VRBO or Airbnb- Top 5 Differences

AIRBNB or VRBO: Top 5 Differences You Need To Know Now

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If you’re a vacation rental owner looking to list your property, you might wonder whether to choose Airbnb or VRBO to list on. Both platforms are popular and have millions of users, but they also have some differences that might affect your success.

In this article, we’ll compare Airbnb and VRBO on five key differences: accommodation type, listing options, cancellation policies, fees and payouts, and host protection. Then, you’ll have a better idea of which platform meets your needs and goals.

1. Accommodation Types

One main difference between Airbnb and VRBO is the type of accommodation they offer. Airbnb has a wider range of accommodation types, including private rooms, shared spaces, hotel rooms, and unique options like campsites or treehouses. VRBO only offers stand-alone vacation homes, like houses, condos, cabins, or cottages.

This means that if you have a spare room or a shared space to rent, you can’t list on VRBO. If you have a whole property suitable for families or groups, you can list it on either platform. You should also consider the preferences and expectations of your target audience. If you’re targeting solo travelers or budget-conscious guests, Airbnb might be a better option. If you’re targeting families or luxury seekers, VRBO might work better for you.

2. Listing Options

VRBO offers two listing options, pay-per-booking, and subscription. Airbnb offers standard and professional options. VRBO also has two service fee structures, host-only and split-fee. Airbnb has standard and professional service fee structures. The fees vary depending on the host’s location and listing type. 

Both platforms allow hosts to add additional fees, such as cleaning, resort, or management fees, to their listings. 

The listing option you choose depends on your budget and the frequency and volume of bookings. For example, if you have multiple properties or expect high occupancy rates, a subscription or professional listing might be more cost-effective. If you have one property or expect low occupancy rates, a pay-per-booking or standard listing might be more flexible.

3. Cancellation Policies

Another difference between Airbnb and VRBO is their cancellation policies. Airbnb has six cancellation categories that hosts can choose from: Flexible, Moderate, Strict, Super Strict 30 Days, Super Strict 60 Days, and Long Term. These policies vary in the amount of refund that guests can receive depending on when they cancel and how long they stay. 

VRBO has five cancellation categories that hosts can choose from: No Refund, Firm, Moderate, Relaxed, and Very Relaxed. These policies vary in the refund amounts but they are based on fixed time frames rather than percentages.

The cancellation policy you choose depends on your risk tolerance and availability. If you want to attract more bookings and offer more flexibility to your guests, a flexible or relaxed policy might be more suitable. If you want to protect your income and avoid last-minute cancellations, a strict or firm policy might be more suitable.

4. Fees and Payouts

Airbnb and VRBO fee and payout structures also differ. Airbnb charges a service fee to both hosts and guests and pays hosts 24 hours after the guest checks in using various methods such as PayPal, bank transfer, or direct deposit. 

VRBO charges a service fee to guests only and pays hosts either at the time of booking or 24 hours after the guest checks in through similar payment options.

The fee and payout structure you prefer depends on your cash flow and profit margin. If you want to receive your money faster and avoid deductions from your payout, VRBO might be preferable. If you want to lower your booking price and attract more guests, Airbnb may be your best option.

5. Host Protection

Protection policies are important for your business and your property. Airbnb offers two types of protection for hosts: the Host Guarantee and the Host Protection Insurance. The Host Guarantee covers up to $1 million in property damage caused by guests. The Host Protection Insurance covers up to $1 million in liability claims arising from guest injuries or property damage.

VRBO does not offer a host guarantee or host protection insurance but offers property damage protection (PDP). PDP is optional insurance purchased by travelers to protect them from paying out of pocket for damage to your property. Hosts can also require guests to pay a damage deposit when booking and may file a claim within 14 days of check-out if needed. 

The host protection you need depends on your risk exposure and insurance coverage. If you have a valuable property or a high liability risk, Airbnb might offer more peace of mind. If you have a low-value property or a low liability risk, VRBO might offer more flexibility.


As you can see, Airbnb and VRBO have similarities and differences that might influence your choice as a vacation rental owner. You’ll want to weigh them carefully and choose one that matches your needs. You can also list your property on both platforms!

To help manage your vacation rental listings on Airbnb or VRBO, you can use a service like Hospitable.com which automates tasks and streamlines operations. With Hospitable.com, you can sync calendars, update rates, communicate with guests, and assign tasks to cleaners. You can also optimize your listings and increase your bookings.

Ready to take your vacation rental business to the next level? Sign up for Hospitable.com today!

Which platform do you prefer? VRBO or Airbnb? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author Beth McGee

Beth McGee is an Airbnb Superhost and a home cleaning and organization expert. Beth enjoys helping hosts succeed in the short-term rental industry through virtual services such as listing setup, guest relations, and creating an excellent guest experience. She is the author of Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master, a best-selling book that has helped thousands of readers improve their well-being and STR experience by transforming their homes into spaces of comfort and cleanliness.