Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Which is the Better Vacation Booking Service?

By Kay FleuryUpdated on March 11, 2022

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Airbnb and Vrbo are two of the most popular vacation rental sites among travelers and property owners who can earn money on their real estate. If you are deciding between the two platforms that will bring a higher return for your buck, then we hope our detailed comparison can help you make the right choice for your business.

What is covered in this article

Let us look at both rental sites in detail so that whether you are a host or a traveler, you know what to expect the next time you need to use their service.

Vrbo overview: the best for family holidays

Vrbo homepage

Image credit: Vrbo

Vrbo, which is owned by the Expedia Group, was founded in 1995. As its name suggests, Vrbo (or Vacation Rentals by Owner) started as an alternative to hotels for guests looking for an exciting holiday experience that is different from the standard hotel-like services.

As Vrbo belongs to the Expedia group, property owners can see their listing on sites within the Vrbo and HomeAway family.

Who is Vrbo best for?

If you wish to list your apartment, cabin, or home, then Vrbo is the right platform for you as most travelers who come to book their stay are families who want the entire place to themselves. Vrbo is also suited for travelers looking to book the property for a longer stay.

Vrbo Pros

  • Book an entire property for your family.
  • Vrbo properties can be booked in 190 countries.
  • Access to other sites in the Expedia group of companies like Abritel, FeWo-direkt, Stayz.
  • Lower service fee paid by guests.

Vrbo Cons

  • Vrbo doesn’t allow owners to rent out space from their homes. Owners have to rent out the entire property only.

Download It Now: Android | iOS

Download It Now (for Vrbo owners): Android | iOS

Airbnb overview: the best for travelers looking for affordable short-term rentals

Airbnb homepage

Image credit: Aribnb

Airbnb, founded in 2008, began when the creators saw that anyone who owned real estate, not necessarily just hotels, could rent out property when they were not using it. This gave guests an opportunity to experience the local flavor through unique stays that are not available at a standard hotel.

If you don’t have a property to list on Airbnb but a skill that you’d like the tourists coming to your city to experience, you could list that as well. This could range from cooking lessons to make Colombian empanadas, teaching how to make origami cranes, or offering an online skateboarding class.

Who is Airbnb best for?

Airbnb is a great marketplace for travelers looking for budget accommodation for their holiday. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway with your partner or a long-term cheap alternative to a hotel, if you don’t mind sharing an apartment with another person or a family holiday with all your cousins, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

Airbnb Pros

  • Higher number of listings compared to any other rental site.
  • Airbnb properties can be found in 220 countries.
  • A larger variety of unique listings such as tree houses, barn-stays, caravans, or even a yacht.
  • The option to book a private room on a property if you are on a budget and don’t mind sharing the common spaces.
  • Along with properties, you can book on Airbnb Experiences, where you can find interesting activities to do during your stay.

Airbnb Cons

  • Higher service fee paid by travelers.

Download It Now (For travelers and owners): Android | iOS

Vrbo vs. Airbnb comparison table: how these sites stack up

In the following table, we compare Vrbo vs. Airbnb on various parameters to give you a complete picture of how they stack up against each other.

Feature

Vrbo

Airbnb

Best for

Families or large groups

Travelers seeking budget accommodation

Types of rentals

Entire properties (house, condo, cabin, and others)

  • Private rooms
  • Entire properties (house, condo, cabin, and others)

Host network

Hosts can reach out to the customer care support that is available 24/7 for any assistance that they may need

At Airbnb Community Center, hosts can network with other hosts, connect on similar interests, learn from each other and reach out for any help

Service fees

  • Guest service fee: 6-12% of the reservation cost
  • Host service fee: $499/year that covers all bookings or 5% commission on each booking + 3% credit card processing fee
  • Guest service fee: 14.2%
  • Host service fee: 3%

