Regarding short-term rental listings, the primary powerhouse is Airbnb due to its reach and trust. But VRBO has been rapidly growing and making a name for itself as an Expedia partner. Plus, there are always new companies coming and going from the market. As a rental property owner or manager, how do you decide what to use? And what about other competitors in the market?
This article will compare and contrast your options to determine where to spend your time (and money) on listings to maximize the number of nights your property is booked each year.
VRBO vs. Airbnb
First, let’s compare the two heavyweights for short-term rental and vacation rental platforms: Airbnb and VRBO.
Both VRBO and Airbnb offer a range of services to property owners, but some key differences can help determine which platform is right for you.
To summarize, Airbnb was established in 2008 and has grown dramatically, with an impressive 5 million listings, 150 million users, and a presence in over 220 countries. The company also holds the highest market share of any single vacation rental provider at 20%, demonstrating its immense success within this industry.
On the other hand, established in 1995, VRBO stands for “vacation rentals by owners” and has experienced a surge of growth since being acquired by HomeAway in 2006. Fast forward to 2015, when the Expedia Group purchased it. Today, this listing site boasts an impressive 2 million listings across 190 countries with 150 million users!
Airbnb vs. VRBO: Key Feature Differences
- Reach: While Airbnb may have more listings and be available in more countries, Vrbo holds the crown as part of the Expedia Group, giving hosts significantly higher exposure to potential guests around the globe.
- Aesthetics: Both platforms are easy to use and offer filter features that make it straightforward to find what you’re looking for.
- Unit types: Airbnb offers a variety of options, including entire homes or one room in an apartment, whereas VRBO only rents entire properties. Airbnb is also known for offering more unique stays.
- Fees: How much a host and guest are charged depends on the property owner’s payment structure. Airbnb generally charges 3% to hosts and around 14% to guests. In contrast, VRBO charges 8% (including the credit card fee) to hosts and 6 to 15% to guests.
- Flexibility: Both platforms offer a range of cancellation options depending on the host’s comfort level, from no refund policy to flexible cancellations as late as 24 hours in advance.
- Reviews: AirBnB relies on review culture to help guests trust their hosts (and vice versa), whereas VRBO places less emphasis on this important piece.
- Audience: Airbnb caters to a wider range of travelers in terms of price points and home types, while VRBO primarily caters to groups and families.
Is VRBO or Airbnb Better?
The answer to this question depends on your rental property, your needs and goals as a host, and what type of traveler you want to attract. Hosting with Airbnb offers more flexibility regarding the types of units. However, if you’re looking for an exposure boost from being part of the Expedia Group, VRBO might be the better choice.
The best thing to do is explore both platforms and look into their respective policies, fees, and customer service ratings before deciding.
VRBO and Airbnb Alternatives
When researching pricing and features, comparing other rental sites to see what type of exposure and features they offer can be beneficial. Here are a few notable competitors:
Flipkey (by TripAdvisor)
Flipkey is an online marketplace for vacation rentals, home to over 830,000 properties in 190 countries. As a partner of TripAdvisor, guests can research a destination and book a property all in one stop. Host fees are 3%, and guest fees range from 8 to 16%.
Key features include:
- Primarily utilized in the US
- Trip insurance is often covered up to $10,000
- Access to entire apartments, and homes
Booking.com is a popular online travel agency based in the Netherlands, offering properties worldwide- including hotels, apartments, and hostels. It has over 28 million unique rentals and worldwide users. Guests pay no online fees, while hosts pay around 15 to 20% commission.
Key features include
- Utilized worldwide, particularly strong in Europe
- Customer service to help with any miscommunications/overbookings
- No extra fees for guests
This heavyweight has a lot of bonuses, particularly for guests that don’t have to pay a hefty service fee. However, as a “middleman” between hotels and property owners, reservation requests can get lost in translation (or even lost altogether sometimes).
Reviewing Other Short-Term Property Rental Platforms
In addition to Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey, and Booking, there are several other lesser-known options. They won’t have the same visibility for finding guests, but each offers its own unique benefits.
- Vacasa: A full-service property management platform that offers all-in-one solutions for hosts. Vacasa has about 35,000 listings across North America. Since they offer more than just a listing, their fees start at 25% and go up from there.
- Hometogo: HomeToGo is a metasearch engine, meaning that it pulls listings from other websites, including Booking, Expedia, VRBO, and Airbnb. Plus, hosts can list their property directly on the platform with a starting fee of 8% (up to 14%) per booking. This makes searching for a rental a lot easier for guests. If you are already listing with VRBO, Hometogo is a direct partner, which can give a listing an extra boost of visibility.
- Trivago: Another metasearch engine similar to Hometogo.
- Findrentals: A small platform that offers direct booking options between guests and a property management company.
- Ownerdirect: Owner Direct Vacation Rentals boasts over 8,000 vacation rentals worldwide, with a plethora of condos in some favorite US hot spots like Hawaii. With these accommodations, you have direct access to the property owner (not only cost-effective but can be more personable too). This platform has no reviews, making it hard to decipher the good and bad listings from afar.
- Hotels: Hotels.com is also part of the Expedia group and offers various options.
- Sonder: One example of a hybrid company that offers hotel professionalism for cozy apartment-style (and home) stays. They claim to hand-pick their rentals to offer consistency across the globe that guests can trust. Other similar companies include Lyric and Blueground.
- Travala: A leading blockchain-based travel booking platform used by thousands of trusting customers worldwide as an online travel agency.
VRBO, Airbnb, and Beyond: FAQs for Hosts and Property Managers
Let’s review some commonly asked questions below:
Who gets more traffic, Airbnb or Vrbo?
Airbnb is the market leader in short-term vacation rentals and usually gets more traffic than VRBO. Additionally, Airbnb tends to be where most hosts focus their efforts because of its larger user base. However, many hosts still list their properties on both platforms to capture more bookings from both audiences and compare rates.
Why do people use Vrbo instead of Airbnb?
VRBO is preferred over Airbnb by some property owners because of its more detailed listing criteria. Additionally, VRBO’s customer service team is known to be more helpful and responsive than Airbnb’s, offering more protection for both hosts and guests in the case of a dispute.
Is Vrbo or Airbnb better for long-term rentals (monthly or longer)?
VRBO is usually the preferred platform for long-term bookings because it offers more clarity on rates and availability. However, since 2020 Airbnb has begun offering more monthly options to cater to the demand for long-term rentals from remote workers. Both platforms offer discounts for longer stays that the host sets.
There are many rental platform options; how do I choose where to list a property?
It really depends on the type of property you have and your target market. Take some time to research each platform and see which one will suit your needs best. These days, many property owners (or their managers) list on multiple platforms to maximize their reach (and profit) and see which is most successful for them. If you do this, it’s important to closely track or have software in place for your listings to ensure you don’t double-book a property.
Have More Listing Questions?
If you’re a host or property management company trying to decide where to list your property, you should ultimately weigh the pros and cons of each platform. There are many factors to consider, from fees to customer service.
If you have questions about any of these platforms or need help navigating the rental industry, contact us at Skye Management! Our team is here to answer all your inquiries and can give tailored advice related to renting your property short-term.
If your head is spinning and you want someone to help you get your property listed and generate cash flow, consider hiring a high-quality property management like Skye Management. We cater to property owners in Southern California and would love to work with you if you’re in the area. Thank you for reading!