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Airbnb vs Vrbo: Key Hosting Differences

Airbnb vs Vrbo: Key Hosting Differences

So you’re thinking about jumping into the world of short-term rentals and can’t decide between Airbnb and Vrbo?

Both OTAs are top dogs in the vacation rental booking platform space but have their own way of doing things.

Let’s dive into what sets them apart when it comes to hosting your vacation rental property on each website.

8 Key Differences between Hosting on Airbnb vs. Vrbo

The crowd: who books where

Airbnb and Vrbo will let you list anything from a cozy studio to a full-blown castle. And while it might seem like they attract the same crowd — and they do — they also attract some traveler types more.

Airbnb guests often seek unique, local vibes and may even snag a shared room to save a few bucks or dive into cool experiences offered by hosts. Urban and business travelers tend to gravitate here too.

Vrbo, on the flip side, is the go-to for family vacays and older, more well-off travelers looking for private digs. Shared spaces? Not on Vrbo’s watch.

2. Fees and finances: what's coming out of your pocket

Listing's free on both platforms but the take from your booking varies.

Airbnb might nick 3% from hosts per booking, but this can bump up based on your location or if you've got a strict cancellation policy enabled. Guests cover up to 14.2% in service fees, but there's a host-only fee model too, where you'd foot a 14-16% bill with guests paying zilch.

Vrbo's cut is 5% per booking, plus a 3% credit card processing fee (though short-term rentals in Australia, New Zealand and Japan get a pass on that). Travelers chip in 6-12% in service fees.

3. Browsing and booking: the guest experience

Both platforms are pretty user-friendly, providing guests with multiple filters to find their perfect stay.

Airbnb amps up the choice with 60 categories like farms, skiing and national parks, and even lets travelers split their stay between properties and destinations. They’ve also got ‘Guest Favorites’, a collection of top-rated spots around the world with super-low cancellation rates and more recently introduced a trophy-iconed badge for the top 1% of ranked listings.

4. Cancellation policies: flexibility vs. firmness

Flexible cancellations are great for guests but can sting if you can't rebook.

Airbnb offers hosts a wide range of policies. Super Strict 60 Days and Super Strict 30 days will see you paid 50% of the reservation amount even if the guest cancels within the stipulated time period. Strict, Moderate and Flexible allows free cancellations or a 50% payment depending on when the guest cancels. There is also a Non-refundable option. For long-term stays, hosts can choose from Strict Long term and Flexible Long term.

Vrbo also offers a wide choice including a No Refund policy and a 60-day policy where hosts receive full payment for cancellations less than 60 days before reservation. It has 60/30, 30/14, and 14/7 days policies where hosts receive a 50% refund based on how many days before the reservation the guest cancels. It also permits custom cancellation policies.

5. Getting paid: show me the money

On Airbnb you can choose from bank transfers, Paypal, Fast Pay, Payoneer Prepaid Debit Mastercard, International Wire, Western Union and MLC Card to receive payments. Payments are sent 24 hours after the guest checks in.

For longer stays (over 27 nights), expect monthly payouts, starting 24 hours from when the guest arrives.

Vrbo keeps it simple with payments through its secure platform via Visa, Mastercard or American Express processing. Alternatively, professional hosts can choose to make credit card charges, via processors such as Stripe or Braintree, securely using an integrated channel manager.

6. Reviews: the reputation game

Reviews are worth their weight in gold on both platforms.

On Airbnb, hosts and guests have 14 days after checking out to write their review. Vrbo gives you up to a year but the window shrinks to 14 days once one party has submitted theirs. Both allow an overall satisfaction rating but Airbnb breaks this down further into overall experience, cleanliness, accuracy, check-in, communication, location, amenities and value.

Hosts in good standing are recognized as Superhosts on Airbnb and Premier Hosts on Vrbo.

7. Insurance: securing your investment

Scruffs and scratches are part and parcel of renting out properties but when guests cause extensive damage it can be quite expensive to fix. Both platforms offer host protection plans.

Airbnb AirCover provides coverage of up to $3M for damages caused by guests and their pets. It also covers the legal responsibility of hosts and their vacation rental team members when a guest is injured or has their belongings stolen or damaged.

Vrbo offers a Liability Insurance program of up to $1M for vacation rental owners and property managers, covering injury and property damage claims made by guests against hosts.

8. Setting prices: you’re in control

You’re free to set your own prices on both OTAs or use a dynamic pricing tool. Each platform also offers its own tool.

Airbnb’s Smart Pricing automatically adjusts rates based on demand while Vrbo’s MarketMaker gives you the lowdown on competitive pricing. Vrbo also lists your place across its partner sites such as Expedia and KAYAK for extra visibility.

Final Verdict: Why Not Both?

In the end, listing your property on both Airbnb and Vrbo can only widen your guest net and improve income.

With all-in-one vacation rental software Hostaway you can list on multiple booking platforms while avoiding double bookings, streamline and automate operations such as guest communication, manage your staff and more.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!