Which is beneficial for travelers, Airbnb or VRBO?

Which is beneficial for travelers, Airbnb or VRBO?

If you're deciding between the two booking sites, Airbnb is probably a better choice.


Compared to hotel rooms, vacation rentals have a number of advantages, including reduced costs, greater amenities, and a more individualized experience. However, determining which vacation rental website offers the best overall trip experience is another matter.

Here, we evaluate Airbnb and Vrbo, two well-known websites for vacation rentals, based on a number of factors. For the majority of passengers, we discovered that Airbnb provides a superior overall experience, although the best option will depend on your personal travel tastes.

Let us break it down

Winner for accommodation type: Airbnb

The kind of accommodation that these two platforms provide is where their biggest differences lie.

  • Only standalone vacation properties are available on VRBO. Generally speaking, it does not provide "shared" areas like private rooms or more odd choices like campgrounds.
  • Along with standalone vacation houses, communal spaces, and even hotel rooms, Airbnb also provides. Although it began as a home-sharing idea, it now offers a variety of accommodation options.

In other words, both Airbnb and Vrbo are good options if you're wanting to rent a house for a family gathering. However, remain with Airbnb if you're searching for a less conventional shared space or something more affordable.

If you've had unpleasant experiences in the past with vacation homes that were less clean or upscale than the photographs promised, you might want to look into Airbnb "Plus" properties, which have been personally reviewed for quality.

While Vrbo does not, Airbnb also provides discounts for extended stays. Digital nomads and other people wishing to establish temporary roots should use Airbnb because these savings can make a significant difference when staying for a week or longer.


Accommodation                     $2500

Long Stay Discount                -$700

Cleaning Fee                           $250

Service Fee                            $250

Total                                        $2,300


Search functionality Winner: Vrbo

Both Airbnb and Vrbo offer similar, intuitive search tools.

Search functionality Winner: Vrbo

The page for Airbnb looks superior in every way, and it has some good map-based visual components, including rates and famous places. In contrast, Vrbo's page is clumsy and out-of-date and even has a banner advertisement.

Despite its inferior aesthetics

Despite its inferior aesthetics, Vrbo has much better filter and sorting capabilities than Airbnb.

For instance, Vrbo enables you to filter by user evaluations, including cleanest properties and properties with four stars or more.


Property reviews

The filters on Vrbo are also simpler to use. On Vrbo's initial search screen, the "pets allowed" filter—which is essential for plenty of vacationers—is prominently featured. On the other hand, it's hidden under the "house rules" section of Airbnb's menus.

Overall, users' ability to filter and search using these basic criteria is severely constrained by Airbnb. Want to uncover the top-rated home on Airbnb in your search area? Good fortune. The platform does not provide a mechanism to search or filter by customer reviews, which is frequently the most crucial factor for travelers.


Selection Winner: Airbnb

There isn't much of a contest here. As of September 2020, Airbnb had 5.6 million active listings, and while Vrbo doesn't disclose this figure, it's almost certainly smaller. The difference between the two platforms is instantly apparent when searching in the same area.


For instance, a search on Airbnb in the little town of Forks, Washington, turns up 42 listings with a variety of lodging options and costs.


For instance, a search


A similar search on Vrbo reveals just one active property (the pin doesn’t count).


Vrbo reveals


This isn’t a fluke. Airbnb simply dominates in terms of the pure number of listings available.


Booking Winner: Airbnb

Both channels for booking with a property host are offered by vacation rental providers. That is, rather than booking "an Airbnb," you are actually doing it "via Airbnb." Because of this, the booking procedure may appear a little odd to people who are accustomed to staying in hotels.

You must first send a "request" for a booking, which includes a pricing estimate and a message to the host, for all Vrbo and some Airbnb homes. After carefully considering the request, your profile and perhaps past host ratings, the host either approves it or rejects it. In other words, before your reservation is finalized, you must wait for the host's approval.

If that sounds like a lot of hassle, Airbnb offers an “instant book” option on some of their properties, which is exactly what it sounds like.

This provides Airbnb the advantage in this area by eliminating an occasionally annoying step from the reservation process.


Flexibility Winner: Airbnb

The property manager may specify the cancellation and modification policies for reservations on both Airbnb and Vrbo. There is no way to tell which of these rules offers more overall flexibility because they differ from property to property.

However, there are differences in how these rules are presented, clarified, and put into practice; once more, Airbnb has the tiny advantage.

Airbnb offers a range of pre-set flexibility rules, from "flexible" to "strict," for hosts to select from. To make each guideline easier to understand for prospective guests, it has a color-coded chronology.


The decision of whether to click "book" is made easier by Airbnb's simple explanations and condensed policies. Based on the booking dates, it is simple to understand when you can get a complete refund or possibly lose your entire booking cost.

On the other hand, Vrbo's policies aren't as clear-cut or straightforward. These range from "no refund" to "14/7," meaning that if you cancel with 14 days or more of early notice, you'll receive a complete refund; if you cancel with at least seven days of advance notice, you'll receive a 50% refund (less the service fee). Although it's a little more difficult to compare, these policies are comparable to Airbnb's.

But the fundamental issue with Vrbo is that it supports "custom" regulations. This implies that a host can establish regulations that are distinct from the standard policies, so you, the visitor, must read more tiny print to comprehend them.

While this doesn't necessarily imply that the policies of VRBO rentals are less flexible than those of comparable Airbnb homes, it does imply that they are more complex.


Pricing and most fees Winner: Tie

Given that each property is different, it is challenging to compare the overall costs of these two services. We examined bookings across platforms and discovered that they were generally similar on average (at about 20% of the basic rate), which is how they both generate revenue by adding a service fee on top of the base rate.

Although homeowners on both Airbnb and Vrbo have the option to request refundable security deposits from visitors, we noticed a lot more of these deposits on Vrbo properties during our search.

We don't believe that one platform systematically charges them more frequently than the other, but these deposits do add a layer of complication and potential price for guests.


Cleaning fees

Winner: Vrbo

Many holiday renters detest cleaning costs. These one-time fees are applied to both Airbnb and Vrbo homes and are used by the hosts to defray the expense of cleaning their accommodations. The hosts, not the platform, control the prices, so they differ greatly depending on the property. According to a NerdWallet analysis, the average cleaning price for an Airbnb listing for a single night was $75.

Vrbo, however, has the lead in terms of fee presentation. For years, Vrbo has shown the overall cost of renting a holiday property (before tax). Visitors can use the Vrbo pricing filter to filter search results by total price without having to opt in to see this information. Travelers are constantly shown the complete cost and breakdown.

On the other hand, Airbnb does not automatically include cleaning costs in the price displayed in search results. Airbnb revealed a new toggle feature that will be available at the end of 2022 and will disclose the complete price, including all costs, in response to complaints that cleaning fees were unclear and only displayed during checkout. However, consumers will still only see nightly rates if they choose not to enable the total price display.


The bottom line

Overall winner: Airbnb

There are many benefits to using Airbnb while looking for a holiday rental. It has literally millions of listings, a variety of lodging options, and quick booking and flexibility options.

The "family" brand that Vrbo has positioned itself to be is undoubtedly reflected in the stand-alone homes it rents out. But other than some superior sorting and filtering features, it's difficult to convince anyone—including families—to use Vrbo.

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