Check These Feature Checklists Before Picking an App Like Airbnb

February 14, 2024
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The home sharing and vacation rental market has boomed in recent years with the rise of platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway. According to a report by AirDNA, the vacation rental industry was worth over $100 billion in 2021.

With so much money at stake, it’s no surprise that many startups have launched Airbnb alternatives vying for a slice of this lucrative market. While the original stays true to its mission of connecting travelers with unique accommodations all over the world, these newer platforms each bring something unique to the table.

As a host or traveler looking to participate in the home sharing economy, choosing the right platform is crucial. Each app comes with its own suite of features, pricing models, trusted communities and more. To make an informed choice, it’s important to evaluate essential factors like listing functionality, payment systems, guest verification processes, and ongoing support.

In this blog post, we’ll provide detailed checklists to help you compare different Airbnb alternatives based on core hosting and guest experiences. By reviewing these essential features, you can pick an app that best matches your needs as either a property owner or traveler.

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Essential Features for Hosts:

Listing Creation & Management

The process of adding your property to an app’s listing portfolio is the first major interaction as a host. Setting up a complete listing with high-quality photos, accurate details and an easy-to-manage calendar requires a frictionless experience.

Some key things to evaluate include:

  • Listing Creation – How smoothly can you add photos, descriptions, amenities and other key info? Look for an intuitive interface.

  • Calendar Management – Is it effortless to set availability periods, block out dates and sync with external calendars? Flexibility here saves time.

  • Pricing Tools – Can you set custom nightly rates, last-minute deals, weekend pricing? Dynamic tools help maximize revenue.

  • Communication Options – What sort of messaging platform does the host have to contact guests? Integration of chat and reviews is ideal.

  • Payment Processing – Do payment options include major cards, PayPal etc.? Fast payout times get hosts paid quicker.

Once set up, your ongoing management experience should be just as simple. Ease of updating schedules, contacting guests and handling bookings goes a long way. A mobile-friendly dashboard for on-the-go tasks is also appreciated.

Guest Screening & Security

Ensuring high-quality guests and protecting your property are top priorities. Reputable platforms invest heavily in verification systems and security features.

Key items to check include:

  • Guest Verification – Background check processes like ID verification through services like TrueResult or standards like Airbnb’s mandatory photo ID matching.

  • Reference Management – Ability to view past positive reviews from other hosts and platforms to assess track record.

  • Security Deposits – Damage protection and claim processes backed by substantial deposits alleviate risks.

  • House Rules – Clear guidelines on check-in/out times, noise restrictions etc. help set expectations.

  • Emergency Contacts – Reliable methods available 24/7 should issues arise when hosting, including a direct line to resolution agents.

  • Insurance Options – Coverage for liability, theft or vandalism offers crucial protection, often bundled directly into the platform.

The stricter screening and tighter security features, the safer you can feel hosting strangers in your home or property.

Analytics & Reporting

To consistently improve operations and optimize performance, hosts need transparent performance insights. Advanced analytics help hosts:

  • Track Bookings – Comprehensive booking histories show occupancy rates over time, peak seasons.

  • Earn Revenue Reports – Detailed views of monthly earnings, transactions, taxes paid etc.

  • Analyze Guest Reviews – Sentiment analysis for reviews detects feedback trends, areas of improvement.

  • Benchmark Competitors – Market research tools compare listings in the local area to adjust pricing.

  • A/B Testing – Ability to experiment with listing titles, photos, descriptions or pricing to find highest conversion tactics.

  • Customizable Reports – Export booking data to internal systems or share business KPIs with partners, investors or tax professionals.

Hosting platforms with robust, easy-to-use analytics suites provide owners deeper operational insights for refinement over time.

Additional Features

Beyond the essentials, certain platforms go further with complementary features for hosts:

  • Multi-Channel Listing Sync – Sync listings seamlessly to major OTAs like and Expedia to expand reach and bookings from new guests.

  • Co-Host Accounts – For property managers or teams, permissions allow distribution of tasks like communications, check-ins and maintenance.

  • Local Business Integration – API connections to cleaning services, contractors, amenity suppliers for booking and payments within the host portal.

  • Home Automation – Integrations like smart locks enable guest access without physical keys while hosting remotely.

  • Messaging Platform – Dedicated communication channels separate from reviews to discreetly discuss maintenance issues.

While not mandatory, these value-added offerings can significantly improve hosting operations for those with multiple properties or unique needs. The right partner supports expansion strategically.

Essential Features for Guests:

Search & Filters

The first interactions guests have are browsing listings and finding their ideal stay. Intuitive search functionality is vital here.

Core search criteria include:

  • Location Filtering – By address, neighborhood, nearby landmarks or distance from points of interest.

  • Calendar Filters – Selecting exact travel dates and length of stay in a smooth inline calendar.

  • Amenities Filtering – Searching by extras like WiFi, parking, kitchens, pools allows customized options.

  • Price Range Filtering – Filtering results down to a set nightly rate bracket or below.

Additionally, specialized filters help find unique accommodations:

  • Pet-Friendly Filters – For guests traveling with pets this is essential.

  • Handicap Accessibility Filters – Finding fully accessible listings for travelers with mobility needs.

  • Special Category Filters – Boutique hotels, cabins, farms or unique properties help find more curated experiences.

Intuitive, customizable search built around common trip parameters sets guests up for success in finding the right stays.

Listing Details & Reviews

After browsing, guests dive into listings for important pre-booking details. Photos provide invaluable insights, but additional transparency is key:

  • High-Quality Photos – Professionally shot interior and exterior images showcase accurate space.

