Over the past few years, travelers have been moving away from staying in a hotel room. Instead, many travelers seek a more “staying at home” feel while away from their homes.
Whether you are looking to book a single room in someone’s house or the whole place itself, two of the more popular apps to achieve this are Airbnb and VRBO. Both have similar features and rentals available, so which is better?
Before pitting VRBO vs. Airbnb head-to-head, let’s take a look at each company.
The idea for Airbnb was formed when founds Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia wanted to rent out space in their San Francisco apartment. They needed a way to not have a full-time roommate but find short-term renters easily. In 2008 Airbnb was born with the name Air Bed and Breakfast. At its core, Airbnb’s goal is to connect homeowners to potential renters. Aimed initially at short-term rentals, due to the pandemic, Airbnb has become popular for long-term stays as well. Since its arrival, Airbnb has been at the forefront of the sharing economy.
Most people will think Airbnb was the first company of the two to be found, but they would be wrong. VRBO, or Vacation Rental by Owner for short, was founded way back in 1995. As the name might suggest, VRBO is focused on renting out different types of vacation homes, putting the homeowner in direct contact with potential renters. HomeAway acquired VRBO in 2006.
VRBO vs. Airbnb Comparison
In order to compare these two popular sites, we’ll look at six key aspects of each.
When looking at the different types of accommodations each site offers, Airbnb clearly has the advantage over VRBO.
VRBO mainly works with renting out stand-alone homes only. On the other hand, Airbnb will have the traditional stand-alone homes, plus shared spaces (like renting out a single room in a multi-room home). They’ve also ventured into having hotel rooms available on the site.
With the above in mind, it comes as no surprise that Airbnb also holds an advantage in the sheer number of rentals available on their site.
Airbnb boasts a robust 5.6 million rentals available worldwide, being available in over 190 counties. While also available in 190 plus counties, VRBO’s exact rentals available are not public knowledge. However, by doing some searching on each site for the same locations, it’s easy to tell that there are far more rentals available on Airbnb vs. VRBO.
Next on the docket are the websites themselves. The site’s primary function is searching for that perfect place to rent when it comes down to it. While they both boast powerful tools and search options, VRBO’s is just a bit easier to navigate.
VRBO filtering makes it easier to find exactly what you are looking for. Searching by user review, pet’s allowed, and other standard options are better on VRBO. Not that Airbnb doesn’t have the same functionality, but it’s simply a bit harder to find.
The next step in your rental journey for either site is the booking process, where again, they are both very similar. You are dealing directly with the homeowner on either site, not a third party. This typically gives both the host and the renter more ability to negotiate and give each other a sense of security.
For both sites, the potential rental will send a request detailing their timeframe, the number of people, and their age range, plus any pets or other needed details. At that point, it’s up to the homeowner to review the request and accept or deny it based on their personal criteria. There can be a dialogue back and forth between both parties to go over specifics or clear up any ambiguities.
Airbnb can be seen to have a slight edge in the booking department as they do offer an “Instant Book” if the homeowner allows for it.
In the past, after booking a home or room, canceling was not an easy thing to do. But, as we’ve now seen, many renters need to be flexible and allow for rescheduling bookings or canceling them altogether.
Both Airbnb and VRBO allow hosts to choose from preset cancelation and change options ranging from relaxed to very strict. Airbnb’s are a little more straightforward and easier for everyone to understand.
VRBO offers hosts the ability to create custom options for changes and cancelations. This might be easier for hosts. However, with this ability comes a more difficult time for some renters to understand the policies and the potential for confusion. Therefore, the option to customize policies can be seen as a disadvantage for VRBO bookings.
Pricing and Fees
Pricing and fees are another area where both sites are very similar to each other. On the surface, both charge roughly 20% on the base cost for their services. Both sites also allow for hosts to require refundable security deposits, as you might when renting a living space. These security deposits can protect the homeowners from damage. However, the potential to be nickel and dimed for anything that may have been your fault or not could be a turn-off for potential renters. These security deposit requirements seem to be more prevalent on VRBO.
So who wins in the VRBO vs. Airbnb debate? I think it depends on what side of the renting you are on. Airbnb offers a much wider range of rentals while also touting far more in sheer volume available. It also provides renters the opportunity to book a rental instantly without going through the review process.
On the other side, VRBO gives the renters themselves a little more to desire. Customized cancelation and rescheduling rules, plus more, seem to lean toward requiring the security deposits to protect themselves from potential damage. The VRBO site is also a bit easier to navigate, allowing users to find the rental they want more quickly.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.