Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Which Is Better for Your Vacation Rental?

Selecting the best vacation rental platform for your property is an important step in achieving your hosting goals. This detailed comparison of Vrbo and Airbnb will help you understand the unique advantages of each platform. You'll gain the information needed to choose the one that aligns perfectly with your needs and unlocks the full potential of your rental business.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
April 10, 2024
Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Which Is Better for Your Vacation Rental?

If you’re considering listing your property as a short-term rental, you might be wondering whether to use Vrbo or Airbnb. Both platforms provide user-friendly ways for potential guests to discover your property and book their next vacation, but there are notable differences between the two that can impact your hosting experience.

In this article, we'll explore Vrbo vs Airbnb and cover key areas that hosts should consider when deciding which platform to use. We'll also discuss the benefits of listing your property on both platforms simultaneously and provide guidance on how to set this up effectively.

For hosts looking to maximize their rental income, we'll introduce financial management software that can help streamline your finances and simplify the management of your short-term rental business.

You'll gain an understanding of each platform's unique features and advantages, empowering you to determine which site best meets your needs as a host. So, let’s discover the path to success in the short-term rental market and increase your business's profitability!

About Vrbo

Established in 1995, Vrbo, short for Vacation Rentals by Owner, is a platform dedicated to connecting property owners with a global audience in search of short-term rentals. With a primary focus on families and larger groups, Vrbo specializes in whole-property rentals. This allows owners to attract a specific market segment seeking comfortable, family-friendly lodging options. Notably, Vrbo is now part of the Expedia Group.

About Airbnb

Founded in 2008, Aribnb provides a marketplace where hosts can list a wide range of properties, from single rooms to entire houses, making unique accommodations accessible to travelers worldwide. With over 5 million hosts globally, the service accommodates a diverse array of lodging options, catering to different traveler needs and preferences.

What are the differences between Vrbo and Airbnb?

Both platforms provide opportunities for hosts to list their property and earn rental income, but there are distinct differences between them. Let's cover the main areas you should know as a host.

1. User experience

Potential guests searching for vacation rentals on Airbnb and Vrbo have access to various tools to tailor their search. Both sites allow for detailed search filters, location-based searches, and feature reviews and ratings.

But both marketplaces have unique selling points that set them apart:


  • Experiences: In addition to accommodations, Airbnb allows users to book local experiences, like workshops or tours, directly through the site.
  • Wishlists: Users can save and organize their favorite listings into wishlists, facilitating trip planning and collaboration with others.


  • Trip boards: Vrbo offers Trip Boards, a feature for saving and managing users' favorite listings. It's similar to Airbnb's wishlists but with a focus on group planning and sharing.

2. Property types

Each platform caters to different hosting styles and objectives. While there is some overlap, each site has distinct characteristics tailored to different needs:


  • A wide variety of listings: Airbnb stands out for its diverse range of property types. Hosts can list entire properties as well as private rooms, hotel rooms, and shared spaces. This variety offers flexibility for hosts with different kinds of available space, from an extra bedroom to a full vacation home.


  • Whole properties only: Vrbo focuses exclusively on whole property listings, making it ideal for hosts aiming to rent out their entire property. This approach attracts guests seeking the privacy and full experience of having an entire space to themselves, often appealing to families or larger groups.

3. Number of listings

The breadth and diversity of listings on Airbnb and Vrbo reflect their distinct approaches to accommodation types, affecting both the variety available to travelers and the level of competition among hosts:


  • Variety and a larger pool of listings: With its acceptance of various property types, including entire homes, private rooms, and more, Airbnb naturally boasts a larger number of listings. This variety leads to heightened competition among hosts, as seen in cities like Los Angeles, which alone features over 45,000 listings.


  • Focused listings: While Vrbo does not publicly share the total number of its listings, its exclusive focus on whole-home rentals suggests potentially less competition. The platform’s specialization in entire properties means it caters to a specific segment of travelers, likely leading to a more targeted browsing experience.