  • Detailed Descriptions – Accurately depicting amenities, capacity, property details without ambiguity.

  • Visible Calendar – Up-to-date availability displayed inline to avoid booking errors.

  • Clear House Rules – Noise policies, pet/smoking rules, check-in/out times explicitly stated.

  • Guest Reviews – Verified past guest comments help validate experience quality, not just price/location.

  • Host Responsiveness – Response time metrics and active community involvement signal support quality.

Listings should avoid uncertainty – guests value confidence that the space truly delivers on promises before committing. Thorough listings set expectations for a seamless stay.

Booking & Payment

Conducting frictionless bookings and payments is crucial to conversion. Look for:

  • Secure Booking Pages – Confidence personal and payment details are handled privately.

  • Real-Time Availability – Immediate booking confirmation without lag ensures space is secured.

  • Booking Confirmations – Digital records including itinerary, payment receipts for easy access.

  • Flexible Payment Options – Major cards, PayPal for budgeting various trip costs in one place.

  • Simple Cancellation – Clear, fair policies to avoid fees if travel plans change with ample notice.

  • Pre/Post-Trip Support – Ability to message hosts before arrival and stay for check-in instructions or dining tips.

Removing hurdles from the booking flow through security, transparency and support gives guests peace of mind during trip planning.

Additional Considerations:

Mobile App Functionality

With increasing mobile usage, guests and hosts need apps optimized for small screens. Top features include:

  • Responsive Design – Content readily readable across phones, tablets in any orientation without cropping.

  • Push Notifications – Timely alerts for messages, reservations, payment receipts without opening the app.

  • Offline Functionality – Access booking confirmations, maps, saved searches when no data connection.

  • Map Integration – Easy navigation to listings powered by quality mapping software.

  • Photo Management – High-res listing photos load fast even on cellular networks.

  • Messaging – In-app chat mirrors web functionality to stay connected on-the-go.

Apps fulfilling everyday tasks seamlessly across all major mobile OS help both audiences engage from anywhere. Those falling short lose relevance.

Customer Support

Reliable, responsive assistance whenever issues arise builds trust in the platform. Prioritize:

  • 24/7 Phone & Chat Support – For urgent concerns, representatives available around the clock via multiple channels.

  • Ticket System – Log support inquiries, view progress and resolution via an organized portal for tracking.

  • Knowledge Base – Thorough online documentation collects FAQs to self-serve common questions.

  • Average Response Time – Under 24 hours considered acceptable for initial contact, quicker ideal for paid tiers.

  • Multi-Lingual Agents – For global users, customer service should accommodate English plus local languages for key markets.

Proactive, well-funded support teams distinguish serious, long-term players. Their quick interventions solve problems to retain users.

Security & Privacy

Confidential financial transactions demand stringent security standards from the start.

  • PCI Compliance – Stored card data protected per Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard to avoid theft vulnerability.

  • Data Encryption – Listings database, login credentials, payments all encrypted in transit and at rest using SSL/TLS.

  • two-Factor Authentication – Add secure login verification beyond passwords alone like one-time codes.

  • Privacy Policy – Clearly state how personal information like photos, reviews or payments are collected and used.

  • EU Compliance – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance necessary for European userbase.

Robust, independently-audited security infrastructure reassures users, especially when trusting strangers with bookings.

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Building your own homestay platform from scratch requires huge investments of both time and money. This is where an off-the-shelf solution like Zipprr comes into play.

Zipprr provides a fully-functional Airbnb clone script that allows you to launch a functional homestay marketplace within weeks, compared to over a year it would take from a traditional development process. Some key advantages it offers include:

  • Speed to Market – With features like listings, bookings, payments, reviews already built-in, you can deploy your minimum viable product in the fraction of the time.

  • Cost Savings – By reusing built code rather than starting from zero, you save massive development costs of $100k or more depending on the size of your team.

  • Flexible Customization – The codebase allows tweaking colors, logos, fields etc. Developers can add niche features also through its extensible architecture.

  • Future-Proof Technology – It uses modern tech like Node.js, React making the platform fast and lightweight as well as easy to scale as your userbase grows over time.

  • Ready Admin Portal – No need to spend weeks designing back-end functionality. Zipprr comes with a fully featured admin for easy management of listings, bookings, reports etc.

  • Open API – Integrate other services like payments, maps through its clean APIs faster than ground-up development.

By leveraging existing code from a trusted provider like Zipprr, new entrants can quickly launch a minimum viable Airbnb alternative and refine over time based on real user feedback – all the while saving huge efforts and costs versus building solo from scratch.

For serious startups and entrepreneurs, an OOTB script is the low-hanging fruit to quickly enter the booming homestay industry and start gaining traction within months instead of years. Zipprr fits the bill perfectly as a high-quality, full-featured clone solution.


Thoroughly vetting apps on features pertinent to hosts and guests sets one up for success in the sharing economy. While no platform satisfies all needs, these checklists illuminate essential capabilities to shortlist top contenders for further comparison.

Once familiar with minimum standards across listing management, payments and ongoing support, users can confidently pick a partner aligned with their unique plans and priorities. Staying empowered through informed selection leads to optimal hosting and traveling experiences.

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    Prasad Venkatachalam

    Prasad Venkatachalam is a professional writer with over 10 years of expertise in web and mobile app development. With a solid background in the field, Prasad has accumulated a decade of experience, honing his skills and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. His extensive experience in software development allows him to navigate the intricacies of the process, ensuring efficient and high-quality solutions. Currently, Prasad is a valuable member of the Zipprr team, where he continues to contribute his 10 years of expertise to develop innovative on-demand solutions.