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.
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.
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 hotels for guest accommodation.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 and now boasts over 7 million listings in more than 220 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 platform that offers more unique experiences for guests as 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 you extra exposure. Once listed on Vrbo, your property will automatically appear on HomeAway and other sites within the Vrbo/HomeAway family.
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 a final price a guest will pay for a reservation. Here’s a quick breakdown:
For hosts, Airbnb charges a 3% fee every time a booking is completed. However, as a property owner or manager, you can list your rental for free on Airbnb.
For guests, a typical service fee is under 14.2% of the booking subtotal and its amount varies depending on many factors. This fee is usually displayed to guests before they make a reservation during checkout.
Guests pay between 6% to 12% as a service fee of the total reservation cost.
Hosts can choose between two 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 a year.
The other option is to pay per 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.
Another prominent difference between Airbnb and Vrbo lies in the property types that can be listed on the platforms. Airbnb allows hosts and property managers to list various types of properties starting from cabins and tiny houses to luxury villas and castles. On the other hand, Vrbo offers more traditional accommodations. As Vrbo is more about family stays, it accepts only entire properties and doesn’t allow advertising shared spaces of any kind.
Though both sites provide short-term rental accommodations, Vrbo is more suited for longer stays and Airbnb is a great option for those looking for shorter trips.
Both Airbnb and Vrbo have cancelation policies to protect hosts from the negative impact of unexpected cancelations.
When making a reservation, guests should study listings carefully to see which cancelation policy has been set by the host. It’s advised to take a closer look at the selected policy and explore its terms in conditions in detail.
Airbnb offers three main types of cancelation policies, which are 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 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). 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 any refunds under any circumstances or timeframe.
Another factor that you’ll need to take into consideration is the number of travelers a vacation rental site attracts. The best idea is to put your time and effort into a platform that receives a lot of high-quality traffic.
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 traffic and audience:
Airbnb attracts people of a younger age who are in search of more affordable vacation rentals. It also allures adventurers who are craving for new experiences. In fact, in addition to short-term rentals, guests can book a unique experience using Airbnb Experiences.
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 a certain destination.
Airbnb tends to attract people interested in short-term stays in city destinations. It also caters to business travelers who are looking for convenient accommodations completed with the necessary facilities in urban areas.
Travelers who want to book stays in traditional vacation destinations flock to sites like Vrbo and HomeAway because they are known for their large inventories of properties in tourist destinations.
In general, Vrbo is targeted to families and older audiences who are willing to pay for full-space rentals. If your property is kid-friendly and can accommodate large families and groups, then setting a listing on Vrbo will be a smart move for your business.
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.
To answer this question, let’s sum up all the differences and unique features these two platforms provide.
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 rent out a full-space accommodation, you can enhance your reach by advertising your property on both platforms.
Once you start leveraging the advantages of both sites, go one step further, and optimize the process of handling your properties on multiple platforms. Vacation rental software such as iGMS will help you to synchronize calendars, make adjustments to your listings, automate guest communication, cleaning, and team management.
By automating your routine tasks, you will be able to focus more on other vital aspects of your business and set your business up for long-term success.