Complete Beginners Guide to Vrbo

Complete Beginners Guide to Vrbo

Owning a short-term rental means you undoubtedly want to promote and acquire as many reservations as you can all year long. Although Vrbo is a well-known vacation rental website for hosts, it can be difficult for beginners to get their property noticed and stand out from the competition.

This complete guide will include all of the information you require regarding:

  • Is Vrbo the same as Homeaway?
  • How is Vrbo different from Airbnb?
  • Is it required to have a Channel Manager to use Vrbo?
  • What does every homeowner need to know?
  • How to connect Vrbo by iCal?
  • Final thoughts

Is Vrbo The Same As Homeaway?

Founded in 1995, Vrbo, as we all know existed as a solo business until 2006, when it was bought by HomeAway. Moving forward, in 2015, Expedia Group, a major player in the tourism sector acquired HomeAway, meaning Vrbo also came with it.

Up until 2020, the two companies- Vrbo and Homeaway- under the same ownership kept their respective names and were treated as two distinct entities. HomeAway ended when Expedia group decided to streamline its inventory of vacation rentals by concentrating on Vrbo. In addition, all listings that were previously categorized as HomeAway on the website were switched to Vrbo.

HomeAway no longer exists and Vrbo is the sole vacation rental portfolio owned by the Expedia Group. As it started as separate businesses, ultimately came together under the Vrbo name and with this update, if you were a HomeAway host, you also became a Vrbo host automatically. Thus, Vrbo and HomeAway might be viewed the same.

How Is Vrbo Different From Airbnb?

How Is Vrbo Different From Airbnb?

While the top two competitors in the vacation rental marketplace, Vrbo, and Airbnb, were designed to provide an alternative to hotels, both have shared many features in common but also differ in several ways. Here are some of the main differences:

  1. Vrbo listings can help homeowners gain more visibility. It focuses more on fewer hosts, but with a greater percentage of high-end properties.

  2. Vrbo only focuses renting ‘whole’ spaces and entire homes.

  3. It charges a refundable security fee at the time of booking, and it also has a very explicit Book with Confidence Guarantee and Trust & Safety page.

  4. A strict rule is set forth by Vrbo that hosts must disclose the cleaning cost on the property listing page.

  5. Lower service fees. Guests are charged a service fee of 6-12% of the entire reservation cost, less the taxes when making a booking.

  6. Homeowners are free to set their cancellation policies including the No Refund policy. Thus, crucial to thoroughly sift through the listing details carefully.

  7. Homeowners can respond to reviews in the VRBO section after every booking which helps navigate and understand negative to moderate reviews.

Is It Required To Have A Channel Manager To Use Vrbo?

While managing rates, reservations, and payments for one or two properties can be done manually.

Keep in mind, without a channel manager and having more than three properties, you risk receiving double bookings, missing sending check-in details, experiencing extreme pricing variations, and more.

Thus, why it is strongly advised that you use a channel manager like Hostaway to seamlessly manage your listings.

What Does Every Homeowner Need To Know?

What Does Every Homeowner Need To Know?

Vrbo fees for Hosts

Pay-per-booking Fee

As the name suggests, the host pays a certain percentage each time a booking is made for one of your listings using Vrbo's pay-per-booking charge. With 3% for processing payments and 5% for commission, the booking charge comes to 8%. Keep in mind that, these fees do not apply to cancellation or property damage protection.

Annual Fee

A one-time flat charge annual fee option of $499 would be charged for the entire year to list your properties on Vrbo, covering all the service fees that would otherwise be applied to your account when a guest makes a booking.

Cancellation Policies

In terms of cancellation procedures, VRBO offers hosts six choices, of which five are pre-described in a range of strictness and the sixth allows owners to personalize based on their level of risk tolerance.

The various cancellation policies are briefly summarized below:

  • No-refund policy - Bookings at this property are non-refundable

  • 60-day policy - 100% refund if you cancel at least 60 days before check-in. No refund if you cancel less than 60 days before check-in.

  • 60/30 day policy - 100% of the booking fee is refunded 60 days before the check-in date and 50% of the refund (minus the service fee) if made 30 days before the check-in date. No refund if you cancel less than 30 days before check-in.

  • 30/14 day policy - 100% of the booking fee is refunded 30 days before the check-in date and 50% of the refund (minus the service fee) if made 14 days before the check-in date. No refund if you cancel less than 14 days before check-in.

  • 14/7 day policy - 100% of the booking fee is refunded 14 days before the check-in date and 50% of the refund (minus the service fee) if made 7 days before the check-in date. No refund if you cancel less than 7 days before check-in.

  • Custom policy - Different cancellation conditions and fees may apply to custom policies. Normally, you can review these terms right on the property page. Contact the host directly to review their cancellation policies if the policy isn't visible.

How to protect your property on Vrbo?

Vrbo will give you several tools as a host to safeguard your property against potential damages. To minimize risks, guests are informed throughout the booking process that they are accountable for any damages to the property.

In addition to the damage deposits, short-term rental agreements are presented to potential guests before checking in, to guarantee that there are no misunderstandings or disputes over how they are to care for the property.

How does damage deposit work on Vrbo?

Vrbo hosts are given the freedom in setting the amount and selecting three options in regard to the security deposit to include in the listing and the sum/level of insurance. Previously, at the time of booking, a refundable deposit was required. However, by default, Vrbo stores the guest’s card on file.

