How Does VRBO Work?
Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to Making Your Vacation Rental Profitable
If you’re looking to join the vacation rental bandwagon, your initial questions are likely to be: What is VRBO? How does VRBO work? Is it any different from Airbnb?
Over the past few decades, the short-term rental market has grown in leaps and bounds. While travel rules and restrictions put travel and tourism industry activities to a screeching halt during the pandemic, activity is quickly picking up as things return to normal.
Today, both guests and hosts alike are going back to home sharing or short-term rental lodgings, which remain a well-liked option, especially for families and group travelers.
Both guests and hosts benefit from services like VRBO and Airbnb. These platforms give travelers and tourists additional options and a wider price range to work with their budget. They also enable hosts to generate passive income off their real estate investment.
Founded much earlier but relatively less well-known than its closest cousin Airbnb, Vacation Rental By Owner or VRBO (aka Vrbo) is a great option for anybody wishing to grow their short-term rental business.
If you have a San Diego, California property and are keen on providing the same service to travelers and tourists, there’s a lot of information you need to know to make VRBO work for you. And to help you out, we’ll be answering the questions posed at the beginning of this blog post and providing essential advice to get your VRBO business in San Diego, California up and running.
What is VRBO?
Prior to the development of the internet, vacation rental services were made available through newspaper advertisements, property management companies, and rental collections in various locations.
Originally known as Vacation Rentals by Owner, VRBO continues to be known as an American internet marketplace for short-stay or vacation rentals.
David Clouse created the first VRBO.com website in Aurora, Colorado in 1995 to rent out his apartment at the Breckenridge ski resort. Later, the website evolved into a complete solution that allowed homeowners to market their property for rent to travelers and holiday-goers.
HomeAway purchased the brand way back in 2006, but a few years later in 2015, the Expedia Group bought HomeAway.
From that point forward, the two websites, HomeAway and VRBO, were merged into one, becoming the single entity now known as VRBO. This came with a new pronunciation and a different logo.
At first, VRBO followed the subscription business model in which hosts had to pay an annual fee to advertise their vacation homes on the website. Being a part of the Expedia Group, VRBO eventually shifted to a per-rental commission charge structure (just like Airbnb), finally doing away with the yearly subscription fee.
Nearly 70,000 rental units were listed on VRBO during the first ten years of the company’s existence. The platform currently includes several million rental properties from around the world.
How does VRBO work?
If you have a rental home on the market available to renters, you can rent it out when it’s vacant using VRBO to earn extra money. With VRBO, finding dependable, vetted tenants to rent your property has never been simpler.
Follow the straightforward listing questionnaire on the VRBO website to gain a rough understanding of how to advertise your house on the platform.
Once your profile is complete, you can list your vacation rental right away. Since VRBO is accessible to more than 190 countries worldwide and listings appear in more than 50 dedicated sites, you’ll be sure to attract prospective renters from all over the world. This will guarantee that many people will see your rental listing.
VRBO is one of the world’s leading networks for travelers looking to rent houses, you can be sure that listing your property is a simple way to generate additional income from your real estate assets.
If you don’t want pets in your rental, that’s not an issue! You can easily set availability and property restrictions on a variety of items related to your rental.
Given the direction the global tourism industry is taking, there’s no better time than now to educate yourself on the newest and most effective ways to rent out your properties or locate tenants using the internet.
Listing your rental property on VRBO
Surprisingly simple and quick, listing your vacation rental house on VRBO is something you can manage easily.
However, take note that the platform does not permit the listing of shared homes or rooms. Only complete homes or property units are accepted.
These include beach houses, ski cabins, condominiums, townhouses, apartments, single-family homes, barns, castles, mountaintop yurts, and other types of properties (including the famous “Cockpit Cabana” — a remodeled airplane in Costa Rica offering guests fabulous ocean views and two queen-sized beds) listed on VRBO.
You can list your property by following these simple steps:
- Get your property ready. It’s really easy to create a listing on VRBO. All you need to do is provide information like the listing description, location, photographs, and payment details. Use only high-quality images, describe your property’s USP or what makes it special in great detail, set the price, and state your ground rules.
- Find your perfect match. Travelers looking for lodging in your area will see your listing on the website. They can then choose and take the next steps to book your rental. VRBO offers a platform for direct communication between the property owner and the possible visitor to provide a secure verification and prevent fraud. This is very efficient since it promotes a sense of security for both parties — guests and owners — and enables identity verification.
- Start earning. The VRBO website will deduct a service fee (both guests and hosts get charged a certain amount) and credit your total earnings to your Vrbo balance on the website.
Everything can be controlled from your dashboard. Your listing will stand out more if it includes relevant, detailed information and excellent photos. To avoid misunderstandings or confusion, be open and truthful about your listing and booking preferences.
Local rules and regulations should also be considered in your listing. You have a responsibility as a host to be familiar with and adhere to local regulations. These must be reflected in your ad in case there are set limits or restrictions on short-term rentals locally.
Property managers in charge of several rental homes might find it quite convenient to set up their property manager account with VRBO, after which they may be required to connect their property management software to the website.
