Successful on VRBO/HomeAway but considering adding Airbnb

25 Replies

I have four properties in the Disney World area and one near a ski resort in Colorado.
I've been pretty successful on VRBO/HomeAway, 70% to 85% booked this year. However, I worry about VRBO/HomeAway being my primary source of bookings (I also get a lot of repeat guests) and am wondering if it would be worth the extra work to list on Airbnb. I would really like to get that 70% property up to 85%.
I thought about Tripadvisor but they don't seem to get a lot of views in my area.
I have always been a bit leery of Airbnb due to it seemingly to be geared more towards younger folks and not families. A lot of my inquiries come from moms and grandmothers looking for vacations for one or two families.
I also worry about things like Airbnb holding all funds until the guest checks in and a few other things.

For those of you in the major vacation markets (Disney World, Pigeon Forge, Hawaii, etc.), what are your thoughts on this? Is it worth the extra work to list on both? Maybe it is not as much work as I think it might be? Maybe my concerns about the Airbnb demographic are no longer valid?

Thank you for any advice you can provide,
Sid

Not really your target respondent (not in major resort area), but I don't find it much additional work to list on ABB, along with VRBO/HA. The mix is important to me because allegedly VRBO guests are more into planning ahead and ABB guests are more into spontaneous trips, as reflected in the fact that VRBO dominates my bookings in the summer, but ABB does the rest of the year. Since people who come to resorts are planners, you might be good with just VRBO/HomeAway. But it certainly can't hurt to add ABB, and it's really not much more work.

Originally posted by @Kathy Hansen :

Not really your target respondent (not in major resort area), but I don't find it much additional work to list on ABB, along with VRBO/HA. The mix is important to me because allegedly VRBO guests are more into planning ahead and ABB guests are more into spontaneous trips, as reflected in the fact that VRBO dominates my bookings in the summer, but ABB does the rest of the year. Since people who come to resorts are planners, you might be good with just VRBO/HomeAway. But it certainly can't hurt to add ABB, and it's really not much more work.

 
Hey Kathy, thanks for the response. I think that makes sense. I do occasionally have last minute gaps I'd love to fill so Airbnb might be helpful for that.

I get most of my bookings via Homeaway/ VRBO and a trickle via Airbnb. For me it is a younger group that is less willing to pay top dollar. I used to discount the Airbnb, but I just make it the same and if I get a listing on air then great if not not big loss.

As far as maintaining a other site it is just a bunch of copying and pasting and uploading same pictures.

I find the air site and app a little more cumbersome to navigate and find things but I would recommend using it to pick up a few more listings.

We have a new cabin in Pigeon Forge area and to date only list it on airbnb. We've been on the fence about using Vrbo with it because we have another luxury house in St Augustine that we list on both but we get most of our guests there from Airbnb. We didn't choose the $499 subscription price and wanted to test it out for a year. So, if we decide to list on VRBO for the cabin too,  we'll suck it up and pay that fee. 

I think that this area of TN has historically been popular with VRBO so I'm curious to hear replies from other hosts in this area too. 

Originally posted by @Nancy Bachety :

We have a new cabin in Pigeon Forge area and to date only list it on airbnb. We've been on the fence about using Vrbo with it because we have another luxury house in St Augustine that we list on both but we get most of our guests there from Airbnb. We didn't choose the $499 subscription price and wanted to test it out for a year. So, if we decide to list on VRBO for the cabin too,  we'll suck it up and pay that fee. 

I think that this area of TN has historically been popular with VRBO so I'm curious to hear replies from other hosts in this area too. 

 I wonder if going with PPB has hurt your search ranking and maybe that's why you get more from VRBO/HomeAway. Do you have instant booking turned on? That can also make a difference. The truth is that you have to play by all of their rules in order to get a decent search ranking.
I wonder if Airbnb is the same? Do you have choices about how you do some

@Nancy Bachety . 70% vrbo 18%ABNB 12% Directbook for the year. VRBO is a major player in Sevier County market. Others swear by Airbnb, but I believe price point, length of booking allowed, quality of property are major factors in who books and on which platform. You will find it is worth the VRBO annual fee. I tried booking.com for 48hrs but the first booking was a mess and I do not like their payment and cancellation policies and how they list it. Hope this helps.

@Nancy Bachety We're in Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley Sevierville. I do not pay the annual fee on VRBO. We get about 40% VRBO. Many of our clients do not want to list on more than one platform because they're concerned it will be twice as much work. There is of course an initial time investment to get your listing set up, but once it's up it's no big deal. 

I use both platforms. Many folks only use VRBO and many only use Airbnb. I figure the more people looking at my listings the better! 

