What is Vrbo?


VRBO is an online marketplace specializing in different rentals. Vrbo vacation rentals have been around since 1995. These vacation rental properties can be found in 190 different countries with over 2 million properties.

What does Vrbo stand for? Vacation rental by owner. Some of the owners on this site use a property manager to look after their rental property. You can stay in a standard hotel and or other hotel rooms too.

What Is Vrbo?

VRBO is a specialized online platform for booking private vacation properties. Focused on offering entire homes without shared spaces, unlike competitors such as Airbnb, VRBO provides travelers with privacy and the comforts of home in various destinations worldwide.

Acquired by HomeAway in 2006 and later by Expedia Group in 2015 for $3.9 billion, VRBO has expanded its reach, now featuring over 2 million properties across 190 countries.

This acquisition has allowed VRBO to enhance its services, offering a seamless booking experience for both guests and property owners looking for a comprehensive vacation rental solution.

How Does Booking on Vrbo Work?

StepDescription
1. Account Set-upYou can create an account using just an email address and name. An option to add a photo and bio is available.
2. Browse ListingsUse filters to sort through property listings based on destinations, number of guests, and preferred dates.
3. Booking MethodsThere are two methods to book with a property owner:
- Instant Booking Request: Confirms your choice immediately.
- 24-hour Confirmation: Allows property owners 24 hours to accept or decline your request.

Either option through this vacation rental company requires arrival and departure dates, number of guests, and if you’re bringing pets. Learn more about the check-in process here.

what is vrbo

How Is a Vrbo Vacation Rental Different from Airbnb Vacation Rentals?

Not all vacation rental platforms are created equal. Both Vrbo and Airbnb are industry-leading rental sites. There are differences between these vacation rentals by owner sites. For example:

  • Each site boasts booking with a host. Airbnb users and people looking to book through Vrbo both need to send requests. But Airbnb offers an instant book option.
  • Both Airbnb and Vrbo allow hosts to charge an applicable fee for a security deposit. However, the Vrbo website shows more of these.
  • Both of these charge service fees. There’s a standoff here as the Vrbo prices are similar to the entire service fee for Airbnb. Each of these fees for short-term rentals and others is around 20% of the base rate.
  • Airbnb and Vrbo both allow property hosts to charge cleaning fees. A listing from Vrbo is cheaper in this regard. All the bookings on Vrbo show the total reservation costs excluding taxes.

what is vrbo

Here’s another advantage for Vrbo. If you’re a travel writer you can use this affiliate link to make extra money. Similarly, you can take a look at these 20 Airbnb competitors to consider if you are looking for more options.

What Is the Pricing on the Vrbo Vacation Rental Site?

Vacation renters that are interested in Vrbo and renting entire homes want to understand pricing for this property type. Once you find the single Vrbo location that you want to rent, you can use American Express, MasterCard and Visa.

The host might require full payment upfront. Is Vrbo safe? The answer is yes. They even have a natural disasters page and a contact page for it.

When you list you will need to put in minimum stay, links and nightly rates plus any additional fees.

What Is the Vrbo Service Fee?

what is vrbo

There are service fees for hosts and two fee models that hosts pay. One is the annual fee where you pay a flat rate to list all of your properties with Vrbo. The annual subscription rate is $499. There is also a pay-per-booking fee.

The guest service fee is a portion of the total amount of the reservation subtracting taxes and other refundable fees. Guests should also know about the book with confidence guarantee. It covers the entire transaction and the Vrbo Customer Service team can look after issues like access.

The book with confidence guarantee makes this member of the Expedia group stand apart. However, this is different from travel insurance.

What Is Vrbo’s Cancellation Policy for Vacation Rental Services?

These vary depending on the different Vrbo properties. Vrbo lists the ones for hosts on their listing pages. The cancellation policies state cancellations need to be made by 11:59 pm in the listing time zone. The refund policy can also depend on the total amount payable.

How Do You List a Property on Vrbo?

Listing vacation properties is about a little bit more than just listing the available amenities. There is a process that includes the same steps for one or more properties.

