Which Vacation Rental Platform is Best for your Property?

The Property Hostess has put together an analysis of the top short-term rental platforms to help you choose which ones are worth listing through.

The more public exposure your property gets, the more bookings it will see, and in turn, the more income it will generate. Listing your property among different platforms can be very lucrative. The catch- there are HUNDREDS of different listing sites! Each platform comes with its own logistics, fees and perks. In order to choose the right ones for your property, you must understand the intricacies of each. Below we’ve summarized key points for the most popular platforms on the market right now to help you assess your approach.

 

 

Airbnb

We all know this one as it has become a verb in the travel dictionary. Airbnb is the name that revolutionized the vacation rental market and exploded the concept worldwide. With its easy-to-use platform and its recognition in the tech space, Millennials make up the bulk of its users, along with vacationers looking for last-minute bookings. Airbnb offers the possibility to rent out an entire place, a guest house, a single room and even a boat. The platform has about 145 million monthly visitors, making it the 3rd most popular platform after Booking.com and Tripadvisor (both of which offer many things other than short term rentals, weakening their competitiveness in this space).

From a Host’s perspective, Airbnb has one of the cheapest channel fees, taking only 3% of an owner’s profits. The majority of the costs are charged to the Guests, with fees ranging anywhere from 5%-15% depending on the location of the property. This may seem high, but we haven’t found it to deter guests, although you may just have to adjust pricing accordingly. Included in these fees are mandatory taxes that Airbnb actually collects and remits on your behalf in South Florida. This is a HUGE perk; in fact, The Property Hostess only lists properties on platforms that do this in order to avoid any run-ins with the law.

Airbnb offers a dual rating system, allowing both hosts and guests to leave reviews, a system that encourages all parties to be at their best (similar to Uber). Another benefit to listing on Airbnb is its liability and damage protection insurance policy, covering owners up to $1M.

VRBO and HomeAway

VRBO and HomeAway are sub-platforms under ownership by Expedia and its conglomerates. By creating a listing on one of the sites, you automatically have it posted to the other, which is pretty convenient. These sites are more popular among the 30+ age group as they have been around for longer, and they also attract longer term stays (month(s) at a time). VRBO and HomeAway focus on ‘whole home’ rentals, attracting travelers that want a private space to themselves, most popular for single family homes. VRBO and HomeAway boast a combined monthly visitor count of about 40 million, making it another great platform for hosts.

There are two different subscription packages available to hosts on this platform: one is a yearly flat fee of $499 with a 3% payment processing fee per charge, and the other is an 8% pay-per-booking charge on income (which includes the 3% payment processing fee). If you’re weighing the differences between the two, we’ve found the pay-per-booking plan works out in your favor if you’re making less than $6,980 in rental income or booking fewer than six weeks per year. Any more than that, and the subscription plan is a better choice. Guest fees are around the same as Airbnb, depending on the location. VRBO and HomeAway also collect and remit taxes on an owner’s behalf.

VRBO and HomeAway utilize the dual review system. They also offer a $1M liability insurance policy for owners, ONLY covering liability, NOT property damage.

Booking.com

Booking.com is by far the most-visited travel site in the world, offering wide exposure for short term rental owners. With over 420M monthly site visitors, and being that it is in conglomerate with Priceline, Kayak and Agoda, Booking.com has made its name as a trusted booking source. We find that it is most beneficial for owners listing their apartments and condos rather than homes, due to its popularity in the hotel industry.

Although it may seem to be an attractive option as far as vacation rental platforms go, Booking.com has the highest fee, charging 15% of owner income. On the other hand, it does not charge a fee to its guests, allowing you to raise nightly rates accordingly. Another con to this site is that it does not process payments for you, a feature that not only will you have to go through the trouble of obtaining on your own, but that you will have to pay an additional 3% for.

Booking.com does not pay taxes for owners and does not offer an insurance policy.

Expedia

Expedia owns several vacation rental companies, including VRBO, HomeAway, Hotels.com and Orbitz to name a few, and services over 190 countries world-wide. It caters to all types of guests, offering everything from homes to apartments to villas, but not private rooms the way Airbnb does. Its users don’t have a particular demographic makeup, providing owners with a pretty neutral playing field. With over 90M monthly visitors to its site, Expedia stands next in line to Airbnb in terms of popularity but isn’t exclusive to short-term rental listings.

In line with its subsidiaries, VRBO and HomeAway, Expedia has the exact same fee structure options for its owners. It also collects and remits taxes for South Florida owners, and provides the $1M liability insurance policy for its bookings.

Conclusion?

Airbnb seems to take the cake as the most successful at turning homes into successful short-term rental properties, considering its audience and owner fees. Its competitors are useful as an added source of exposure, even if it is minimal. What is best, is Airbnb offers calendar integration with some other platforms, blocking off dates as soon as they are booked through another site. This provides a huge convenience for owners and prevents any overlapping or double bookings.

About The Property Hostess

The Property Hostess is a full service short-term rental management company that takes care of everything from listing creation with professional photos to guest communication to cleaning coordination. We typically list our properties on the following sites (depending on the nature of the property): Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and Expedia. We know what it takes to maintain a lucrative vacation rental property and pride ourselves for our consistent 5-star ratings from guests. Earn a true passive income by hiring The Property Hostess as your management partner.

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