Airbnb is one of the leading global travel brands, and for a good reason. Airbnb receives millions of monthly visitors, a loyal customer base, and a platform that converts visitors into guests. That’s why many new hosts and smaller vacation rental managers start on Airbnb. But as your vacation rental business grows, you might want to think about diversifying and listing with Airbnb’s competitors.
It’s a marketing tactic the vacation rental industry calls multi-channel distribution. The general idea is that you take advantage of Airbnb’s competitor sites to diversify your bookings. You’ll then be able to reduce your vacancies, which eventually raise your nightly rates. It’s not critical you list on a bunch of sites right away, but it should be part of your near-term business model.
These Airbnb alternative websites target a broad audience and also have loyal client bases. Some might have barriers to entry that limit single-property hosts. However, they are perfect for multi-property managers since they integrate with most Property Management Platforms or Channel Managers.
Vrbo: Open your property to millions of travelers
Vrbo is one of the most popular Airbnb alternatives. Vrbo has solidified its marketing strategy to attract guests looking for an entire home or villa in recent years. Typically, visitors on their site are looking for extended stays for travel with family or within a group, and vacation homes are the most popular offering. The average length of stay is just a bit higher than Airbnb.
On the marketing side, they optimized their platform to convert those visitors into reservations. So if you have a portfolio of entire homes that perform well on Airbnb, you might also want to list Vrbo. Even if you’re at 100% occupancy, the extra exposure means you’ll be able to raise your rates on both sites.
Vrbo is owned by the Expedia Group, a huge online travel conglomerate. A few years ago, Expedia Group purchased several short-term rental sites, including Homeaway. However, since the pandemic, Expedia has been consolidating these brands under the Vrbo marketing umbrella. For example, a guest visiting Homeaway will now be redirected to Vrbo. Expect more changes like this in coming years as the consolidation to Vrbo expands.
P.S.: if you’re wondering what Vrbo stands for, it’s “vacation rentals by owner”.
- Tools for hosts and managers to optimize their listing description and marketing.
- New listings get bumped to the first page to evaluate performance and establish analytics for the host.
- Vrbo has around 2 million properties on offer, and traffic to compete with Airbnb.
- Your family-friendly properties or entire home rentals won’t be listed near home-sharing or room rentals like on other sites.
- The service includes paid and free listing options, with paid listing options usually getting more visibility on the site.
Fees and integrating Vrbo (formerly Homeaway) into your tech stack
When it comes to fees for hosts and managers, there are two pricing options. The first choice is to pay $499 for a yearly subscription to list your properties. Alternatively, you can pay 5% per booking and a 3% credit card processing fee. Note that you’ll still have to pay credit card processing fees, even if you go fixed-price.
Vrbo integrates with most, if not all, property management platforms (PMPs), including Hostfully. Channel Managers will also have solid connectivity with Vrbo (if your current provider has challenges).
Booking.com: A top Airbnb competitor that reaches a wide market
Booking.com first began in 1996 and was originally a hotel booking site. To compete with Airbnb, Booking.com allowed vacation rental hosts and managers to list on their site. There are currently over 28 million listings in 226 countries and territories worldwide. It had a 67.7% share in the European OTA market in 2019.
Booking.com is one of the biggest Airbnb competitors. However, because it’s not a dedicated vacation rental site and has so many listings available to the visitors, you run the risk of lower visibility.
- You’ll have access to insightful metrics on how your properties perform with visitors. Their tools make it easy to optimize your listings to get more reservations.
- Flexible cancellation and no booking fees make this an attractive option for guests. However, that cancellation policy can also make it challenging for smaller vacation rental managers.
- Their Genius Program makes it easier to appear on the first page of search results.
- Paid ads yield a high return on investment for the host or manager.
- The host portal is feature-rich but also intuitive to use.
What it’ll cost you to list on Booking.com
Just like Airbnb, it’s free to list your vacation homes on Booking.com, and the 15% fee is charged upon a completed reservation. You’ll also have to consider your credit card processing fees, which depend on the provider you go with. That said, given that it’s free to list, it’s worth getting the extra exposure and diversifying your booking sources.
Most top-tier PMP providers will have a preferred partner connection with Booking.com (better connectivity and more reliability). If your PMP doesn’t have partner status, check for a Channel Manager. Most have a solid integration with Booking.com.
Tripadvisor (+Flipkey): List on the globe’s largest review site
Many travelers use Tripadvisor and Flipkey to plan their trips. But did you know that you can also use the platform to list your vacation rental properties? In total, Tripadvisor and Flipkey have 830,000 listings on its platform. Tripadvisor is an OTA and has a smaller market share than Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, but significant nonetheless. Where Tripadvisor shines is that listings get automatically translated into 26 languages. This sets it apart from Airbnb and helps property owners reach a niche audience (non-English speaking travelers). Hosts and managers that serve international guests could get a bump in reservations from listing on Tripadvisor.