We find. after hundreds of folks we've taught to self manage, the percentage per platform depends on the host. Older hosts tend to prefer VRBO just as older guests tend to prefer VRBO. Younger = Airbnb.  People with iPhones prefer airbnb and get more airbnb. Android = VRBO.  @Tim Schroeder and @John Underwood don't like when I point this out. You're not old dudes! You're beautiful! 

@Sid Payne I never thought about that before. In your experience, do you think the folks who pay the $499 get a better ranking? To answer your question about airbnb, no, hosts only pay a 3% fee, it's the guests who pay more. Our prices on VRBO are higher because we pay more on that platform. 

@Lucas Carl With all the bookings you get from VRBO, why don't you pay the annual fee? Isn't it less expensive doing it that way?

Age aside, personally I find that the airbnb app and platform are way more functional and user-friendly on my android and iPad, and now our new iMac but I know I'm biased against VRBO, for some reason I can't put my finger on. 

I am not against working. I'd list on both platforms in a heartbeat. It's not the work, it's the value.

@Chris Watson That's great information, thank you for sharing. Can I ask where your property is and how long you've had it? If you wouldn't mind sharing your listing I'm certain I'd learn a lot from that, enough to list on VRBO too.

Originally posted by @Lucas Carl :

@Nancy Bachety We're in Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley Sevierville. I do not pay the annual fee on VRBO. We get about 40% VRBO. Many of our clients do not want to list on more than one platform because they're concerned it will be twice as much work. There is of course an initial time investment to get your listing set up, but once it's up it's no big deal. 

I use both platforms. Many folks only use VRBO and many only use Airbnb. I figure the more people looking at my listings the better! 

We find. after hundreds of folks we've taught to self manage, the percentage per platform depends on the host. Older hosts tend to prefer VRBO just as older guests tend to prefer VRBO. Younger = Airbnb.  People with iPhones prefer airbnb and get more airbnb. Android = VRBO.  @Tim Schroeder and @John Underwood don't like when I point this out. You're not old dudes! You're beautiful! 

Nancy, I'm in the same area as Lucas, I get 45% from AirBNB and 55% from VRBO (those numbers are booked days. The revenue split is 37-63). It is true that the younger guests prefer AirBNB, but obviously the age of the hosts has nothing to do with which platform you use. I use both, because I want to maximize my exposure. Most people hate the $499/year VRBO fee. Me, I don't mind paying $41.58 per month for VRBO, especially when they give me most of my (substantial) revenue. My electric bill is literally 10 times that. But AirBNB is free, other than the 3% credit card charge which you cannot escape no matter where you get guests.

At the end of the day, having two listing companies is no more work than one. Get on AirBNB. It doesn't cost you anything. Why would you NOT be there?

Try OwnerRez or Logify --- they automate guest communications, emails, and much more and it makes it easier to be on multiple platforms.

Android rules, @Lucas Carl   :)

Originally posted by @Tim Schroeder :
Originally posted by @Lucas Carl :

@Nancy Bachety We're in Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley Sevierville. I do not pay the annual fee on VRBO. We get about 40% VRBO. Many of our clients do not want to list on more than one platform because they're concerned it will be twice as much work. There is of course an initial time investment to get your listing set up, but once it's up it's no big deal. 

I use both platforms. Many folks only use VRBO and many only use Airbnb. I figure the more people looking at my listings the better! 

We find. after hundreds of folks we've taught to self manage, the percentage per platform depends on the host. Older hosts tend to prefer VRBO just as older guests tend to prefer VRBO. Younger = Airbnb.  People with iPhones prefer airbnb and get more airbnb. Android = VRBO.  @Tim Schroeder and @John Underwood don't like when I point this out. You're not old dudes! You're beautiful! 

Nancy, I'm in the same area as Lucas, I get 45% from AirBNB and 55% from VRBO (those numbers are booked days. The revenue split is 37-63). It is true that the younger guests prefer AirBNB, but obviously the age of the hosts has nothing to do with which platform you use. I use both, because I want to maximize my exposure. Most people hate the $499/year VRBO fee. Me, I don't mind paying $41.58 per month for VRBO, especially when they give me most of my (substantial) revenue. My electric bill is literally 10 times that. But AirBNB is free, other than the 3% credit card charge which you cannot escape no matter where you get guests.

At the end of the day, having two listing companies is no more work than one. Get on AirBNB. It doesn't cost you anything. Why would you NOT be there?

Try OwnerRez or Logify --- they automate guest communications, emails, and much more and it makes it easier to be on multiple platforms.

Android rules, @Lucas Carl   :)

I was thinking the same thing, why not get the most exposure, unless the folks you get are a pain in the *** or trash your houses. ;-)

I second the OwnerRez recommendation. I have not used any of their competitors but they are a crucial part of my business.

