Airbnb vs VRBO: Which is better for hosts and travelers?

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that escaping the high prices and constricting environment of hotel rooms is a high priority for travelers, this has led to many lucrative opportunities for those in the vacation rental space. In this space, there are two rental platforms that rise to the top. As hosts or travelers, we’re always wondering which is the best listing site… VRBO vs Airbnb?

If you are a vacationer or a property owner, you may be wondering which is better: Airbnb or VRBO?

In this guide, we will discuss the main difference between the two platforms, and which might be the better option for both vacationers and property owners.

Let’s find which option is best for you.

First of all, Why Choose a Short Term Rental Vs A Hotel Room?

When planning a vacation, more and more people are considering private vacation rentals over traditional hotels. These unique rental options, such as themed homes, cottages on the beach, cozy cabins, tiny houses, and upscale condos, offer an exciting and affordable way to experience your destination.

Most people choose private vacation rentals over hotels because of cost savings, more space, and pet-friendly accommodations. Larger groups and families appreciate the convenience of having a kitchen, laundry facilities, and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

Additionally, these rentals are often located throughout local communities, providing a more authentic and immersive travel experience. While both Airbnb and VRBO offer similar amenities, each platform has its own distinct features.


What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a popular online platform that allows travelers to find unique and affordable accommodations all around the world. It’s also a way for property owners to make some extra cash by renting out their homes, apartments, or even just a spare bedroom.

The company was founded in 2008 and has since grown to offer over 7 million listings in more than 220 countries. What makes Airbnb so special is the variety of options available to travelers, from cozy apartments to luxurious villas, and even treehouses or igloos!

Additionally, Airbnb’s community-driven approach creates a sense of authenticity and personal connection between guests and hosts. If you’re looking for a unique and authentic travel experience or want to earn some extra income by hosting, Airbnb is definitely worth considering.


What is VRBO

VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rental By Owner, is a popular vacation rental platform that lets travelers book entire homes or apartments directly from their owners.

VRBOwas founded in 1995 and is now owned by Expedia Group, a global travel company that also owns other well-known travel brands like Hotels.com and Travelocity.

Being part of such a large travel conglomerate means that VRBO can benefit from Expedia’s marketing power and reach, potentially making VRBO listings more visible in more places.

This can be good news for homeowners who want to attract more guests to their rental properties.

The platform offers a wide variety of properties, from cozy cabins to luxurious villas, in popular vacation destinations all around the world.

By renting directly from the property owner, travelers can often save money and enjoy a more authentic experience.

VRBO also offers a range of helpful features for both hosts and guests, including secure payment processing, cancellation policies, and 24/7 customer support.


Why do People Use VRBO instead of Airbnb?

Backyard pool area with kitchen shed grill

People may choose to use VRBO instead of Airbnb for a variety of reasons. One common reason is that VRBO specializes in vacation rentals and often offers larger properties, making it a great choice for families or groups traveling together.

Additionally, VRBO tends to have fewer fees than Airbnb, making it a cost-effective option for some travelers.

Ultimately, the decision between Airbnb and VRBO comes down to personal preferences and the specific needs of each traveler.


Why is Airbnb more popular than VRBO?

When it comes to vacation rentals, there are two heavyweights in the ring: Airbnb and VRBO.

While VRBO has its die-hard fans, there’s no denying that Airbnb is more popular. But why? Maybe it’s because Airbnb has that cool factor with unique and quirky listings.

Or maybe it’s because Airbnb’s user interface is smooth and easy.

Whatever the reason, Airbnb is the reigning champion of vacation rentals.


Airbnb Vs. VRBO – Differences at a Glance

Airbnb For Guests:

  • Booking fees: Typically under 14% of the subtotal but we found fees as high as 20%
  • A larger network of properties
  • Ability to filter your search by unique properties
  • Shared accommodation and entire properties
  • Damage deposit held 2 days before rental
  • Book experiences as well as accommodation

Airbnb For Hosts

  • Host commission rate: Typically 3% but can be higher for hosts in some areas and for hosts with stricter cancellation policies. Hotels and some other hosts may pay a commission of 10% to 16% if they work on a host-only fee basis.
  • Superhost status
  • Automatic smart pricing based on demand

VRBO For Guests

  • Booking fees: Varies between 6% to 15% of the subtotal
  • A smaller network of properties
  • Entire properties only
  • Monthly payment plan with Affirm
  • A damage deposit may be charged at the time of booking
  • Trip Board with the ability to add notes for travel companions

VRBO For Hosts

  • Host commission rate: 5% + 3% credit card processing fee
  • Alternative annual subscription ($499) available for unlimited bookings

Which is Better Airbnb or VRBO: General Overview

If you’re a vacation rental owner looking to list your property on Airbnb or VRBO, there are some subtle differences between the two platforms you should be aware of.

Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, has over 6 million active listings in more than 220 countries. VRBO, on the other hand, was founded in 1995 and is now owned by Expedia Group. It offers over 2 million property listings in 190 countries.

One cool thing about Airbnb is that it offers shared spaces, providing guests with unique experiences. But if you’re looking to list only entire houses, or offer to house only large groups, VRBO might be the way to go.

No matter which platform you choose (or if you decide to list on both), it’s essential to have top-notch vacation rental management and effective communication.

Related Post: Must Have Airbnb Message Templates for Hosts


Which is Better Airbnb or VRBO: Rental Types

Airbnb-Unique-Accommodation

If there is one distinction that can easily be made between the two platforms it is the types of properties that these vacation companies offer.

VRBO offers stand-alone vacation homes only, as opposed to Airbnb which also offers shared space like private rooms or even more unusual options like campsites. With Airbnb, you can choose from several types of listings, and even hotel rooms.

Anyone is able to become an Airbnb host and can rent out spaces as big as a whole house, or as small as a shared bedroom.

We love that the platform is brimming with unique and creative home experiences: With Airbnb, the options are basically limitless and users can rent anything from houses made of Lego bricks to modern comfort and specialty accommodations.

If you want to become a VRBO host, you will be happy to know that like Airbnb, anyone can post a listing and the site does offer several rental types including houses, apartments, castles, and even tree houses.

However, unlike Airbnb, you can only rent an entire home on VRBO, which definitely reduces the number of listings.

Bottom Line: If you are a host or a traveler Airbnb offers more options by far – including shared and personal spaces, making Airbnb the better choice when it comes to rental types by far!


Which is Better Airbnb or VRBO: Ease of Use

When it comes to the ease of use for both hosts and guests, there are some key differences between Airbnb and VRBO.

Airbnb is known for its user-friendly interface, making it easy for both hosts and guests to navigate the platform. Their app is especially user-friendly, allowing guests to book a stay in just a few clicks.

On the other hand, while they do offer a seamless booking experience, Vrbo’s interface can be a bit more complex, and guests may need to take more time to browse and find the perfect rental.

For hosts, both platforms offer easy listing management and straightforward communication with guests.


Airbnb Vs VRBO: Service Fees

If you’re considering listing your vacation rental property on either Airbnb or VRBO, it’s important to understand the service fees associated with each platform.

Both platforms charge service fees to hosts and guests, but the fees can vary based on a few factors. Airbnb charges hosts a 3% fee for each booking, while guests can expect to pay a service fee that ranges from 0-20% of the booking subtotal.

On the other hand, VRBO charges hosts a flat 5% commission on each booking, and guests can expect to pay a service fee of up to 15% of the booking subtotal.

It’s important to keep these fees in mind when deciding on the platform to choose, setting your rental rates, and communicating with potential guests.


Which is better Airbnb or VRBO: Payment Policies

With Airbnb, guests are typically charged the full price upon booking acceptance. However, hosts won’t receive the payment immediately. The funds will be released a few business days after the guest checks in. While there’s a waiting period, it helps to protect hosts in case of cancellations or modifications.

On the other hand, VRBO provides more flexibility to hosts. They can set their own payment structures, including deposits or split payments, and choose whether they want to be paid at the time of booking, over time, or upon the guest’s arrival. This can be beneficial for investors who want to have more control over their cash flow.


Which is better Airbnb or VRBO: Cancellation Policies

When it comes to cancellation policies, both VRBO and Airbnb have their own sets of options. Airbnb offers hosts the ability to choose between flexible, moderate, firm, or strict policies.

These policies dictate the refund amount guests receive based on how far in advance they cancel. For example, the flexible policy provides a full refund with more time to cancel, while the strict policy only allows cancellation up to 14 days before check-in.

On the other hand, VRBO allows hosts to either set a custom cancellation policy or choose from the platform’s set policy options, such as the no refund policy or the 14/7 policy.

This policy option provides guests with a 100 percent refund if they cancel at least 14 days before their reservation or a 50 percent refund if they cancel at least 7 days before.

However, it’s important to note that guests should read the fine print to avoid any misunderstandings. Frequent travelers who prefer a standard cancellation framework may find Airbnb a better option.


