Airbnb and Vrbo are two vacation rental sites that have gained vast popularity among travelers and property owners. However, when considering where to list your property, you might wonder which of these two options will yield better results for your short-term rental business. As a guest, you might be curious to know which of these platforms is able to cater to your unique needs and help arrange your dream vacation.
To help you decide, we’ve compared Airbnb and Vrbo and researched their key features, differences, pros, and cons. Read on to find out which of these two sites would be a smarter choice for your business or for your next vacation.
At first glance, Airbnb and Vrbo have a lot in common and offer many similar features to hosts and guests. They both were designed as an alternative to hotel accommodation.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 and now boasts over 5.6 million listings in more than 200 countries. Vrbo (originally known as Vacation Rental by Owner) was founded in 1995 and now is owned by the Expedia Group. There are over 2 million listings on Vrbo available in 190 countries.
However, Airbnb has quickly stood out as a rental platform that offers more unique experiences for guests compared to other vacation rental sites.
While Airbnb boasts more listings and provides services in a higher number of countries, listing your vacation rental property on Vrbo can give hosts further exposure.
Regardless of which rental platform you choose, or whether you decide to list on both of them, it’s important to ensure flawless vacation rental management and effective communication.
iGMS, the vacation rental software for professional hosts and Airbnb’s Preferred Partner, can help you manage reservations on Airbnb and Vrbo, and other leading short-term rental platforms like Booking.com, via one streamlined interface. It offers hosts and property managers ample tools like a robust multi-calendar, a unified inbox, automated triggered messaging, and a lot more to help you manage multiple listings smoothly, saving valuable time along the way.
Prominent differences between Airbnb and Vrbo are made clear in the property types that can be listed on each platform.
Airbnb allows hosts and property managers to list various types of properties starting from cabins and tiny houses to luxury villas and castles.
This usually means that travelers looking for more unique and specific property types can find them easily on Airbnb. In addition, Airbnb allows hosts to list shared spaces. This means that travelers can book single rooms within a home instead of paying for an entire property.
On the other hand, Vrbo offers more traditional accommodations. As Vrbo is more about family stays, it only accepts bookings for standalone vacation homes and doesn’t allow advertising shared spaces of any kind.
Because of this, Vrbo tends to be more attractive for larger families who are traveling together and are looking to rent an entire home.
Though both Vrbo and Airbnb provide short-term rental accommodations, Vrbo properties are more suited for longer stays. Airbnb is a great option for those taking shorter trips. Although, some Airbnb rentals may offer discounts for longer stays too.
No matter where you decide to list your property, there are service fees to be paid by both hosts and guests. Service fees can affect your overall short-term rental revenue and the final price a guest will pay for a reservation. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Airbnb offers two different service fee options: The split fee and the host-only fee.
The split fee, as the name suggests, splits the service fee between the guest and the host. Under this model, guests typically will absorb the bulk of the fees, usually paying about 14% of the booking subtotal as an additional fee. In this case, hosts end up paying around 3% of the total booking cost, but this could amount to more for hosts who opt for Strict cancellation policies.
With the host-only fee, hosts pay the entire service fee to Airbnb, sparing those who book with them from having to cover a guest service fee. Usually, this amounts to between 14-16% of the total booking cost. Airbnb hosts are not charged a separate credit card processing fee.
The host-only fee is mandatory for hotels. It is also mandatory for software-connected hosts unless most of those hosts’ listings are located in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, Argentina, Taiwan, or Uruguay.
Airbnb Plus hosts and hosts who select Super Strict cancellation policies may pay higher fees. Each Airbnb property owner who offers Airbnb Experiences is charged a 20% service fee.
The benefit of the host-only fee is that guests are not blindsided by the additional service fees which are only applied at checkout. To be able to cover the host-only fee, hosts always have the option to bump up their property pricing slightly. This way guests are already aware of the full price and are willing to pay it without feeling scammed.
Travelers pay between 6% to 12% as a guest service fee of the total reservation cost when making a booking.
Hosts can choose between two service fee models, based on their estimated annual income. They may opt for a $499 annual subscription fee that covers all the bookings they get on the platform throughout the year.
The other option is to pay a booking fee for each individual booking. In this case, hosts are charged a 5% commission per booking plus a 3% credit card processing fee.
If a host can ensure that he/she will exceed the minimum number of bookings to cover the costs, the annual subscription may help save on hosting fees. Therefore, if you are a full year-round host whose income is higher than $10,000, a subscription model will make more sense.
Both Airbnb and Vrbo have cancelation policies to protect hosts from the negative impact of unexpected cancelations and to afford guests a refund if they notify hosts of their cancelation within a reasonable time frame.
When making a reservation, guests should study listings carefully to see which cancelation policy has been set by the host. Make sure to take a closer look at the selected policy and explore its terms and conditions in detail.
Airbnb offers three main types of cancelation policies: Flexible, Moderate, and Strict. There are also three additional circumstance policies, including Super Strict (30 days), Super Strict (60 days), and Long-term. The Flexible policy is definitely a favorite option among guests. According to this policy, a guest can cancel a booking 24 hours before check-in and receive a full refund.