@Tim Schroeder I am on airbnb. That is my primary platform for 3 of the my current listings. And it's the one I use when traveling too. Your revenue is 63% form Vrbo, and you are in the same area as us, then that is precisely the data I am looking for. If you're talking $1500/month revenue from VRBO, for $41.58, that sounds like less than the PPB we would have. @Lucas Carl . What's your take on the annual fee? 

Nancy,

I use ABB, VRBO & Flipkey. I dont like any fees, but they're all worth it considering the money I'd lose without them. The initial setup is the only additional time I've really spent by using the different outlets.

I am surprised to see how many people get the majority of their bookings from ABB. For me, its VRBO, then Flipkey/TA, and lastly ABB (very few). I've heard larger rentals dont do as well on ABB, from friends that have both large and smaller rentals listed.

Lynn

Originally posted by @Lucas Carl :

@Nancy Bachety We're in Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley Sevierville. I do not pay the annual fee on VRBO. We get about 40% VRBO. Many of our clients do not want to list on more than one platform because they're concerned it will be twice as much work. There is of course an initial time investment to get your listing set up, but once it's up it's no big deal. 

I use both platforms. Many folks only use VRBO and many only use Airbnb. I figure the more people looking at my listings the better! 

We find. after hundreds of folks we've taught to self manage, the percentage per platform depends on the host. Older hosts tend to prefer VRBO just as older guests tend to prefer VRBO. Younger = Airbnb.  People with iPhones prefer airbnb and get more airbnb. Android = VRBO.  @Tim Schroeder and @John Underwood don't like when I point this out. You're not old dudes! You're beautiful! 

 I do use VRBO and Airbnb. The good think about iphones is if you don't know how to use them you can ask any middle school girl how to use it because that is their phone of choice.

@Sid Payne - Thanks for the post. I agree with @Tim Schroeder —you have nothing to lose from using multiple platforms! The ABB and VRBO/HA calendars sync easily to avoid double-bookings. I have 9 furnished rental listings—4 in San Francisco and 5 just south of SF. All are 30-day minimum rental. All are on AirBNB and 2 are also on VRBO/HA. I keep my units 90% booked through AirBnB and I have not gotten any bookings through VRBO/HA. Low search rankings maybe?!

Hi @Sid Payne ,

I was a focused Airbnb'r until last year (though always ran both VRBO and ABB). That shifted this year as for whatever reason I saw my ADR with Airbnb starting to erode as my market in Arizona became more saturated with STR's. I also found that my larger homes were getting more attention on VRBO and I was able to get paid in advance (cash is king), whereas Airbnb sits on the guests cash until they have checked in, then it takes even a few more days for them to transfer the funds to me (or you can pay them to send it earlier - BS in my opinion). At times it can be challenging to manage two many of those nuances anyway. So for now, my focus is VRBO/HA and my secondary option is Airbnb to fill those extra "lower rate" available days. I would recommend experimenting in your market with both and if it becomes too burdensome, you can always dump Airbnb.

Question for you about OwnerRez:  What's missing?  What do you have to manage yourself?  Do they support both ABB and VRBO with the same feature set?  Are you using their premium features and are they worthwile?  I am considering an off-load of the day to day management.

Best,

Mike

Wow, lots of great info in this thread, thanks everyone! I use exclusively airbnb right now for our 8 listings at a ski resort, and keep really high occupancy. I've considered adding VRBO, but my biggest concern is adding a whole other platform. I've got airbnb really dialed, understand the system, have automated messaging set up, super host, etc., and starting from scratch on a new platform sounds terrible!

@Shelby Pracht If you use OwnerRez then the messaging and day-to-day maintenance happens there and you don't use the platform that much. Therefore, adding more platforms does not change the equation that much.

@Michael Greenberg OwnerRez is great for messaging, calendar sync, automated rental agreement signing, autoresponders, and it can take bookings direct or link to your own website. The one thing it's missing that I pine for is the ability to push rates to all my listing sites, including VRBO. They push rates to AirBNB and others, but not VRBO however this is a VRBO problem not theirs. VRBO is not at all friendly to outside integrations unless you have at least 5 properties (other than a handful which they charge for, which results in those integration sites charging high fees to the hosts)

@Nancy Bachety If you gross more than 10,000/yr from VRBO you're better off with the annual fee instead of PPB.

Thanks @Tim Schroeder !  So do you think it's worth the monthly investment?  It seems that it takes the headache out of a lot of the daily monotonous tasks.  Are you using any of their "pro" features?  

Originally posted by @Nancy Bachety :

@Sid Payne I never thought about that before. In your experience, do you think the folks who pay the $499 get a better ranking? To answer your question about airbnb, no, hosts only pay a 3% fee, it's the guests who pay more. Our prices on VRBO are higher because we pay more on that platform. 

