When Airbnb first arrived on the scene, it was a game-changer. Today it connects millions of people looking to rent out their properties with those trying to find a place to rent. 

But sometimes, people prefer creating their own niche rental marketplaces instead of using Airbnb. The good news is that building your own property rental marketplace similar to Airbnb is no longer a tough deal, thanks to WordPress. 

In this complete tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a website like Airbnb with WordPress, set it up, and successfully monetize!

Let’s get started!

What Is a Rental Marketplace?

A rental marketplace is a platform where people can rent real estate from each other. Probably, the most prominent example is Airbnb.

Airbnb homepage.

The creators’ idea behind Airbnb was as simple as ABC – connect people who want to rent out their accommodations with those who are looking for a place to stay.

This community-based online platform has changed the way we travel and has become a world-famous company without even having its own property. But let’s take a closer look at how it works and makes money.

Airbnb’s Business Model

One of the main secrets of Airbnb’s success is that it’s completely free to sign up on the platform, and it’s free for anybody to list their property. The marketplace charges users only when there’s a confirmed reservation.

Airbnb is a two-sided marketplace, and it receives commissions from two sources upon every booking, namely from the hosts and guests. Most guests pay a service fee under 14% of the booking subtotal, and at the same time, hosts are charged a 3% commission. For example, on a $100 booking per night set by a host, Airbnb might make about $15, split between the host and guest fees.

Additionally, the platform allows experienced hosts to offer different kinds of experiences (in-person or online activities). They can provide travelers with special knowledge, unique skills, and inside access to experiences, places, and communities, from Mezcal & Tequila cocktail masterclasses to overnight desert safaris. Needless to say that Airbnb charges hosts who offer experiences a service fee of 20%.

Prerequisites to Create a Multi-vendor Booking Platform

Okay, now you have a better understanding of rental marketplaces and how they work, but what about launching your own one. All you need to do is choose a more specific niche and put all your efforts into offering high-quality services to a target audience.

When you have an idea for your online business, the easiest way to test it is by building a website with WordPress. So, before starting your property rental platform, make sure that you have the following prerequisites:

  • Domain name;
  • Hosting plan;
  • WordPress installation;
  • A WordPress theme.

Let’s briefly cover each of them.

Get a Domain Name

The starting point is to select the right domain name for your future rental marketplace. Basically, it’s a web address of your website, like “example.com”. It’s crucial to pick a good domain name from the start since it can be a hassle to switch later on without hurting your brand and search rankings.

A general piece of advice is to use a domain name that will indicate what type of business you are running. Also, here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your domain name:

  • Brandable over generic;
  • Shorter is better;
  • Easy to type;
  • Easy to pronounce;
  • Avoid hyphens and numbers.

Bear in mind that you cannot buy a domain name permanently and have to pay for the registration every year (usually, it costs $10-15 / year).

Choose a Hosting Provider

The next step is to get a hosting service for your rental marketplace. It’s necessary since you need a place to store your website’s database and files. There are many providers on the market, so you can choose one according to your preferences. However, if you are unsure which one to select, you can check our article about WordPress hosting providers.

On average, a hosting plan costs $10-30 per month.

Install WordPress

Once you register a domain name for your rental marketplace and subscribe to a hosting plan, you can proceed with the WordPress installation. However, setting it up manually may be a bit time-consuming, and there’s no need to do it on your own since most web hosts have a one-click installer that will handle the whole process for you.

Nevertheless, if you want, you can follow this step-by-step guide to install WordPress manually.

Select an Airbnb-like WordPress Theme

Finally, if you want to create a website like Airbnb with WordPress, you need to choose a WordPress theme tailored to this use. There are dozens of options on the market, but when looking for a theme for your rental marketplace, you should keep your eyes peeled for themes with specific features.

Essential Features for a Property Rental Marketplace Theme

Before choosing a WordPress theme for your rental marketplace, bear in mind that it should already include the following features:

  • Booking System. Users should be able to book accommodations on your platform;
  • Marketplace Functionality. It’s necessary to allow users to register and list their properties on your website if you want to create a multi-vendor platform like Airbnb;
  • Monetization Tools. Your theme should support at least one monetization model so you can make money with your website;
  • Ratings & Reviews. It’s crucial for rental marketplaces to allow visitors to rate and review accommodations since they help build consumer trust and exclude untrustworthy hosts;
  • Geolocation. The location-based search is a must-have for rental marketplaces;
  • Various Search Filters. It should be easy for travelers to narrow down the search using different search filters (e.g., price, number of rooms, square footage, etc.);
  • Messaging System. You need one, so users can communicate with one another.

