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Airbnb or Vrbo: Making the Right Choice for Your Next Vacation

When it comes to finding the ideal accommodation for your upcoming trip, both Airbnb and Vrbo offer various options to choose from. However, determining which platform is the most suitable for your needs can be a challenging decision.

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By Eglė

Published: Jun 23, 2023 min read

Airbnb or Vrbo: Making the Right Choice for Your Next Vacation

Rental Types & Listing: Airbnb Wins

Airbnb offers diverse short-term or long-term rental options, including renting an entire place, a private room within a shared house, or even a shared room with fellow travelers. With over five million homes, apartments, and rooms available, Airbnb offers a huge selection. This abundance of options makes finding accommodations in unconventional or lesser-known destinations easier, allowing travelers to explore off-the-beaten-path locations. If you're seeking a unique and unconventional stay, Airbnb is an excellent choice.

In contrast, Vrbo exclusively allows the rental of entire properties: a house, a cottage, or an apartment. It means you won't find any shared homes or rooms listed on the site, offering greater privacy for those who prefer it. However, this might be less suitable for budget-conscious travelers or solo adventurers who only require a small space for themselves.

Regarding home styles, both Airbnb and Vrbo offer various options. On both platforms, you can find everything from private bungalows and mountaintop yurts to countryside villas. Both Airbnb and Vrbo also feature an array of unique and unconventional homes, such as tiny houses, bubble domes, and even repurposed shipping containers.

However, Airbnb provides Special Experience rentals- unique activities hosted by locals, offering travelers the chance to engage in immersive and authentic experiences beyond traditional sightseeing. They can be booked separately or as add-ons to accommodation reservations, providing travelers with memorable and customized experiences. Also, Airbnb separates its rentals to Airbnb Plus and Luxe, and many more types of accommodation, who seek opulent accommodations. 

In sum, Airbnb has various types of rentals and more listings. So if you're seeking greater variety and better budget options, Airbnb emerges as the clear winner in this comparison. Its extensive range of listings caters to diverse preferences and budgets.

Airbnb or Vrbo : rental types -Airbnb wins RatePunk

Rental Pricing: Ties

Comparing overall pricing between Airbnb and Vrbo can be challenging due to the uniqueness of each property. Both platforms charge a service fee on top of the base rate, contributing to their revenue. After comparing bookings across the platforms, we found that the total costs were generally similar, averaging around 20% of the base rate.

Regarding refundable security deposits, both Airbnb and Vrbo allow hosts to decide whether to require them from guests. However, during the search, I noticed a higher prevalence of these deposits on Vrbo properties. While these deposits can add complexity and potential expenses for guests, it is difficult to determine if one platform consistently charges them more frequently than the other. The occurrence of security deposits varies depending on individual hosts and their preferences on each platform.

P.S. Did you know that the prices displayed on Airbnb are not written on the stone? You can negotiate the price with the host and get a better deal rather than instantly booking it.

Cleaning Fees: Wins Vrbo

Cleaning fees can be a source of frustration for many vacation renters. (Personally, I hate paying for it). Both Airbnb and Vrbo properties have these one-time fees, which hosts charge to cover the cost of cleaning their space. However, the amounts of these fees vary widely as they are set by individual hosts rather than the platform itself.

When it comes to how fees are presented, Vrbo takes the lead. Vrbo has been displaying the total price (excluding tax) of booking vacation homes for years. Travelers don't need to manually opt in to see this information, and they can use the Vrbo price filter to narrow down search results based on the total price. This means that guests always have visibility into the total price and a breakdown of fees before they make a booking on the Vrbo site or app. Personally, it’s super convenient!

In contrast, Airbnb doesn't initially display cleaning fees as part of the price in search results. Nevertheless, if you want to see the total price, users must choose a toggle feature. However, if users don't activate the total price display, they will still see only the nightly rates on Airbnb.

Airbnb or Vrbo: booking funcionality - Airbnb Wins

Booking Functionality: Wins Airbnb

Both Vrbo and Airbnb are online platforms that facilitate bookings with property hosts. It's important to note that when you book, you're not booking "an Airbnb" or "a Vrbo," but rather booking a rental "through Airbnb" or "through Vrbo." This distinction can be a bit different from the typical process of booking a hotel stay and may feel unfamiliar to some.

With Vrbo and select Airbnb properties, the booking process involves sending a booking request. This request includes a price quote and a message to the host. The host then reviews the request, which may include evaluating your profile and possibly looking at ratings from previous hosts, before confirming or denying the booking. In other words, you need to wait for host approval before your booking is officially confirmed.

If this process seems troublesome, Airbnb offers an "instant book" option for certain properties. As the name suggests, with instant book, you can secure your booking immediately without the need for host approval.

Customer Service: Ties (?)

Airbnb experienced rapid growth within a relatively short period, which posed challenges in keeping up with the increasing number of customers. As a result, there were reports of subpar customer service, with users needing help to reach a real person for assistance.

On the other hand, Vrbo has established a direct support line that operates 24/7, providing prompt assistance to guests and property owners in resolving issues. Their customer support team is even capable of helping hosts find alternative accommodations for guests in situations where natural disasters render the original property unviable. 

It's worth noting that Airbnb handles a significantly larger number of rentals than Vrbo, so relying solely on the volume of complaints may not accurately represent their respective customer service performances.

Interesting fact:  Airbnb has a 1.3/5 rating on Trustpilot, while Vrbo has a 1.8/5 rating. It shows that people prefer giving bad ratings to good ones because these companies are not so bad based on such ratings. Otherwise, people wouldn't use their service.

What about other alternatives to Airbnb?

When it comes to your next vacation rental search, Airbnb offers numerous compelling reasons to choose their platform. With millions of listings available, you have a vast selection to choose from. Airbnb caters to a wide range of accommodation types, ensuring there is something for everyone. Additionally, their booking process is seamless, and they provide flexible options to meet your needs.

Vrbo, on the other hand, has positioned itself as a family-oriented brand, primarily focusing on standalone house rentals. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to make a case for choosing Vrbo over Airbnb, even for families.

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Jun 23, 2023

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