There are a lot of alternatives to Airbnb. We get a lot of questions asking about Airbnb vs VRBO. Airbnb competitors are out there, and in some cases they work almost just as well! We’ve experimented with the Airbnb competitors and found out the facts that most Airbnb hosts need to know. We have close to 100% occupancy on Airbnb so we don’t necessarily need to list on other platforms, but it could be a good opportunity to list at higher prices.
The HomeAway network is a group of Airbnb competitors that make up the second largest short term rental market share next to Airbnb. Signing up on any one of the sites will also put your listing on the rest of the HomeAway network. We typically get asked about VRBO much more often than any other of the Airbnb competitors. HomeAway vs Airbnb? Airbnb vs VRBO? In our opinion, the clear winner is Airbnb. VRBO charges a lot more in fees to the host than Airbnb does. And when calculating their fees they also take them out of the security deposit too! If you want to pay the same fees as you would on Airbnb, you have to sign up for the premium membership at $500/year.
Hosts that have complaints over Airbnb’s Resolution Center decisions, might prefer the HomeAway network because hosts have much more control over their guests’ security deposits. While Airbnb might require receipts or proof of damages, HomeAway pretty much gives short term rental owners the ability to refund the security deposit at their discretion. Reviews left by guests can also be modified or taken down by the guest, unlike Airbnb’s very strict review policy.
TripAdvisor is one of the newer Airbnb competitors. Formerly known as FlipKey, they have much lower fees than the HomeAway network, but they are still even with Airbnb, charging just 3% of the total to the host. TripAdvisor has a star rating system that is very similar to Airbnb, and honestly they are very similar in the way they work. Their pricing system in not very intuitive, but they are able to connect to Wheelhouse for automated pricing. Calendar sync with Airbnb and VRBO is painless.
Booking.com is another one of the Airbnb competitors, but it has incredibly high fees for hosts. Booking.com charges a staggering 15% of host earnings, PLUS another 3% credit card processing fee on top of that. It does have a huge amount of users, with its web traffic volume being much higher than Airbnb and HomeAway, but it is very complicated to use. Syncing calendars with Airbnb, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor is not easy, it requires a third party platform to facilitate. While we use all the other platforms,
It is certainly possible for Airbnb hosts to list their short term rental on other platforms in addition to Airbnb. It doesn’t have to be Airbnb vs VRBO, it can be Airbnb and VRBO. As we previously mentioned, AirHost Academy recommends that new hosts list on more than one platform at a time simply because it is additional exposure. Also, you can experiment with pricing higher on the other platforms without risking your Airbnb search rankings.
If you have are having issues getting a lot of bookings on Airbnb, perhaps consider looking into your pricing strategy or search rankings before either making the switch or adding a listing on another platform. If you are fed up with how Airbnb denied one of your claims, perhaps try to better understand their policies on security deposits before giving up. Are your listing views on Airbnb low and you are discouraged? There’s many ways to make your listing stand out. Take a look at what other listings are doing in your market, try to see the trends that make them successful.
Okay! We hear you, it’s a tough market out there and you need to increase your bookings by listing with Airbnb competitors. First, find a pricing tool that will allow you to manage your pricing on every platform all in one place, otherwise it will be a nightmare to manage each one. We also recommend pricing higher on platforms that have higher fees. If you start to see a lot of success on a HomeAway website, be sure to pay for their annual subscription as soon as possible.
Make sure that you link your calendar between each service that you are using to avoid a disastrous double-bookings. Doing this will automatically block your dates on every platform whenever you get a booking on any of the platforms you have listed on. You can do this by going to a calendar on any platform and looking for the “Export” calendar link. You will take this link and go to your calendars on other platforms and then “Import” the link. It’s necessary to do this Import every other calendar link on every single platform.
Importing your Airbnb calendar to VRBO is not enough. You must also do the reverse and import your VRBO calendar to Airbnb. Test that it is working correctly by waiting for a booking to come through. Then, checking other platforms to make sure those dates are shown as blocked. It may take a few hours for the booking to show up. If it is more than 12 hours you may not have linked the calendars correctly.
Once you list on other platforms, you’ll have more inboxes to keep up with. This can be exhausting, so we highly recommend you make sure you have a good solution in place before you make the leap to Airbnb listing alternatives. Automating your messaging, and having a single inbox will be extremely important when it comes to keeping your sanity and responding to every inquiry.
It’s been several years since we first published this article and our opinion still stands true. In our market, it is not worth the time or effort to maintain multiple listings on Airbnb competitors or alternatives. Some markets do better than others on the HomeAway platform, but we suggest if you’re not getting that many bookings, save yourself the hassle and stick to Airbnb vs VRBO.
Originally from Connecticut, Kevin moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and worked his way up to becoming an editor on award-winning reality TV shows. Kevin owns 4 short term rentals in Southern California and founded AirHost Academy to help other hosts improve their business.
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