Airbnb vs other Vacation Rental By Owner Websites

21 Replies

I recently listened to a podcast where this girl talked about how much she LOVES Airbnb.... well I don't "get" it, I find Airbnb nothing but aggravating and frustrating!  VRBO is my favorite and second is TripAdvisor.  (although, I am super annoyed that they now charge high booking fees).  I am able to set these sites up a year in advance and it's pretty much auto pilot with my calendar.  With Airbnb I have to go in and monitor my calendar on a constant weekly or at the very least monthly schedule.  I WANT to like Airbnb because I know people like to use it.  But in my view so far, Airbnb is for the 1 night bed and breakfast type of guest and the other sites I mentioned are more for vacationers.  

Other things I do not like about Airbnb:  1. It won't automatically add in taxes.  2.  I can't get answers to my questions easily, they want to pass the buck and have you to write to other hosts.  3.  If I have to cancel a reservation I get reprimanded and kicked off of their site.  (I have never had to cancel anyone or be scolded on any of the other sites).  

Help me understand what is so great about Airbnb.  Like I said, I want to like it.

@Lynn Montang I fully agree with you. Airbnb is clunky and hard to navigate. I don't get many vacation rentals from a Bed and Breakfast site. I know others that do but mayby they don't have a true vacation rental.

I only keep my Airbnb site active because it doesn't cost anything to have and I pickup 3 or 4 listings a year with it.

For me it seems Airbnb is for millennials that are looking for a discounted place to stay.

Homeaway/VRBO brings in the families that can afford to pay for a nice place to stay on vacation.

Homeaway has introduced a bunch of free analytical tools to see how you are doing compared to your competition. Airbnb has Airdna that you have to pay for to get any data.

Homeaway is keeping my VRBO house full and I have been super happy with them.

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AirBnB is way more popular in the SF Bay Area than VRBO, so I use it.

The end.

I mean I like all of them they all bring you money. You should actually work to list your property on all of the platforms. That's more traffic and more money for you. It's just most people like Airbnb because its dominating the market and most popular in most people's area. @Lynn Montang is your property in Portland? Also it doesn't automatically add in taxes because Airbnb is working to get taxes added and paid by the guest in most cities. As far as the other two things you wrote about them answering questions and reservation cancellations I totally agree with you. People love Airbnb truly because of the amount of traffic that it gets. Also you shouldn't have to monitor the calendar daily if you use an automatic pricing tool such as beyondpricing or Wheelhouse. 

Airbnb has its positives and negatives just like VRBO. For me, it’s a vehicle to drive in more bookings and I weigh out the risk vs reward. I list on numerous sites and sync the calendars, wherever the money comes from doesn’t make as big of a difference to me as long as I’m able to generate the highest revenue per booking after commission.

I started with airbnb and added vrbo so therefore I am more comfortable with airbnb. I didn't buy the subscription with vrbo for this reason but I'd consider it if the bookings were there. We are going to start focusing more on that platform going forward. We get maximum dollars on the weekends via airbnb and like the less wear and tear. It's positive cash flow so it has been good for us.

Regardless, does anyone use a checklist, paper or otherwise, for their cleaner that they'd be willing to share? 

I use both Airbnb and HomeAway. I get more bookings through Airbnb for now; cannot complain about them for that reason however guests from HomeAway are “better quality” and I like the fact that HomeAway deposit actually goes into my account (so if something is broken, I can just withhold a reasonable amount) vs Airbnb where I have to go through a resolution center and be at a mercy of their customer service.

It seriously depends on the area.  I completely agree that it's more difficult to navigate.  I find myself Googling a lot when I need to find something on AirBnB.  I get 95% of my bookings from VRBO, and I have a handful of bookings each month from AirBnb.  That said, in many areas, AirBnb is the monopoly.   List anywhere and everywhere.   I got three bookings off of HomeAway last year, and only one from TripAdvisor, but I still advertise in those places.  Gotta take what you can get.   :)

@Nancy Bachety , here is our cleaning checklist.  And sometimes they do extra, like do a deep cleaning of the oven when it needs it, etc.

I've rented to about 1200 people in the last 6 years.  Exactly one booking came from a VR website, and I have an ad on 3 or 4 of them.  The majority of the bookings came from Craigslist, a billboard/flyer or word of mouth.  

But my town isn't really a vacation destination.  It has the highest per capita homicide rate in the state last year (5 homicides for a population of 9000), drugs and unemployment are rampant, property values are low (great if you are a buyer or renter, bad if you are a seller or landlord).

@Lynn Montang For me it's like the old Apple vs IBM thing. The good news is that you don't have to pick one or the other. I am in a traditional summer/beach vacation area where the homeaway model should dominate, however, my growth has  overwhelmingly been from Airbnb. This year they surpassed VRBO in gross revenue and listing views. That being said, VRBO still rules the summer (7 day minimum weekly guests) and Airbnb dominates the shoulders. Vrbo tends to be older ,traditional guests. Airbnb tends to be younger families foreign guests and shorter stays. Homeaway has been picking up their game lately, I believe, to compete with Airbnb. They have improved their formerly awful mobile app and have copied Airbnb's more nimble calendar/pricing style.