@Lucas Carl With all the bookings you get from VRBO, why don't you pay the annual fee? Isn't it less expensive doing it that way?

Age aside, personally I find that the airbnb app and platform are way more functional and user-friendly on my android and iPad, and now our new iMac but I know I'm biased against VRBO, for some reason I can't put my finger on. 

I am not against working. I'd list on both platforms in a heartbeat. It's not the work, it's the value.

@Chris Watson That's great information, thank you for sharing. Can I ask where your property is and how long you've had it? If you wouldn't mind sharing your listing I'm certain I'd learn a lot from that, enough to list on VRBO too.

I think there are a lot of metrics that go into determining where you rank on VRBO/HomeAway and an annual subscription is one of them. There is a threshold of books where it makes sense to subscribe and I don't think it is that high. I think VRBO/HomeAway rewards you for playing by all of their silly rules (number of pictures, response time, reviews, etc.) and lot of people don't like that. However, I have found it to be worth it by showing up higher in the search results.

Originally posted by @Michael Greenberg :

Hi @Sid Payne,

I was a focused Airbnb'r until last year (though always ran both VRBO and ABB). That shifted this year as for whatever reason I saw my ADR with Airbnb starting to erode as my market in Arizona became more saturated with STR's. I also found that my larger homes were getting more attention on VRBO and I was able to get paid in advance (cash is king), whereas Airbnb sits on the guests cash until they have checked in, then it takes even a few more days for them to transfer the funds to me (or you can pay them to send it earlier - BS in my opinion). At times it can be challenging to manage two many of those nuances anyway. So for now, my focus is VRBO/HA and my secondary option is Airbnb to fill those extra "lower rate" available days. I would recommend experimenting in your market with both and if it becomes too burdensome, you can always dump Airbnb.

Question for you about OwnerRez:  What's missing?  What do you have to manage yourself?  Do they support both ABB and VRBO with the same feature set?  Are you using their premium features and are they worthwile?  I am considering an off-load of the day to day management.

Best,

Mike

I think I would go crazy in this business without OwnerRez (https://www.ownerreservations.com/?referredBy=oru5b14b3cf4bx). I know there are other platforms out there that are similar but this is the one I know. I can't remember why I picked them over the competition, probably price combined with feature set.

For me, they have a huge number of features and is critical for keeping everything in line. The vast majority of my bookings come from VRBO but once they are booked, I create the booking in OwnerRez. I do not like to sync calendars automatically between the two as I don’t trust it to work 100% of the time and keeping your calendar straight is probably the most important thing you can do (there are a lot of “most important things” but having a double booking is a complete nightmare). Also, their sync does not bring over all of the information. That is changing and I think has already changed with Airbnb.

Once the booking is in OwnerRez, it manages all of my automated guest communications (things to do in the area, a welcome email and follow/thank you email). It also allows me to pull reports, including what we have brought in so that I can more easily pay the sales taxes.

There are tons more features and it can seem a little overwhelming at first but I just used it for the very basics as first and then added features I was using it over time. They are very reasonably priced and their support has been great. I have even sent them feature suggestions and they have implemented them.

Originally posted by @Michael Greenberg :

Thanks @Tim Schroeder !  So do you think it's worth the monthly investment?  It seems that it takes the headache out of a lot of the daily monotonous tasks.  Are you using any of their "pro" features?  

 Absolutely, I think I pay $29 per month to manage 5 properties. The time it saves on emailing alone is well worth the cost.

Originally posted by @Michael Greenberg :

Thanks @Tim Schroeder!  So do you think it's worth the monthly investment?  It seems that it takes the headache out of a lot of the daily monotonous tasks.  Are you using any of their "pro" features?  

 $20 for 2 properties. I'm also using the Channel Bridge Pro feature which they're going to start charging a bit extra for soon.

Thanks @Tim Schroeder and @Sid Payne .  I may be going back into the tech sector soon and will need the day-to-day stuff covered.  I appreciate your thoughts and input.

Best,
Mike

Originally posted by @Tim Schroeder :
Originally posted by @Michael Greenberg:

Thanks @Tim Schroeder!  So do you think it's worth the monthly investment?  It seems that it takes the headache out of a lot of the daily monotonous tasks.  Are you using any of their "pro" features?  

 $20 for 2 properties. I'm also using the Channel Bridge Pro feature which they're going to start charging a bit extra for soon.

 How do you find the Channel Bridge Pro feature? I don't think it works with VRBO/HomeAway yet, correct?

Is this what you're using?
https://www.ownerreservations.com/blog/introducing...

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