Did you know that Vrbo, the seemingly new competitor to Airbnb’s efficient and business model, has been around since 1995? Maybe you just started seeing their tempting commercials where the perfect family vacations in the perfect mansion on the perfect beach, and you thought hm? Where did this come from? Or at least that’s what I thought.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the commercial, Vrbo and Airbnb are quite different, so here’s what you might want to consider when you’re booking for your next trip.
Airbnb is the hub for one night stays, week long vacays and staycation homes, apartments, private rooms, and even camping sites. With a user-friendly platform that you can use on your computer or your phone, the platform has over 150 million users and hosted half a billion guests per year, according to recent statistics. But if Airbnb only came about in 2008, how did it become top dog?
Airbnb piloted off of the Craigslist approach to providing online products and services. At the beginning, Airbnb was simply the idea that strangers would sleep on an airbed in a strangers home…hence the name Airbnb, meaning Airbed and Breakfast.
As for Vrbo, the 27 year old business started when a schoolteacher wanted to rent his Colorado home out as a ski condo. And from there, other homeowners looking to make extra money renting out their home (or one of their homes) joined in. And by the way, Vrbo stands for “vacation rentals by owner.”
Both Airbnb and Vrbo offer a personalized travel experience that extends beyond the standard hotel room. Accommodations are often personally decorated, lived in, and cozy. When booking with either option you can use basic filters (number of guests, location, type of accommodation) to find your best fit. And both allow you to message with your host ahead of or during your stay.
So how do these platforms differ? According to an article from Insider, “the main distinction between the two platforms is that Vrbo is strictly for entire home rentals and you will always have the entire home to yourself. Airbnb, on the other hand, tends to emphasize hospitality and market the value of a good host, while Vrbo is strictly about the property.”
Vrbo offers extensive properties to select from on their easy-to-use website. They offer apartments in big cities or villas in the countryside. And if you’re familiar with Airbnb’s “Superhost” category, which verifies the site’s most reliable and top rated hosts, Vrbo offers a similar function called “Premiere Partners,” where you can select from the best of the best.
Most research on Vrbo finds that the site offers more extensive and intuitive filtering options for booking. While Airbnb offers simple options to filter by: number of guests, and price, Vrbo offers the same as well as filters for property reviews, COVID policy, amenities, accessibility, etc.
Vrbo also has extra padding in case something goes wrong with your booking, and all their listings include a service fee which guarantees 24-hour accessible customer service. Property owners do not control these fees, but they do control their cancellation policies which can be strict or lax, and their COVID-19 sanitation parameters. When booking, it is considered a guests’ responsibility to evaluate these factors before purchase.
Airbnb is very similar with a few minor differences. Travelers can peruse a wide selection of accommodations easily, and prices are displayed clearly as you swipe through allowing you to stay on budget and rule out any lofty options.
As mentioned, Airbnb is centered around the guest/host experience. So guests often will leave reviews of their hosts along with the property itself. A guest’s rating often includes the rental itself, but also evaluates the hosts’ hospitality and helpfulness. Some of the best hosts offer their visitors suggestions for places to visit, eat, drink and hang out in the area, offering a more personalized travel experience.
In terms of pricing, Airbnb and Vrbo offer a range of pricing for your stays. However, offering rooms in shared living spaces, the lowest prices will likely be more abundant on Airbnb. When searching for accommodation in an expensive city like London, the lowest price you may find is around $52 per night on both Vrbo and Airbnb. And both include discounted prices for extended stays.
It’s a draw! The choice on which platform you use is yours. Have you tried both? Let us know what you think.