Airbnb or VRBO: Fun Features

Turkish Coffee Airbnb Online Experience
Turkish Coffee Airbnb Online Experience

When deciding on whether to use Airbnb or Vrbo you should also take into account the interesting features that are offered.

Airbnb offers more than just accommodations! With Airbnb Experiences you can sign up for an in-person or virtual cooking class, find historic sights through a walking tour, or even arrange a photoshoot!

Vrbo on the other hand has a handy feature where you can save and annotate specific properties. You are able to note down what you love about properties or what is missing.


Our Overall Rating: Airbnb vs Vrbo Which is Better?

Vrbo: What We Like

Book with Confidence Guarantee

Booking with Vrbo means you qualify for the book with confidence guarantee at no additional cost. This policy offers:

  • 24/7 Live Support
  • Emergency Assistance if the owner doesn’t respond
  • Payment Protection
  • Assistance finding similar properties if cancellation happens
  • Assistance booking a new reservation if the property is found to be misrepresented

Family Focused

Though maybe not intentionally, Vrbo has become known as a family-focused vacation rental because they only rent entire houses. This makes it easy for groups to find the space they need.

Search Filters

Vrbo comes out on top in terms of searchability. You can get similar options on both but Vrbo tends to offer more options if you are looking for something specific.

Property Protection

Travelers can buy an additional damage protection plan, and hosts have the option to set damage deposits on listings.


Airbnb: What We Like

Types of listings

When it comes to property type options, Airbnb provides a greater range of flexibility compared to Vrbo. While Vrbo only allows the listing of entire properties, Airbnb offers the ability to list private and shared rooms as well.

This means that if you are managing different types of properties, Airbnb may be the better choice for you over Vrbo.

Airbnb Experiences

Not everyone may be interested in taking part in Airbnb Experiences, but it can provide an additional source of revenue for those who have creative, engaging, or enjoyable experiences to offer to others.

This could be an appealing option, especially for those who want to work from the convenience of their own home. Vrbo, on the other hand, does not provide any comparable offerings.

Host protections

Airbnb provides Host Protection Insurance and Airbnb’s Host Guarantee to their hosts, both of which are included in the service at no extra charge. Host Protection Insurance provides primary liability insurance of up to $1 million, while Host Guarantee offers up to $1 million in property damage protection. Although Vrbo offers similar protections and options, they are not as comprehensive as those provided by Airbnb.


Trying to decide which vacation rental site to book or host with can be a tough call, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind sharing a property, then Airbnb is your go-to website, as Vrbo only offers entire properties. Airbnb also has a unique filter that lets you find some amazing, out-of-the-ordinary stays that you won’t find on Vrbo.

In terms of usability, Airbnb has the upper hand over Vrbo, with features like Superhost status and a host’s response rate that can help ensure a reliable and enjoyable stay.

When it comes to choosing which site to rent on, it’s all about the commission. Airbnb’s rate of 3% is lower than Vrbo’s 5%, but if your property is a full-time rental, Vrbo’s annual subscription with unlimited bookings might be the better deal for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Which is Better Airbnb or Vrbo?

Do you still have some questions about which rental property platform is right for you? Here are some of our most frequently asked questions and answers!

Is Vrbo the same as Airbnb?

VRBO and Airbnb are both online vacation rental platforms that allow property owners to list their properties for short-term rentals. They are similar in that they offer guests an alternative to traditional hotel accommodation, but they do have some subtle differences.

While Airbnb has a larger network of properties and offers shared spaces in addition to entire properties, Vrbo is owned by Expedia and can offer further exposure for vacation rental properties.

Ultimately, it is up to the property owner to decide which platform, if any, to use, based on their specific needs and preferences.


Is Airbnb more expensive than Vrbo?

The cost of renting a vacation property on Airbnb versus Vrbo can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, property type, and time of year. In some cases, Airbnb may be more expensive than Vrbo, and vice versa.

However, the cost of the rental is not the only factor to consider when choosing between the two platforms. It’s important to take into account the differences in their features, services, and user base to determine which one is the best fit for your needs.


Should I list on Airbnb or Vrbo or both?

It is possible to list your vacation rental property on both Airbnb and Vrbo, offering it to a wider range of potential guests.

Keep in mind that the commission rate for hosts is 3% on Airbnb, while Vrbo charges a 5% commission rate plus a 3% credit card processing fee.

If your property is already registered on another travel rental site, you will need to contact Vrbo’s listing team to register it on their platform.


Hey, I’m Melissa.


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