Currently, the two most popular sites used to list vacation rentals are AirBnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). Most renters head straight to one of the two websites before booking a vacation rental. We have seen an increase in Airbnb inquiries which isn’t surprising as the company’s valuation this summer topped $24 billion. However, in our area, VRBO still has a strong hold on the market and remains our top source of bookings throughout the South Puget Sound.

We find that almost all of the inquiries we receive from AirBnb are from people under the age of 35.  They’re younger, very tech savvy, and often looking for a cheaper and funky getaway. Our homes in the more affordable price points are normally booked through Airbnb. VRBO is like AirBnb’s older, more mature sister. For us, VRBO inquiries tend to be across the board in age but are most often Baby Boomers. We receive more inquires through VRBO on our high priced and luxury accommodations. We also find these people want to talk with us on the phone where our AirBnb guests are very tech savvy and texting friendly!

Our Top Tips for booking on both AirBnb and VRBO:

  1. We think both of sites are user friendly when searching for places to stay. However, always check your location because Airbnb will often show homes available “nearby” your initial search location. Airbnb guests inquire all of the time about our Gig Harbor homes when they are actually looking to stay in Seattle or Bellevue!

  2. Also, make sure to use the “sort” button instead of the default listing order for both sites. That way you know you’re getting the home closest to the parameters most important to you – not the default or paid listing order.

  3. Ask for a discount. Everyone does, why not ask.

  4. Be honest about the number of guests you will have at the home. Not worth losing a deposit if you break the rules. (Plus it’s really not cool to shove more guests into a home when the owner prefers to have less people in.)

The Top Differences we see between AirBnb and VRBO:

  1. AirBnb collects all payment upfront although the owner doesn’t receive the money until the 2nd day the guest is at the home.

  2. Airbnb gives the owner less power in regards to separate lease agreements, deposits, cash and check payments, cancellations, and lodging taxes.

  3. No listings are purchased with Airbnb. Airbnb requires renters to pay a service fee and the owner will pay an additional host fee for each stay. VRBO now has pay per use listing in addition to their standard prepaid annual listings. However there are details about receiving your payments with VRBO that we can explain in detail if you’re interested. J

  4. We feel AirBnb really caters more to renters and does not allow owners as much control as VRBO allows.

  5. VRBO lets you charge a refundable security/damage deposit—with AirBnb you have to file a complaint thru the site in order to get any of the security/damage deposit. There is a tedious approval process.

  6. AirBnb does not let you easily cancel a reservation if you are not comfortable with the guest—you get penalized.

In order to reach as many potential guests as possible, we feel you must be listed on both sites. Don’t worry, let us manage your home and we will take care of all the listings for you, and actually have several other secret weapons to increase your properties bookings.

Overall, we prefer VRBO across the board as managers. However, Ariel (23) has only booked rentals thru AirBnb and my old self (33) has only booked through VRBO.

Do you prefer AirBnb or VRBO when booking your stays?