Which listing site is best for vacation rental owners?
Deciding which listing site is best for vacation rental owners is one of the first questions buyers have when looking for a home for the main intention of renting your home out to paying guests, it is fundamental that your home gets booked up by paying guests so marketing your home property will be the key to your success.
Thankfully there are several great online listing sites that will get your home a great deal of exposure and hopefully reservations. But which site is best for vacation rental owners?
The answer here is years and no, over the last decade we have seen a boom in the vacation rental marketplace not only with the sheer number of vacation homes that are now being built and in areas such as Orlando Florida, the vacation rental market generates a larger income for the state than hotels do. With this increase in vacation homes, we have also seen a large number of websites capitalize on this demand with some very big players hitting the market.
Many of these sites have been acquired by even larger organizations such as Airbnb which purchased LuxuryRetreats but has now simply folded the company into the Airbnb brand, the same goes for Expedia who owns VRBO and the once very popular Homeaway platform which again all comes under the one VRBO brand and Tripadvisor which acquired Flipkey amongst other vacation rental companies. This has left only a very small number of short term booking sites on the market that actually offer you as a homeowner a significant amount of reservations.
Airbnb vs VRBO vs Booking.com vs Flipkey vs Topvillas.com
Even though you can use this article for any destination in the world, we do like to focus on the Orlando market as this is the vacation capital of the world. The 5 companies listed below are all household names in the Orlando market and are the biggest source of bookings for most homeowners.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is now one of the most popular listing sites in the world. Offering over 6 million different rental options, in more than 220 countries, it is also recognized as one of the most trusted sites, by both hosts and guests.
When booking through Airbnb, guests can choose from a huge range of unique accommodation, communicating directly with the host to arrange their stay. Being able to contact the homeowner throughout the booking process offers guests a much more personal service. To make things even simpler, there is an Airbnb app, so guests can search and book homes, contact a host and pay for a stay – all through their phone!
All hosts must provide their own description and photographs for their listing, so guests are able to get a real insight into the property and location, from the actual owner of the home. There are no set guidelines, so you can be as creative as you like – the better the content, the more bookings you will get.
After their stay, guests are able to rate their experience, ranking everything from the accuracy of the description to the host’s communication. In turn, the host can also rate the guest! If you need any tips on improving your reviews, there is an online community for hosts to share advice, tips, and knowledge with each other.
The host service fee is 3-5% per booking, but what you charge for your home is entirely up to you. There are no listing fees for hosts, no sign-up charges, and no membership is required.
Guests will be charged a 10-13% fee on top of every booking, which goes directly to Airbnb. This doesn’t impact your own income, but it will increase the guest’s total booking amount, potentially deterring them.
Benefits for vacation rental owners listing your home on Airbnb
– All guests and hosts are verified
– You are in control of your own calendar and house rules
– Every booking is covered with $1M in property damage protection
– Communication is entirely in your hands, there are no third parties
– You are able to decline guests you don’t feel comfortable with
– You can rent out individual rooms and spaces, not just whole properties
– Bookings are processed through a trusted platform, money is never handled directly
Unique to Airbnb
Unlike other listing sites, Airbnb focuses on the value of being a good host. Top-rated homeowners will have an opportunity to become a Superhost. When you have completed at least 10 bookings and have maintained a 90% response rate, a 1% cancellation rate, and an overall 4.8 rating, you will be listed as a Superhost.
Benefits of this status include improved search placement, priority support from Airbnb, and increased trust from guests – leading to a rise in both inquiries and bookings. Superhosts tend to earn an average of 22% more than standard hosts – so it’s worth going the extra mile to impress your guests!
An online travel agency, Booking.com has over 28 million accommodation listings, 6.2 million of which are privately owned homes.
As one of the biggest listing sites, Booking.com reaches an enormous customer base, from all over the world – more than 1.5 million rooms are booked every single day! As Booking.com also works with over 17,000 affiliate partners, they are able to market properties to an even larger audience outside of their own site.
Your property description will be automated based on the information you provide, such as facilities, room details, and location. There are no options to personalize or enhance your listing, so it is essential that your photographs really stand out from the competition. You will also be responsible for checking for any mistakes that may have occurred in the automation.
