When new clients approach us about renting their homes on an Online Travel Agent (OTA) site, they are often confused by the differences between AirBnB and VRBO. That is not surprising, as both change their models regularly, and neither makes it very easy to understand all the costs, limitations, and benefits up front. So, here’s a comparison of the two as we head into 2019:
Someone who is renting their home a lot or at a high price point will find VRBO’s fixed $499 / year works in their favor. Those who rent less or at a lower price point, will find AirBnB or VRBO's variable fees to be the better play. We review our clients' rental goals and help them pick the right cost structure based on their rental goals.
Cost isn’t the only consideration however, because rental revenue makes all the difference. So, which will drive more rental demand? Initially, AirBnB was perceived as the brand for the weekend getaway or work trip, and VRBO was viewed as the weekly vacation rental site. Their brands are converging, and are now barely distinguishable in terms of travel scenario fit. Currently the AirBnB app ranks as the 5th travel app and has 260,000 reviews in the Apple App Store, while VRBO has just under half those reviews, and ranks as the 26th travel app. AirBnB has broadly out-advertised VRBO, but given how little VRBO has advertised, it's remarkable that it has potentially half the users of AirBnB.
So, what does this mean for you? If you are renting your home out for vacation goers, either should work fine, as long as there is strong rental demand in your area. However, if you find there is a lot of competition and you struggle to fill your calendar, AirBnB may have a leg up.
For those renting their homes in the area we service, South Portland, through Kennebunkport, and into Ogunquit, Maine, it doesn’t appear we have a shortage of demand. That said, more and more people are renting out their places, so it’s something to be mindful of if we begin to see price pressure or booking demand slow.
Finally, there is one other option for those who shoot to fill their calendars for the vacation season, which is to use VRBO as your primary, and AirBnB as your secondary. Give VRBO a head start, and if you’re not getting the bookings you want, before you drop your price, increase your exposure and put it on AirBnB too.