Guests tend to choose listings with the Flexible policy more often because they know they will be able to cancel a reservation and receive a refund if they really have to. It is all about making the whole process of booking easy and stress-free. This is why opting for the Flexible cancelation policy usually leads to a higher number of bookings and bumps up your occupancy rate. The downside of this policy might be a possible loss of profit if a host fails to find a replacement guest.
Vrbo offers five types of cancelation policies that hosts can set for their listings: Relaxed, Moderate, Firm, Strict, and No Refund. Some of these options allow for a refund for guests, while others do not. Vrbo’s relaxed policy allows guests to cancel a reservation no later than 14 days before check-in to receive a full refund.
With regard to the no refund policy, guests are not eligible for a refund under any circumstances or timeframe.
Another factor that you’ll need to take into consideration is the number and type of travelers a vacation rental site attracts, and the number of properties each site offers to guests.
The best idea for hosts is to put time and effort into a platform that receives a lot of high-quality traffic. Airbnb typically attracts almost double the amount of traffic that Vrbo does each month, giving it the upper hand.
Likewise, guests will flock to the vacation rental site that offers the widest selection of properties. Airbnb easily takes the crown for the widest selection of properties available to travelers, boasting over 5.6 million listings — more than double that of Vrbo’s 2 million.
To illustrate the difference, here is an example comparing the selection offered on each platform in the same location:
In addition to the overall website traffic, you should also factor in the type of audience a website attracts. You need to make sure that website visitors are likely to be interested in the type of property that you have on offer.
Here is how Airbnb and Vrbo stack up in terms of audience:
Airbnb attracts people of a younger age who are in search of more affordable vacation rentals. It also lures adventurers who are craving a trip with new experiences as opposed to the typical hotel stay.
Airbnb tends to attract people who would like to rent a property for a shorter term at an affordable price in city destinations. It also caters to business travelers who are looking for convenient accommodations complete with the necessary facilities in urban areas.
Travelers who want to book stays in traditional vacation destinations flock to sites like Vrbo because it is known for its large inventories of properties in tourist destinations.
In general, Vrbo is targeted at family-oriented and older audiences who are willing to pay for an entire house. If your property is kid-friendly and can accommodate a large family or group, then setting a listing on Vrbo will be a smart move for your business.
Both Airbnb and Vrbo have booking functionality on their sites, allowing guests to book accommodation with either the property owner or property manager of each listing.
Both sites now offer a useful instant booking feature. This makes the reservation process infinitely more convenient for guests. It eliminates the need to send a booking request and wait for approval from the owner and instead, as the name suggests, allows guests to book vacation rental properties instantly.
While reviews matter on both platforms, when it comes to the Airbnb vs. Vrbo comparison, there are some key differences to note.
Airbnb facilitates the review culture and encourages guests to leave reviews after their stay. A guest and a host have 14 days to write a review. Airbnb reviews system is based on the five-star rating and prompts guests to rate the accuracy of the listing description, cleanliness, communication, location, check-in, and value for money.
If a guest has certain concerns regarding an Airbnb, they can filter accommodations by reviews to find the best option to match their expectations before making a booking.
A guest or a host has up to one year from the date of a stay to leave a review. However, once a review has been submitted by one of the parties, the other party has 14 days to share their review in return.
Guests can rate their stays using a five-star rating system and submit their reviews to help other travelers. The main difference from Airbnb is that hosts’ responses to reviews from guests are displayed within the review section. It comes in handy for guests to see the whole picture and get more insight into other guests’ impressions before making a reservation.
While rental platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb are very similar in most of their features, each site boasts some special features and differences.
In addition to short-term rentals, guests can book unique experiences in some of the world’s most beautiful cities and most popular tourist destinations using Airbnb Experiences.
Airbnb Experiences include one-of-a-kind activities specific to a destination that guests may enjoy. For example, guests can book a cooking masterclass with a local host or go on an adventure with a local guide to discover hidden wonders and places of that specific destination. This makes for a completely unique and immersive experience for travelers.
Vrbo’s competitive edge lies in some of its extra functionality on its site.
It has an extensive search filter with capabilities that outshines Airbnb when guests are narrowing down properties they would like.
Vrbo also offers a Trip Board feature, which helps travelers organize their favorite destinations and properties while they are planning their trips. Guests are even able to invite friends and family to collaborate on the boards and search for properties with them if they are planning a trip together.
Let’s sum up all the differences and unique features these two platforms provide.
For hosts, now it’s clear to see that your choice of the website will be based on the target guest you have in mind and the type of property you offer.
If you are lucky to be able to rent out an entire place, we recommend you enhance your reach by advertising your property on both platforms. This boosts your property’s occupancy rate and will help to maximize your revenue.
Once you start harnessing the advantages of both sites, go one step further, and optimize the process of handling your properties on multiple platforms by using the powerful tools provided by iGMS. The advantages of vacation rental software such as iGMS include:
By automating your routine tasks, you will be able to focus more on other vital aspects of your business and set it up for long-term success.
Unlock Your Free 14-day Trial (No Credit Card Required).