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You might think that listing on Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com when you launch your vacation rental business will give you the best results,  but it is not that simple. The decision to book with 1 or more partners should be based on the following factors:

  1. Location (country)
  2. Type of listing
  3. Business size

Location

If you are in Asia and have a hotel or a house for example, you would be better off listing on Booking.com first since it is the largest and most recognized brand in that part of the world. If you are in North America and want to rent a room out of your house, Airbnb is likely your best option because they accept single room listings and they are the most recognized name in North America.

Type of Listing

The type of listing(s) you have matter a lot when choosing a vacation rental partner. I rent out houses in Toronto, Canada and since Airbnb is the most recognized brand for the customers I attract, Airbnb is an obvious choice. When I was travelling throughout Thailand and was looking for hotels, I found Booking.com to be a fantastic option since they have the largest hotel inventroy compared to Airbnb and VRBO.

VRBO is a good option if you are in North America and you want to list full homes/condos as that is what they are best known for.

Business Size

This is highly important. If you plan to manage your vacation rental business mostly on your own, learning how to navigate one platform takes time and commitment. The moment you add more platforms, you are also adding complexity to your business and being on all the platforms does not guarantee more customers.

My brother owns a small hotel in Salento, Colombia called Terasu. Since he employs full-time staff who are dedicated to managing multiple booking partners, it makes sense for him to advertise with the most popular ones. The majority of his bookings come from Expedia followed by Booking.com and Airbnb. He has also noticed that each platform has different clientele.  

Guests who book through Airbnb for eample, are looking for a unique and more personable experience. Many want to meet the host and live like locals do. The majority of properties on Booking.com are comprised of hotels. They only recently began selling vacation rentals on their platform. Personable experiences are not part of their brand DNA.

 Image by: Boooking.com. Paradise Resort KohYao Noi

Why did I choose Airbnb over the other platforms?

The reason I became an Airbnb host is because a friend of mine was renting his condo using the Airbnb platform and he was having plenty of success. I had also heard the name Airbnb being mentioned by my friends and the media far more often than VRBO and Booking.com and once I tried it with my first apartment I just fell in love with the brand and the results I got. I also love meeting guests and ensuring they have a memorable stay. Their experience and mine is very personal. 


My first Airbnb Unit

Would I ever consider adding a second platform?

Not right now. I have been hosting for 3 years and I am still getting enough customers from Airbnb. It took me months to learn their platform (I am still learning). I don’t have a strong reason to add more. I like to keep things simple. I can’t imagine handling multi-calendars and all the ins and outs of having relationships with other suppliers. 

Am I happy with Airbnb?

Yes I am a very happy customer. They have treated me exceptionally well. Whenever I have had unfortunate circumstances with guests, they have listened to me and acted accordingly because I have a good track record. They also give me $100 yearly towards Airbnb stays as long as I maintain my Superhost status. 

If you are new to the short-term rental business and you want to know the main differences between Aribnb, VRBO and Booking.com, I hope the chart below will help you to make the right decision. 

 

Airbnb VRBO Boooking.com
Listings Approx. 6 million – most popular in North America and Europe Approx. 2 million –  most popular in North America and Europe  28,000,000 – most popular in Asia and Europe
Types of listings Everything including single rooms in people’s homes Entire spaces such as condos, houses and apartments. No single rooms Hotels, houses, condos, single rooms
Reviews Hosts and guests can leave reviews Hosts and guests can leave reviews Guests are able to leave reviews but not hosts
Guest screening Lots of flexibility Lots of flexibility Some flexibility – able to vet guests but cannot cancel bookings easily
Interface – laptop and mobile Awesome Reasonably good. Better search filters Awesome
Fees Guests pay 11-15% and hosts pay 3%  Guests pay 6-12% and hosts pay a subscription fee of $499 or 5% per booking + 3% credit card processing fees Hosts pay 15% per booking + 3% credit card processing fees
Host payment Airbnb controls  payment. Hosts get paid shortly after the guest checks in VRBO controls  payment. Hosts get paid shortly after the guest checks in Hosts charge guests directly (cash or credit)
Damage deposits Controlled by Airbnb. Guests are not required to pre-pay and often disappear when claims are submitted by hosts The host is able to pre-charge damage deposits The host is able to pre-charge damage deposits
Insurance 1,000,000 liability insurance for hosts 1,000,000 liability insurance for hosts and the option for travellers to purchase property damage protection No insurance
Guest interaction frequency Frequent Frequent Little interaction 
Opportunities to earn more  Airbnb Experiences allows hosts to sell other services outside of hosting N/A N/A