Choosing the Perfect Vacation Rental Platform: Airbnb vs Vrbo - Which One is Right for Your Property?

Thursday, February 01, 2024

GratefulHosting Blog/Choosing the Perfect Vacation Rental Platform: Airbnb vs Vrbo - Which One is Right for Your Property?
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Airbnb vs Vrbo: Which Vacation Rental Platform is Right for You?

Embarking on a getaway and considering the allure of vacation rentals? The landscape of short-term accommodations is dominated by titans Airbnb and Vrbo. These platforms boast millions of listings, massive monthly traffic, and dedicated user bases. While both have etched their names in the vacation rental domain, the question lingers: which one aligns better with your needs?

In our quest to demystify this dilemma, we delved into the nuances that differentiate these giants, enabling you to make an informed decision. This comprehensive guide empowers you to discern the better option, be it for listing your property or securing a dreamy vacation rental.

Established in 2008, Airbnb boasts a staggering 5 million listings, serving 150 million users across 220 countries. Commanding a substantial 20% market share, Airbnb stands as a formidable force in the vacation rental industry.

On the other hand, Vrbo, an acronym for "vacation rentals by owner," traces its roots back to 1995. Acquired by HomeAway in 2006 and later by the Expedia Group in 2015, Vrbo now spans 190 countries with around 2 million listings and 150 million users. Despite fewer listings than Airbnb, Vrbo leverages its association with the Expedia Group for enhanced host exposure.

Women booking a property

Unveiling Web Architecture
A cursory glance at their websites reveals both similarities and distinctions. Both platforms offer intuitive search features, where users input destination, group size, and date parameters to peruse available properties. However, their homepages diverge in presentation.

Vrbo's homepage adheres to a traditional layout, featuring recommended locations, vacation ideas, and nearby homes. In contrast, Airbnb infuses a touch of innovation by showcasing new categories of special stays. The user-friendly interface allows seamless navigation, allowing you to explore a plethora of property types.

Diverse Dwellings
Airbnb stands as a haven for diverse rental spaces, from houses, rooms, and apartments to unconventional options like boats, igloos, and tree houses. The platform is renowned for its unique stays, such as Lego-themed houses, floating Tiki suites, and private castles. Whether opting for an entire space or sharing to save costs, Airbnb caters to a spectrum of preferences.

Vrbo, while also offering a broad array of accommodations, focuses exclusively on entire property rentals. This ensures no room or house sharing, resulting in a prevalence of larger houses and expansive spaces compared to Airbnb.

Tailoring to Tastes
Both platforms accommodate varying stay durations, with discounts for monthly bookings. Vrbo tends to be more family-oriented, catering well to groups vacationing together. In contrast, Airbnb caters to diverse needs, excelling for business travelers, budget-conscious individuals, and those seeking unconventional rentals.

Navigating the Fee Landscape
In the realm of online travel agencies, fees are inevitable, impacting both hosts and guests. Airbnb and Vrbo follow distinct fee structures, influencing profitability and pricing dynamics.

Host Fees:
Airbnb offers a split fee option, dividing costs between hosts and guests, amounting to approximately 3% of the subtotal. Airbnb Plus hosts, those in Italy, or those with a strict cancellation policy may incur slightly higher fees. Alternatively, the host-only fee option places the entire fee burden on hosts, typically ranging from 14% to 16% of the subtotal.

Vrbo presents two fee models: the pay-per-booking option and the subscription model. The pay-per-booking model, popular among hosts, incurs fees starting at 8% (comprising a 5% service fee and a 3% credit card processing fee). For frequent Vrbo users, the subscription model offers a one-time flat fee of $499 per year.

Guest Fees:
Airbnb guests, under the split fee option, face up to a 14.2% service fee based on the booking subtotal. Vrbo guests can anticipate a 6%-15% service fee, excluding taxes, potentially making it a more cost-effective choice depending on the booking specifics.
Navigating the Journey: Cancellation Policies
Cancellation policies play a pivotal role in shielding hosts from unforeseen vacancies and facilitating guest refunds. Both Airbnb and Vrbo institute policies tailored to specific time frames.

Airbnb Cancellation Policies:
Flexible: Full refund if canceled 24 hours before the stay; hosts receive no payment after the initial 24-hour window.
Moderate: Guests can cancel up to 5 days before check-in for a full refund; hosts receive no payment within this period.
Firm: Full refund for cancellations made at least 30 days before check-in; hosts receive a 50% refund for cancellations between 7 and 30 days.
Strict: Full refund for cancellations within 48 hours of booking and 14 days before check-in; hosts get 50% for cancellations between 7 and 14 days.
Non-refundable: No refunds irrespective of the cancellation time frame.

Vrbo Cancellation Policies:
No refund policy: No refunds under any circumstances.
60-day policy: Full refund for cancellations made 60 days before check-in.
60/30 day policy: Full refund if canceled at least 60 days before check-in; 50% refund for cancellations up to 30 days before check-in.
30/14 day policy: Full refund for cancellations made at least 30 days before check-in; 50% refund for cancellations 14 days before the stay.
14/7 day policy: Full refund for cancellations made at least 14 days before check-in; 50% refund for cancellations made at least 7 days before check-in.
Custom policy: Hosts can customize policies, viewed directly from the property page.

Review Realms: The Verdict of Experience
Reviews wield considerable influence on both platforms, with high ratings and prompt responses enhancing a host's appeal. However, the review processes on Airbnb and Vrbo differ in execution.

Airbnb Reviews:
Airbnb encourages a review-centric environment, soliciting feedback promptly after checkout. Guests and hosts have 14 days to submit reviews, encompassing a 5-star overall rating and specific prompts on accuracy, cleanliness, communication, pricing, and more. Private feedback is also an option. Reviews, once posted, cannot be removed but can be replied to or reported.

Vrbo Reviews:
Vrbo adopts a less stringent approach to reviews. A notification for review appears on checkout day, with an email reminder sent three days later. Ratings are on a 5-star basis, with breakdowns for cleanliness, communication, and rule adherence. Both guests and hosts can submit reviews up to a year after the stay, with the other party having 14 days to respond. After this period, the review becomes permanent.

Choosing the Crown Jewel
Airbnb and Vrbo, stalwarts in the vacation rental realm, each bring unique strengths to the table. Airbnb, with its extensive listings and diverse offerings, caters to a global audience. Vrbo, buoyed by its association with the Expedia Group, offers lower fees and heightened visibility.

​Ultimately, the crown rests on your head, tailored to your business goals. Listing your property on either platform is a win-win proposition. And if you're aiming for the best of both worlds, why not embrace both Airbnb and Vrbo for your vacation rental venture? The key to your ideal getaway lies in unlocking the door to these diverse and dynamic platforms.

Property Management Systems Make Your Life Easier Unless You Choose Wrong!

Property Management Systems Make Your Life Easier Unless You Choose Wrong!

Discover the power of a Property Management System (PMS) and how it can streamline your vacation rental business. However, choosing the wrong PMS can cause more headaches than benefits. Find out the key factors to consider when selecting a PMS and avoid potential pitfalls. Make your life easier with the right PMS for your rental property business. Read on to learn more!

Isaiah Nolan

Hi, I Am Isaiah

Airbnb SuperHost

If you are a client of mine looking to stay up to date on rules and regulations with your investment property, or if you are a real estate professional looking to learn more about rentals and property management you have come to the right place!

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