With the rise of the sharing economy, vacation home rental sites have become a popular tool for travelers seeking unique, comfortable, affordable accommodation.
Many homeowners are also embracing the opportunity to monetize their properties by listing them on vacation home rental websites. However, with so many booking platforms out there, it can be a challenge for both hosts and guests to determine their best option.
In this blog post, we’ll explore and analyze 5 of the top vacation home rental sites, highlighting their key features, benefits and drawbacks.
Whether you’re a host looking to maximize your property’s potential or a visitor searching for the perfect cabin or other vacation rental, by the end of this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the best vacation rental sites available, allowing you to make informed decisions that will improve your vacation experience!
- Airbnb: industry leader
- VRBO: for families & large groups
- Booking.com: not just hotel bookings
- TripAdvisor: lower booking fees
- HomeToGo: vacation rental aggregator
- Sky High Cabins: Big Bear cabin hosts & guests both benefit with direct booking!
The Top 5 Vacation Rental Platforms
Airbnb: The Industry Leader
Airbnb is undoubtedly the world’s most well-known and widely used vacation home rental site.
Currently, Airbnb has 4M+ hosts and 6M+ active listings in 100,000 cities and 191 countries.
It also has over 150 million users worldwide who have booked one billion-plus stays since the service was started in 2008.
The enormous success of Airbnb can be attributed to its vast and diverse selection of lodging options – which range from simple single rooms to opulent homes and everything in between – that accommodate all types of travelers.
To become a host on Airbnb, all you have to do is to create an appealing listing for your property that includes captivating photographs and an in-depth description.
You won’t be charged anything to list your vacation rental, but when a reservation is made, you’ll pay a service fee. Depending on where in the world you’re renting, this can range from 3 to 16 percent of your booking’s subtotal.
The Airbnb service fee for guests is between 5 to 18%, but most pay less than 14.2% of the overall cost of their accommodation (nightly rate plus any additional fees, such as a cleaning fee).
Some pros and cons of using Airbnb as a traveler or host include:
- A HUGE selection of properties is accessible worldwide. This guarantees that wherever your wanderlust leads you, you can find a place to stay.
- Plenty of options for every price range. Also, no matter where you go, you can find accommodation that fits your budget, whether you’re a high roller or a budget traveler due to Airbnb’s extensive inventory of vacation home rentals.
- A simple-to-use interface. It only takes a few minutes for hosts to list their properties on Airbnb thanks to the platform’s user-friendly interface and step-by-step instructions. The platform also offers integrations with many of the best channel management software companies, making it easy for hosts with multiple properties to better manage their listings.
As a traveler, you can quickly find accommodation that suits your needs using the extensive search filter the platform provides. Additionally, Airbnb gives guests and hosts an opportunity to communicate directly, facilitating a more personalized and authentic travel experience.
- Free access to a sizable audience. Listing your home on Airbnb is a no-brainer if you’re trying to enter the vacation rental property industry because it will expose your rental to millions of potential guests immediately.
- Airbnb Plus. This is a feature that Airbnb provides that showcases properties and hosts who have been thoroughly vetted and rated favorably. Being an Airbnb Plus host might help you get an edge over the competition and attract more guests to your place.
- Built-in review system that enhances trust and transparency. The Airbnb rating system can assist hosts make improvements to their properties based on feedback from past visitors and help guests determine whether a vacation home rental is worth paying for.
- The millions of active Airbnb listings result in fierce competition. In a congested market, it is easy for your vacation rental listing to get lost on the internet.
- Service charges for both hosts and guests can be relatively high. For example, you might incur extra costs as a guest in addition to your accommodation, such as service fees and cleaning expenses. Airbnb also regularly increases its fees.
- Some hosts have experienced difficulties with unverified guests.
Vrbo: Expansive Selection for Families & Groups
A great option for travelers looking for accommodation within the U.S. is Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner), which is another hugely popular vacation rental company with a strong presence nationally.
The website lists more than 2 million holiday properties, including condominiums, lake rentals, villas, beach houses, and cottages.
If you’re wondering, the primary distinction between Vrbo and Airbnb is that in contrast to Airbnb, which allows hosts to rent a variety of properties including shared spaces, Vrbo only permits the advertising of entire and private residences.
As a result, Vrbo has become one of the go-to sites for families and other large groups looking for places to stay while on vacation. On the platform, you can easily find vacation rentals that can sleep 10+ people a night.
With each booking, Vrbo charges hosts a 3% credit card processing fee and 5% commission fee on the rental cost and any additional expenses they charge guests, including cleaning and pet fees. Hosts also have the option to pay $499 per year for limitless bookings.
A service fee of between 6% and 15% of the reservation’s subtotal (taxes excluded) is paid by Vrbo guests.
- Vrbo has a wide variety of family-friendly and group rentals with features like fully functional kitchens, multiple bedrooms, and spacious living areas.
- It’s the ideal vacation rental site for owners looking to rent out entire vacation homes, cabins, condos, etc., as it nearly guarantees them quality traffic from their potential guests.
- There are many affordable vacation properties on Vrbo.
- Not as widely known outside the U.S. or popular as Airbnb.
- Limits the type of accommodation hosts can list. If you have an extra room to rent, you’ll need to look for another vacation rental site because you can’t list it on Vrbo.
- Guests may be required to pay additional charges, such as housekeeping fees.
Booking.com: More than Just Hotels
Established in 1996, Booking.com is one of the world’s oldest and biggest online travel booking websites, with over 100 million monthly users, 6.4M+ vacation rentals available, and more than 1.5 million stays booked daily.
