Your Guide to Listing Sites For a Short-Term Rental Property
Discover the key differences between listing your short-term rental or Airbnb or Vrbo in our guide to help property owners streamline their rental business.
The short-term rental market is constantly evolving, with more travelers opting for the comfort or convenience of a vacation rental over traditional hotels. As a short-term property owner, choosing the right listing site can help you take advantage of the market’s increase in popularity.
In this guide, you’ll find a comprehensive comparison of two top rental listing sites -Airbnb and Vrbo- to help you choose the right platform for your short-term rental.
Whether you’re a seasoned rental pro or you’re just starting out, read on to discover the key differences between each platform and why we do things a little differently with our rental listing software over here at OwnerRez to help rental owners and property managers maximize profits and streamline your rental business on whichever platform you choose.
Airbnb markets itself as the listing platform for “unique stays, experiences, adventures, and more.” This platform allows Airbnb hosts to list entire properties, shared spaces, excursions, and even collaborative spaces for remote workers. On Airbnb, you’ll still find your run-of-the-mill vacation homes, but you’ll also find a slew of properties like secluded treehouses, single rooms for the frugal traveler, and other unique listings like old converted grain silos designed for the perfect “glamping” adventure.
Vrbo, or “Vacation Rental By Owner,” is a popular short-term vacation rental marketplace founded in 1995 and is now owned by Expedia Group. This platform is marketed as a home away from home, allowing only entire home rentals, which are ideal for large families, groups, and those who prefer privacy.
Airbnb vs Vrbo: Fee Structures
Part of the total vacation rental management fee structure is listing fees. Understanding the key differences between each platform’s fee structure is a great way to compare the two vacation rental sites and decide which one might be best for your property.
AirBNB Fee Structure
Airbnb hosts can expect the following fee structure for their Airbnb properties:
A split fee is a commonly selected option where the service fee is split between the homeowner and the guest. The host fee is typically 3% but can be higher for hosts with super strict cancellation policies, according to the platform. The guests’ portion of the split fee generally is under 14.2% of the total rental amount plus applicable fees.
- Host-Only Fee
Hosts that select this option opt to have the entire fee taken out of their Airbnb host payout. This fee is usually around 14-16%, but again, hosts with strict cancellation policies may see higher percentages.
It is worth noting that this fee type is the only option available to certain types of property listings on this platform. To see the complete list of stipulations, click here.
- VAT Fees
Value-added tax (VAT) may be applied on top of the fees listed above depending on the jurisdiction’s laws where the property is located.
Vrbo Fee Structure
Vrbo hosts can expect the following fee structure:
- Pay-Per-Booking fees
If you choose this option, booking fees will apply to your listings, consisting of a 3% payment processing fee and a 5% commission fee. Fees are not applied to property damage protection or cancellation protections. Here’s the breakdown:
The 5% commission fee is applied to the rental amount plus any guest service fees, including cleaning fees, pet fees, etc.
The 3% payment processing fee is calculated on the booking subtotal plus any taxes and refundable damage deposits you collect from renters during the booking process. The portion charged on the deposit is refunded to you with the refund of the deposit to your renters.
If you manage your property using the Vrbo software, you will also be subject to a 5% booking fee for bookings made directly through the family of Vrbo sites or a 10% fee if your renters find you through Vrbo, but continue with the booking process elsewhere. These fees are calculated based on the rental amount plus mandatory fees, excluding taxes and refundable deposits.
The 3% processing fee is applied to taxes and security deposits, but you will not have to pay a 5% commission fee on this amount.
- Annual Subscription
Vrbo hosts also have the option to pay a $499 annual fee which is typically a better option for Vrbo properties with consistent occupancy and high nightly rates. However, it is worth noting that Vrbo hosts only have 14 days to decide if they want to switch to the pay-per-booking fee structure, so this may not be the best option for new property owners who aren’t sure how well their rental will perform on the platform.
Airbnb vs Vrbo: Services
Now that we’ve discussed the fees associated with each rental platform let’s look at what services you can expect in return:
In exchange for your host fees to the Airbnb platform, you’ll receive 24/7 customer support, marketing for your property via Google and social media, AirCover protection for your Airbnb rentals, and educational resources designed for hosts.
Vrbo service fees cover the cost of secure transactions, product development, and 24/7 customer service. Vrbo also offers hosts a tool called MarketMaker which can help you make sure you’re pricing your property competitively and can also assist in finding your next profitable rental in the area.
