A sharing economy is gaining traction, and every year more businesses are getting involved. Booking platforms and rental marketplaces are not an exception.  A rental marketplace is a p2p platform where individuals or companies can rent different types of goods from one another. People are free to rent all kinds of goods from cars and homes to equipment and clothes. Renting is gradually replacing ownership, so launching your own rental platform may be a great idea for your next online business.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a rental marketplace for any niche with WordPress. We’ll explain step-by-step how to install and set up all the necessary plugins, extend your marketplace functionality and customize it to your liking.

For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll use the HivePress plugin. It’s a free WordPress directory plugin that allows you to create any type of listing website. We’ll also use ListingHive, a free WordPress directory theme, since it’s a lightweight and clean theme that goes with all the required features for building a rental marketplace.

Let’s get started!

Installing WordPress Theme

If you want to build a rental platform with WordPress, you have to start with the WordPress theme installation. In this guide, we’ll use the free ListingHive theme so you can install it directly from your WP dashboard by going to the Appearance > Themes > Add New page. Next, use the search field to find it, then install and activate the theme.

Upon activation, there will be a suggestion to install the HivePress plugin. It’s crucial to install and activate it since most of the marketplaces features on your website will be powered by this plugin. Simply hit the recommended link and complete the installation.

Now, let’s move to the next step and install the necessary add-ons.

Installing Add-ons

Once you install and activate the HivePress plugin, it’s necessary to install the Bookings extension in order to enable rental features on your website. To do that, go to the Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin section and select the Bookings add-on ZIP file. Then proceed by installing and activating it.

Additionally, you can add more useful features to your rental marketplace by installing different HivePress extensions. Simply navigate to the HivePress > Extensions section to check the whole list of the available add-ons. Let’s add some of them to extend your website functionality.

For example, you can install the Messages extension, so users will be able to communicate on your website via private messages. Also, it’s better to add the Reviews extension to your rental platform because it provides customers with an opportunity to leave reviews about some goods they rented before, so other people can check them and get a better idea about certain goods.

If you want to improve user experience on your website, you can also install the Authentication add-on, so any user will have an option to sign in via third-party services like Google and Facebook. One more feature that may improve UX on your rental marketplace is the Favorites extension that allows customers to keep a list of favorite listings in order to always have the best rental options at their fingertips.

List of the HivePress add-ons

Please note that all the HivePress add-ons are intended to work hand in hand with each other, so you can install them without the risk of any compatibility issues. Also, bear in mind that you can build a niche WordPress website with unique functionality by simply combining different add-ons.

Okay, now you have all the necessary features and can start setting up your booking website. Let’s begin with adding some listing categories depending on the type of goods that users may rent.

Adding Rental Marketplace Categories

In order to split your marketplace into categories, navigate to the Listings > Categories section. For example, let’s add “Equipment,” “Clothes,” and “Instruments” categories so users can easily find these types of goods within some of the categories.

To add a new category, you need to enter its name (e.g., “Equipment”), then you can briefly describe it, and if necessary, you may upload a category image. Also, there’s an option to create subcategories by setting parent categories if you’d like to separate your website’s content more precisely. It may be a useful option if, for example, you want to create several specific sub-categories in the “Equipment” category depending on the type of tools, etc.

When finished, click on the Add Category button.

Adding a category to the rental marketplace.

Keep in mind that there are no limits on the number of categories, so you are free to add as many of them as you need for your WordPress rental marketplace.

Adding Custom Listing Fields

Once you are done with categories, let’s add some custom listing fields. Since every marketplace is unique and varies on its niche, different listing details and search filters may be required.  In the case at hand, we are building a common rental marketplace, so let’s add a custom field that is necessary for rental listings of any niche. Let’s add the “Price” field to allow users to set the price when they list some goods for rent.

Go to the Listings > Attributes section and click on the Add New button. Now you need to fill out the title, enable the front-end editing option and select the attribute field type (we recommend using the “Number” field type). Next, mark it as filterable, sortable and select the search field type if you want to allow users to use this custom field as a search filter for listings. It’s better to use the “Number Range” type because customers will be able to search for products by the price range instead of some specific price. Finally, set up the attribute display format and assign it to some of the listing template areas. When finished, click on the Publish button.

Adding custom fields and search filters to the rental marketplace.

In the same way, you can create more custom fields and search filters. Also, there’s an option to add category-specific attributes. It’s a helpful feature for rental websites since each category of goods has unique details, so different search filters may be required.

Adding Rental Listings

Now it’s time to check how your rental platform works for users, so let’s try to add a new rental listing. For example, let’s add a new listing to the “Equipment” category. To do that, go to your website, click on the Add Listing button and select the category.

You’ll be taken to the listing submission page, where you need to fill in all the necessary details about your rental listing. Firstly, you have to name it, let it be “Power drill 20V”, then upload images of your equipment, describe it and set the rental price (the custom field we’ve created earlier).

When you fill out all the required information, you can tweak the bookings settings. For example, you can set the minimum and the maximum rental duration to avoid single-day or long-term rental periods. Then, you may define the number of days required before the rent date and specify how many days in advance customers can rent. Also, you can enable moderation to accept each booking request manually.

Setting booking restrictions.

Once you are done, click on the Submit Listing button. Keep in mind that you, as a marketplace owner, can customize the listing submission form in the way you like by adding or removing different fields.

A listing on the newly created rental marketplace.

If moderation is enabled, the listing will appear on the front-end once the admin approves it. If you want to disable manual approval of each listing submission, go to the HivePress > Settings > Listings section and uncheck the corresponding option.

That’s how it works! However, let’s move to the next step and try to rent your recently added equipment to get a better sense of the marketplace functionality.

Managing Rental Requests

In order to check the whole workflow of renting goods, let’s register a new user account and try to rent something on your booking platform. To do that, simply log out from the admin account and click on the Sign-in button. Then click on the Register button and complete the registration.

Once you are done with the registration, go to the “Equipment” category, locate your previously added listing and try to rent it. For example, let’s rent this equipment for 5 days. When you pick the dates, click on the Request to Book button. There will be a redirect to the confirmation page where you can verify the details and make some notes if necessary. Finally, if everything is correct, simply click on the Send Request button.

That’s it! Once you rent some goods, you can manage your rental request in the My Account > Bookings section.

Booking confirmation on the rental platform.

Now, let’s switch back to the admin account and try to accept this rental request. To do that, navigate to the My Account > Bookings section, and you’ll see a pending request for rent. You may accept it or decline if there are some issues with the booking availability or details. Simply click on the Accept button to confirm the request.

That’s how it works! Once the rental request is accepted, customers receive a confirmation via email, and, of course, both parties can be in touch via messages in case there are some issues with the booking.

Also, bear in mind that there’s a calendar feature that allows you to make certain dates available or unavailable for new rental requests. Moreover, with the calendar, you can always check upcoming rental dates, available and unavailable dates, and so on.

Booking calendar on the booking platform.

Wrapping Up

There you have it! Now you know what steps you need to take in order to create a rental marketplace with WordPress in next to no time. We tried to keep this tutorial simple so that you can launch your website hassle-free and without any coding knowledge.

If you decided to build a rental marketplace for any niche using WordPress, keep in mind that you can do it with the HivePress plugin and its ListingHive theme. They are both clean, lightweight and go with all the necessary features for getting your website off the ground.

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