4. Fees

Both sites allow you to choose from several fee models:


  • Host-only fee: In this model, the host bears the full cost of the service fee, which is typically between 14% and 16% of the booking amount.
  • Split fee: This approach passes the service fee to the guest, and the host pays a smaller fee, generally around 3%.


  • Annual subscription: This model requires a flat fee of $499 per year per property and covers unlimited bookings without additional fees per booking.
  • Pay-per-booking: In this option, hosts pay a fee of 5% of the booking subtotal plus a 3% payment processing fee.

5. Customer service

Airbnb and Vrbo both prioritize providing excellent customer service to their hosts. They cover all of the areas you need to find success in your vacation rentals. This includes assistance in listing creation, pricing strategies, booking management, and the use of their platforms. A few areas that stand out for each include:


  • Community center: Beyond offering standard customer service through phone, email, and live chat, Airbnb sets itself apart with its Community Center. This site allows hosts to connect, share experiences, and offer advice and tips to one another, fostering a sense of community and support among owners.


  • Real-person assistance: Given the smaller number of owners on the marketplace, it might be easier to reach live customer service agents versus automated tools.

6. Liability insurance

Airbnb and Vrbo both provide up to $1 million USD in liability insurance for owners to protect against claims made by guests for bodily injury or property damage. This coverage is automatic for each booking made through their respective platforms, giving you protection without needing to opt in or pay extra fees.

While both sites aim to offer comprehensive protection, they do have distinct features in their coverage:

Airbnb offers:

  • AirCover for hosts: This is a broader package that includes damage protection and other benefits, such as guest verification and reservation screening.
  • Extensive scope: Coverage extends to a wide variety of properties, including unique spaces.

Vrbo offers:

  • Primary coverage advantage: If a host lacks a personal liability policy, Vrbo's insurance acts as the primary coverage.
  • Global protection: Coverage applies worldwide, designed to supplement areas not covered by standard homeowners' policies, particularly for vacation rentals.

7. Guest reviews

Both Airbnb and Vrbo empower guests to leave reviews following their stay, which helps to build trust within their respective communities. Key differences in their review processes include:


  • Mutual review system: Airbnb uses a mutual review system where both hosts and guests can leave reviews within a 14-day period after checkout.
  • Simultaneous reveal: Reviews stay confidential and then disclosed simultaneously after both parties have submitted their reviews or once the 14-day window has closed. The goal is to create fairness and reduce bias.


  • Extended review period: Guests can leave a review up to one year after their stay, which is considerably longer than Airbnb's review period.
  • Host-initiated feedback request: The review process often begins with the host reaching out to guests, encouraging them to provide feedback on their stay.

8. Cancelation policies

Airbnb and Vrbo both provide hosts with the flexibility to choose cancellation policies that balance the need for income protection with the attractiveness of their listings to potential guests. Hosts on both platforms can select from various standard cancellation policies or opt for custom policies, giving them significant control over handling cancellations.

Here are the main variations between the two:


  • Range of standard policies: Airbnb's standard policies include Flexible, Moderate, Strict, Super Strict 30 Days, Super Strict 60 Days, Non-Refundable, and Long-Term policies. Airbnb also incorporates a grace period for its Strict policy, where guests can receive a full refund if they cancel within 48 hours of booking and at least 14 days before check-in.
  • Grace periods and refund tiers: The site has more nuanced refund tiers and grace periods that offer partial refunds under stricter conditions, especially highlighted in their Strict and Super Strict policies.


  • Cancellation policy tiers: Vrbo’s cancellation policies are categorized as No Refund, Strict, Firm, Moderate, Relaxed, and Custom.
  • Seasonal policies: Vrbo allows hosts to set seasonal cancellation policies, enabling them to adjust their cancellation terms for different times of the year directly from their dashboard.