Airbnb vs Vrbo: Host Protections
Airbnb Host Protections
Airbnb hosts are protected under what’s called the AirCover plan. AirCover for Hosts is described as a “top-to-bottom protection” plan covering guest identity verification, reservation screening, $3M host damage protection, $1M host liability insurance, and a 24-hour safety line.
Airbnb also allows hosts to set their own house rules to help protect their property from unwanted wear and tear and help protect their reputation with any neighbors.
Airbnb hosts may decline a reservation request as long as it does not violate the nondiscrimination policy.
Vrbo Host Protections
Vrbo offers hosts a $1M liability insurance designed to protect you in the event of guest injury claims or property damage claims being made against you. These kinds of insurance policies can be really helpful in making sure your property is properly insured. Vrbo also allows hosts to set their own house rules and damage deposit for guests to pay upfront when they book.
Airbnb vs Vrbo: Cancellation Policies
Airbnb Cancellation Policies for Hosts
If you, as the host, need to cancel an existing reservation, Airbnb will impose a cancellation fee depending on the reservation amount and how last-minute the cancellation occurs.
- For reservations canceled 48 hours or less before check-in or after guests have already checked in, the cancellation fee is 50% of the reservation amount for the nights the guests miss out on.
- If you give more than 48 hours’ notice but are still within 30 days of check-in, the fee is 25% of the reservation amount.
- If the reservation is canceled with more than 30 days’ notice, the fee is 10% of the reservation amount.
In most cases, Airbnb will not offer free cancellations for hosts, setting the minimum at $50 USD and the maximum at $1,000 USD. These fees are typically withheld from the next host payout. Repeat offenders often face discipline in the form of suspended listings, blocking of the listing’s calendar, and revoking a Superhost status.
The platform does make exceptions for “valid reasons” and “extenuating circumstances” outside of the host’s control which you can learn about here.
Airbnb Cancellation Policies for Renters
Also important to consider is how Airbnb will handle cancellations when they are renter-initiated because this can significantly impact your rental property business.
On Airbnb, hosts can choose between a flexible, moderate, or strict cancellation policy. The flexible policy allows guests to cancel up to 24 hours before check-in for a full refund. The moderate policy allows cancellations up to 5 days prior to the reservation to meet the full refund policy. And the strict policy requires renters to cancel within 48 hours of booking and at least 14 days before check-in to be eligible for a full refund. To learn more about each of these policies, click here.
Vrbo cancellation policies for Hosts
Vrbo does not impose a financial penalty for hosts who cancel reservations, but hosts who repeatedly submit cancellations risk being removed from the listing site.
Vrbo Cancellation Policies for Renters
Like Airbnb, Vrbo hosts have options when it comes to setting cancellation policies for each property:
- No Refund Policy
- 60-Day Policy - Full refund if canceled at least 60 days before check-in.
- 60/30-Day Policy - Full refund for cancellations at least 60 days out and 50% refund if they are at least 30 days from check-in.
- 30/14 Day Policy - Full refund for 30 days’ notice and 50% refund for a 14-day notice.
- Custom Policy
Choosing the Right Software
Regardless of which platform you decide on (or if you choose to go with both for “entire place” listings), OwnerRez is here to help you streamline your short-term rental business and maximize your profits.
OwnerRez is a robust short-term rental software for rental businesses like yours created by rental owners and property managers. This software not only helps you manage listing across a variety of platforms, including Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, but it also offers owners and managers a suite of tools, resources, integrations, and more to take the headache out of managing your short-term rentals.
Here are a few key features that make OwnerRez an excellent choice for your short-term rental business:
OwnerRez offers integrations for functionalities like dynamic pricing, automatic door lock code generators, guest communication, housekeeping, insurance, accounting, payment processing, and more.
Sync your listings with your OwnerRez dashboard so any changes you make in OwnerRez will automatically update your listings across various platforms. We also built a custom Channel Bridge extension that allows you to pull data and information you can’t find through listing site API connections.
OnwerRez helps you maximize your listing channels and diversify your income with your very own vacation rental website. Our websites are optimized and built with functionality in mind for a superior user experience.
Our software provides you with a robust reporting system to pull data anytime, anywhere, to help you keep a pulse on everything happening with your rental business.
Head over to our website to learn more about these and other OwnerRez features designed by people who have been in your shoes to support you in your rental business.