There’s a lot to get in order when turning a second home into a vacation rental for the first time.
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 listing site is a must for getting seen by travelers. But with so many options, it can be overwhelming — not to mention time-consuming — to decide what’s best for you.
Below is a short list of the absolute best vacation rental sites for owners. You’ll get all the information you need, from the unique benefits each site offers 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 more than 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 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 more than 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 broadest 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 make a relevant search. 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, make sure the property management solutions you consider have professional photography standards and search engine optimization (SEO) experts monitoring your listing’s performance.
Only good news here: since Google uses their search functionality to surface vacation rental listings rather than a dedicated platform, there’s no additional cost to owners who are featured. Instead, you need to find a property management company that can maximize your home’s potential.
As one of the most recognizable online travel agencies in the world, Expedia makes it easy for travelers to book vacation rental and hotel stays — and even bundle accommodations alongside flight- and activity-based bookings. With over 30 million monthly site visitors, having your vacation rental listing on this site gets your property in front of a huge network of convenience-focused guests.
Gaining access to Expedia’s growing customer base isn’t guaranteed on your own. Instead, owners must work with a management company (like Evolve) to secure a spot under Expedia’s “Stays” section, which promotes hotels and vacation rentals to ready-to-book guests.
Owners could also get some visibility on Expedia if they work directly with an Expedia Group subsidiary, like Vrbo. It’s important to note, though, that this only creates the potential to show up on Expedia’s site, given you must meet specific criteria. Instead, working with a pro company locks in guaranteed exposure for your listing on Expedia.com — and the possibility for promotion across additional well-known travel brands like Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Hotels.com, and more.
Because vacation rental owners cannot work directly with Expedia, the only cost you would need to account for is between you and your property management company. Make sure whoever you team up with has relationships in place to increase your listing’s exposure — and provides knowledgeable tips — that can help maximize your earning potential.
Much like Google Vacation Rental, Hopper Homes is not directly available to owners. Instead, you need to partner with a property management company (like Evolve) to gain exposure to their 70 million users.
Hopper takes a unique marketing approach to gain those users: they heavily encourage people to download their app through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Because of this, they grab the attention of mobile-first generations (like Gen Y and Gen Z), putting an owners’ home in front of a customer demographic that has a high lifetime value.
This site isn’t entirely free marketing in the way Google Vacation Rental is, since Hopper collects a commission for listing. But that’s covered by a partnering property management company — so the only cost to owners is that management company’s standard fee. Given the access Hopper Homes can unlock, it’s important to work with someone who’s in touch with the latest marketing trends and can showcase your home on all the right vacation rental sites.
Marriott is already a massive name in travel, and now their trusted hospitality extends beyond traditional hotel accommodations with Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™. The booking potential for owners here is huge, since their curated collection of vacation rentals is promoted to millions of Marriott Bonvoy™ loyalty members.
This is another platform that can’t be accessed by owners unless you’re working with a professional property management company that partners with Marriott Bonvoy™.
That said, if your property management company does grant you listing access, your home can be seen by more than 169 million engaged Marriott Bonvoy™ members — an exclusive audience of frequent travelers dedicated to a brand they trust. Guests can earn and redeem their loyalty points when they book vacation rentals through Homes & Villas, which means they’re more likely to keep coming back.
All homes listed by Marriott Bonvoy™ must also meet the brand’s high standards for five-star service, so each home is hand-selected for the site based on quality and aesthetic. That means having your vacation rental featured here signals to travelers that your property is in premium condition — something that can continue to boost your reputation in the long run.
Just like Hopper Homes, owners listed on Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™ have costs covered by their property management company — and pay no out-of-pocket commission fees. Be sure to choose a property management company that works with the brand and knows how to help you hit the five-star standards you need to succeed.
Settling on one site is often a necessary task for a DIYer — it’s just not realistic to juggle communications and bookings through all of them alone, nor is it cheap to cover the sum of their fees.
But listing on just one site 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 advocate a different approach: put yourself on every single one of the best vacation rental sites for owners by working with Evolve.
We start by creating a professional listing in a search engine-friendly format that also comes with professional photography. Then, we put your listing on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Google Vacation Rental, Expedia, Hopper Homes, and evolve.com — not to mention Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy™ and a few other listing sites if your home qualifies — partnering with each to continuously adapt as the market does.
Here’s the great news: the fees typically imposed on DIY owners by listing sites are factored into our proven-to-work revenue optimization strategy, so you’ll reap the benefits without ever having to worry about those costs yourself.
Of course, we also have experts who leverage our exclusive technology and in-house specialists who handle guest communications on your behalf — meaning Evolve works for you in a way an individual marketplace can’t, and it’s all done for an industry-low fee.
If you’re interested in learning more, hop down to the form below to see if you qualify for our services and kickstart a conversation with one of our vacation rental pros.