Listing on both Airbnb and Vrbo

If you have a whole vacation home to rent and can't decide which marketplace to use to list it, it can be beneficial to list on both sites. This gives you:

  • Increased exposure: By listing on both marketplaces, you expose your property to a larger pool of potential guests. Airbnb and Vrbo cater to different audiences, so listing on both helps you reach a wider range of travelers.
  • Reduced vacancy rates: Listing your property on two major sites increases the likelihood of securing bookings and minimizing vacancy periods. This can lead to higher occupancy rates and more consistent revenue.
  • Diversification: Listing on multiple platforms diversifies your booking sources. If one site experiences a technical issue, algorithm change, or a drop in user traffic, you can still receive bookings from the other website, providing a safety net for your rental business.
  • Competitive advantage: Not all hosts list on both marketplaces. By doing so, you gain a competitive edge over those who only list on one, potentially attracting guests who prefer to book through a specific website.
  • Comparative insights: Listing on both platforms allows you to compare the performance of your property on each. This can provide information into which marketplace generates more bookings, higher rates, or better guest quality, helping you optimize your rental strategy.

Tips for hosting on both Airbnb and Vrbo

If you decide to list your rental on both Airbnb and Vrbo, here are a few strategies for dual platform hosts:

  • Use a channel manager: This software tool can synchronize listings to prevent double bookings. It automatically tracks open booking dates on both websites and syncs calendars to facilitate the guest's booking process.
  • Consolidate financial tracking: Use a financial management solution like Azibo to monitor earnings and bookings from Airbnb and Vrbo side by side. This helps streamline financial oversight.
  • Guest communication: Establish a routine for regularly checking and responding promptly to future guests on both platforms. Follow up with guests after their stay and encourage them to leave a review.
  • Standardize listing information: Maintain consistency in your property descriptions, amenities, and house rules across both Airbnb and Vrbo. This includes showcasing high-quality photos and unique features like beach access or a game room to attract guests.
  • Align pricing strategies: Use dynamic pricing tools to maintain consistent and competitive pricing across both websites. This maximizes your income while offering fair rates to guests.

Simplifying your vacation rental business with Azibo

Managing your finances and expenses for short-term rentals can be complex and time-consuming. To simplify your operations and gain a full view of your vacation rental business, consider using a comprehensive solution like Azibo.

Key features that can help streamline your operations and maximize your revenue include:

  • Financial management: Azibo consolidates your income and expenses from both booking sites, providing a clear overview of your financial performance. It automatically categorizes your transactions, making it easier to track your revenue, expenses, and profitability.
  • Tax reporting: With Azibo, you can generate detailed tax reports that consolidate your income and expenses from both sites. This saves you time and effort when filing your taxes and ensures that you have accurate records of your rental property finances.
  • Payment processing: Azibo can also handle your payment processing, allowing you to receive payouts from both sites directly into your bank account. This eliminates the need to manage separate payment accounts for each platform.
  • Additional services: Azibo offers other useful features for rental property owners, such as invoice management and expense tracking. These tools help you save time on administrative tasks.

Which is better, Vrbo or Airbnb?

Both Vrbo and Airbnb offer unique advantages for vacation rental hosts, and the best platform for you will depend on your specific circumstances and objectives. If you have an entire property to rent out, you can leverage either marketplace to reach a wide audience of potential guests. However, if you're considering renting out shared spaces, Airbnb emerges as the clear choice.

When making your decision, take into account factors such as your target guest demographics and the features and support offered by each platform. By aligning these considerations with your hosting goals, you can select the website that best positions you for success in the competitive vacation rental market. You might even find that listing on both services for vacation rentals maximizes your visibility and potential earnings.

Airbnb or Vrbo? FAQs

Does Vrbo work with Airbnb?

No, Vrbo does not work with Airbnb. While both companies operate in the vacation rental market and aim to meet a similar market demand, they are separate entities and direct competitors.

Is Airbnb or Vrbo safer?

Both Airbnb and Vrbo offer similar protections, such as host liability insurance and guest screening. However, each platform has its own unique policies and features, so a Vrbo or Airbnb host should carefully review these before deciding which marketplace best meets their needs.

Why do people use Vrbo instead of Airbnb?

People may choose to use Vrbo instead of Airbnb due to Vrbo's focus on entire home rentals, which can be more appealing to families or larger groups seeking privacy and space. 

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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