Cancellations

  • No Refund - No refund offered for any reason or any time period
  • Strict - Cancel at least 60 days before check-in for a full refund
  • Firm - Cancel at least 60 days before check-in for a full refund or 30 days for a 50% refund
  • Moderate - Cancel at least 30 days before check-in for a full refund or 14 days for a 50% refund
  • Relaxed - Cancel at least 14 days before check-in for a full refund or 7 days for a 50% refund
  • Flexible - Cancel 24 hours before check-in
  • Moderate - Cancel 5 days before check-in
  • Strict - Cancel within 48 hours of the booking and at least 14 days before check-in for a full refund
  • Long-term - Applies to reservations that are 28 days or longer; guests have to give a 30-day notice of cancellation for a full refund
  • Super strict (30 days) - Guests receive only a 50% refund if they cancel at least 30 days before check-in
  • Super strict (60 days) - Guests receive only a 50% refund if they cancel at least 60 days before check-in

Additional features

Property managers who are managing more than 10 properties can make use of special tools offered by Vrbo to better manage their listings

Guests can chat with the host before booking to negotiate the rental price or make any special requests if they have any that can be accommodated

Customer service

24/7 customer support

24/7 customer support

Reviews

Guests and hosts have up to 1 year to leave a review about their stay. Guests can also use a five-star rating system that best describes their stay

Guests and hosts have 14 days to leave a review about their stay. Guests can also use a five-star rating system that best describes their stay

Vrbo vs. Airbnb: types of rentals available

Winner: Airbnb

Airbnb is the clear winner when it comes to the number of properties and the variety of rentals that you can book for your next holiday. You can find Airbnb in over 220 countries across the world with over 7 million properties. Airbnb gives the option to book a private room on a property or the entire place if they want, as opposed to Vrbo, where travelers can only book the entire property.

Vrbo or Airbnb: which service has the best host network?

Winner: Airbnb

Along with creating an easy booking experience for travelers, Airbnb also has a strong network for hosts where they can interact with their peers and learn tips and tricks from other hosts, making them feel as much a part of the community as just a property owner with a listing. Airbnb’s tagline reads ‘Made possible by hosts’ and they celebrate their hosts by featuring hosts who go the extra mile to create a unique and authentic experience for their guests.

Vrbo or Airbnb: who has better service fees for owners?

Winner: Vrbo

While Airbnb charges a flat 3% service fee to the host on their bookings, Vrbo offers two types of service fee models, an annual subscription of $499/year that covers all costs or a 5% commission on every booking. A property owner who expects to make more than $10,000/year on rental income can choose the annual subscription, as it works out cheaper than the other alternative.

Vrbo vs. Airbnb: who has the better cancellation policy?

Winner: Airbnb

Both Airbnb and Vrbo have different cancellation plans that hosts can choose for their property. For a guest on Airbnb, the most lenient cancellation policy is the ‘Flexible’ option, which allows guests to cancel 24 hours before their stay for a full refund. On Vrbo, the ‘Relaxed’ option allows cancellation at least 14 days prior to their check-in for a full refund and 7 days prior for a 50% refund. Most property owners on Airbnb believe that the Flexible option keeps their occupancy rates higher than if they opted for a stricter cancellation policy.

Is Vrbo or Airbnb’s review system better?

Winner: Vrbo

Vrbo guests and hosts have up to one year from their check-in date to leave a review about their stay, but once either of the parties have left their review, the other has only 14 days to reply to their review. Airbnb on the other hand only gives the guests and hosts 14 days to share their reviews, which is why hosts encourage their guests to leave a review immediately after their stay. Both Vrbo and Airbnb have a star rating system that prompts the guests to rate the property based on the accuracy of the listing description, cleanliness, communication, value for money, and location.


At the size at which they operate, both Vrbo and Airbnb have something unique to offer to their guests and hosts. While Vrbo (as a part of the Expedia group) has a larger host of sister sites, it has a stricter cancellation policy and fewer properties that guests can book, whereas Airbnb has a wider selection of property types but a higher service fee. Depending on your region or where you want to travel, you can choose between the two platforms to find the best experience for your next holiday.