- Tripadvisor and Flipkey gives travelers the chance to book their whole trip—from accommodation to flights and car rentals—unlike other Airbnb alternatives.
- Filtering options that help you reach your target audience (family-friendly, budget, etc.)
- Trusted site with most travelers. If your properties get good reviews, you’ll have a high chance of converting visitors into reservations.
The fees Tripadvisor charges (and how to connect)
There is a 10-15% booking fee on every booking on Tripadvisor, but with no upfront costs. Most hosts and managers will need a Channel Manager alongside their PMP to list on Tripadvisor. However, a few PMPs like Hostfully directly integrate with this Airbnb competitor.
HomeToGo: Join one of the fastest-growing distribution networks
HomeToGo is the world’s largest vacation rental metasearch engine. They have rentals in 200 countries, with 18 million offers. As Airbnb competitors go, HomeToGo is different: Airbnb is a marketplace, whereas HomeToGo is a metasearch engine, pulling listings from other websites and giving homeowners extra exposure.
While HomeToGo’s userbase is international, they have a solid European following. It’s perfect for hosts and managers who operate in areas that see a lot of visitors from Europe. Just like Vrbo, Tripadvisor, and Booking.com, HomeToGo is a great platform to diversify away from Airbnb.
HomeToGo recently went public, so expect capital inflow to lead to explosive growth.
- Although HomeToGo is a listing site that competes with Airbnb competitors, it’s also a metasearch engine. It pulls short-term rental listings from other websites to bolster its inventory.
- 1,300 providers have been integrated into the platform so far. Adoption by hosts and managers is increasing month-on-month.
- Since it’s less competitive than Airbnb, you have a higher chance of converting visitors into reservations.
HomeToGo’s fees and how to connect
HomeToGo charges a 14% commission—similar to Airbnb—and it’s integrated into most top-tier PMPs. HomeToGo is now a significant player in the space, and most providers should directly incorporate it. But if your PMP doesn’t have a direct integration, all Channel Managers offer the connectivity.
Google Vacation Rentals: Use Google Ads to target your customers
Google owns 90% of the search market share, which will inevitably expose your listing to an enormous number of people. The vacation rental service was launched in 2019, and there are currently upwards of 10 million active listings. Google acts as a metasearch engine, linking to other websites. It’s a great way to drive free traffic to your direct booking site.
While Airbnb is currently the listing site to beat, Google’s reach means that Google Vacation Rentals will quickly become a fierce competitor to Airbnb’s grip.
- Exposes your listings to billions of daily Google searches.
- By listing through Google, your properties also have a chance to compete with hotels.
- Google remains underutilized by hosts and managers. It’s a low-competition ground.
- Hosts and managers can predict seasonality since Google’s search volumes and trends are made public via Google Trends.
How to list and what are the costs with Google Vacation Rentals
Advertising on Google is free, and Google doesn’t charge a commission fee on bookings either. This makes Google Vacation Rentals an interesting looking at alternatives to Airbnb. However, because Google directs traffic to your direct booking site, you’ll still have to pay the credit card processing fees.
So far, there aren’t any PMPs with direct integrations to Google Vacation Rental. You’ll need a Channel Manager. Luckily, some of the industry’s best Channel Managers have built stable and reliable connections to Google. Make sure your PMP integrates with a Channel Manager that connects to Google.
Golightly was founded by Victoria O’Connell and launched in 2020. The listing site offers a way for women to travel—or host—with ease and added security, something that Airbnb cannot always guarantee.
It has around 2,000 listings currently. It’s still a start-up and is looking to triple in size by next year. Listing now could mean taking advantage of a platform on the rise.
- Creates peace of mind for host and guests alike (i.e. knowing you’ll be safe at check-in).
- The membership aspect creates accountability within the group and less chance of your vacation homes being damaged.
- Only women travelers can join the site to book, but men are allowed to accompany them.
- Women make up the majority of hosts and managers. But if you’re a man, you can still list your properties here as long as the other gender is represented in your company makeup.
GoLightly’s fees and connectivity
The current fees are only 3% for hosts and 8% for travelers. The flat fee structure and no hidden surprises make it attractive for travelers. On top of the brand promise, this fee structure leads to higher conversion rates. The platform is integrated with a few PMP (notably Hostfully) and some Channel Managers.
Yonder: Reconnect with nature
As an Airbnb alternative, Yonder differs by offering specialist listings that, above all, place nature at its core, both in the hosts and guests it attracts. Created in 2018 by Tim Southwell to fill a gap in the travel market for nature-based destinations, Yonder now has listings in the UK, US, Canada and is looking to expand to Australia and Europe.
- Listings are all nature-based and aimed at outdoor-loving guests. This is perfect with hosts and managers with rural, farm, or nature properties. Glamping rental sites and tiny home short-term rentals also perform great on this platform.
- Focused on sustainability and practicing environmental responsibility. Yonder is an easy platform to list your vacation rentals if your property fits these values.
