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-The Modern Innkeeper Team

Vacation Rental Listing Websites

There are several options for listing your vacation rental online. In order to compare the most popular sites I will use the following example:

Let's assume that you are renting a one bedroom house in a popular destination. You charge an average of $180 per night. Your occupancy rate is 75%, giving you a total annual revenue of $49,140.


The Fees: 

3% Booking Fee for Hosts (which includes all credit card processing fees) = $1,474.20 / year

6-12% Booking Fee for Travelers = $2,948.40 - $5,896.80 / year (which the traveler, not you, would pay)

The Run Down: 

AIRBNB is the #1 vacation rental listing website as far as traffic goes, hands down. We like AIRBNB for it's ease of use, it is the Apple of the vacation rental world. It is the only site that allows individual rooms in a house to be advertised. AIRBNB has popularized the idea of renting a vacation home, and normalized the idea of home stays. To list a property on AIRBNB is to be a part of a growing community of passionate travelers and hosts.


The Fees: 

$349 per year, plus a 2.5% credit card processing fee if you use their booking & payment system = $1,577.50 / year total

(or 10% per booking, which would only make sense if you planned on renting your home for less than $3,500 per year)

No Traveler Booking Fees

The Run Down: 

Before AIRBNB there was VRBO. They have come a long way but they still don't have the same traffic as AIRBNB. However, I personally have used VRBO exclusively for rentals and have had great success, so much so that I didn't need to advertise elsewhere. One of the reasons I love VRBO is that you can list your contact information as an owner. Coming from a hotel background I found this very useful, I like to connect with my guests before they book with me. As a traveller, I like to be able to negotiate the length of stay and rate before I make a reservation. Most travelers are more likely to make a reservation if they feel like they are getting the best value for their money (a discount for an extended stay or last minute stay, for example). I also like that I can use my own reservation and booking system outside of the site.

HOMEAWAY seems to be a great balance between AIRBNB and VRBO. The site is user friendly and designed well. The homeowner's information is clearly available on their listing. They may not be as well known as AIRBNB, but it is a site well worth checking out. They encompass several vacation rental listing websites (VRBO included) and aim to make every vacation rental listing on the web available to it's users. HOMEAWAY also operates BedAndBreakfast.com, a leader in the B&B world.

Both sites give you the option to book, but you can also use an outside booking and reservation system (more information below).


The Fees:

3% Booking Fee for Hosts (which includes all credit card processing fees) = $1,474.20 / year

5-15% Booking Fee for Travelers = $2,457 - $7,371 / year (which the traveler, not you, would pay)

The Rundown: 

TRIPADVISOR is the leading travel review site in the travel world, so it makes sense to advertise through it's vacation rental listing site, FLIPKEY. It is not as popular as AIRBNB or as comprehensive as VRBO or HOMEAWAY, but when travelers are searching for accommodations on TRIPADVISOR (hotels, bed and breakfasts, etc.) there is a section for vacation rentals as well, which is a very valuable marketing tool.


BOUTIQUE-HOMES.COM offers a curated list of small and unique vacation rentals from around the world, all are very design focused. KIDANDCOE.COM is a curated list of family friendly rentals. LUXURY RETREATS represents luxury villas hand picked and inspected by it's team, taking the uncertainty out of the vacation rental booking experience. All niche sites take care of the hard and time consuming work of sifting through thousands of rentals online to find the perfect one. Niche sites may not have the traffic that the larger sites do, but they offer value because they are referral sites that target specific groups of people.

If you operate more than one rental, or you would like to advertise on multiple sites, a separate reservation and payment system can be useful. If you used RESNEXUS (or a similar reservation and payment system), in conjunction with VRBO or HOMEAWAY you would be paying a total of $1,936 / year. AIRBNB does not allow you to advertise your personal contact information, so if you wan to go that route you would need to use them exclusively for all of your needs. See below for a list of online based reservation systems.

Reservation Systems

Here is what I look for in a reservation system for a small property:

  • Online accessibility (cloud based)
  • Comprehensive reporting (daily, monthly and yearly finance reports, etc.)
  • Seamless integrations with the property's website (the company should be able to help you design the booking page to look like your website)
  • A support team that is responsive and easy to work with
  • Ease of use (a time saver for yourself, your guests, and your staff)


The Fees: Starting at $49 / month

The Rundown: This is a very user friendly, comprehensive system, one that I have used with great success for both small Inns and vacation rentals. Their rates are competitive, and they offer specifically low priced packages for vacation rental owners. Their support team is incredibly helpful and responsive, both necessary considering how reliant we are on our reservation systems.


The Fees: Starting at $60 / month

The Rundown: Their many interfaces make working with existing restaurant reservation systems, voicemail, entertainment systems, etc. a snap. They also integrate with FLIPKEY, which means you wouldn't need to worry about keeping track of two sets of books. The system is Mac friendly and will run well on mobile devices. Their electronic signature app for the iPad will save you a ton in paper costs.


The Fees: Starting at $150 / month

The Rundown: An easy to use system, which is important when training staff. They advertise 24/7 support, which is very helpful considering hotels operate 24/7. This is a great option for a larger hotel (than, for example, just one or two vacation rentals).

Ultimately, you will need to decide on a system that works best for your property and your needs. I would highly recommend talking to the support staff of each company (to make sure you will have a good working relationship) and watching a demo of each system.