Verbo (what happened to HomeAway) vs Airbnb

18 Replies

I am a HomeAway Premier Partner and an Airbnb superhost generating over $100k per year from a vacation villa in los cabos.

After starting strong with Airbnb in 2016, Homeaway bookings represented about 75 percent of my revenue in 2017 /2018. Yet in 2019 market share has totally shifted and Airbnb now represents almost 100 percent of my revenue. It’s almost like they are fighting for market share of our property or that a HomeAway has fallen off a cliff.

Anyway, as a relative newcomer to STR, I was steered to listing on Homeaway as the aggregator (not VRBO) and I notice that I cannot access (edit) my listing on VRBO... only on HomeAway.

In the background Expedia seems to be doubling down on VRBO and losing focus on HomeAway - I am curious if others have observed this and if there is a way to fully activate myself as an owner on the VRBO site? Am I being negatively impacted by being a HomeAway originated listing vs a legacy VRBO listing? Am curious what others have experienced in this regard and what inside scoop, recommendations or knowledge folks have to optimize listing VRBO performance in the context of Expedia’s plans. If I start from scratch on VRBO I doubt I can take my reviews with me.

That is a great question. I am also Premier Partner on HomeAway and I am getting about 50/50 coming from VRBO vs HomeAway. 

I am assuming that when people are searching on either site, the same entries come up. Have you tried searching on VRBO for your property with typical parameters to see how it compares?

Make sure you clear the browser history to make it a fresh search. I am going to try it and see what happens.

But, 100k with a single villa! Way to go! Where in Los Cabos is your place?

Ok, just to reply right away. I did a basic search with zero parameters, not even a date or number of guests, on both sites and our home came up in 10th position with over 300 listings.

Not very scientific, but it appears that both sites are generating the same results. Now you can drill down with exact parameters and see if it changes, but my gut says they use the exact same engine to search the same database.

I would guess that accessing your site for management via VRBO doesn't really matter.

As for the shifts in bookings, that just seems to be the way of things. We are 75/25 in favor of VRBO/HomeAway vs AirBNB. Our home is 2400sqft and geared towards families. It might be (having not seen your home) that a Los Cabos place might be geared towards younger people/couple. Younger folks seem to use AirBNB more. 

My 2 cents. :)

Interesting insights thank you. The property is located in a community called Rancho Cerro Colorado near the Palmilla in San Jose Del Cabo. I would share the link but believe that may violate community guidelines. 

I do find the massive swings in market share of my property between the two sites very interesting. Perhaps it has to do with my relative performance (responsiveness or something else) which impacts search engine placement. Overall, I find the Airbnb app and experience much smoother so I am not necessarily complaining although the Homeaway clientele tend to be better guests and bigger ticket stays and I’d rather see a more balanced revenue mix. So trying to figure out how to get my homeaway / verbo game back.

If you create your account on HA then you can only edit it on HA even though it will show up on HA, Vrbo and Expedia.

I get 95% of my booking from the HA network. I get 5 or 6 bookings if I'm lucky from my Airbnb account.

It doesn't really matter in which entity you hold your VRBO/Homeaway account. It's all one big indistinguishable mess now. With the new "Verbohhhh" push , it seems Expedia has completely changed directions in their branding since taking over. Initially, the Homeaway brand had top billing. I think they realized that Airbnb was controlling the vocabulary in the category. No one was saying, "we're gonna homeaway this vacation instead of staying in a hotel". Airbnb has become a verb, like uber and google have done.

 When people ask me what I do it's much easier for me to say, "I'm a professional airbnb host" They are hoping "Verbo" is the answer to that problem. Personally, I think it's some Titanic deck chair remodeling. My experience has been that Airbnb has flipped the script in results vs VRBO in the past 3 years (when Expedia took over) As @John Underwood will attest their are regional variations to platform performance. I speculate my results may be because we are only 90 minutes from Boston and airbnb owns the younger ,urban demographic. But I have also been hugely disappointed in Expedia's hamfisted management of VRBO. I personally have been really happy with airbnb (as I used to be with VRBO) but I am increasing my book direct efforts so that I am not too dependent on any one platform

@Michael Baum I just ran the same experiment and was ranked 8th on both sites (no date just city and filtering for 10 guests). I was surprised by that as I am suddenly getting very little booking traction despite what is pretty good search placement on both sites. My hypothesis is that Airbnb is significantly winning share and moving up the value chain in this geography... and it is this realization (possibly globally) that is leading to this verbo rebranding effort.

In 2015 when I started renting my properties, I listed them on Airbnb and VRBO.  I got 95% of my business on Airbnb.  I went to a HomeAway conference in Austin for 2 years in a row, and the second year, they couldn't even FIND my listing when I had them search for it.  VRBO wanted me to pay them to feature my property, all while I was getting tons of bookings on Airbnb.  I said no, ditched VRBO/HomeAway, and never looked back.

I find that VRBO is oversaturated in my area (Panama City/PC Beach), the users tend to be older and not tech savvy, and I didn't have the security of reviews (of me or of my guests).  For me, Airbnb is where it's at.  I am a user and a Super Host.  VRBO can take an ever-lasting seat.

Ahhh the AirBNB vs Verbo thing rages on! I would stick with one platform if things were really lopsided. I need all the bookings I can get as our home is right on Lake Coeur d' Alene and it isn't really booked during the winter months.

