There’s a lot to get in order when turning a second home into a vacation rental.
But let’s say you’ve done all the pre-work. The place is upgraded with key amenities, furnished to perfection, fully inventoried, and deep-cleaned. Now it’s ready to hit the internet and start accepting bookings.
The question is: where exactly should you list the property?
It’s no secret that putting your home on a major marketplace is a must to get in front of travelers. But when so many are considered top-tier, it can be overwhelming — not to mention time-consuming — to decide which is right.
Below is a short list of the absolute best vacation rental sites for owners. It has everything you need to know, from the unique benefits each site gives you to how much it costs to list.
A longtime giant in the vacation rental industry, Airbnb is a household name that gives owners access to 150 million users around the world. Our Distribution team says they tend to serve younger, tech-savvy travelers looking for more affordable accommodations.
Airbnb is truly a DIY, be-your-own-boss experience for owners. You can rent out anything from a single room in shared space to a private house or a totally unique vacation home.
This makes Airbnb a catch-all for nearly any type of accommodation. Signing up as a host takes seconds, and while you need to meet basic requirements to do so successfully (and establish a positive review rating to stay on the site), the rest is in your hands.
Owners are in charge of creating their listing, responding to guest inquiries, and managing reviews. Airbnb offers help via standard 24/7 support lines and a community forum. (You can post your property listing to the group for feedback, for instance.) But they also incentivize owners to create the best possible experiences for guests by reserving priority support resources for Superhosts.
Behind the scenes, Airbnb is constantly evolving their interface, and they frequently launch new features to improve how the site runs for owners. (For example, there’s a “Today tab” for upcoming check-ins and a “Description starter” for listing help.)
With over 4 million hosts across the globe and nearly 6 million homes to date, Airbnb is certainly one of the best listing sites for owners. But if you’re new to vacation rental and hoping for more guidance around what it takes to build your business successfully, Airbnb’s hands-off approach is something to keep in mind.
Airbnb charges a 3% commission on every booking you secure, though there are some extenuating circumstances that might increase this percentage. When a reservation is confirmed, Airbnb sends you a price breakdown email detailing the fees and taxes they collect, what your guests pay (including a variable service fee), and what money ultimately lands in your pocket.
Founded in 1995 and the oldest player in the game, Vrbo has made a recent surge in vacation rental popularity with 48 million active monthly users, according to our Distribution team. They heavily market over 2 million listings around the world to families, encouraging group getaways that inspire connection.
Much like Airbnb, Vrbo gives owners fairly free rein to make their hosting experience what they want it to be. Unlike Airbnb, though, Vrbo doesn’t allow any accommodations in shared spaces.
To get started, you need to answer a few quick questions about your home before plugging in account creation information. From there, you can build your listing and jump into the scene.
Vrbo offers standard 24/7 support and helps guide owners toward different software you can integrate to manage all the brass tacks of your business. Vrbo also lives under the Expedia parent company, so owners get the marketing and exposure benefits that come with the influence of Expedia and their affiliates.
Our Distribution team says Vrbo is a great marketplace option for owners wanting a more simple and familiar interface. Stays tend to be longer than they are on Airbnb, which translates to less frequency in turnarounds (and potentially fewer cleaning and maintenance bills).
If Vrbo feels like a good fit, there are two base cost options. You can opt to pay a 5% service fee on every confirmed booking, or you can choose an annual subscription of $499. Our Distribution team says the best route for you will come down to how quickly your revenue might hit a $499 fee threshold, as well as your personal preference around payment frequency.
Whichever option you choose, Vrbo also charges a 3% processing fee on total payment and taxes for their owners. You can find a Payout summary in your Vrbo account to see net income after a reservation is complete, which also accounts for the service fee guests pay. (Much like Airbnb, our Distribution team says that figure consistently varies based on a number of factors.)
An industry heavyweight offering vacation rentals and hotels (among other bookable travel needs like flights and car rentals), Booking.com has the largest audience of all the best vacation rental sites for owners — clocking over 100 million monthly users, our Distribution team says.
Booking.com considers owners their partners, and it’s arguably the most direct-to-traveler channel. Like Airbnb and Vrbo, you fill out a quick profile to register, set your house rules, build a listing, and dive in.
But with Booking.com, the prices you set are the prices your guests pay. There’s no service fee tied to how Booking.com operates for consumers, which may be why 75% keep coming back.
Owners on Booking.com have access to the expected 24/7 support that all the best vacation rental listing sites provide, can chat with guests through their on-site portfolio, and can report any issues or request payment from guests if an incident occurs.
Booking.com also offers its hosts a much wider range of commercial products than Airbnb or Vrbo (at a discount), helping maximize your marketing and booking abilities if managing your home as a DIYer.
One thing to be aware of: Booking.com owners do not have the freedom to review guest inquiries and potentially deny bookings. All reservations made through this marketplace are automatically confirmed, much like they would be for a hotel stay.
Booking.com charges an average 15% fee on confirmed stays in the U.S., though it may vary slightly if you’re in a different country. Our Distribution team also notes that while there’s no standard processing fee for owners with Booking.com, there may be additional processing fees based on your bank or financial service.
A recently-launched feature, Google showcases vacation rental options on the first page of results when you type a relevant query in the search bar. With Google’s near-monopoly on internet searches, having your property surface here has massive potential to attract eager travelers.
Google’s travel feature is not a DIY situation because it’s not technically a marketplace in the traditional sense. Owners must work with a management company that’s partnered with Google Vacation Rental (like Evolve) for inclusion; you cannot be featured through Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com.
It’s also important to note that, while selecting a property management company with a Google partnership gives you access to a broader audience, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pop up in results. Your listing needs to be highly optimized for search terms that help Google identify it as the best content for your most qualified travelers, and professional photography is a must. (These are topics we go into detail about in our free e-book, The 6 Biggest Secrets to Earning Thousands More.)
With that in mind, your property management solution should have search engine optimization (SEO) experts monitoring your listing and professional photography standards.
Only good news here: since Google uses their search functionality to surface vacation rental listings rather than a dedicated platform, there’s no cost to owners outside of what you’d need to pay a property management company that can make sure your home fully capitalizes on the potential.
Settling on one of the best vacation rental sites is often a necessary task for a DIYer — it’s just not realistic to juggle communications and bookings through all of them alone, and it’s not cheap to cover the sum of their fees.
But getting your vacation rental on just one of the listing sites is not what’s best for your business.
Getting on as many as you can means more marketing exposure, more bookings, and more revenue. That’s why we use a different approach: owners who work with Evolve get their listing on every single one of the best vacation rental sites for owners.
We start by creating a professional listing in a search engine-friendly format that’s proven to work, complete with professional photography. Then, we put your listing on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Google Vacation Rental, and evolve.com, partnering with each marketplace to make sure your home is always meeting top standards.
Our hands-on, income-driving approach doesn’t stop there. From revenue analysts who leverage an exclusive dynamic revenue management tool to in-house specialists who handle guest communications on your behalf, Evolve works for you in a way an individual marketplace can’t — all for an industry-low 10% management fee.
We also don’t require any long-term contracts, it costs nothing to join, and the strategic approach we’ve developed from managing tens of thousands of vacation rentals is backed by our Risk-Free Guarantee.
At the end of the day, we want it to be easy to earn more and stress less. If you’re interested in learning more, hop down to the form below to start a conversation with one of our pros today.