It started solely as a site for hotel bookings, a space it dominated, before extending its services to include vacation rentals such as apartments, guest houses, beachfront villas, and many unique locations to stay. Vacation rentals now account for over 40% of reservations on Booking.com.
Similar to Airbnb, listing a property on Booking.com is free, but hosts are required to pay 10 to 25% in service fee/commission for every booking.
Let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of using Booking.com to rent vacation properties.
- The website offers hosts and property managers the chance to promote their rentals for free to a sizable global audience.
- It offers a comprehensive range of travel services in addition to accommodation, enabling customers to reserve flights, car rentals, experiences in destinations they visit, taxis, and other services all in one place. This versatility saves time and simplifies the travel planning process, making it convenient for travelers.
- Most apartments and homes offer free cancellation, which makes the platform popular with tourists who haven’t locked down their travel dates yet.
- Booking.com is a good option for travelers looking for last-minute deals and competitive prices. They provide a price match guarantee if you find your vacation rental cheaper elsewhere.
- They feature a loyalty program where customers can get a 10–20% discount on their reservations.
- For guests, the wide selection of home rentals can frequently feel overwhelming.
- There is a lot of competitiveness among hosts, so as an owner, you might need to go above and beyond to stand out and attract visitors.
- In comparison to other platforms like Airbnb, service fees for hosts may be higher.
- Guests are only eligible for the loyalty program discounts after they have reserved a minimum number of nights on Booking.com.
TripAdvisor Rentals: A Trusted Resource
TripAdvisor is a widely used travel review website, with nearly a billion reviews on restaurants, hotels and major attractions across the world collected over many years.
It also offers 1M+ vacation rentals in over 200 countries – from elegant apartments for lone travelers on business trips to large villas for family vacations.
To find their ideal home rental, users can filter the properties by cost, type of accommodation, guest ratings, and amenities. The guest fees on TripAdvisor typically range between 8% and 16%; however, they can sometimes go below that.
TripAdvisor also owns 6 other vacation rental sites, including FlipKey and Home Lettings. As a host, if you post your property on TripAdvisor, it will be translated into 28 languages and syndicated across the other websites the company owns, potentially putting it in front of 490 million monthly global travelers.
Other benefits that TripAdvisor provides to hosts and travelers include:
- It offers plenty of valuable insights from vacationers, making it easier for potential renters to decide which property is best for them.
- TripAdvisor has been around for over two decades and mostly draws an older clientele who are frequently preferred tenants with sufficient money to plan for more lengthy stays. It is also the perfect site to list your rental because they have built a sizable user base and a solid reputation.
- TripAdvisor hosts only pay a 3% commission per booking, which is far less than what other major players in the vacation rental market charge.
- If you solely advertise your holiday property on TripAdvisor, you may lose out on a significant portion of the younger tourists, such as Gen Zers, who like using more recent vacation rental platforms like Airbnb. To reach as many people as possible, consider placing your rental listing on several vacation rental websites.
- Unfortunately, there are a lot of bogus reviews on TripAdvisor.
HomeToGo: Simplifying the Vacation Rental Search
It can take a lot of time and effort to sift through the many different vacation rental websites looking for a rental property that meets your tastes.
To save time, millions of vacationers use HomeToGo, a vacation rental search engine that compiles listings from several websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, presenting an extensive selection of vacation rentals in one place.
To quickly find a vacation home, enter your travel dates, spending limit, destination, etc., on HomeToGo, and the site will give you hundreds of homes that perfectly match your search criteria to compare and select the best deal.
Once you click on a rental, you’ll be taken to its listing’s source website (for example, Airbnb), where you can book there.
HomeToGo also has a listing service that hosts can use to boost their rental’s visibility and booking possibilities. Property owners are charged a commission by the platform, which varies between 10–15% of the entire booking amount.
As a guest, you won’t pay a service fee through HomeToGo, something that could potentially save you money.
- If you sign up for their emails, you’ll regularly get alerts about last-minute bargains that might help you save up to 75% on lodging.
- HomeToGo has more properties for you to look at than most vacation home rental websites because it aggregates listings from many short-term rental platforms.
- Due to the enormous number of available properties, it can be overwhelming to pick one.
- Not as well-known or well-liked as other sites for vacation rentals.
Sky High Cabins: #1 in Big Bear Cabin Rentals & Management
Are you planning a mountain getaway close to home in Big Bear, CA?
Reserve your vacation home rental through Sky High Cabins, and you’ll not only secure the best rates available but also save on those pesky extra fees and commissions charged by third-party rental services like Airbnb and VRBO. With our personalized service catered to each guest’s needs, we aim to provide you with the most value for your money while ensuring an exceptional stay in our beautiful cabins.
Book your dream cabin today – including lakefront cabins, pet-friendly cabins that let you bring your dog or cat along, rentals with hot tubs, and mountain cabins with breathtaking views – and discover why we’re the trusted choice for vacation rentals in Big Bear!
Vacation rental owners: Sky High Cabins is here to make your life easier if you’re a property owner looking for a trusted partner to manage your vacation rental property in Big Bear.
Let us take care of everything, from managing your online listings on the best vacation rental sites to delivering top-notch customer service and hospitality experiences that will leave your guests feeling happy and appreciated throughout their stay.
Contact us at 909-366-0706 or fill out our online contact form to discuss how the dedicated Sky High Cabins team can put more money in your pocket by ensuring a steady stream of bookings for your Big Bear vacation rental!