The Rental Platform Guide: Finding Alternatives to Airbnb
Airbnb has long been a popular choice for vacation rental owners, but there's a broad landscape of other platforms that could prove beneficial to your vacation rental business. These platforms can increase the visibility of your listings, expand your customer base, and diversify your income streams, all of which could result in more bookings and higher returns on your short term vacation rental properties.
Vacation rental platforms are constantly growing and evolving. You need to keep pace to ensure that you are taking advantage of all the tools available to you as a property owner/manager in order to maximize your business’ potential. Let’s take a look at some of the Airbnb alternatives currently available.
Why Look Beyond Airbnb?
Airbnb has undoubtedly established itself as a leader in the vacation rental market. Still, it might not always be the best fit for every property owner. Factors such as service fees, functionality limitations, and certain elements of the booking process can sometimes pose challenges. Furthermore, relying solely on one platform can limit your property's exposure, thus potentially impacting bookings and revenue.
By diversifying your rental platform usage, you can tap into a wider pool of potential guests. Listing on multiple platforms not only increases visibility but can also provide better returns. For example, some platforms may attract different types of guests, expanding your customer base. And, if one platform experiences a downturn in user activity, having your property listed on others can ensure a steady flow of bookings.
For additional strategies to market your vacation rentals beyond listing on popular sites, our comprehensive Vacation Rental Marketing Guide can provide valuable insights.
It should be mentioned that providing your guests the ability to book directly through your own website is the best way to avoid the service fees of the vacation rental platforms and to maximize your profits. Having your own website in conjunction with listing on multiple platforms covers all your bases. OwnerRez makes it easy to setup your own OwnerRez hosted website that updates automatically with your property listing info and booking calendars.
Explore Some of the Best Airbnb Alternatives
Exploring platforms other than Airbnb can lead to a treasure trove of untapped potential. Numerous rental platforms cater to unique niche markets and provide property owners with various ways to showcase their vacation rentals. Here are a few booking sites that could be great alternatives to Airbnb for your short-term rentals. Please note that any pricing listed for any platforms in this article is based on the publication date of this article. Please check each company's website for up to date pricing.
As an established player in the vacation rental market since 1995, Vrbo offers a trusted platform that specializes in whole-home rentals, perfect for families and larger groups. With properties listed in over 190 countries, Vrbo offers a diverse array of choices, from condos and villas to unique spaces like barns and yachts. It also boasts a "Book with Confidence Guarantee" program, offering travelers comprehensive payment protection, 24/7 customer service, and rebooking assistance for increased peace of mind.
Hosts on Vrbo enjoy control over their listings, setting their own prices, rules, and availability. They also have the flexibility to decide whether to charge a security deposit. This level of control, paired with Vrbo's wide reach and strong reputation, makes it an appealing platform for hosts.
Think of TripAdvisor as your virtual billboard, visible to a global audience. With a TripAdvisor Business Listing, your property gets highlighted on various pages within the site, offering more information to potential guests and making their booking process a breeze. This listing includes links to your website, email, phone number, and any special offers you're running, not to mention a custom photo slideshow to showcase your property's best features.
Another major advantage of this booking platform is that you can direct all the traffic from your TripAdvisor listing to your own vacation rental site, circumventing third-party commission fees.
You also have access to TripAdvisor's Special Offers emails. These emails target members interested in traveling to specific regions so you're not only getting more exposure on the website but also directly in potential guests' inboxes.
Founded in 1996, Booking.com connects millions of travelers to activities, transportation options, and lodging options including, hotels, resorts, and vacation homes. Booking.com is one of the world's largest travel marketplaces, and serves established brands and small entrepreneurs alike.
Booking.com is available in 43 languages and lists more than 28 million accommodations, including over 6.6 million homes, apartments, and other unique places to stay. Booking.com provides 24/7 customer support.
Since 2002, Find Rentals has serviced tens of millions of travelers with their primary focus to deliver a consistent and meaningful message to travelers of the advantages of booking directly with the locally run vacation property managers.
Find Rentals serves as the vacation property managers' direct booking channel by providing a high volume of qualified potential renters to their website to increase occupancy rate. Leads are generated thru advertising the property manager's brand, listings, and services on FindRentals.com, which uses performance driving strategies to place profiles and property listings in front of more guests. FindRentals tags and optimizes your profile and property listings to further boost rankings and reservations.
BNBFinder’s mission is to “make travel more affordable and accessible.” They use a subscription model, rather than taking a percentage of each booking. Renters book their stay directly with the host, and exchange contact info, allowing the hosts to communicate directly with guests, and own the booking process end to end.
Home to Go
Hometogo is a huge platform with 50 million monthly visits from users looking to book a short term vacation rental. On average, Hometogo guests book 3 months in advance and book for a full week! This means less turnover, fewer cleanings to schedule, and peace of mind that your properties listed on Hometogo will be generating revenue.
Hometogo offers different pricing options. Pay only 3% commission on each booking or pay 15% and manage prices for your guests.
Established in 2013, Houfy set out to tackle the issue of excessive fees associated with the existing short term rental platforms. In addition to eliminating high service fees, Houfy also aspired to give back the control to property owners to allow them to rent out their properties on their own terms.
HOUFY is free as of June 2023, but will be switching to a monthly tiered subscription fee sometime this year, offering basic and premium plans.