Once you’ve listed your property, you won’t be able to have any contact with potential guests, as there is no inquiry option. Every booking is confirmed immediately and they are generally not possible to reject, meaning you don’t have a say on who is staying in your home. As a booking can’t be canceled, it is also essential that your calendar and rates are always correct and up to date.
For each booking, there is a host service fee of 15%, plus a 3% credit card fee. You have complete control over your rates and any additional fees you wish to add, such as cleaning.
For guests, there are no hidden fees. As Booking.com makes their commission through the homeowner, what you see on the site is what you pay.
Benefits of listing your home on Booking.com
– No sign-up costs, listing your property is free
– Instant booking only, no inquiries to respond to
– You have control over your availability
– You can sync your calendar with other sites you list on
– All hosts have the option to pay an extra fee to receive premium placement in the search algorithms
– Using innovative marketing techniques, Booking.com are able to provide in-depth insights into your property’s performance, enabling you to compare and improve your business accordingly
Unique to Booking.com
Booking.com doesn’t have its own payment system, each host is able to choose their preferred payment option. As Booking.com is commission-based, you will have to pay them a set percentage for each reservation made through the website (usually 15%).
Upon booking the guest will pay you directly, then each month you will receive an invoice from Booking.com, detailing the commission that is due to them. The costs will then be deducted from your account by direct debit. If for some reason you don’t have the funds in your account and fail to pay the commission on time, your listing will be blocked.
Part of the Expedia group, VRBO specializes in private vacation home rentals. Launched in 1995, VRBO now lists over 2 million properties in over 190 countries.
Unlike Airbnb, VRBO only allows homeowners to rent out whole properties, not individual rooms. Quite often, properties can also only be rented for a minimum of 7 days. In turn, this means the website attracts an older clientele, who are usually willing to spend more on their accommodation.
Out of all the listing sites, VRBO has the most comprehensive search function. A property search on the site can be narrowed down using really specific filters, so you can find exactly what you want, without being overwhelmed by the number of options.
To list a property, you will need to write a basic description and provide good quality photographs of your home. You will be in control of your own availability, prices, and guests. Once a guest makes a reservation request, you will be able to contact them directly through VRBO’s secure messaging system.
To rent your home on VRBO, there are two options; a pay-per-booking fee or an annual subscription. With the pay-per-booking plan, hosts are charged 5% (+3% credit card fee) for every booking through the site. This option is recommended for people who only rent their property sporadically. For year-round hosts, the subscription payment is considered to be a better value option, as there is just a one-off payment of $499 which covers the entire year.
For guests, the service fee varies. Depending on the listing, it can be anything from 5-12%. Although the host is able to add additional fees for extras such as cleaning, they have no control over how much the service fee for their home will be, and won’t be able to alter it.
Benefits of listing your home on VRBO
– All bookings are covered by up to $1M Liability Insurance, at no additional cost to you
– Every transaction is verified using Expedia’s fraud protection technology
– Both hosts and guests can leave ratings for each other after a stay
– You can connect with guests before accepting their booking
– You are in control of pricing, additional fees and availability
– VRBO have a Partner Success team who will help you optimize your listing
Unique to VRBO
VRBO offers a Book With Confidence Guarantee to all customers. This provides guests with complete payment protection against any fraudulent listings or homeowners.
As part of the guarantee, every guest will also have access to a team of re-booking specialists. If any host cancels a booking at the last minute, or there is a problem with the accommodation, this global team will be on hand to help arrange somewhere else to stay, making the guest’s experience as stress-free as possible.
One of the most visited and trusted travel websites in the world, TripAdvisor has everything you need to plan a trip. This popular website was one of the first to use user-generated content to provide authentic feedback, ideas, and tips. With TripAdvisor, guests can now conveniently book their vacation travel, accommodation, and activities all in one place.
TripAdvisor first launched its private rental listings in 2008 and are continuing to rapidly expand in this market. One of the potential issues with advertising on TripAdvisor is that it isn’t just a listing site for accommodation. Although there are 187 million visitors to the site each month, most are more than likely using the site for other travel services.
