You, the Vacation Home Rental Owner, Got it Good
Being a rental property owner comes with its perks. Advertising your vacation rental property has been made easy with the number of different websites out there. It is safe to say you have a good amount of platforms to get your “one-of-a-kind” investment property out there.
The question here is, what are the best vacation home rental sites, and how do they compare to one another? Here, we compare Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, and Trip Advisor. So, who are we crowning king of the best vacation home rental sites?
Giving You the Numbers
So let’s see how each of these websites compares to one another. We’re mainly focusing on factors like the site traffic, host fees, traveler fees, and overall purpose of each site. We are on the search for the best vacation home rental sites out there, so let’s see what we can find.
Customer Traffic of the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites
Take a look at what customer flow the best vacation home rental sites are offering. From greatest to least, here is approximately how many users visit these sites monthly:
- Booking.com-40 million
- Trip Advisor-38 million
- HomeAway-8.25 million
- Airbnb-6 million
That is a lot of millions, but we’ll talk more about the “trade-offs” of each of these sites because every ‘pro’ comes with a ‘con’. High traffic to the website means more exposure to potential customers. In theory, more potential customers mean more booking, resulting in more money in your bank account.
Host Fees-What it’s Going to Cost You
Investing in vacation homes comes with its expenses since advertising on different platforms comes with a price. Just how pricey can using these websites get? Here’s the break down:
3% credit card fee*, no subscription fee, 15% booking fee
0% credit card fee, no subscription fee, 3% booking fee
Per Booking- 3% credit card fee, no subscription fee, 5% booking fee
Subscription model– 3% credit card fee, $500 subscription fee, no booking fee
0% credit card fee, no subscription fee, 3% booking fee
Traveler Costs-Brought to You by the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites
You should be just as worried about how much it will cost your travelers as it will cost you when using these sites. The best vacation home rental sites try to offer low rates for both, but they cannot be perfect. Here is how much it will cost your guests:
- Booking.com- 0% traveler fee
- Tripadvisor- 12% traveler fee
- HomeAway-8.5% traveler fee
- Airbnb-10% traveler fee
Why Users Go to the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites
Different travelers go to the top vacation rental sites depending on the home experience they are looking for. Now, this doesn’t mean you should not list your vacation home rentals just because it is not the websites “type”.
However, knowing why users go to this specific website can help you determine the best investment property to list. Fitting guest criteria and meeting their searches helps you get booked much easier.
Trip Advisor & Booking.com:
We group these together because they are very similar in purpose.
- Large platform with a very diverse audience for a number of travel accommodations
- They are not limited to vacation home rental properties
- Big travel marketplace ideal for exposure to a large audience
- Good for traditional resort destinations
- Known for having large inventory in the beach, mountain, and desert locations
- Attracts families or groups searching for a week-long vacation
- Go-to site for millennials and travelers on the search for urban destinations
- Usually last minute, shorter stays
- Suitable for younger travelers, especially if your vacation home property is located in a trendy destination or city
Related: Real Estate Investing: Traditional vs. Airbnb Investments
The Similar, the Different, and Everything in Between
Let’s put words to those numbers. We really want an in-depth comparison of how the best vacation home rental sites perform. Don’t let the numbers alone skew you into one direction since there are some ‘you win some you lose some’ aspects we’re going to talk about.
Booking.com-Prince in the Kingdom Of the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites?
With the high traffic coming into the site, you’re bound to get more exposure. However, you can’t help but wonder is it quantity over quality? Booking.com has higher owner fees, mandatory instant booking, and is not exclusive to vacation rentals. If the extra traffic is what you’re aiming for, those trade-offs can be worth it. On the other hand, if you want lower fees and greater flexibility, keep reading.
Booking.com operates on a pay-per-booking model. *Booking.com doesn’t have a credit card processing fee, but they do require that vacation rental owners have a merchant account (such as VRP or Square, which usually comes with an additional 3% fee). Booking.com does indeed charge the greatest fees to owners – but don’t let that scare you away too quickly. This is the only site that charges travelers nothing, which can provide a major incentive for guests to book with them. You are paying the costs of your guests, but it may be worth it.
TripAdvisor-King of the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites?
TripAdvisor is a close second to Booking.com in terms of traffic. Promoting your rental property listing here will get your property investment in front of a good amount of prospective travelers. TripAdvisor too does not exclusively focus on vacation rentals. There is a concentration on a number of travel-related services in addition to their vacation rental inventory. However, the gamble can be worth it due to: the much lower owner fee, and the automatic posting of your listing to their sister site, Flip Key. Here, you get to hit two birds with one stone.
TripAdvisor also operates on a pay-per-booking model, and in order to list on either site, you pay the 3% booking fee. Although the costs are considered affordable for you, the rental property owner, the traveler premiums are up there. This can be a red flag as it may scare away potential guests. TripAdvisor is the most expensive for travelers out of all the vacation rental sites we have compared.
HomeAway & Airbnb: The Queens of the Best Vacation Home Rental Sites?
Although the two aren’t as impressive in terms of traffic, they make up for it in target precision. The 8.25 and 6 million visitors are likely much more targeted than either TripAdvisor or Booking.com, as HomeAway and Airbnb focus on short-term rentals. Travelers on the hunt for a vacation rental are likely to turn to either one of these platforms.
HomeAway has two different models. The HomeAway subscription plan has a $500 per year fee. This is an ideal plan to go for if vacation rental owners rent out the investment property over 6 weeks of the year (while still earning at least $6,980). If your bookings are falling short of that minimum, the pay per booking plan is more beneficial for you.
Airbnb only operates on a pay-per-booking model, and to list your property on the site, you pay a 3% booking fee. With the low Airbnb fees for owners, this is an ideal platform for homeowners wanting to rent, whether it be a private room in a house or a whole residential investment property. Airbnb is more popular for those short stays and weekend trips. If you’re looking for something more long term, you may have to find a better alternative.
The Winner: Who Takes the Crown?
So you have found your vacation income property with the help of Mashvisor analytics of course, and you’re ready to go. Using Mashvisor’s product allows you to have a full rental property analysis at your fingertips. With the property analysis software of Mashvisor, the numbers come to surface. The money-making numbers.
Cash on cash return, return on investment, Airbnb and traditional occupancy rate, and cap rate are only some of the important metrics we give to you. Mashvisor’s financial projection can bring you one step closer to buying a vacation home as an investment, and finding the income generating assets of your dreams. The number of real estate investment tools are just waiting for you to use them.
Related: Investment Analysis Software: Real Estate Investing
When you decide to buy a vacation home to rent out, you need to consider how you’re going to market that bad boy. We have listed some of the best vacation home rental sites. Each of these sites provides different audiences, benefits, and tools to do that.
A Little Words of Advice to Finish
Which of the following comes out on top goes back to your judgment and your needs. Are you willing to sacrifice some of that cash flow for a wider audience? Will you take the chances of an annual subscription without knowing if the property will sell or not? Ask yourself these questions.
We advise you to experiment a little and ask around. Your peers and coworkers are perfect real estate investing guinea pigs, so see what works for who. Determine whether or not you can relate to other real estate investors and apply their ethic and techniques with your own twist. You get to crown the best of the best vacation home rental sites. We put the power in your hands.
Related: Vacation Rental Websites: Comparing Airbnb, VRBO & Booking.com
A trial and error process can be costly, so getting some words of advice from others isn’t too bad of an idea. Trust your gut, as real estate investors are born with a sixth sense we like to call: money detection. You have an instinct when it comes to this, embrace it! It will come in handy when you’re on the look-out for the best vacation home rental sites to list your property.
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