Vrbo vs Airbnb: Which is the Best Platform for Hosts?

When it comes to hosts, choosing between Vrbo and Airbnb is crucial for the success of their rental business. These two leading platforms in the vacation rental industry offer their unique features and benefits, catering to different audiences. By understanding the distinctions between Vrbo vs Airbnb for hosts, you can confidently make a decision that aligns perfectly with your business goals.

So, whether you’re a seasoned host or just starting your venture into the vacation rental market, let’s explore whether Vrbo or Airbnb is better for hosts and owners.

1. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Overview of Platform Differences

Airbnb and Vrbo each have their unique strengths and advantages in the vacation rental industry.


Airbnb, established in 2008, completely transformed the way people travel by connecting guests with unique accommodations offered by hosts worldwide. It has become synonymous with the concept of home-sharing, emphasizing community and shared experiences.

Airbnb dominates the global market, boasting impressive numbers according to data from SearchLogistics:

  • Over 5+ million hosts worldwide and 7.7+ million active listings on Airbnb.
  • There are over 100,000 cities worldwide that have Airbnb listings.
  • More than 150 million users have booked over 1.5 billion stays.

Over the years, Airbnb has adapted to changing travel trends, expanded its property offerings, introduced new features, and invested in marketing activities. These efforts have solidified its position as a market leader, estimated to hold a 20+% market share in the vacation rental industry.


Vrbo, founded in 1995 as “Vacation Rentals by Owner,” has a longer history. Initially focused on providing vacation rentals directly from homeowners, Vrbo has since expanded its services to include professionally managed properties. It has gained a solid reputation for delivering high-quality vacation rentals, particularly catering to family-friendly accommodations.

Vrbo holds an important position in the exclusive short-term rental market in North America, and operates in multiple countries, although on a smaller scale. According to data from Newsilver:

  • 2 million active listings on Airbnb
  • Operating in 190 countries worldwide
  • Up to 48 million users per month

Vrbo’s focus on meeting the needs of families and larger groups seeking spacious and private accommodations has contributed to its continued growth and success.

2. Vrbo vs Airbnb: User Base and Positioning

Although both platforms do not have specific restrictions on users, there are some differences in the demographic data of the people they attract.


Airbnb, with the slogan “Belong Anywhere,” aims to create a sense of belonging and community among its users. It attracts a diverse range of individuals, including solo travelers, couples, families, and groups of friends.

According to a study conducted by Statista, the majority of Airbnb users fall within the age range of 18-34. This indicates that Airbnb is popular among millennials and younger generations, who value unique, local experiences and are more open to sharing accommodations with strangers.

They are more likely to seek out unique and unconventional accommodations, such as treehouses, yurts, or houseboats. This preference aligns with the platform’s emphasis on community and shared experiences.


Vrbo has positioned itself as a platform for “Whole Family Travel.” Its primary target audience consists of families and larger groups seeking spacious and family-friendly vacation rentals.

According to Vrbo’s data, the majority of Vrbo users are families with children. These users appreciate the privacy, comfort, and amenities offered by Vrbo’s vacation homes, which often feature multiple bedrooms, kitchens, and living spaces.

3. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Fees and Commission Policies

It’s important to know exactly how much these platforms charge, as it plays a vital role in shaping your pricing strategy. By considering the costs associated with Vrbo vs Airbnb for hosts, you can make informed decisions that maximize your profits.


Airbnb charges hosts a service fee for each booking, which covers the cost of processing payments, providing customer support, and maintaining the platform.

  • Split-fee: hosts pay a 3% fee, while guests pay under 14.2%.
  • Host-only fee: hosts pay a 14–16% fee, no fee for guests.


Vrbo follows a slightly different fee structure compared to Airbnb.

However, more and more hosts are realizing that they have become overly reliant on these OTAs, which can pose certain issues. For more professional hosts or property managers, having their own vacation rental direct booking website might just be the secret sauce for business success.

4. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Booking and Payment Processes

Let’s delve into the distinct features of each platform in terms of their booking and payment processes, as well as their differences in terms of flexibility and control for hosts.


