The online vacation rental industry is growing at an immense pace! Many companies out there are trying to dominate the market, but there are two main companies at the forefront — Airbnb and HomeAway.
HomeAway and Airbnb are currently the two most popular vacation rental websites. Though, there are a couple of differences. It’s important that you study these differences so that you can identify which site will be better for your setup. Ultimately, it can have an impact on your bookings and your costs.
HomeAway was established in 2005, three years before Airbnb. It was bought by the Expedia Group, but it also acquired other companies like Vrbo. It’s based in Austin, Texas, and destinations in and around the United States are quite popular on HomeAway. In fact, on average it enjoys more bookings within the Gulf Coast and along the US East Coast.
While HomeAway might be older than Airbnb, Airbnb is currently bigger. Airbnb is an independent company and it boasts over 7 million listings in more than 220 countries. HomeAway currently offers only about 2 million listings in 190 countries.
As Airbnb has such a big number of listings, it also attracts a lot of traffic. During the last 6 months of 2019, Airbnb, on average, attracted around 90 million visitors per month. As a matter of fact, Airbnb has become a household name. Nowadays, many people simply refer to their accommodation as an Airbnb instead of a vacation rental.
While HomeAway also attracts millions of visitors on average per month, it doesn’t attract close to the same number of traffic.
To the casual eye, a comparison between HomeAway and Airbnb doesn’t seem to deliver glaring differences. One of the biggest differences, though, is the type of accommodation on offer.
Airbnb offers a wide range of property types that include homes, apartments, and private rooms. In fact, there are even treehouses and castles listed on Airbnb!
Unlike Airbnb, HomeAway doesn’t offer any shared or private rooms. To list on HomeAway, you need to list an entire property.
In addition, Airbnb also offers a wide range of experiences and tours that were carefully curated by hosts as an extra service that travelers can book. These experiences can either be booked separately or with your accommodation.
All things considered, HomeAway is more geared towards families searching for traditional vacation rentals. Thus, it’s also more popular for longer stays than simply a couple of days.
Airbnb, on the other hand, tends to attract younger crowds. It’s the more sensible choice if you’re trying to attract travelers with a sense of adventure who are seeking a more unique experience. Airbnb is also preferred amongst travelers interested in more urban destinations.
However, as hosts can list such a wide range of property types on Airbnb, there have been complaints in cities like Paris and New York regarding the legality of the rentals.
Pricing is another major difference between HomeAway and Airbnb. HomeAway offers two distinct payment options. Hosts can either pay per booking or opt for the annual subscription plan of $499.
If hosts choose the pay-per-booking option, they will be charged 5 – 8% commission per booking (slightly more than Airbnb). As a rough guideline, if your rental income will be below $10,000, the pay-per-booking option will make more sense.
Compared to HomeAway, Airbnb’s pricing is much simpler. Hosts don’t have to pay anything to list their properties but will have to pay a commission fee of 3 – 5% per booking.
Airbnb also doesn’t charge any extra costs for payments made by means of credit cards. Guests who use HomeAway and want to pay via credit card will be charged a fee of about 3% for using their credit cards.
Reviews are very important to both Airbnb and HomeAway. Both these sites allow hosts as well as guests to leave detailed reviews. The only difference between the two websites is the time frame. Airbnb allows guests and hosts only 14 days to leave a review.
HomeAway, on the other hand, offers hosts and guests as long as one year to write a review. Though, once the host or guest has shared a review, the other party should write his/her review within 14 days.
As it can be quite difficult to keep track of how many days you have left to write a review, a smart investment is to get vacation rental software, like iGMS, that among other useful features, offers the reviews automation feature. iGMS will notify you as soon as a guest has written a review for you. It will then also remind you about how many days you have left to return the favor.
Hosts can also use predefined elements to create templates. Moreover, you can also leave reviews right via the iGMS system, eliminating the need to log in to Airbnb. By growing the number of your reviews, not only can you earn more credibility in the eyes of potential guests, but you can improve the ranking of your listing and secure more bookings.
Airbnb, as well as HomeAway, offers a 24/7 customer service and a comprehensive FAQ page on their individual sites. Both Airbnb and HomeAway customer support can be reached via phone and email. However, Airbnb support accepts phone calls for only urgent issues.
In the unfortunate event of a dispute, the battle between HomeAway vs Airbnb delivers pretty much the same result. Both platforms expect hosts and guests to come to an agreement without a support team’s involvement.
On Airbnb, issues can be resolved via the Resolution Center. HomeAway also acts as a mediator between the owner and the host. That being said, it might be more difficult for a guest to get a refund on HomeAway if a property doesn’t correspond to the description.
Both platforms offer $1M liability insurance for property owners at no extra cost.
HomeAway’s liability policy offers protection in the event that a traveler is accidentally injured while staying at your vacation home and if a traveler accidentally damages the property of a third party (like your neighbor) during his/her stay at your rental.
Unlike HomeAway, Airbnb also offers a Host Guarantee program that may protect you in the event of damage caused to your place or belongings by guests. Both Airbnb and HomeAway programs have a couple of exclusions that you should take a closer look at when listing your property.
HomeAway strongly encourages property managers to get vacation rental insurance in addition to the $1M liability insurance provided by the platform.
After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, even if you have listings only on Airbnb, a vacation rental insurance is still a worthy investment. It will help you to cover expenses arising from any accidents or unexpected issues.
At the end of the day, both these websites offer reliable services. In the HomeAway vs. Airbnb comparison, there’s no wrong choice. Plus, you can always list on HomeAway as well as Airbnb to maximize your exposure. Therefore, we recommend that you list your property on both platforms.
If you decide to increase your chances of getting reservations by listing on both websites, iGMS will be of great help to manage all your properties seamlessly from one single dashboard.
If you have to select only one platform, let your property type and target audience be the deciding factor. HomeAway is more popular in the US and typically attracts families searching for a traditional vacation home. Airbnb is better suited for unique accommodation in urban areas.