Where to Start: VRBO, Airbnb, Booking.com or HomeAway?

madison 01/08/2019

You’ve made up your mind - you’re going to turn your property into a short-term rental. YAY.

But where do you begin once your property is guest ready? A listing platform.

But which one should you list on? With so many platforms out there, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com and VRBO, choosing which one to start with can be overwhelming.

To make your selection process a little simpler, here’s a comparison of each of the major listing platforms.

Bonus: We’ve included a platform that lets you list your property on all the booking platforms from one place! Keep reading to find out what it is.


VRBO has been in the VR industry a long time - 23 years to be exact and was acquired by HomeAway in 2006. VRBO has a large range of rental types and over 2 million listings, however, you can only list on their platform if you’re renting out your entire property.

When it comes to the guests, they’re typically charged a service fee ranging anywhere from 6-12%. As for the homeowner’s service fee, there are two options:

  1. Pay Per Booking - Homeowners are charged 8% for each booking received through the site
  2. Annual Subscription - Yearly payment of $499 + 3% credit card processing for each booking

VRBO recommends the pay per booking option for new renters or for those that rent less than 6 weeks out of the year. The annual subscription is recommended in all other cases.

Traditionally speaking, VRBO caters more towards the family travel groups vacationing in destination markets.


Airbnb has been around since 2008 and quickly took the world by storm. With over 4 million listings in 191 countries, Airbnb has one of the largest host networks of any platform. Airbnb allows anyone to rent out their space, no matter how big or small. From entire property listings to shared room listings, Airbnb has everything - they’ve even started listing boutique hotels.

Guests are typically charged 5-15% of the reservation subtotal and hosts are charged a 3% booking fee for every completed booking. If you’re hosting an “experience”, Airbnb will charge a 20% service fee.

Airbnb tends to cater towards smaller groups than VRBO, younger, and more urban travel. However, efforts are being made to grow their traditional vacation rentals markets.


Launched in 1996, Booking.com is undoubtedly the largest listing platform out there. Booking.com has listings in 227 countries and in 43 different languages. What makes them different is the fact they offer home listings next to hotels. With over 5 million non-hotel listings, Booking.com allows properties of all sizes and types but strays away from shared spaces.

Guests are in the clear when it comes to booking fees whereas owners are responsible for a 15% booking fee.

Travelers booking with Booking.com primarily tend to be of International origin. Specifically Europeans of all ages. However, they seem to be gaining market share very quickly in North America and will be bringing you a growing amount of guests each year.


HomeAway was founded in 2005 and boasts more than 2 million vacation rentals in 190 countries. 10 years into its’ existence, HomeAway was acquired by Expedia.

According to HomeAway, HomeAway’s service fee is applied to the traveler and ranges between “6-12% for most bookings but can be above or below, based on the reservation… Generally, the higher the reservation amount, the lower the percentage of the service fee.”

While HomeAway, like VRBO, caters more towards family travel to destination markets, recent acquisitions of Pillow and ApartmentJet suggest a focus on growth in their urban segment.


Looking to list your property on all the booking platforms but don’t want to spend hours doing it? You’re in luck - FutureStay makes it easy do exactly that!

What’s great about FutureStay is that it’s free to use. They only apply a 5% markup to your listing. For example, if your target profit for the listing is $100/night, FutureStay will display the listing price as $105.

We hope that by comparing each of the major listing platforms your decision on where to start is a little easier! Do you have a favorite listing platform? Let us know!

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