  1. You can start by clicking the link.
  2. The numbered list includes reviewing what other short-term rental properties are charging.
  3. You’ll need to review local laws and upload six or more different photos so solo travelers and others can view them.
  4. You need to verify your contact information and bank account info.

There are a few other steps including having your submission reviewed before you can list the entire property.

Enhancing Your VRBO Listing for Maximum Visibility

Creating a compelling listing is crucial for attracting potential guests. Here are some tips to enhance your listing:

  • High-Quality Photos: Invest in professional photography to showcase your property’s best features. Bright, clear images can significantly impact a guest’s decision to book.
  • Detailed Descriptions: Provide thorough descriptions of your property, including amenities, nearby attractions, and any unique features. Be honest and transparent to set the right expectations.
  • Responsive Host: Being a responsive host can improve your listing’s attractiveness. Promptly answer inquiries and provide guests with all the necessary information for their stay.
  • Competitive Pricing: Research similar properties in your area to set competitive rates. Consider offering discounts for longer stays to attract guests looking for extended vacations.
  • Update Your Calendar Regularly: Keep your availability calendar up to date to prevent double bookings and to appear higher in search results.

Leveraging VRBO for Business Travel

VRBO isn’t just for leisure travelers. With an increasing number of remote workers and businesses looking for team retreats, it can be an excellent platform for business travel accommodations. Here’s how:

  • Tailor Your Listing for Business Travelers: Highlight amenities like high-speed internet, workspaces, and proximity to major business centers.
  • Offer Flexible Check-in/Check-out Times: Business travelers often have strict schedules. Offering flexibility can make your property more appealing.
  • Promote Extended Stay Discounts: Encourage longer bookings by offering discounts, catering to traveling professionals who may need to stay for weeks or even months.

Maximizing Earnings on VRBO

To maximize your rental earnings  consider the following strategies:

  • Seasonal Pricing: Adjust your prices based on demand during peak and off-peak seasons to optimize your earnings.
  • Minimize Vacancies: Offer last-minute discounts to fill empty dates. This can help you maintain a steady income stream even during slower periods.
  • Optimize Your Listing: Regularly update your listing’s content and photos to reflect any improvements or changes to your property.

Understanding VRBO’s Review System

Reviews are a critical component of the platform, influencing guests’ booking decisions. Encourage guests to leave reviews by:

  • Providing Exceptional Service: Go above and beyond to ensure a memorable stay for your guests. A positive experience is more likely to result in favorable reviews.
  • Following Up After Checkout: Send a polite message thanking guests for their stay and inviting them to leave feedback.
  • Addressing Negative Reviews Constructively: Respond to any negative reviews professionally, offering to rectify any issues. This demonstrates your commitment to guest satisfaction.

Is Vrbo or Airbnb Better for Hosts?

what is vrbo

Property managers and their Vrbo hosts who own the properties want to know who comes out on top with Vrbo Vs Airbnb. Airbnb has one of the lowest host fees but Vrbo offers two different fee options that the host can choose from.

Vrbo has a better search filter with more capabilities. There’s also a trip board feature that helps guests to plan their trips and reservation itinerary. In the end, there are bonuses to both sites. Remember, both sites charge of booking subtotal on top of the fees. But you can find more on how to become a Vrbo host.

Is Vrbo or Airbnb Better for Travelers?

what is vrbo

There’s a seesaw battle between these two platforms for travelers too. However, you can look at the safety tips listed.

For example, Vrbo wins for customer service. They have fewer complaints even though they have fewer listings. Airbnb, on the other hand, has had to set up a Resolution Center to deal with problems.

Guests have one year to leave a review on Vrbo while guests and hosts have two weeks to leave reviews on Airbnb.

Is HomeAway the same as Vrbo?

As of 2020, HomeAway has been fully integrated into VRBO. This consolidation means that VRBO now encompasses what was previously offered by HomeAway, streamlining the vacation rental experience under a single brand. Therefore, references to HomeAway can be updated to reflect this change, emphasizing VRBO’s expanded inventory and unified platform for guests and hosts.

Image: Depositphotos


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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.