Airbnb vs VRBO – Which is better and does it matter?

Arirbnb vs VRBO how to decide which is best five assorted-color 2-storey houses

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If you’re looking to save money on accommodations, have you considered doing a home rental? When you are considering a home rental, you’ve probably come across the big names in the home rental or peer to peer space, Airbnb and VRBO. When deciding which to choose, Airbnb vs VRBO, how do you decide which is better, and does it even really matter?

In the following, I’ll break down Airbnb vs VRBO into what is the same, what is different, what might be better with one over the other, and some feedback as to if it matters in the grand scheme of home rentals.

Full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for both products and have used both companies in the past. I’ll give my opinion on which is better below.

Additionally, you may wonder why you may choose a home rental over a hotel. Read here to determine the difference and make the best choice for your family.

What is the Same Airbnb vs VRBO

Digging through both sites extensively, when it comes to Airbnb vs VRBO, many things are the same or similar.

Hosted by Owners

As I mentioned above, these are home rental sites. Someone does own the home and it’s rented for vacations so that travelers can have that whole-home experience and convenience. This is ultimately what a peer to peer rentals means; you’re renting from an individual unlike a corporation such as Hilton.

Cleaning and Cleaning fees

Both sites list cleaning fees on nearly every rental I’ve seen. Occasionally, VRBO may list it as property fees, but the idea is the same. These do add to the bottom line, so be sure to look at the full cost of the rental rather than the nightly rate.

Both sites have responded to the COVID19 pandemic and outlined extensive cleaning practices. Cleaning practices are listed on individual homes on VRBO. Airbnb uses an enhanced clean policy to note cleaning procedures for hosts.

Reviews

Both sites also display reviews that guests leave for their hosts. I strongly encourage you to read through at least a half dozen reviews to get a good idea of the space and the owner.

Additionally, the owner can leave a review about you as well. When you’re renting, potential property owners will see your history and can determine if you’ll treat the place with respect. Be a good guest and you shouldn’t have to worry about your ratings.

Wish Lists or Trip Boards

Each site has a way for you to collect your favorites into a wish list. Airbnb calls them wish lists, and you can create them based on any topic you like. VRBO calls them Trip Boards and offers a more collaborative effect through sharing with friends and family. It’s a great way to plan multi-family vacations.

Cancellation Policies

Each site also has various cancellation policies, though these have changed due to COVID19.

Generally, each property owner on both websites enacts their own cancellation policy. VRBO owners typically apply the policies found here. Airbnb policies are found here.

Available worldwide

When it comes to selection worldwide, Airbnb vs VRBO come out pretty even. They are both international companies with listings in nearly any place you care to stay.

What is Different Airbnb vs VRBO

History

Many people became more aware of home rentals when Airbnb started making a name for itself in 2008. But the truth is, vacation rentals and home rentals have been on the scene for much longer.

You could find vacation rentals through management services and classified ads. VRBO started in the online space in 1995. Home Away acquired VRBO in 2006, and the two sites became one in 2020.

Peer to Peer Experiences

However, Airbnb seems to cater more to the peer to peer factor. While ultimately you’re still renting from someone through VRBO, Airbnb plays more into that local experience factor. In fact, one of the main differences of the sites is that Airbnb is more than a home rental with online and hosted experiences.

Types of Rentals

One of the main differences between Airbnb vs VRBO is that VRBO does not do room shares or private spaces in a home. You may not find unique spaces like treehouses, or boats. In fact, I did not see a way to search for the type of home on VRBO.

That can be a plus, however. Knowing that you’re only going to see whole-home rentals on VRBO may make it easier to search for the accommodations you prefer.

VRBO is strictly for vacation rentals. Airbnb may have more listings, but VRBO will be exclusively whole houses private homes.

I have also noticed that there tend to be more vacation rental managers on VRBO, though they exist on Airbnb as well. Usually, with a property manager, you do get 24-hour service. however, you may lose some of that personal touch of communicating directly with the owner who knows the area well.

Fees

I’ve noticed different terminology with VRBO in terms of fees. Sometimes these are called property fees, which could be very similar to cleaning fees.

I also don’t like that I have to click on view details to see what the fees are on VRBO, but at least when I do, they are broken down into the property fee and/or cleaning fee, service fee, and tax.

However, I do like that VRBO has a notation on some rentals that if there is damage to the property during your stay, you may be charged up to $200. I think this protects the host from any willful or negligent behavior from the guest.

Slight difference: VRBO has a very specific Book with Confidence Guarantee and Trust & Safety page, while Airbnb simply has a Trust & Safety page.

Which is Better

The biggest question with Airbnb vs VRBO, is which is better? The truth is, it depends. (I know, cop-out answer.)

Generally, I choose Airbnb for its variety and more of that community connection experience. I like having a host either on the same property or nearby. I’ve stayed in places with Airbnb where the host is in the connecting home, or personally dropped off a welcome gift for me. We’ve also stayed in truly unique accommodations with Airbnb such as vintage trailers, motorhomes, boats, etc.

I do lie the whole home only aspect of VRBO. Plus, I’ve also found bed and breakfasts listed there as well.

Does it Matter

Honestly, no. It does not matter which site you go with. While I may start by looking at Airbnb homes and experiences first, I will compare cost and availability on VRBO too.

With either site, you find great deals or gorgeous stays. Plus you get the support of a bigger company. Imagine doing a home rental back in the days of a classified ad!

There are even other players in the home rental or vacation rental space such as Turnkey Vacation Rentals and Top Villas. These tend to be more in popular resort destinations, but worth looking at for incredible rates.

Sometimes these smaller sites have deals which you can find on my Travel Deals page here.

Related Articles for Airbnb and VRBO

Determining if a home rental is right for you? Check here.

If you want a step by step to renting an Airbnb, check here.

What are your thoughts? Do you have experience determining which is better, Airbnb vs VRBO? I’d love to hear your comments. Feel free to drop a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Airbnb vs VRBO – Which is better and does it matter?”

  1. I personally like Vrbo better for one specific and major reason. It tells you the distance between where you are staying and key attractions to which you are visiting. Airbnb does not. Which when planning a trip in Paris and Rome was extremely important. We needed to be close to the subway and not on the outskirts of the cities. Even going to Orlando, FL I want to know how far is Universal from where we’re staying.

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