Vacation rental traveling has gained popularity, becoming a very competitive industry. As a guest or host, finding the best platform that meets your needs and maximizes your returns has become challenging. Whether choosing an apartment, a ski house, a bungalow or any one of the many other options for your family, finding the best host sometimes comes down to which vacation rental site you choose. Hosts use vacation rental sites to maximize bookings so choosing the most reliable platform is a must.
While there are numerous websites for hosts in the United States, comparing pros and cons of the most popular platforms can help you choose the right one for your purposes. Features that set companies apart include informative listings, fair prices, useful filters and extensive inventories. The most common sites are Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, FlipKey, TripAdvisor, Vrbo, Tripping, HomeToGo and Expedia.
There are various features to compare when choosing the best vacation rental sites for owners, including the property listing fee, the host service fee and the extra commissions. Welcome aboard as we compare the most frequently used platforms, the differences in terms of cost, potential income, and the pros and cons of each.
Popular Vacation Rental Sites
Airbnb is currently the most prominent vacation rental website, boasting more than 100 million users, 2.9 million hosts and over 7 million listings. Founded in a San Francisco bedroom in 2008, its friendly guest fees, host fees and listing fees are among the features that attract users. Initially, Airbnb incorporated short-term vacation rentals into the mainstream for travelers in urban areas. It is now in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries worldwide.
A rental website that bases its operation on trust has a wide selection that offers single rooms, guest homes, apartments, houseboats and even entire houses. As a host, you can rest assured your home category is included, as the site accepts a variety of property types.
Unlike other vacation rental sites, hosts only have to pay a meager 3% booking fee. There is no subscription or credit card fee required for signup. After you register, you can post written descriptions, include photographs with captions and create a user profile.
The independence that comes with Airbnb allows you to set the charges per night, week and month. You will not find this feature in other vacation rental sites. The Host Guarantee Program is a notable feature that provides damage protection for up to $1,000,000 in the rare occurrence that a guest causes damage to a host’s property.
The second most popular site is the Booking.com vacation rental platform with 458 million monthly website visitors in an average of 6 months. In addition to vacation rental services, Booking.com also offers transportation options, flights and hotel services. Getting your property listed on the site can lead to a considerable amount of bookings, depending on the market.
Accommodation Services on Airbnb and FlipKey
Both FlipKey and Airbnb are reliable sites for booking a private property and enjoying it with friends and family. As a member of the TripAdvisor family, Airbnb offers accommodation services that align with your budget in any part of the world. If you are looking to rent your property, you will first create an account and provide property details. Once the property has been listed, guests will be able to book, stay and leave feedback in the form of a review for other users.
FlipKey offers different categories of rentals, depending on guest preference and budget. Whether you are looking for a beach house, a single room with a view of the mountains, or a bungalow with a private pool, FlipKey has you covered. The number of bedrooms, guests and bathrooms, as well as the possibility of bringing a pet refines your search for a property, saving you time and resources.
Airbnb offers accommodation in traditional housing, an entire space, as well as single or shared rooms. Original spaces offered include castles, tree houses, wagons and boats. FlipKey, on the other hand, has apartments, villas and beaches but it does not offer shared room listings.
We recommend you thoroughly research the best holiday property to rent in order to avoid disappointments in the end. In case of any noticeable red flags about property description, factoring in the reviews makes it easier to opt out from a reservation.
Differences Between Leading Vacation Rental Sites
Determining the best rental site is not just about the search-friendly interface feature on a website. For a vacation site to be the best in the market, it needs to strike a balance between charges, payment methods, booking flexibility, cancellation policies and other factors. Here is a list of factors that indicate how legit their services are:
- Direct contact with a property agency: Using a vacation rental site that does not indicate direct contact is a huge red flag. The downside of not having this contact is that there is no reliable way to communicate in a mix-up. This limits a guest’s ability to follow up on the frequently asked questions about a property.
- Payment options: With the convenience of credit cards, most travel plans do not include carrying liquid cash. Leading vacation rental sites offer flexible payment options using credit cards and local mobile payment methods depending on your destination.
- Rental guarantee: Airbnb is one rental site that offers compensation to a host through damage insurance. This feature improves the host and company relationship for a healthy business environment.
- Booking options: Sites that allow instant booking options tend to accommodate millennial needs. Due to the changing travel patterns, spontaneous travelers are catered to by sites allowing instant booking.
- Cancellation insurance: As a guest, we recommend that you opt for a vacation travel site that offers cancellation insurance. This feature improves convenience by catering to individuals who are used to short travel trips. You can cancel your booking as per the terms and conditions to avoid inconveniencing the host.
- 24/7 customer support: On-the-clock customer services call for better reviews.
- Booking fee: A reasonable booking fee is enough to set apart two leading vacation rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Fair booking fees attract a lot of guests when coupled with other in-house complimentary services.
- Availability calendar: Using a travel site that indicates available dates saves time and resources.
Airbnb, FlipKey, Vrbo: Costs, Guest Fees and Annual Incomes
Your success as a host is dependent on the specifications and guidelines set by your vacation rental-listing site of choice. Below are descriptions of the costs, guest fees, and the pros and cons of Airbnb, FlipKey and Vrbo.
With an owner fee that starts at 3%, FlipKey operates on pay-per-booking terms. It also charges an 8-16% premium service fee, setting the bar pretty high compared to other sites. Credit card processing is charged 3%, improving payment convenience. FlipKey has an impressive 187 million visitors for 6 months, focusing on reviews, hotels, and automotive rentals. Detailed reviews of FlipKey indicate earnings of $70,000 annually.
- Access to a best-of-class review system
- Diverse categories of rentals
- Simple registration
- Simple listing procedure
- An easy-to-understand, detailed description of the destination
- Reduced inventory as compared to other sites
- Extra fees on top of regular nightly charges
Airbnb charges an owner fee of 3-5% with a 10-13% per booking guest fee. It attracts 88 million website traffic visitors over 6 months, taking the lead over other vacation rental sites. A 3% booking fee is affordable to most hosts, and when coupled with vast website traffic, the number of bookings expected is enormous. Hosts using the Airbnb site earn an average of $924 a year.
- A wide selection of properties
- Free listing for hosts
- Freedom for hosts to set charges
- Customized search by location, date, price, amenities and language
- Reliable protection for guests and hosts
- Added service delivery fees for each reservation
- Taxes on hosts and guests, depending on geolocation
Vrbo charges an owner fee of $499 annually, a 3% credit card processing fee and a 5% per booking fee. Guest fee charges range from 10-11%. Vrbo attracts an average of 14 million website visitors in 6 months. Renting out your cabin, entire house or apartment with Vrbo earns you up to $3,100 per month.
- Rental guarantee and cancellation insurance
- 24/7 reliable customer service
- Secure payment for the majority of listings
- More than a million global listings
- Service fee charges
- High cancellation insurance fees
If you are looking forward to venturing into the vacation rental listing business, we recommend you list your property on as many sites as possible. Take time to survey the market and to research the cost-efficient sites that will double your returns.