What is the best website for travel accommodation? What is the best website for vacation rentals? Airbnb and VRBO are the market leaders when it comes to choosing the best vacation rental.
But which is better, Airbnb or VRBO?
Airbnb might be the best vacation rental website this week, and VRBO might be the best next week. Airbnb might be the best for one destination and VRBO the best for another. Families might prefer one, and couples might prefer another. You get the picture.
Why you should use Airbnb AND VRBO when booking a holiday rental.
A bit about Airbnb
So first a bit about Airbnb. Airbnb has been around since 2008, it seems almost a household name now, and more than 2 million visitors stay in Airbnb accommodation every night. Airbnb listings include shared rooms, shared apartments as well as accommodation where the renter can rent the entire property.
Airbnb boasts having many unique accommodation options like yurts, cabins, treehouses, and houseboats. Airbnb also has more properties for people traveling for business in places that are not on your typical tourist route.
A bit about VRBO
VRBO has actually been around much longer than Airbnb. VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. HomeAway and VacationRentals are all part of the same family and under the Expedia group. Some other country-specific websites come under the same umbrella such as FewoDirect in Germany and Bookabach in New Zealand.
As the name suggests “Vacation Rentals By Owner,” VRBO is focused on the private vacation house market. At the time of writing, renting shared properties is not an option for VRBO users.
Since the majority of properties are holiday homes, the properties tend to be concentrated in more tourist areas
Why should you check both VRBO and Airbnb when searching for a vacation rental?
Airbnb and VRBO have exclusive listings.
While many property owners will have listings with both VRBO and Airbnb, some will only be listed with one or the other.
If there are plenty of properties available on one site, you might not want to overwhelm yourself with too many options. However, if you are struggling to find a property, then checking both sites is worthwhile.
Search both Airbnb and VRBO if you are struggling to find:
- A property in budget
- The right location
- The correct number of rooms
- Specific amenities like a pool or beachside
- Popular dates
Fees and pricing of Airbnb and VRBO differ.
Both Airbnb and VRBO charge a percentage fee. For Airbnb, this is 0-20%, and VRBO is 5-15%.
Airbnb also has flex pricing, which means prices fluctuate up and down depending on the number of listing views and other factors in their algorithm.
VRBO prices can vary depending on the time of the year but do not tend to fluctuate daily.
Other fees include cleaning fees and local taxes.
Due to the differences in the pricing structure, the same property can cost a different amount on each site.
Both Airbnb and VRBO have Instant Booking
Both Airbnb and VRBO have instant booking confirmation options. Some properties will use one site preferentially over the other and may only have an instant booking set for one website.
If you don’t want to wait around for an answer and the property doesn’t have instant booking set up for Airbnb you might find the option activated on VRBO.
Airbnb has shared accommodation options
Airbnb includes exclusive use of a property or shared properties and even shared rooms.
VRBO only includes exclusive use of a property.
Many families will prefer exclusive use of a property, but sharing can have unique benefits:
- Direct interaction with a local.
- Chance to mingle and socialize with other travelers.
For a trip to Barcelona solo with my son, I decided to stay in a room in an owner-occupied apartment. The owner was a single mother with a child of a similar age.
Use Filters on Airbnb and VRBO to find the perfect property
Both Airbnb and VRBO have good filters, and I recommend you use them. If there are several properties available narrow it down by filtering, you can always reduce the filters if you want to expand your search.
For example, we are planning a trip to Utah, there are plenty of properties available in our price range, so I added the “hot-tub” filter. Just picture me relaxing in that with a glass of wine each night.
VRBO has a few more filters than Airbnb (though Airbnb is catching up). They have a filter for “recommended for families” (not just if kids are allowed) as well as properties suitable for kids under 5.
VRBO filters tend to be a bit more robust, meaning that owners are likely to have used all the appropriate ones.
It is always worth confirming with the owner that all the listing details are correct. For example, a pool will be listed as an amenity but only open seasonally.
Airbnb and VRBO have high-quality reviews
Both Airbnb and VRBO host reviews from those who have stayed in a property. VRBO and Airbnb allow owners to comment on a guest’s review. An owner’s response can tell a lot about their personality as well as give information about whether a complaint was a one-off, temporary problem.
I highly recommend you read the reviews of a property and not just take the star ratings at face value. Many complaints are about Wifi. If good Wifi is not a necessity for you, then you might find yourself a less popular property that is otherwise a gem.
Homely or minimalist Airbnb and VRBO have you covered
A selection of homes on Airbnb are owner-occupied whereas the majority of VRBO are second homes. This does give a difference in the décor and supplies that each house will have. This can be both positive and negative.
Second homes may be less likely to have a full supply of kitchen staples like spices, oil, and seasoning.
Family homes might have more toys.
One might also be cleaner than the other, and some people can feel awkward living amongst other people’s belongings.
Some travelers prefer a house with a personality and lived-in feel.
Have you stayed in a vacation rental or holiday home? What was your experience? Any tips that you would share with other family travelers?