Your online marketing campaign is an essential element of your vacation rental's marketing strategy, especially when you consider that all of your competitors, including hotels and resorts, probably have a very dominant online presence. In fact, without vacation rental listing websites, it can be a major challenge to find the bookings you need to maximize your vacation home's profitability.
But the web is home to tons of vacation rental listing websites, like Airbnb, VBRO, HomeAway, and FlipKey, among others. How do you choose the best site for your needs? It can be a challenge, especially if you're tasked with personally overseeing your online marketing efforts or need to provide your property manager with more direction. So let's explore the different rental property websites and how you can use these sites to maximize and manage your bookings.
The Best Vacation Rental Websites: HomeAway, VBRO, and VacationRentals.com
HomeAway is the parent company of VBRO and VacationRentals.com, so all three sites share lots of similarities and combined, they feature more than one million listings globally. The popularity of these sites means they see lots of traffic, which is great for exposure. So while there is more competition between actual property listings, the high traffic volume tends to offset this.
Some key considerations include:
- Guests can book instantly, which is great for capturing those “impulse” bookings.
- You can choose from secure, traceable payment options, which is great for confidence among buyers.
- These sites are mobile-friendly, with tons of features that allow you to really showcase your vacation home, including availability calendars, room for detailed descriptions, lots of photographs, and a guest review section for ever-important social proof.
- These sites offer damage insurance and other offerings, such as cancellation insurance and rental guarantees, although the fees are a bit higher than those on other sites.
- Guests also pay a service fee, which means it's more affordable for property owners.
- The listing fee is fairly pricey compared to other sites. Property owners can opt to pay a 10% fee for each booking or spend an annual fee of $349 or more.
The Best Vacation Rental Websites: Airbnb
Airbnb is one of the web's most popular vacation rental websites, and it has perhaps the best brand recognition in the niche, which means lots of traffic and exposure for property owners who choose to list on this site. Worldwide, Airbnb has more than 1.5 million vacation home listings in over 190 nations on its mobile-friendly website.
Some key features and points include:
- The mobile-friendly platform offers secure, traceable payments, allowing for greater guest confidence.
- You can showcase your home with lots of features, including a detailed property description, an amenities list, photographs, guest reviews, and an interactive map.
- Unfortunately, there is no booking availability calendar on Airbnb, which is one downside.
- There's an owner's profile, which allows you to add a bit of personality to the equation by placing a face to your vacation home. This profile page also features reviews from past guests for added social proof.
- The listing fee for property owners is just 3%, which is much lower than the fee on other sites.
- The guests pay a booking fee ranging from 6% to 12%, which is higher than the fee charged on other sites.
- Although due to brand recognition, many travelers go to Airbnb without browsing other platforms.
- The property owner can determine their own cancellation policy. There is also a free $1 million dollar “host guarantee,” which provides insurance coverage to property owners, covering up to $1 million in damages.
Airbnb also has lots of clever search filters that allow guests to search by date, location, and other features. This search feature adds “book now” pressure – a key sales strategy – by indicating how many rentals are still available. The implication is that you should book now or miss out.
The Best Vacation Rental Websites: FlipKey
FlipKey is owned by TripAdvisor, so there is a big emphasis on reviews and other social proof elements. For example, there is a little feature on each vacation home listing that indicates how many guests have used FlipKey to book that property in the past. The downside: This site only has around 300,000 property listings, but the site is clearly growing, and it is heavily promoted on TripAdvisor, which sees millions of visitors each month.
Some key features and considerations on FlipKey include:
- Instant booking features and a secure, traceable payment interface to bolster consumer confidence and seize upon “impulse” purchases.
- Property owners pay a competitive 3% fee on all bookings. This competitive rate is offset by the fees that are paid by guests, which can range from 5% to 15% of the booking fee. But this is comparable with one of the web's biggest vacation rental sites: Airbnb.
- FlipKey has feature-rich property listings, with detailed property descriptions, lots of photographs, guest reviews, availability calendars, interactive maps, and more.
- Homeowners are free to determine their own cancellation policies.
- Property owners cannot secure damage insurance through FlipKey, as is available through sites like Airbnb, although guests can secure damage protection insurance.
- There's also a “payment protection policy” for up to $10,000 for guests, which provides peace of mind to travelers.
With these considerations, you and your property manager will be well-positioned to choose the best vacation rental site for your needs! Remember that managing your booking calendar can be more complex if you choose to advertise on multiple sites, so this is an important consideration. You must immediately update your property's availability calendar if someone makes a booking on another platform. That’s why hiring the right property manager can go a long way toward maximizing your profits and keeping this organized, as many property managers will oversee your rental property listings.
To find that perfect property manager, turn to Rented.com. We’re a site dedicated to pairing vacation homeowners with top-rated local property managers. Many of the property managers we work with offer a guaranteed income model, so you receive a set monthly income regardless of bookings. Get started today by creating a free profile.
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