Considering an Airbnb or VRBO for your next vacation? In this article I consider advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for homeowners as well as Advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for renters. I also discuss disadvantages of each. I have used to use HomeAway, but they have now merged with VRBO.
Airbnb vs VRBO as an avid traveler, you better believe I have used them quite a lot. There are many reasons why I choose vacation rental sites over hotels and resorts. I will get into those reasons shortly when I delve into the advantages and disadvantages of these vacation rentals for both homeowners and renters. Of course, I will also share a recent personal experience I had, which may be changing how I view certain vacation rentals by owner options.
Airbnb vs VRBO: First, what exactly are Airbnb and VRBO?
Both Airbnb and VRBO are websites where homeowners all around the world list rooms, apartments, and even homes for rent. These vacation rental sites focus on pairing homeowners with travelers who are looking for places to stay in each destination they visit.
VRBO has been around the longest. They began this vacation rentals by owner journey back in 1995. Currently, they offer more than two million places for rent around the world.
As for Airbnb, they didn’t get into the vacation rental site game until 2008. They currently have more than four million hosts all over the world and their goal is to continue to have that number grow.
Advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for Homeowners
No Listing Fees for Airbnb
Advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for homeowners is do not need to pay listing fees to place their home on Airbnb. However, there are fees to list a home on VRBO. As I continue my journey with vacation rental sites, I am beginning to think the fees VRBO is charging homeowners are worth it for the quality of the homes.
Control Over Rates Charged to Renters
Both Airbnb and VRBO allow their hosts to set their own rates. This is good, especially if a homeowner lives in an area that is quite popular during a certain time of the year. They can raise their rates for that time period and lower the rate for the rest of the year.
Advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for Renters
The advantages of Airbnb and VRBO for renters is obviously that renting an Airbnb or VRBO for vacation is the that you save money. I figure I have saved thousands of dollars by choosing a place to stay on a vacation rental site instead of at a basic hotel. And if I normally would have stayed in fancy resorts, the savings would be even higher. With a place with a kitchen, you’re not spending as much money on meals.
Access to Multiple Rooms, Kitchens, and Even Outdoor Spaces
When you rent a vacation home, you get access to every space in the home. Every time I have stayed in one, I have saved even more money, because I can make meals in the kitchen. Plus, I don’t always have to go anywhere for entertainment, because there are times where I have a swimming pool or other things to do right in the backyard.
Disadvantages of Airbnb and VRBO for Homeowners
Short-Term Vacation Rentals by Owner is Not Always Legal
Not every town and state embrace the Airbnb and VRBO vacation home movement. This is unfortunate for some homeowners who may have a vacation rental illegally.
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Potential Damage by Renters
Not all renters are nice when they are renting homes on vacation rental sites. Thankfully, the review system creates a way for homeowners to know what has happened in the past, so they can turn reckless renters away.
Disadvantages of Airbnb and VRBO for Renters
Hosts Can Be Questionable
There is no doubt I have had some amazing hosts over the years. But I have also had a few hosts that were not as wonderful. My most recent experience will show you just how bad some vacation rental hosts can be, but I will get to that shortly.
Accommodations Can Be Good or Bad
Unfortunately, the descriptions of homes can be a little misleading. While Airbnb and VRBO try to check every vacation rental out before the listing goes live, I think it is impossible to keep up with. Therefore, you could find a home that looks beautiful. However, when you arrive at the house, you find yourself in front of a money pit. A little quick thinking will have you realizing the pictures you saw online were from 30 years ago!
Lengthy Approval Time for Rentals
When I first set up my VRBO and Airbnb accounts, I had to jump through a few hoops to verify who I was and even needed to provide a video. This was all when I was creating my online profiles. While this was a tedious process at the time, I found it did make future vacation rental processes go a little faster.
Potential Hidden Fees
Unfortunately, not all homeowners are straightforward with all the fees you will need to pay in the beginning. I have discovered many hidden charges after the fact that I was okay with paying, but it would have been nice to know about them in advance. My rule now is to always check the fine print and look for hidden fees before reserving a vacation rental.
A Vacation Rental May Not Be Secure
If you are like me, you will read multiple reviews before deciding on an Airbnb or VRBO. However, as I have discovered, the most careful research will not ensure you will be safe in the vacation home you choose. And your options could be very limited if something does go wrong during your stay.
My Experience with My Most Recent Airbnb Rental
I always do my due diligence when I am choosing Airbnb vacation rentals. This has been what I have done during my last 7 years with Airbnb. I have used them the most, while VRBO was my second choice if I couldn’t find something on Airbnb. Most of the time, there are keywords that will clue me in if there is something wrong with an area, a host, or something else.
When I arrived at the last house I rented on the Airbnb vacation rental site, it looked like the neighborhood could potentially be a little sketchy. However, since nothing was mentioned in the description, I thought the neighborhood had just gotten rundown over the years. It happens, especially in some parts of the world.
However, I am sure you could imagine my surprise when a person was shot right outside my window in the middle of my stay! Part of me could understand why a homeowner would not want to disclose information like this. But honestly, the safety of their guests should be their number one priority.
I ended up writing a bad review for this property on the Airbnb vacation rental site. The owner ended up objecting to my honest review of what happened during my stay. Airbnb sided with the owner and removed my review.
This has definitely put my vacation options into perspective and after 7 years, I have since switched all my bookings to VRBO. Since VRBO has a mandatory fee to list a rental home, my plan is to start using them more. In my opinion, Airbnb has let too many things fall through the cracks, whereas VRBO seems to have many safeguards in place on their website. I found I can even call a VRBO team member 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if something happens during one of my stays.
I am still a big believer in vacation rental sites, especially because it helps the locals earn money with their vacation rentals by owner. But my time with Airbnb has come to an end. VRBO is going to be my go-to site for now, as I feel my safety when traveling should always be my top priority.