Air BNB or Homeaway/VRBO for a vacation rental/ski condo

15 Replies


I'm having limited success finding posts that compare AirBNB to VRBO and I wanted to see if there are any experienced investors that have used both and can compare and contrast.

From my research it appears that AirBNB does not have the wide range of visibility or customer base that the VRBO network has, but AirBNB is much cheaper.

VRBO charges 8% per rental or $400 per year to be a member, but also charges the renter anywhere from 3-9% on top of the rental price if they pay through VRBO.

Does either system calculate and collect taxes that might be required for the rental based on the local area?

Thanks in advance everyone.

hmm, AIRBNB has more rooms under management than any chain on Earth. About 1.5M rooms per night. Who is larger? 

@Andrew Grieb I'd say use both. From my experience, there are different types of tenants that book with each platform, so you want to market to all potential guests. The more breadth of visibility you have for your listing, the more likely you are to stay booked.

I also prefer the commission per booking structure as opposed to a membership fee, simply because you never know what traction your listing is getting. Much better to pay 8% on each booking for 2 bookings than pay $400/year and only receive 2 reservations. Once you see how your property performs, you can do the math and consider going for the membership if it makes sense.

Best of luck!

Hi @Andrew Grieb . First off, congratulations on considering short-term renting. It can be give some great returns.

Airbnb has agreements with only a few cities to actually collect the lodger's tax, and my bet is that Edmond does not have an agreement. (You should check on that.) That means you'll have to collect it yourself, either in person or by lumping it into your overall price.

I think @Ariel Vincent is right. Use both platforms. The pay-per-booking model is my preference as well. VRBO charges homeowners 8% per booking. Airbnb charges homeowners 3% per booking. When I did short-term rentals, I charged more on VRBO to account for the extra commission.

I think the distinction between what kind of guests use which platform is eroding slowly, but it seems to me there is still a difference. In my experience, VRBO has more whole, big houses for rent. I would say the users of VRBO tend to skew older than Airbnb's users, as well. That said, tons of people put their whole house on Airbnb, and it does have a much broader audience. (Do I know this for a fact? No. But their valuations would suggest they're doing quite well.) Maybe this difference in visibility doesn't hold in Edmond, I don't know.

Also, if you use both, be sure to use the sync calendars option to ensure you're not getting booked for the same dates on both sites.

Good luck with everything!

VRBO does allow you to set and collect taxes, it's a very simple process. In my mind, they are a much more 'business oriented' site. Or at least they have been in the past. Lately, VRBO is attempting to be more like AirBNB, which is not necessarily a good thing for STR owners. I'm less than thrilled by the fact that I'm asked to pay an annual fee AND my guests must now pay a traveler fee as well. It's like going to the movies and having to sit through commercials.

In my experience, VRBO guests will take much better care of the property. They plan ahead, are easy to work with, and don't expect you to cater to them upon arrival. AirBNB guests tend to ask for discounts right off the bat and can be a bit more demanding than those that I get from VRBO. Therefore, I keep rates higher on AirBNB to discourage rentals, only lowering them as openings draw near, as AirBNB guests often seem to book last minute as well.

I wouldn't disagree with @Garry C. To wildly stereotype, I think the percentage of VRBO users who are more responsible and respectful is higher. I'll say, though, that in my experience, I had very few problems with Airbnb guests, and whatever problems I did have were outweighed by the megaphone that their platform provides to potential customers. But again, see what your market area is like and how listings on each platform are faring in your area . Maybe VRBO is the best option for your particular locale.

@Al Williamson , Thanks for your response.  The short term area that we are starting in is Angel Fire, NM.  I have consistently seen more properties available on VRBO when looking at specific areas like Angel Fire, but I was not aware that AirBNB is such a large operation. 

I really appreciate your feedback because I would really like a clear comparison before I go with one of the other.  I look forward to your upcoming speaking event in OKC.

@Ariel Vincent Is there any issue with using both systems where a double booking could occur? Do the calendars talk to one another at all or do you have to manually de-conflict them?

Thanks Everyone.

@James Carlson which site do you have to sync the calendars on?  AirBNB syncs to VRBO or Vice Versa?  I didn't see an option as I was setting up an AirBNB profile.

@Andrew Grieb . I don't currently host, but I seem to recall that when I did, I synced on both sites. On Airbnb, go to your calendar, click "Availability Settings," then scroll to the bottom. There you'll see "Sync Calendar." Once clicked, you can "Import calendar," where you bring VRBO's calendar into Airbnb's, or you can "export calendar," which should give you a link to take over to VRBO to sync on that site as well. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I can actually walk through the site myself to see how it looks.

@Andrew Grieb  I think looking at the number of listings is not the best way to do it because there are probably a lot of people looking for places on Airbnb and not finding them so that's your market (and best to be first and get your reviews going before everyone else jumps in). People don't care how many houses are available they just one to find the perfect one. 

 I've used both for years. Airbnb syncs with the VRBO calendar automatically I'm not sure if VRBO ever decided to figure out how to sync with Airbnb but they do sync with Google so I just do it that way. 

This VRBO/Airbnb debate is old and exhausting they both have pros and cons. The only difference is visibility. When VRBO was the leader VR were not visible and not as popular (maybe on purpose for quality control but I doubt it) They were a listing site not a tech company. Their target was wealthy or knowledgeable families, older people with money, The kind of people going to beach houses or cabins, Snowbirds. Now Vacation Rentals are for everyone. Airbnb changed that, huge marketing budgets, social media pushes. It's not that their customers are particularly worse...there are just more and different types of people looking now so there are more bad eggs. 

"It's not that [Airbnb] customers are particularly worse...there are just more and different types of people looking now so there are more bad eggs."

Well said, @Blair Russell .

@Andrew Grieb yes, Airbnb's calendar syncs to additional calendars (even a google calendar) so it is easy to maintain one and have it update both. @James Carlson is correct in how it works.

Thanks for the feedback.  I appreciate it.

I think Airbnb is more of a city slickers thing. VRBO is more of the traditional vacation style and offers the exclusive  vacation destinations like a skiing location. There is some cross over as well. My brother does quite well on VRBO ( listing and never has been listed on Airbnb as far as I know. I am sure you will find visa versa with the more normal airbnb city type locations. 

I have a listing I am selling in the Tampa Bay Area (FL) that my seller rents out monthly. She uses VRBO exclusively and quite successfully. She swears by it, but as others have suggested it is a good idea to use both. 

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