I like that airbnb tends to reward their most productive hosts, "super host" status has improved the performance of my listings. Homeaway seems to be following again with rollout of a "premier partner" program but it seems like a clunky rollout to me. As for tripadvisor, I dropped them because I was getting alot of scammy phishing activity from the platform and they weren'tt producing any activity that I wasn't generating from the big 2 .  Competition is a great thing. My advice would be to keep plugging away with Airbnb whether its big in your area or not, it will grow. The more eyeballs on your listing, the better

@Paul Sandhu I want to thank you for all your quick and informative posts. You seem to have captured and mastered a market that no one else has, and a str model as well. Your cash flow and very low expenses are remarkable.

In your area, I'd think the low home values would appeal to an investor seeking cash flow and border a 1.5% -2% monthly rent. Is that not the case in Coffeyville?

I list in both, used to get more bookings from Homeaway but now I get more from Airbnb. The important thing is not from where the guest is coming (airbnb, homeway, tripadvisor etc, etc), it's your rules and your ability to discern problem renters (surprisingly not hard!). Airbnb and Homeaway are starting to encroach into each other's space (Airbnb into vacation areas, homeaway wants to get also into the urban) @Julia R. check the latest payments you've received, since some months back homeaway doesn't disburse the deposit to the host (at least in my area), either they're keeping it or maybe putting a hold on the guest's card (they're trying to emulate Airbnb!) but I don't get it anymore, so if there's damage you will be at the mercy of Homeaway, aka (mini-Airbnb). 

Airbnb is the best platform. Hands down. VRBO does a few things better than AirBnB such as allowing you do upload a rental agreement and charge the guest occupancy and sales tax (the sales tax situation is going to bite airbnb in the butt before too long). I can't get behind the OP because to me tripadvisor is a total joke and waste of time. 

It really boils down to whichever platform works best for you and where you make the most money. Some people are airbnb people some people (usually older in my market) are VRBO people. We use both and airbnb used to smoke VRBO until recently as far as bookings but these days it's closer to 50/50. VRBO is spending money on marketing and it's working. 

@Nancy Bachety

2 years ago moved their distribution facility from here.  Another major employer did the same thing.  That was about 1800 jobs no longer in the area.

When those employers left, a lot of the employees left.  They left their houses behind and just defaulted on the mortgage.

There isn't really a market for rental houses where someone can make 1.5-2.0% a month.  If someone can break even, they keep their houses.  If they are losing money, they put them up for sale.  That brings the whole market price of houses down when a lot of people put them up for sale.  

But to answer your question...LTRs making money is not the case in this town.

@Paul Sandhu Thanks for that answer. So what is stopping you from buying them up and renting them as STR?

@Nancy Bachety   The economics theory of diminishing marginal utility.  

Imagine 2 kids shoveling snow from peoples driveways for $20.  They will do the first 5-10 with great zeal.  After the 10th one they are tired and will foregoe the extra work for an extra $20.  They go home with their money and are happy.

The extra income from another rental property is not going to be worth the extra time it takes to manage it.  My wife and I are pretty much maxed out as to what we can manage on our own.  We don't need a 3rd party in our plan.

Now, back to those 2 kids.  They could find 2 younger kids to clean out the snow, but the older kids collect the money and give the younger kids a cut.

It's back! The never-gets-old, sure-to-inspire-rancor question: Airbnb vs. VRBO??? Aaaannnd... FIGHT!

As others have said, it's not one or the other. It just depends. For me? The Airbnb platform is hands-down more user-friendly. VRBO is like using Yahoo. I mean, you can find some search results, but it's clunky and you've got this other thing over here called Google that works waaaay better. But that's just my opinion. 

There is the thought that VRBO tends to skew more toward vacation destinations -- think, beach condo or mountain home -- and Airbnb skews toward urban settings. I know that here in Denver, Airbnb kicks VRBO's butt, but in the ski towns, it's the reverse. I would think in Portland, Airbnb rules the roost, but I don't know that market well.

In the end, use what works! If it makes you the money you're happy with, then stick with it.

@Lynn Montang Airbnb works best in bigger cities: Chicago, Miami, NYC, San Franciso, LA, Seattle etc. In select locations, they have added taxes because those cities have raised their voices and demanded host/owners to pay taxes or fines would be issued.

Another plus about Airbnb is the brand is becoming stronger by the year and in my opinion, is the #1 site for millennials which is a big chunk of the travel business.

HomeAway, however, is becoming extremely greedy by now charging service fees to guests and increasing the subscription fees on owners.

In order to sustain this business long term eventually, you will need to create your own personal website and have your repeat guest book with you directly. Being 110% reliant on 3rd party channels is never the answer because at any minute they can increase their fees and destroy your business overnight.

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