It is completely free to list your home on TripAdvisor, all you need to do is provide an engaging description and high-resolution photographs. Due to the amount of competition on this website, it is a good idea to optimize your content as much as you can – remember you are also competing against hotels!
Once your listing is live, guests will be able to contact you by sending an inquiry. You have 24 hours to accept the booking and the payment will be processed through a secure website with payment protection. For higher-rated experienced hosts, there is also an instant book option. These bookings are automatically confirmed, meaning you don’t have to worry about manually accepting them, or contacting guests within the 24hr time frame.
After their stay, guests will have the opportunity to review their experience with both written comments and a 1-5 star rating. The more positive reviews you are able to build, the more travelers will have the confidence to book your home.
TripAdvisor uses a pay-per-booking system, so for each booking you receive, they will deduct a 3% processing fee. You can set your own rental prices and add any extra fees to your listing – TripAdvisor doesn’t offer property protection so it is a good idea to add your own security deposit.
For guests, there is an 8-16% service fee, which is one of the highest for a listing site. This added fee covers transaction costs, website improvements, and customer support. Worked out using an algorithm, this non-negotiable fee is different for every property and will make a considerable difference to the guest’s booking total.
– TripAdvisor has global recognition as a travel website
– Your home will be showcased to millions of potential guests
– There is an automated calendar system, which can be linked to other rental sites
– There is a free mobile app for hosts, making it even easier to accept bookings and communicate with guests
– Top hosts will be rewarded with a Travellers Choice award, an influential stamp of approval for potential guests
– TripAdvisor is known for its excellent customer service. For hosts, there is even a dedicated help center on the website, full of information and FAQs.
Unique to TripAdvisor
When you create a listing on TripAdvisor, it will be automatically uploaded to a larger network of rental sites, including FlipKey, HolidayLettings, and Niumba. This means your home will receive triple the amount of exposure, for no extra fee.
All owned by TripAdvisor, these websites focus exclusively on rentals, so although their audience may be smaller, it is more targeted.
If you need to make any updates to your listing, you will only need to do it once! The changes will be replicated on all of the other websites within an hour, with the exception of the calendar. Although this takes 48 hours to update, any booked dates will still show as unavailable immediately, so there’s no chance of double bookings!
Established over 10 years ago, Top Villas is a luxury villa rental specialist, unlike some of the larger players in the market, Top Villas focuses on the best of the best. Now listing over 4,000 homes, they are recognized as one of the best rental platforms, for both homeowners and guests especially when it comes to the Orlando Vacation rental market.
With offices in the UK and Orlando, Top Villas originally specialized in the US rental market, however, their impressive portfolio now features luxury accommodation in over 50 of the world’s finest destinations however a particular focus is still on Orlando Florida. Due to the premium properties available, the website tends to attract a lot more affluent guests leading to a higher number of bookings that are placed into the smaller number of homes that are listed on the site. This means that each homeowner gets a larger portion of bookings via this platform than they do on others.
As Top Villas is a smaller scale company, in comparison to a site like Trip Advisor and Airbnb, however Top Villas certainly generates a huge amount of bookings for its owners who are in its select destinations, you are guaranteed a more personable and reliable service from the staff as well as a larger share of the bookings. Your home is only competing with a few luxury homes in your area as opposed to tens of thousands of homes that will be your competition on other sites like VRBO, all homes must be located within the main attraction area, for example, if you have an Orlando vacation home, your home must meet the strict criteria and be located within the Disney Golden Circle (Approx 10 miles away from the parks) this means that when guests go to Top Villas and choose any of their destinations they know they are going to be in the best place to enjoy that area.
Unlike many of the listing sites above where speaking to an actual person is rather difficult, Top Villas has a fully trained staff of local experts who will be your point of contact to answer any questions about the home and to get your guests booked in. In their key destinations such as Orlando, Top Villas operates a fully-staffed management center that is located close to all of the key vacation resorts. Having an additional team in the US means the company can offer face-to-face support around the clock for both hosts and guests. This is particularly refreshing and gives guests peace of mind that we are only a few minute’s drive away if we are needed as opposed to having to try and get hold of a homeowner who maybe 4000 miles away in a different time zone.
