VRBO vs Airbnb: A Traveler’s Guide to Vacation Rental Platforms

Airbnb vs vrbo for travelling
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Providing best practices and useful resources for managing your vacation rental.

Hey, travel enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to delve into the vacation rental world and compare two popular platforms – VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and Airbnb. Both platforms offer unique ways to discover and book accommodations around the globe, but there are some key differences you should know about before making your next booking.

Let’s start by getting a quick lowdown on what each platform offers.

Airbnb burst onto the scene in 2008 and quickly revolutionized the travel industry. In addition to standard home rentals, you’ll find some pretty cool accommodations on Airbnb, from tiny houses to castles. Airbnb also introduced Experiences, allowing you to book guided tours, cooking classes, and other unique activities directly through their platform.

On the other hand, VRBO (est. 1995) is a seasoned player in the vacation rental market. It offers a more traditional home rental experience, often focusing on whole property rentals. It might not have tree houses or igloos, but it does cater to large groups or families looking for full homes for their vacations.

So, what are the major differences between these two platforms, and how does it affect you as a traveler?

1. Types of Accommodations

Airbnb is known for its variety. Whether you’re looking for a single room in a shared apartment, a private loft, or a unique stay in a lighthouse, Airbnb has it all. This diversity is great if you’re flexible or looking for a unique travel experience. Here’s an example of a stunning Airbnb treehouse you can book.

On the other hand, VRBO traditionally caters to vacationers looking for larger, family-friendly homes and tends to be the go-to platform for whole property rentals. Check out this luxury villa in Hawaii listed on VRBO to get an idea of what you can expect.

2. Pricing and Fees

Both platforms have service fees, which are added to the base rate of the rental. Airbnb charges guests a service fee ranging from 14-20% of the booking subtotal. VRBO charges a slightly lower service fee, usually around 6-12%.

Here’s a breakdown of Airbnb’s fee structure and VRBO’s fee structure for you to check out.

3. Booking Experience

Airbnb provides two types of booking methods: Instant Book (where hosts allow guests to book without prior approval) and Request to Book (guests send a booking request to the host for approval).

VRBO also offers an Instant Booking option. However, a notable feature of VRBO is the Trip Board. It’s like a digital corkboard where you can pin potential rental properties, making it easier to compare options and decide.

4. Experience Beyond Accommodations

Airbnb Experiences is a feature where locals offer activities and tours for you to join. This could be anything from a cooking class, a guided hike, or even a virtual magic show! This feature can add another level of interaction and learning during your trip.

VRBO does not currently offer an equivalent feature.

Now, which platform should you choose? It ultimately depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re after a unique stay, interested in booking experiences, or looking for flexible options like shared spaces, Airbnb may be the platform for you. However, if you’re traveling with a large group, need a full home, or prioritize a simple booking experience with lower service fees, you may want to explore VRBO.

No matter which you choose, remember to read reviews, check cancellation policies, and communicate with your hosts for the best experience. Safe travels!

Link to comparison on TechRadar

Link to guide on renting with VRBO

Link to guide on renting with Airbnb

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