Airbnb offers a straightforward and user-friendly booking process for guests. Once guests find a suitable listing, they can initiate the booking process by selecting their desired dates and the number of guests. The host then has 24 hours to either confirm or decline the booking request. If the host confirms, the reservation is considered confirmed.

In terms of payment, Airbnb provides a secure and convenient system. Guests are generally required to pay the full amount upfront, which includes the accommodation fee, cleaning fee (if applicable), and any additional charges specified by the host. Airbnb offers various payment methods, including credit/debit cards, PayPal, and in some cases, local payment options. The platform ensures that the payment process is secure and provides protection against fraudulent activities.


Vrbo’s booking process is slightly different from Airbnb’s. Once guests find a listing they are interested in, they can submit a booking inquiry to the host, specifying their desired dates and any additional requirements or questions they may have. The host then has the option to accept or decline the inquiry. If the host accepts, the booking is considered confirmed.

For payments, Vrbo offers flexibility to hosts in terms of payment methods. Hosts can choose to receive payments directly from guests using their preferred payment method, such as bank transfers or online payment platforms. Vrbo does not handle the payment process directly but provides hosts with tools to securely accept payments.

5. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Cancellation Policies

Opting for a flexible cancellation policy can help attract more bookings and increase occupancy rates. Let’s explore the cancellation policies of Airbnb vs Vrbo for hosts and discuss which one is more host-friendly.


Airbnb offers hosts 5 different cancellation policies for short-term rentals:

  • Flexible: 100% refund 24 hours before check-in; no refund after that.
  • Moderate: 100% refund 5 days before check-in; 50% refund after that.
  • Firm: 100% refund 30 days before check-in; 50% refund 7-30 days before check-in.
  • Strict: within 48 hours of booking, 100% refund 14 days before check-in; 50% refund 7-14 days before check-in; no refund after that.
  • No Refund: No refund allowed.


On the other hand, Vrbo’s cancellation policies are a bit different:

  • No Refund: No refund allowed.
  • Strict: 100% refund 60 days before check-in; no refund after 60 days.
  • Firm: 100% refund 60 days before check-in; 50% refund 30-60 days before check-in.
  • Moderate: 100% refund 30 days before check-in; 50% refund 14-30 days before check-in.
  • Relaxed: 100% refund 14 days before check-in; 50% refund 7-14 days before check-in.

Both platforms’ cancellation policies aim to strike a balance between guest satisfaction and host protection.

However, in terms of host-friendliness, Vrbo’s cancellation policies tend to be more favorable. The longer cancellation windows and stricter refund policies provide hosts with more stability and fewer last-minute cancellations.

6. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Support for Hosts

The way Airbnb and Vrbo handle reviews differs in several aspects, including their review and rating systems, dispute resolution mechanisms, and approaches to dealing with malicious behavior.


Airbnb has a robust review and rating system in place. After a guest checks out, both hosts and guests have the opportunity to leave public reviews and ratings for each other. This system allows hosts to evaluate the behavior and experience of potential guests, while guests can assess the quality and hospitality of hosts. The reviews and ratings are visible on the listing page, providing transparency for future guests.

In terms of dispute resolution, Airbnb offers a resolution center where hosts and guests can communicate and try to resolve issues independently. If a resolution cannot be reached, Airbnb provides mediation and arbitration services to assist in resolving disputes. This process helps ensure fair treatment and provides a platform for both parties to present their side of the story.

When it comes to handling malicious behavior, Airbnb has strict policies in place. Hosts and guests are expected to adhere to the platform’s community guidelines, and any violation of these guidelines can result in penalties or removal from the platform. Airbnb also has a system to detect and prevent fraudulent activity, protecting both hosts and guests from potential scams. Airbnb’s aircover also provides additional protection for hosts.


Vrbo also incorporates a review and rating system. After a guest checks out, hosts and guests can leave public reviews and ratings for each other. These reviews are displayed on the property listing, allowing future guests to make informed decisions. However, Vrbo does not have as extensive a review system as Airbnb, as it only includes written reviews and does not feature a star rating system.