Adding your home to the Top Villas website is completely free, all you need to do is provide high-resolution photographs of your property and your chosen rates. There is an in-house team that will create a personalized summary for the listing, highlighting the key features in your home. The company’s villa specialists will also be on hand to help you get the most from your listing, offering expert advice on pricing, seasonal deals, and marketing options including their market boost platform, allowing selected homes preferred placements on the site for maximum exposure and bookings.
Once the listing is live, everything will be handled by Top Villa’s team of travel experts. If a guest requests a reservation, it will be confirmed with you first or directly with your local property manager – you will have complete control over every booking. Once you have accepted the stay, Top Villas will look after the paperwork, the financial transactions, and any correspondence with the guest.
Top Villas can be more than just a listing site, they are a full-service marketing company and can take your homes and offer you a full range of services including promoted listings and even the ability to exclusively look after your home and push your home to all the main listing sites listed above meaning Top Villas can be your one-stop shop for maximum exposure across the web. Top Villas also works with thousands of luxury travel agencies around the globe who gain access to their agency portal luxuryvillarentals.com.
For homeowners, there are no subscription fees or start-up costs, Top Villas will only take a commission when you get a booking – usually 15%. As Top Villas process all payments directly from the guest, this commission will be automatically deducted from your final invoice, so you don’t need to do anything.
For guests, there are no extra service charges. The booking total includes all applicable fees and taxes – there are no hidden surprises!
– Top Villas work with an extensive list of partnered travel agents and affiliates, showcasing your home to an even larger audience
– If you list on another website, you can link your home’s calendar
– Top Villas will handle all aspects of communication with guests on your behalf
– As this is a small, independent business every guest and homeowner is genuinely valued by the company
– You will be in control of setting your own rates, security deposit, and cleaning fees
– There is an in-house marketing team, so all of Top Villa’s properties have access to free promotion through social media, email marketing, and the company blog.
Unique to Top Villas
Everyone that books with Top Villas will be contacted by their Guest Experience team. Made up of travel experts, the Guest Experience team act as a personal concierge service to all guests, regardless of the booking value. The team provides essential support to guests as soon as they book, throughout their stay, and even after it’s over! Every guest will have a designated team member assigned to their booking, so you will always be in contact with the same person.
Specializing in creating bespoke vacation experiences, the Guest Experience team will also arrange any travel extras you need in advance of your stay. From car hire and attraction tickets to personal chefs and event planning, no request is too big – this team will take care of everything!
|Homeowner Fees||Guest Fees||Website Traffic
(past 6 months)
|Air BnB||3-5%||10-13%||57.10m||✓ You can rent out rooms, not just whole homes
+ 3% credit card fee
|–||288.22m||✓Huge customer base
X No contact with guests prior to their stay
|Trip Advisor||3%||8-16%||102.48m||✓Everything you need in one place
X Too much competition
|VRBO||5% + 3% credit card fee||5-12%||29.10m||✓Annual subscription option for hostsX Best known in the US, less of a global presence
|Top Villas||15%||–||1.00m||✓ More personal service for hosts and guests
X Lower website traffic compared to competitors
In summary, if you were to list your home on Airbnb, Booking.com or TripAdvisor, you are definitely increasing your chances of global exposure. These websites are all world-renowned, with enormous customer bases and solid reputations.
However, the downfalls of these listing sites for private homeowners is sheer competition. The amount of accommodation available for guests is never-ending, so unless you have a seriously stand-out property, chances are you are going to get lost in the crowd. All 3 sites allow homeowners to build their reviews and reputation with every guest, but this takes time, and even one bad review can set you back even further.
With an annual subscription option, VRBO offers a different payment plan for homeowners, although this membership is really only viable if you are a year-round host.
With Top Villas, although it is a lesser-known company, their portfolio and customer-base is expanding year-on-year. The benefit of listing with a smaller business is the difference in service you will experience as a homeowner. There won’t be a complicated chain of communication, you will be able to contact members of their team directly, whenever you need to. Another positive to working with a small-scale business is that they still care about every home they list; whether you are having problems with a guest, or struggling to get bookings – their team of experts are always just a phone call away.
For more details on which site is best for vacation rental owners or getting more details on listing on any of the websites mentioned above, simply contact our team below.