Tips to create winning listings
Since millennials and members of Generation Z comprise a significant portion of the market for short-term rentals, hosts need to know how to sell to them effectively. Marketing to the younger generation is not difficult, and you can easily do it with adequate planning and preparation.
Below are some tactics you can use to win this younger market over:
- Be present online. Gen Z and millennials tend to spend more time online, so you need to be active online if you want to draw younger travelers to your property. The best social networking sites you can use that allow users to view visual (photos and videos) content are Pinterest and Instagram. Upload images and videos of your property on Pinterest and use relevant hashtags to make it easier for visitors to find them. You can also use Instagram to advertise your property by using photos and creating Instagram stories.
- Remember to tell a story. The images you use should convey a story. The experience that your visitors will have while staying at your vacation rental should be reflected in that tale. When guests check out your photos, you want them to envision their stay with you, so include clear, high-resolution images of the amenities, neighborhood, and nearby attractions. Try to stick with a consistent aesthetic or theme for your images and refrain from applying various filters.
- Offer experiences and deals. Instead of focusing on the amenities in your rental, emphasize experiences. For millennials and Gen Z, experiences are everything. They want to document and share those experiences with their network online. By emphasizing the distinctive experiences your rental offers, you can encourage reservations. Are kayaking, swimming, and hiking feasible as you operate a lodge on a mountaintop or near a lake? If so, by all means, emphasize those experiences. You can also work with local businesses like restaurants, museums, and tour operators, so you can collaborate and offer deals to prospective guests.
- Make your rental property eco-friendly. It’s no secret that younger travelers are partial to vacation rentals that are environmentally friendly. Features like solar panels, a smart thermostat, and LED lightbulbs are sure to attract millennials and Gen Z, so make sure you highlight and list them. If you’re part of collaborations or partnerships with organizations that support the neighborhood or community, include that information in your listings as well.
Setting your rates
Owners can decide on their expected rental prices for their properties on VRBO.
However, rather than randomly setting a price based on your desired profit, you should do a bit of research to find the current rental rate for similar properties in your area. You may choose to offer nightly or weekly fees, so you can pick the type of clientele you want.
A benefit of using VRBO is that when you post your property on their website, it also appears on all of the company’s linked or sister websites, thereby increasing your potential audience reach even more.
Remember, the parent company of VRBO is the Expedia Group, so other websites affiliated with it include well-known names in the travel industry. These include KAYAK, Trivago, Orbitz, Travelocity, CheapTickets, and TravelMob.
How is VRBO different from Airbnb?
As a third-party hosting platform where hosts can offer their short-term rental, Vrbo shares some similarities with Airbnb. By using the Vrbo app, users can explore properties, plan trips, and make lodging payments, just like with Airbnb.
However, there are also some glaring differences between the two that are worth mentioning here:
- Types of properties listed: VRBO exclusively features whole-house listings, unlike Airbnb. The latter lists shared lodgings, aside from private rooms in a house, shared accommodation (e.g., dorm room at a hostel), and even hotel rooms. This simply means you won’t be able to rent out an extra room on VRBO. This is also why VRBO is recommended for extended stays.
- Number of listings: Since Vrbo listings are property-specific, it makes sense that Vrbo has fewer rentals than Airbnb. However, both websites have millions of listings that renters can easily search for using a map view. VRBO has around 2 million listings, while Airbnb has over 5 million.
- Customer service approach: There are huge differences in both companies’ brand of customer service. VRBOis more likely to help guests with issues regarding their reservation or vacation rental. It’s no wonder VRBO typically gets great reviews for their stellar customer service. On the other hand, Airbnb adopts a more passive stance toward customer service and can only be contacted once a dispute has been settled with the property manager. You’re also likely to find negative reviews concerning some Airbnb-listed rentals.
- Insurance coverage: Vrbo offers optional travel protection insurance and damage protection insurance (especially for renters with kids and or pets). No such insurance is offered on Airbnb.
- Fees: With VRBO, the service fees can be substantially lower. A VRBO rental is typically less expensive than an Airbnb rental, though the final cost will depend on other aspects of your rental. The location and size of the property, as well as the duration of a guest’s stay, are some of the variables that can affect the total cost. Taxes, cleaning costs, and website service fees may also add to the overall price of your holiday rental.
- Cancellation policies: Although the differences in the cancellation policies for VRBO and Airbnb are not so cut and dried, it is generally easier to cancel a booking on Airbnb. But, of course, such policies depend entirely on the conditions and guidelines set by property owners or managers.
Why should you list your property on VRBO?
VRBO is a popular website that enjoys a lot of foot traffic, and it remains to be a trusted name in the vacation rental industry.
Listing your property on VRBO is a great way to drive traffic to your property listing. Your property will be displayed not only on VRBO but also on a variety of affiliate sites that’ll ensure your listing receives plenty of exposure. This way, your number of guests will increase, thereby giving you higher rental returns.
If you have more than one vacation rental, it makes sense to entrust Vrbo property management in San Diego, California to a reputable company like Haustay.
With our help, you can maximize your VRBO rental income while also freeing up more of your time for other more important pursuits. Get in touch with Haustay today!
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