Airbnb vs Vrbo: Which short-term rental platform is right for you?



The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
April 13, 2023

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Airbnb vs Vrbo: Which short-term rental platform is right for you?

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Whether traveling or planning a vacation, the last thing you want to do is stay in a hotel. Yeah, they're convenient having someone else make your bed is very lovely, to be honest but hotels can also be dreadful.

Fortunately, there are numerous options available for visitors looking for vacation rentals or any other type of alternative travel lodging.

Airbnb and Vrbo are two of the most popular platforms for seeking alternative lodgings. Both services connect homeowners looking to lease out their space with customers looking for short-term rentals, and each is well-known for a number of reasons.

Airbnb is a Silicon Valley favourite, hosting everything from tree huts to the underwater research ship shown on Blue Planet II, but the platform has also been the source of controversy, with issues ranging from affordable housing concerns to accusations that Airbnb hosts are eavesdropping on guests. Meanwhile, Vrbo has been a prominent player in holiday rentals since the 1990s, paving the way for home sharing services.

While the two platforms' primary missions are similar  showcasing property listings  each offers unique benefits and features that might make or break your next trip.

So, which rental site is the best fit for you? Here's what you should know if you're trying to decide between Airbnb and Vrbo.

Table of Contents

The Fundamentals 


Airbnb, which began in 2008 as Air Bed and Breakfast before rebranding in 2009, is a home rental platform with a simple premise: connect homeowners with clients looking for short-term rentals. The concept originated in 2007 when creators Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were looking to rent space in their San Francisco apartment to help them afford the rent. 

Airbnb was founded after they hired Nathan Blecharczyk as chief technology officer. Since its inception, Airbnb, along with other businesses such as Uber and Task Rabbit, has been regarded as a cornerstone of the sharing economy.


Vrbo(Vrbo is an abbreviation for Vacation Rental By Owner, and as the name suggests, it specializes in all forms of holiday rentals: houses, apartments, condos, villas, and so on. The service, which was created in 1995, allows landowners to display their property listings to potential renters. Vrbo was acquired by HomeAway in 2006 and became part of the HomeAway network, which also includes

Rental classifications


If there is one thing that distinguishes Airbnb from other platforms, it is the service's huge host network, which includes millions of listings. Indeed, Airbnb reported in 2017 that it hosts over 4 million properties in 191 countries. Anyone may become an Airbnb host and rent out places ranging from a whole house to a single room.

The company also offers unique and imaginative housing experiences: on Airbnb, users may rent everything from a Lego-built house to Donald Trump's boyhood home (if you're like that kind of thing).


Vrbo, like Airbnb, allows anybody to post a property, and the site offers a variety of rental kinds such as houses, apartments, castles, tree houses, and more. However, unlike Airbnb, Vrbo only allows you to rent full homes, which means it has fewer rentals than Airbnb. (According to Vrbo's website, it has over 2 million rentals worldwide, compared to Airbnb's 4 million.)

Vrbo only lists larger places — full houses, condos, or flats that consumers will have to themselves rather than sharing with the homeowner or other visitors. Indeed, "don't share" became a marketing element in a 2016 advertisement pitting Airbnb against HomeAway (Vrbo's parent business). Hence, while Vrbo has fewer rentals, users can be confident that the room they find will be entirely theirs.



Seeing property data is merely one approach for Airbnb users to learn more about a potential house listed on Airbnb. The site also has an active review culture, which allows guests to offer feedback after their stay, evaluating everything from the veracity of the listing's description to the cleanliness of the property. The review component of the site is also searchable, so if you have a specific issue while reserving an Airbnb, you can filter reviews to meet those concerns.

Furthermore, the site features a host community section where hosts can share tips and methods for successfully listing a property on Airbnb.


Vrbo also has a review feature where users can rate their stay at a specific home. The site does, however, allow homeowners to respond to the reviewer, which is shown beneath a specific review. This implies that Vrbo users can not only learn more about the experience of staying at a property, but they can also learn more from homeowners before beginning the process of scheduling a stay.

Other Benefits


Airbnb displays restaurants and experiences in addition to home rentals. Airbnb is to blame.

When Airbnb first launched in 2008, it was just a place to list and search for short-term accommodations. Now, ten years after its inception, Airbnb has grown, adding new options to the service that make it a one-stop shop for finalising trip plans.

Aside from rentals, the website has a very extensive "experiences" section that helps consumers to discover activities near their selected destination. Walking tours, beach yoga, and a stroll through a forest with wolves are just a few of the experiences available on Airbnb (Opens in a new tab).

In addition, in 2017, the service collaborated with Resy to enable customers to book restaurant reservations directly through the site.


You can look for something as precise as a lake view cabin with outdoor grilling and a fireplace using Vrbo's filters. VRBO is to blame.

Vrbo's set of filters distinguishes it from Airbnb. Visitors can search by location type — seaside, lake view, mountain view, ski rental, and other options — as well as more specific property kinds. (You can select if you simply want to stay on a boat, for example). While Airbnb filters by location type and property type, Vrbo's filters are more extensive and robust.



Airbnb charges fees to both hosts and visitors. Typically, guests are charged 5% to 15% of the reservation sum. Meanwhile, hosts are charged a 3% fee every time an Airbnb booking is finalized. In addition, if you host an experience, Airbnb will charge a 20% service fee.


Vrbo, like Airbnb, levies fees to both proprietors and guests. Guests are often paid a service fee ranging from 6% to 12%. For homeowners, the service cost is more difficult. They must pay a subscription fee to list a rental on Vrbo. 

Vrbo hosts can choose between two subscription payment options: pay-per-booking, which charges hosts 8% for each booking received through the site (Vrbo recommends this option for new renters or people who rent for less than six weeks per year), and annual subscription payment, which charges homeowners a flat $499 fee up front for the year (The company recommends this option for year round hosts).

Continue reading: Exploring the Top 13 Airbnb Alternatives to Consider in 2023

Which one should you go with?

It depends on the type of trip you're searching for. Given the rental type flexibility, broad host network, and suite of "explore" capabilities, Airbnb may be better for anyone looking for a more adventurous trip.

If you're looking for a full vacation, a true escape for yourself, Vrbo may be a better fit. Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule, and each website provides a variety of tools and rentals to assist you in planning your dream vacation.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team provides up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals to help navigate the world of short lets. If you're interested in publishing your content, please get in touch with us at

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team provides up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals to help navigate the world of short lets. If you're interested in publishing your content, please get in touch with us at

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