As you can see, building a website like Airbnb with WordPress requires tons of features, and you need a powerful theme.

For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll use the RentalHive theme. It’s a modern multi-vendor booking WordPress theme crafted for building property rental marketplaces similar to Airbnb. It goes with all the required features right out of the box, so you can kick off your booking platform right away.

You can take a sneak peek at the website we are going to build.

RentalHive homepage.

In the following steps, we’ll explain to you more about the RentalHive theme and how to set it up. So, let’s dive in and create a website like Airbnb with WordPress!

Additionally, you can check out our list of the best Airbnb WordPress themes that allow you to create an Airbnb clone website hassle-free.

Steps to Build a Website Like Airbnb with WordPress

1. Installing RentalHive

Your first step should be installing RentalHive. You can install it directly from your WordPress dashboard by going to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme page. Then you need to upload the theme ZIP file, install and finally activate it.

Once you activate RentalHive, there will be a recommendation to install several plugins, including HivePress. It’s a multipurpose directory WordPress plugin that will power most of the marketplace and booking features on your booking platform. So it’s necessary to install and activate all the recommended plugins by following the suggested link.

RentalHive recommended plugins.

To keep things simple, you can also import the RentalHive demo content to get a better idea of how everything works with pre-made listings. You can follow the step-by-step screencast below to import it properly.

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

2. Installing Add-ons

There are 15+ RentalHive add-ons that you can install to enhance your property rental marketplace. To check the whole list of HivePress add-ons, go to the WP Dashboard > HivePress > Extensions section. 

The list of the HivePress extensions.

For example, you can install the free Geolocation extension to allow users to search properties by location. It’s a crucial feature for your Airbnb-clone website since location is the most important factor for travelers.

To install it, simply click on the Install button and activate the extension once it’s installed. Then you need to set your Google Maps or Mapbox  API key (please follow this doc on how to set up Geolocation).

Similarly, you can install the other add-ons required for your Airbnb-like website. Once you finish, you can move to the next step.

3. Adding Listing Categories

Now, you have to define the structure of your booking platform by adding listing categories to make it easier for users to navigate.

Go to the Listings > Categories section.

Within this section, you can create listing categories and sub-categories. For example, you can create “Houses”, “Apartments” and “Rooms” categories.

When adding a new listing category, set a name for it, add a description and set a parent category if you want to turn it into a subcategory. This way, you can add multiple category levels.

Also, it’s better to upload a category image.

Listing categories.

When finished, simply click on the Add Category button. In the same way, you can add as many listing categories as required for your booking marketplace.

4. Adding Custom Listing Fields

In this section, we’ll show you how to add listing attributes (i.e., custom fields). By default, the listing form contains the basic fields like title and description. However, since each website is unique, it may require different booking details depending on the site niche and requirements. With HivePress, you can add your own fields and search filters specific to the website you’re building.

You can add custom fields in the Listings > Attributes section.

For example, you can add a “Bedrooms” attribute to allow users to filter properties by the number of bedrooms. To do that, simply set the attribute name, allow its front-end editing, and select the attribute type. For the “Bedrooms” field, it’s better to use the “Number” type.

Adding listing fields.

In the Search section, you can allow users to search and filter listings by attribute value. Let’s simply mark it as filterable, sortable and select the search field type. We recommend using the “Number Range” so users can filter listings by the number range instead of some specific value.

Adding listing search filter.

Finally, you can define how this custom field will appear on the listing page by assigning it to certain template areas and setting its display format.

You can use the replaceable tokens in the display format. Simply hover on the question icon to view the available tokens. We’ll use this display format %icon% %label%: %value% for this field.

Setting up display format for listing fields.

Also, keep in mind that you can make any custom field category-specific. It’s useful when you have many different listing categories on your website and different details are required in each of them. When finished, click on the Publish button. By following the same steps, you can create more custom fields and search filters according to your website niche.

5. Setting Up HivePress

In this section, let’s go through the HivePress settings in the HivePress > Settings section to make sure that your booking website is set up and functions according to the requirements. Please note that we are not going to explain each setting since many of them are pretty obvious and don’t require additional explanation.

So, let’s start with the Listings tab.


HivePress Listings settings.

Most of the settings within this tab are easy to understand (by the way,  if something is unclear, you can hover over the question icon for an extra description). But there are a few settings that we’d like to emphasize.

  • In Default Fileds, you can select which fields you want to show in the listing search form. Usually, you can choose only keywords, categories and dates, but if you add new searchable attributes, they will also appear in the drop-down list;
  • In Submission, you can allow or restrict listing submission by website users (it depends on whether you are building a booking marketplace or a single-vendor website). Also, you can manually approve each listing submission request before it appears on the front end by checking the “Moderation” option.