GetawayGoGo.com is a great option for travelers looking to book last-minute vacation rental travel deals and discounts on vacation rental homes, condos, cabins, cottages, villas, chateaus and more. With roughly half of travelers in the United States booking accommodations within 2 weeks of their arrival date, getawayGoGo connects last minute discounts from vacation rental owners and property managers with these travelers in one convenient marketplace.
GetawayGoGo has a flat fee structure based on Connections and Reserve Now bookings. Additionally, getawayGoGo does not charge travelers a service fee. This allows property managers to offer book direct pricing in a marketplace where travelers can easily find and book the best prices without inflationary, third party markups.
Golightly is a private club providing a vacation rental and home-sharing platform for women, that arose from the desire for women to feel more secure when traveling. All Golightly properties are owned or managed by women, and they only accept bookings from women, although they can travel with whomever they wish.
To become a member of Golightly, you need to be invited by an existing member and once part of the network you can travel with whomever you wish. If you do not know a Golightly member, you can fill out a membership application on their website.
GuestSmiles.com is a vacation rental marketplace that facilitates communication and connection between property owners, managers, and travelers, allowing property owners and managers to control client relationships. At GuestSmiles, guests are never charged third-party fees. With GuestSmiles, you will reach millions of new guests looking to book their next vacation, and you get to establish your own rental agreements and policies that apply to all your reservations.
Pricing for GuestSmiles has two options: an industry low, no risk 9% commission or a monthly/annual subscription of $40/ $384 respectively.
Rentalz.com is a booking platform designed from the ground up for property managers. It's a cross between a traditional OTA and booking direct with you model. Property Managers are the merchant of record - you set the terms and conditions, and guests are subject to YOUR cancellation policies. Plus, you'll directly communicate with the guest before, during, and after the booking process. Rentalz provides guests with a hyper-local booking experience as their platform is actually a collection of hundreds of local microsites, providing travelers with an immersive experience where they can learn about top attractions and dining options.
Monthly Rentals by Owner and American Snowbird
Founded in 2003, Monthly Rentals by Owner and American Snowbird specialize in providing vacation rental property managers and homeowners with a quality, cost-effective listing solution, offering a unique platform that focuses on marketing properties available for extended stays of 28 days or more. The company meets the needs of a growing market of vacationers seeking mid-term and longer-term rentals and Snowbird rentals. Monthly Rentals by Owner and The American Snowbird Network's goal is to facilitate unforgettable vacation experiences for renters while providing property managers the tools they need to succeed in the vacation rental market.
OwnerRez has the option to add a Tent, Yurt, Tree House and Recreational Vehicle among hundreds of other options as an amenity to appeal to any type of traveler in your Property’s listing content.
Regional Vacation Rental Platforms
FloridaRentals.com, as the name implies, features vacation rental properties located in the “Sunshine State” of Florida. They offer only the highest quality homes in the most desirable areas of Florida. They allow travelers to connect directly with owners, removing communication restrictions that often exist on other booking sites. A basic listing on FloridaRentals costs $299 a year. There are no commissions or other hidden fees.
Emerald Coast by Owner
Emerald Coast By Owner features vacation rental properties for the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama. Their goal is to provide a website that puts the guest in direct contact with the owners or property managers so the two parties can get to know and do business with each other.
Emerald Coast By Owner also performs extensive regional marketing and strategic SEO practices to drive traffic to their site and to help expose your property to more people looking for vacation rental properties in your specific area.
Strategies for a Successful Vacation Rental Business
Success in the vacation rental industry is not merely about listing your property on various platforms. It's about crafting a guest experience that leaves a lasting impression, enticing guests to return and recommend your property to others.
For instance, you might consider offering short-term rental arrangements for digital nomads, equipped with reliable, high-speed wifi and a comfortable workspace. Or you could offer perks such as local attraction discounts, bespoke city guides, or even airport pick-ups, to set your property apart from the competition.
As you develop these strategies, a property management checklist can prove to be an invaluable tool. Our Property Management Checklist article provides a comprehensive guide to managing your vacation rental efficiently and effectively. It offers a detailed roadmap that can help homeowners ensure nothing falls through the cracks in the hustle and bustle of running a successful vacation rental business.
Your Vacation Rental Journey Beyond Airbnb
Your venture into the vacation rental market is a journey, one that doesn't have to be confined within the limits of Airbnb. Exploring Airbnb alternatives offers a wealth of opportunities, from reaching diverse audiences to maximizing your rental income.
And managing these various platforms doesn't have to be an arduous task. By leveraging vacation rental software like OwnerRez, you can effortlessly manage your listings across multiple platforms, streamline your booking processes, and enhance your property management.
OwnerRez specializes in Channel Management, empowering vacation rental owners like you to stay competitive in an evolving market. We understand the intricacies of managing multiple listings and have designed a solution that makes it simple and stress-free. The most powerful part of our Channel Management is a series of API integrations with certain channel partners. API integration refers to the technical ability of software systems to "talk" to each other based on a partnership or agreement. And that's what OwnerRez can do on your behalf - talk to channels like Vrbo and Hometogo and many of the others listed above in this article, and transmit your property content, rates, rules, availability, and more. The channel will communicate back to OwnerRez with your booking and guest data as changes occur on the channel in real-time.
Don't feel confined to choosing between popular rental sites. With OwnerRez, you can embrace them all and efficiently manage your channels. We invite you to explore our channel features so you can stay up-to-date with the most popular channels, optimize your vacation rental business, and pave the way for success in the vacation rental market. Your journey beyond Airbnb starts here.