I just finished preparing my house for the next VRBO guests after my Airbnb guests checked out this morning, as I was going through my cleaning checklist to confirm that I did everything I suppose to do so that I can prepare my property for the next guest, I was thinking…
“Airbnb or VRBO, in which one of these two vacation rental websites should you list your property?”
I am renting my properties for short-term guests for years now, and I do both, I don’t limit myself and my opportunities to only one of these platforms, I list my properties on multiple vacation rental sites.
You want to list your properties to both of them; you want to benefit from the organic traffic that these two platforms can drive to your listings.
VRBO and Airbnb are very similar, and both of them are vacation rental platforms, so why to limit yourself using only one of them? Can you apply the same techniques, tools, and methodology to both of them?
Yes, you can, and that’s why I encourage you to do the same as me and list your properties to both of them and do so with as many vacation rental sites you can.
VRBO is part of the HomeAway companies and stands for vacation rentals by owner. Was launched in 1995 – 24 years ago and almost 15 or 20 years before Airbnb, so they were definitely from the first vacation rental platforms, and they were one of the pioneers who created this whole niche.
Back then no one called it home sharing. Because hosts tended to rent their second home or vacation home (cottage home) to travelers for a short-term period, so people that had an additional property that they weren’t using it they went ahead and rent it out for the week or something like that during spring break, and that was a primary origin of VRBO.
Vacation Rental by Owner stayed true to its origin over the years, and it tends to do really well in second vacation home type locations. Only in the recent years’ hosts started to list properties in prime areas and near tourist attractions. All these years the hosts were listing only their second home which traditionally was not near to the city center but in a remote location.
For the travelers, VRBO and HomeAway is the first choice when they are after a remote property for their vacation.
Nowadays in many cases, those same homes are on Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway, that’s the case for me too, as a list my properties to both of them.
The newer generation of travelers, they might never get the opportunity to meet VRBO, and they might not even know it, and that’s because Airbnb got a massive boost to their popularity the recent years. Airbnb is more popular and attractive alternative among the millennials and the new generation of travelers.
That’s why you want to list your properties to both of them; you want to benefit from the organic traffic that these two platforms can drive to your listings since most likely they will be a different type of travelers.
People tend to stuck in the routine so if they first used VRBO to find the property for their vacations they will keep coming back to the same platform if they had a positive experience. Airbnb does something slightly better than VRBO, provides a better user experience to the travelers and hosts with a more user-friendly environment, and this is one of the reasons that made this platform the most recognized one.
VRBO doesn’t do that quite as well, and they also have a very different business model comparing to Airbnb. Airbnb facilitates the process of listing and booking a space (house or spare room) by handling all financial transactions and charges a small percentage of the fee to the host and the guest. However, payments are timely and secure. In contrast, HomeAway and VRBO are online classifieds where Vacation Rental owners pay a flat rate to advertise their property. The website puts travelers in contact with homeowners or property managers.
VRBO comes with a small risk, as a host you have to pay upfront for one year to list your property, and whether you get zero bookings or a thousand bookings, the annual fee will stay the same. So if you’re not going to list a lot maybe that yearly fee is a deterrent, and you can’t do it but conversely, if you’re going to list and book a lot that could be a cheaper relative to Airbnb.
The other thing that separates Airbnb from VRBO/HomeAway is that Airbnb was designed and build to be a community-driven platform. What I mean by that is you’re expected to participate in exchanging reviews between guests and hosts.
I strongly encourage you to ask for a five-star review every time from every single Airbnb guest.
On VRBO and HomeAway that’s not the case the reviews aren’t really part of the culture of the site, and so as a consequence I probably get half the number of reviews on my properties, and I also review about half of my guests. I know that HomeAway and VRBO started encouraging guest and hosts to post reviews, they even started to send email reminders to let people now that they can post a review. However, since it’s not part of that fabric or the culture even, people don’t do it as much as they should, and also I need to improve on this.
The practice I follow is to list my vacation rental properties to multiple vacation rental sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO, Booking.com and TripAdvisor. I think the best practice for any host is to publish their properties on as many vacation rental websites they can to improve the income potential.
As a host, I care about two things; the first thing is to provide high-quality service for my guests, meet and exceed their expectations, so I can earn their loyalty (make them come again and again) and win five-star reviews from them, every time. My second priority is to increase my profit; by maximize the occupancy rate, can I go 100% and still keep my customers satisfied to the level that they will recommend me? Then I will go for it, and I will achieve this by placing my vacation rental property in front of as many travelers as I can.
I don’t really care where my guest comes from, as long as they’re good quality people and they can take care of my place, and they paid me the right amount, so your goal needs to be the same.
Increase the total number of nights that you rent your properties, offer top quality of service to create loyal customers and people who will speak highly about you and your homes.
Start today by listing your space in both Airbnb and VRBO / HomeAway. Go even a step further and list it also on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
If you are asking yourself how to manage all of these listings and that it will be overwhelming for you to control all the bookings and updating all the calendars, do not worry. I wrote an article a while back “The Best Vacation Rental Software Comparison List” – a list of automation tools to help you manage multiple listings.