Let’s move to the Hosts tab.


HivePress Hosts settings.

Within this tab, you should pay attention to the Registration section. By default, to become a host, a user has to add at least one listing. But if you enable the “Direct Registration” option, users will be able to register as hosts without submitting listings.

Now let’s jump into the Bookings tab.


HivePress Bookings settings.

In this tab, you can set up the booking functionality on your Airbnb-like website. Among other settings, check out:

  • Availability – if you check this option, the booking availability will be managed per vendor instead of per listing. For example, if you have tour guides on your website that offer different services, and one of the services is booked, then users won’t be able to book another one at the same time;
  • Guests – you can allow reserving multiple places per booking. Simply saying, this option will allow vendors to set how many guests can stay at their accommodation;
  • Time slots – you can switch to time slots if you want to accept time-based bookings instead of daily and nightly ones. It’s a useful option that allows you to rent something out for several hours instead of the whole day or night (if you want, you can enable time slots only for specific listing categories).


HivePress Geolocation settings.

In the Geolocation tab, various settings allow you to set up the geolocation function on your website. For example, you can set up:

  • Content types – select content types with location features. By default, there are two types available (hosts and listings);
  • Countries – leave this field empty if your website allows listings from all over the world or select specific countries to restrict the location selection;
  • Regions – check this option if you want to create a page for each region.  By default, the location search is based on the radius, but this option enables search by regions, such as countries, states and counties.

Check out these docs to set up geolocation on your booking website.

That’s it! We’ve just finished setting up HivePress. Now, let’s move to the next section and add the first listing.

6. Adding a Property Listing

As a website admin, you can add listings via the back-end by going to the Listings > Add New section or via the front-end listing form. Let’s try to add a new listing via the front end to check how it works for regular users.

To add a new listing, go to the website’s front page and click on the List a Property button. First, you have to fill in all the necessary details about your listing, like title, description, upload images, set location (if you enabled Geolocation) and so on. 

Listing submission form.

Next, you can customize the booking settings. You’ll notice that there are a few fields related to the booking restrictions. For example, you can set:

  • Booking offset 
  • Booking window
  • Booking duration
Adjusting booking settings.

Finally, you can enable the “Booking requests” option to accept each booking request manually. When you complete the listing form, click on the Submit Listing button.

If moderation is enabled, the listing will be sent for review, and the website admin can approve or reject it in the WP Dashboard > Listings section by changing the listing status from pending to published.

Once the listing is approved, it should appear on the front end.

An example listing.

7. Booking a Property

Now, we’d like to show you the booking process. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll simply book a recently added listing. Let’s try!

If a host sets some booking restrictions, users will be limited to a certain extent. For example, in the case at hand, users cannot book this house for more than 14 days and cannot check in earlier than 5 days from today (see the screenshot below). That’s because we have set several booking restrictions in the previous step (while filling in the listing submission form).

Example of how to create a website like Airbnb with WordPress.

In order to book a property, it’s necessary to pick the dates and click on the Request to Book button. There will be a redirect to the confirmation page, where users can verify all the details before sending a request and add some notes.

Booking confirmation form.

After checking all the details, users can finish booking by clicking on the Send Request button. Once a user books a property a host will see a pending request for booking in the My Account > Bookings section and can accept or decline it.

Example of a booking request.

That’s it! Once the booking is accepted, users receive a booking confirmation via email so they can start packing their suitcases.

Also, keep in mind that there’s a calendar feature that allows hosts to block or unblock specific dates to make them available or unavailable for new bookings. Moreover, the booking calendar helps hosts to see the whole picture of the month, like upcoming bookings, available and unavailable dates, and so on.

Booking calendar.

8. Adding Pages

In this section, we’ll show you how to add pages where listings or other website content will be displayed. To create a new page, navigate to the WP Dashboard > Pages > Add New section.

Please follow the screencast below to create new pages on your WordPress booking website. 

9. Customizing Styles

In the previous section, we learned how to add new pages, and in this one, we’ll show you how to customize pages on your Airbnb-like website. Simply check out the screencast below to customize everything to your liking.

Monetizing a Property Rental Platform

Finally, we want to show you how to monetize your WordPress booking website. We’ll show you two main business models:

  • Paid & Featured Listings
  • Commissions

The first monetization model we’ll show you is charging users for adding listings and making them featured (featured listings appear at the top of the search results).