Card on File

The guest will only be charged if the host submits a claim if the property asks for a card on file. There is no pre-authorization hold and no sharing of the guest's credit card information with the host. Following check-out, the host has 14 days to evaluate the property and lodge a claim where then the guest will be informed via email along with a message from the host explaining the damage, and their card on file will be charged in the amount you decide.

Upfront Damage Deposit

If a refundable damage deposit is needed by the property, it is paid in full at the time of booking. Along with the rent, cleaning fee, and service charge upon check-out, the guest will find this charge in the pricing breakdown. Keep in mind that, Vrbo will keep the deposit until the duration of the booking and the guest’s stay.

Following the guest checkout, the host has up to 14 days to inspect the property. If the host does not report any damages to Vrbo within those 14 days, the money is immediately refunded to the guest. However, if any damage is detected, the host has the right to file a claim and keep the deposit money. Also, if indeed the amount claimed is less than the deposit, the guest will receive a partial refund. Keep in mind that, the deposit may not be deposited into your account for up to 7 business days.

Property Damage Protection

As an alternative to a refundable deposit at the time of booking, hosts can mandate guests to buy property damage protection, an optional insurance product designed to protect you up to the coverage amount, in the event that damage has occurred to the property during the stay. It is also important to take note that before choosing this option to carefully study the coverage information.

Do you need Vrbo Insurance?

Having insurance is crucial, especially if you own a vacation rental. In fact, depending on local rules and regulations, insurance is occasionally required in most places. Remember that your vacation rental is your biggest asset, and giving it over to paying guests exposes it to risks. That said, no matter where you are, all property types, including owners of Vrbo and vacation rentals, must always have insurance.

Most owners of vacation rentals either have a landlord or homeowner insurance plans. Although both of these are great to have, each has its own drawbacks because the rental property may not fall into any of these categories. In order to fill in the gaps and get the coverage you need, it's crucial to understand the types of insurance you can buy.

Homeowners insurance is meant to cover owner-occupied houses, but a vacation rental owner's policy is made to cover a home that is frequently used by visitors. Vacation rentals have a lot of guests throughout the year, including owners who come and stay there periodically, as well as times when they are vacant, thus these insurances won't cover those gaps. You need a policy that can cover all of these gaps and more.

Regardless of the insurance you have or buy, VRBO Host Insurance provides owners and property managers with the primary liability protection of $1,000,000 for all reservations made through the platform.

To make things simple, whenever a claim is filed against a host, the hosts without a liability policy are the ones who are notified first. If you do have liability insurance, you should consider that extra security on top of what you currently have. Additionally, both policies will respond to and participate in a claim filed against you.

How to contact Vrbo Customer Support?

Whether you are a host or a homeowner in need of assistance, Vrbo customer support is available 24/7 via the contact link that is found at the bottom of every help page on the website.

Your identity as a tourist, host, or property manager will be verified when you click the contact link. Beyond that, you will be given a few options to explain your needs, depending on what you have mentioned. You’ll then be shown some articles related to your topic to aid you further.

If you are still trying to get the assistance you require, you could either select a phone number or email address to contact a Vrbo representative benefiting both hosts and guests from this customer support system.

How to connect Vrbo by iCal?

The iCal calendar link can be used to connect to a property after it is live on Vrbo. However, before proceeding, please check that you have everything ready to connect:

  • All listings on Vrbo are also created in Hostaway.
  • When logging in to Vrbo Calendar, the menu item "import & export" calendar is shown in the upper right corner.
  • Make a choice regarding whether or not to include "Tentative reservation requests" in your booking.

After preparing everything you need, the crucial step is setting your connection as per the listing as follows:

Step 1 Log in to your Hostaway account and go to menu Channel Manager > Channels.

Step 2 Click on "Activate" or "Configure" for Vrbo iCal.

Step 3 In the new window, at the top, select the listing you'd like to map to Vrbo.

Step 4 Copy the Hostaway export iCal link.

Step 5 Go to Vrbo> Calendar for this listing, click on the "Import calendar" option and insert the link and save. You should instantly see that your Vrbo calendar gets blocked for reservations that you have in Hostaway.

Step 6 From Vrbo you can export the reservations. When you get the link, it asks you if you wish to include or exclude "Tentative" (inquiries) reservations. Turn this option off if you do not wish to import them and copy the link.

Step 7 Add the link in Hostaway where it asks for the import link.

Step 8 After completing, verify if all reservations are synced and dates are correctly blocked on both sides.

Additionally, in case you encounter the problem "Vrbo cannot import iCal", try again a few times; occasionally, it may take five or more tries to implement. Also, every 30 minutes, Hostaway imports the most recent reservations via iCal, and every 60 minutes, Vrbo imports and updates any iCal calendar.

More importantly, block the dates manually in the Hostaway calendar when you receive a reservation in Vrbo and urgently need to do so before the new sync arrives.

Final Thoughts

Vrbo is a great sales channel for property managers to widen their customer base and maximize bookings. Being recognized as a Preferred Connectivity Partner highlights our dedication to establishing and upholding a trustworthy link that enables our customers to grow their companies on the Vrbo marketplace.

Moreover, both Hostaway and Vrbo teams work closely to maintain a secure connection and to introduce new features, fields, and tools that further integrate our services.

To find out more about Hostaway's Vrbo integration, get in touch with Hostaway's customer support.

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 in 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 Renal Managers!