Someday I will finish my website so I can start taking bookings direct.

I do like the AirBNB interface. It seems to be superior to Verbo's.

I use AirBNB, HA/VRBO, and booking.com--- 

AirBNB- 95% of my bookings

Homeaway-4 % of my bookings (i increase the price by 10-15% from airbnb and sometimes even 20% or more and still get an occasional booking)

booking.com 1% but I increase price by 30-50% and still get an off booking which makes it worth the effort.

AirBNB for me has been by far the most successful and attracts the most savvy guests who "get it".  Homeaway has been tougher, and booking.com can cause headaches with constant cancellations since it caters more to hotel-type people.

I started out on HomeAway in 2012 and kept our listing 98% booked for years. We have a one bedroom apartment that we list for a vacation rental during late spring and summer and extended stay during the academic terms. Then in 2016, our VRBO/HomeAway inquires dropped off dramatically. At the time, VRBO/HomeAway had a tool for analyzing views/inquires/bookings in my area. I noticed that all the one bedroom apartments had very low views & inquires while the two + bedroom apartments had tons of views & inquires. I surmised at the time that VRBO was emphasizing family vacations and / or vacationing with friends which was costing me and other smaller apartment hosts. That is when I started advertising on Airbnb. I now list on both platforms as a Premier Partner on VRBO and Super Host on Airbnb. I find VRBO to have buggier software. Every time I point out a software bug to the VRBO support team, I'm blown off. It is very annoying. I'm a retired software developer and know a programming bug when I encounter it. I give them specific details on the what produces the bug and they still treat it like it must be user error. That drives me crazy. I also don't like the fact that their payment service is a third party and I never know what the bank fees will be. If it is an international traveler, the bank fees on VRBO are substantially more than the service fee charged by Airbnb and this is on top of the annual membership fee that VRBO charges! But I never again want to be dependent upon a single platform and I'm not ready to strike out on my own with my own website for numerous reasons. 

@Carolyn Fuller I'm on most of the vacation rental sites along with Craigslist.  Less than 1% of my inquiries come from a vacation website.  At least 50% come from Craigslist.  Try Craigslist.  

But my renters are working contractors at a refinery, not people on vacation.

@Paul Sandhu I suspect that how well you do on which platform has a ton to do with your location, the kind of unit you are advertising and your target audience. We stay 95 - 98% occupied using Airbnb and VRBO and extended stay platforms. I find both Craigslist and FB Marketplace to be pains in the neck. We've never gotten a rental via either Craigslist or FB Marketplace and managing the inquires is painful. My extended stay renters are academics, hence the academic extended stay platforms work perfectly. My summertime renters are vacationers, hence Airbnb and VRBO work. There truly is no one-size fits all.

If you are almost 100% occupied, that usually indicates you aren't charging enough. Also more wear and tear, etc. 

You are right for one size fits all. In some places, CL works well

Originally posted by @Carolyn Fuller :

@Paul Sandhu I suspect that how well you do on which platform has a ton to do with your location, the kind of unit you are advertising and your target audience. We stay 95 - 98% occupied using Airbnb and VRBO and extended stay platforms. I find both Craigslist and FB Marketplace to be pains in the neck. We've never gotten a rental via either Craigslist or FB Marketplace and managing the inquires is painful. My extended stay renters are academics, hence the academic extended stay platforms work perfectly. My summertime renters are vacationers, hence Airbnb and VRBO work. There truly is no one-size fits all.

The strongest argument to me, for being on both vrbo and Airbnb, is that every now and then you might be delisted due to a guest complaint or something else hidden cameras or discrimination or something else) and have no presence suddenly. 

Being on both and probably also booking.com can protect you against a sudden disaster.

Originally posted by @Ken Latchers :

The strongest argument to me, for being on both vrbo and Airbnb, is that every now and then you might be delisted due to a guest complaint or something else hidden cameras or discrimination or something else) and have no presence suddenly. 

Being on both and probably also booking.com can protect you against a sudden disaster.

 That sparks a question I’ve been thinking about - if you get delisted bc some customer complained about something, are you able to create a new account right away? I suppose you lose your Superhost status but I guess you can at least start over? Or is it worse - are you blacklisted for life? 

@Matt Ayoub Expedia is not all happy with their investment in the Homeaway portfolio. Airbnb is 5 times the size of Homeaway and you can easily conduct a simple research activity. Ask 10 of your friends if they have heard of Airbnb and then ask them if they have heard of VRBO or verbo or whatever stupid rebranding effort they are attempting. Real quick you will see how the platform is going to die. You either evolve or you die.

If you lose, you can be permanently delisted. Being only on one site is foolish

Originally posted by @Eric P. :
Originally posted by @Ken Latchers:

The strongest argument to me, for being on both vrbo and Airbnb, is that every now and then you might be delisted due to a guest complaint or something else hidden cameras or discrimination or something else) and have no presence suddenly. 

Being on both and probably also booking.com can protect you against a sudden disaster.

 That sparks a question I’ve been thinking about - if you get delisted bc some customer complained about something, are you able to create a new account right away? I suppose you lose your Superhost status but I guess you can at least start over? Or is it worse - are you blacklisted for life? 

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