. Along with the currency converter, your app should also support different languages.
Allow your users to narrow their search by shortlisting the properties they liked most and having them in one place for further comparison.
Greet your users with recommended accommodations on the main screen of your app: suggest rentals based on their preferences, favorite activities, and parameters they often choose for their stay.
Your users should be able to pay for their stay right from the application, and hosts need to receive those funds immediately so that the process of booking and confirmation is fast. I’d suggest international payment gateways like PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.
are your primary way to communicate with users, and inform them about the new accommodations or any changes in their reservations. You need to strike a perfect balance between being informative and promotional with your notifications, and also avoid sending them too often.
Allow your hosts to set up the cancellation rules for their properties, and warn users about the policies beforehand, so there are no surprises for both parties. After the cancellation is confirmed, you need to return funds through a payment gateway.
Property listing and management
This feature is for hosts — they should be able to list their property and provide all information about it, from pictures and 360-view tours to text descriptions and information about the rules of the property, available appliances, and more.
A host should be able to edit the information, manage the property, set up available dates, and more.
These are the main features of a vacation rental app like Vrbo, but I’d suggest adding your own touch instead of just making a Vrbo clone. As a part of our mobile app development service, Mobindustry can provide you with ideas to improve the app concept so that you stand out from the crowd of similar solutions.
How Mobindustry can help you build a rental app like Vrbo
Tapping into the market of rental properties is challenging — you need to find hosts, and bring them together with guests efficiently. No matter how complex this process is, it has to look easy and effortless for all your users. This is exactly what we’re here for — to develop software that will work like a clock under the hood, and will be convenient and enjoyable on the surface.
At Mobindustry we’ll suggest the most suitable technologies for your Vrbo-like application. For example, Flutter mobile app development will give you an opportunity to save money and get your app on both Android and iOS platforms.
We at Mobindustry have experience in building all kinds of platforms, including products for the tourism industry. We’d be happy to help you create your own custom vacation rental booking app like Vrbo, so don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation and quote!