In terms of dispute resolution, Vrbo encourages hosts and guests to resolve issues directly with each other. If a resolution cannot be reached, Vrbo provides a dedicated customer support team to assist in finding a resolution. However, Vrbo does not have a formal mediation or arbitration process like Airbnb.

7. Vrbo vs Airbnb: Search and Recommendation Algorithms

Both Vrbo and Airbnb utilize sophisticated search and recommendation algorithms to match guests with suitable listings. These algorithms take into account various factors such as location, property type, availability, pricing, and guest preferences.

However, the specific details of their algorithms are proprietary and not publicly disclosed.

For hosts, these algorithms play a crucial role in exposure and bookings. Optimizing listings with accurate information, appealing photos, and competitive pricing increases the chances of appearing in relevant search results and receiving recommendations from potential guests. Hosts who consistently receive positive reviews and maintain high ratings are more likely to be recommended to future guests, boosting their visibility and booking potential.

Vrbo vs Airbnb: Pros and Cons Analysis

Based on the comparison we’ve made so far, let’s summarize the advantages and disadvantages of Airbnb vs Vrbo for hosts. It’s important for hosts to consider these factors and choose the platform that best aligns with their needs and goals.



  1. Wide Global Reach: Airbnb has a massive global user base, offering hosts access to a large pool of potential guests from around the world.
  2. Diverse Listing Options: Airbnb allows hosts to list a wide range of properties, including entire homes, private rooms, and unique accommodations like treehouses or boats.
  3. Extensive Review System: The comprehensive review and rating system on Airbnb provides transparency and helps hosts build trust with potential guests.
  4. Dedicated Host Support: Airbnb offers a range of resources and support for hosts, including host education programs, community forums, and 24/7 customer service.


  1. High Competition: Due to Airbnb’s popularity, hosts may face stiff competition in popular destinations, making it challenging to stand out among other listings.
  2. Service Fees: Airbnb charges host a service fee for each booking, which can impact host earnings.
  3. Stricter Cancellation Policies: Airbnb’s cancellation policies can be more restrictive compared to other platforms, potentially limiting flexibility for hosts.



  1. Targeted Audience: Vrbo’s platform primarily caters to families and travelers seeking vacation rentals, making it a good choice for hosts targeting this demographic.
  2. Longer Stays: Vrbo tends to attract guests who are looking for longer stays, which can be beneficial for hosts seeking more extended bookings.
  3. Optional Pay Per Booking: Vrbo offers hosts the option to pay a commission per booking instead of an annual subscription fee, allowing for more flexibility in cost management.


  1. Smaller User Base: Vrbo has a smaller user base compared to Airbnb, which may result in fewer potential guests and bookings.
  2. Annual Subscription Fee: Vrbo charges hosts an annual subscription fee, which can represent a significant upfront cost for some hosts.
  3. Limited Listing Options: Vrbo primarily focuses on entire home rentals, which may not be suitable for hosts with unique or shared accommodations.
Image source: zeevou.com/search-assistant/airbnb-vs-vrbo/

Vrbo vs Airbnb: How to Choose for Hosts?

Now that you are aware of the main differences between Airbnb and Vrbo, as well as the pros and cons of each platform, you might be wondering how to make the best choice. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be an either-or decision!

Any experienced host will tell you that listing your property on both Airbnb and Vrbo, and even expanding to other platforms like Booking.com or Expedia, can be highly beneficial for your business.

Because you want your listing to have as much visibility as possible, the more channels you’re on, the greater the chances of being discovered by potential guests!

Of course, embracing multi-channel distribution for vacation rentals also means facing greater management challenges:

  • You need to synchronize multiple calendars in real time to avoid double bookings.
  • You have to deal with more inquiries and respond promptly to avoid missing out on potential bookings.
  • You must maintain pricing consistency across multiple channels to ensure profitability.

However, handling these challenges is not as difficult as it may seem. The best solution is to use Airbnb channel manager software. It integrates directly with booking platforms, allowing you to update your calendar, availability, pricing, messages, and reviews across multiple channels in real time in one place.

This way, you can effectively manage your listings on different platforms, maximize exposure, and attract a wider range of potential guests.