Paid & Featured Listings

First of all, you need to install the free HivePress Paid Listings extension. Simply go to the HivePress > Extensions section and proceed by installing and activating the mentioned add-on. Also, it’s crucial to install WooCommerce (in Plugins > Add New section), a free e-commerce plugin, since it will be used for accepting and processing payments on your rental website.

The next step is to create the WooCommerce products that will be used for payments. To do this, go to the WooCommerce > Products section.

Adding a WooCommerce product.

Here, you need to:

  • Set the product name
  • Set the price 
  • Mark it as a virtual product

Then click on the Publish button. This product will be used for charging users for making listings featured. Also, by following the same steps, add one more product to link it with the premium listing package we’ll create later.

Now navigate to the HivePress > Settings > Listings section and select the product you’ve just created. Also, don’t forget to set the featured status duration in days.

Setting up featured listings.

After saving changes, you can check how everything works. To do this, you can open the website home page, then go to the user dashboard, pick any listing and click on the star icon.

Making listings featured.

There will be a redirect to the checkout page, where users have to fill in the form and proceed to payment. The selected listing will get the featured status once the payment is processed.

Alright, now let’s create some listing packages to charge users for adding new listings. Go to the Listings > Packages section and click Add New.

For example, you can create two packages: a free and a premium one. Let’s start with adding a premium package. Enter the package name, describe it, set the maximum number of listing submissions and select a WooCommerce product you created previously. Then click on the Publish button.

Adding premium listing package.

After adding a premium package, you can add a free one in the same way.

Now you can try adding a new listing to check how everything works. Simply go to the website homepage and click on the List a Property button. Once you fill in all the details and submit the listing, there will be a new page where you have to select one of the packages. If you choose a premium package, you’ll be redirected to the checkout page.

Listing packages.

Now you’re familiar with the first monetization model, let’s set up the second one to charge commissions on bookings.


In this section, we’ll show you how to take a commission from each successful booking. We need to install the HivePress Marketplace extension to get the necessary functionality. Please note that this extension is already included with the RentalHive theme, and you don’t have to purchase it separately.  It will be included in your purchase email as a separate file.

To install it, go to the Plugins > Add New section and click on the Upload Plugin button, select the ZIP file to upload and proceed by installing and activating it.

Once the Marketplace extension is installed, there are some new settings in the HivePress > Settings section. Let’s check them and start with the Listings tab.

Setting up marketplace functionality.

Here, the most important settings are:

  • Price extras – this feature may be really useful. For example, if you are running an Airbnb clone website, you can allow hosts to offer not only their accommodations but also other extra services like an airport transfer or breakfast, etc.;
  • Discounts – you can allow hosts to set discounts depending on the number of booked days. For example, they can set a 20% discount for bookings longer than 10 days. The discount will be applied automatically if a customer chooses a booking period longer than 10 days. 

Next, go to the Hosts tab.

Setting hosts commissions.

If you want to charge hosts for each successful booking, you can set:

  • Commission rate – it’s a certain percentage that will be charged on each transaction (e.g., you can set 10%);
  • Commission fee – it’s a fixed fee for every booking (e.g., you can set $2).

Keep in mind that you can use either a commission or a fixed fee or even both at the same time.

Let’s move to the Users tab!

Setting customer commissions.

Here, everything is pretty similar to the Hosts tab, but we recommend checking out the Buying section. In this section, you can set a commission rate and fee for customers. It means you can charge either hosts or travelers on your booking website or both.

Finally, go to the Orders & Payouts tabs.

Setting up orders.

Any order is basically a payment receipt linked to each paid booking. Within this tab, I only recommend checking the disputes option. It allows users to notify the platform admins if there’s something wrong with the booking.

Please check these docs to set up payouts on your WordPress booking website.

Alright, now it’s time to book a listing to check how everything works. To do that, simply go to your website and pick any of the previously added listings. After selecting some dates and clicking on the Book Now button, there will be a confirmation form. 

Example of a booking confirmation form.

Once you click on the Proceed to Payment button, you’ll be redirected to the checkout page, where you can enter all the billing information and make a payment.


You can choose any of the above-mentioned monetization models or take advantage of both of them. Additionally, if you get decent traffic, you always have the option to place banners on your website or use Google AdSense in order to make an extra profit.

Wrapping Up

That’s all for today! We hope this article helped you and now you understand how to create a website like Airbnb with WordPress.  Like any online platform, gaining the first users may take some time and marketing efforts, but once you get decent traffic, your website will become profitable.

By the way, don’t forget to check out RentalHive one more time if you want to build a website like Airbnb with WordPress. It already has all the necessary features, so you can just plug and play.

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