- Legally committed Public Benefits Corporation that delivers on environmental and social good.
Summary and comparison
Listing on Yonder is entirely free until a guest books. Then, you’ll be charged only 3%. They’re integrated with Hostfully’s PMP and most Channel Managers.
Homads: Attract stable, medium-term renters
As the Homads ethos suggests (homes for nomads), the platform attracts renters that don’t just want a long weekend. Most stays on Homads are over 14 days (30+ isn’t uncommon). As a host or manager, this is a platform you have to list on. Longer stays are cheaper to service, and the risk for fraud or damaging parties is almost 0.
- Focused on medium- and long-term stays. This lowers the wear and tear on the vacation homes you rent. Long-term renters are also less likely to trigger noise complaints, or have large groups come over for unregulated parties.
- Enables renters and mobile workforces to test-drive cities before deciding to move there
- Has a neighborhood match localizer to help renters find the areas in town that will best suit their lifestyles
What listing on Homads will cost you (and how to do it)
Listing on Homads is free, and without being subscribed, you’ll be charged an 8% booking fee. Subscriptions are $19 a month or $180 a year if you have under 25 listings. Past 25 listings, the price increases to $49 a month or $499 annually. Since long stays are cheaper to service for hosts and managers, the cost to benefit ratio makes Homads so attractive. Homads is integrated with some Channel Managers and connects with Hostfully’s PMP.
VacayMyWay: Simplified property listing
VacayMyWay aims to simplify the entire booking process by eliminating as many fees as possible and making the process smoother. It’s a fast-growing alternative to Airbnb. That said, it’s currently only available for listings in the US but is looking to move into Canada and Mexico in the future.
- No traveler service fees, as well as low commission rates. What the guest sees is what the guest pays. This greatly increases the chances of converting a visitor into a reservation and, over time, will create brand loyalty.
- Simplified listing management for hosts. Listing is streamlined, which makes it easy for managers operating a diversified portfolio to get their properties uploaded.
- The VacayMyWay team is stacked with vacation rental industry veterans. They know what it takes to support hosts and managers.
Fees charged by VacayMyWay and how to connect
VacayMyWay charges a 6.5% booking fee for hosts, in addition to a 3% credit card processing charge. It’s integrated with Hostfully’s PMP and most industry-leading Channel Managers.
BringFido: Stay, play and eat with your dog
BringFido began out of a need for pet-friendly places. So in 2006, Melissa Halliburton founded her website. It now has over 14,000 vacation rental listings in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Less than 15% of Airbnb listings allow pets, so when over 50% of US dog owners travel with their pets, this is a huge margin of niche travelers to capitalize on.
- If you’re already offering pet-friendly properties on Airbnb, then this is easy to capitalize on. The pet-friendly barrier means you’ll have less competition than on other platforms.
- No booking fees for guests.
BringFido’s listing fees and connectivity to your PMP
To list your property on BringFido, you must be dog-friendly (as the name suggests!), but it’s completely free to list your property. You can also purchase a listing for $249 a year if you aren’t connected to any of their partner sites. Few PMPs connect directly to BringFido. However, the listing site is integrated with most Channel Managers.
9Flats: Vacation rentals in dynamic cities
9Flats offers guests a range of rental properties from hotels, to hostels, apartments and more, offering a good alternative to Airbnb.
Launched in 2010 to join other Airbnb competitors, it is now up there among the big names as one of the leaders of the travel accommodation market shares. There are over 6 million listings across the globe.
- Has listings on almost every continent except for Oceania.
- 9flat has strong brand loyalty and converts visitors into reservations exceptionally well. Check if you have competitors in your area on this platform. If you don’t, 9flats will help you lower that vacancy rate.
- Offers a simplified booking system for guests, including Book and Instant Book
- Works similarly to other Airbnb competitors, allowing you to add photos, maximum stay, etc.
9flats: Fees and connectivity
As a host on 9Flats, you will pay a 15% commission fee on the whole booking amount. It might seem steep for most hosts and managers. But when you consider the niche audience it serves, it’s well worth the cost.
HomeStay: Create a home away from home for your guests
The biggest difference to Airbnb is that HomeStay only offers spare rooms, ideal for hosts looking to settle into a niche when they don’t have an entire property to rent out.
Founded by Hostelworld co-founder Tom Kennedy and Debbie Flynn in 2013, HomeStay now boasts 33,000 homestays in 176 countries for guests looking for spare rooms rather than entire properties.
- Exclusively for listings where you, the host, will always be present—you’re listing your spare room.
- Attracts a younger crowd looking for more budget-friendly accommodation options.
- Ideal if you’re a new host looking to try out the short-term rental business but don’t have real estate assets to list.
HomeStay’s listing fees and connectivity to your PMP
Hosts must pay a small fee of 3% of the deposit to list their spare rooms. You’ll likely need a Channel Manager to list on HomeStay.
Kid & Coe: Tap into a pool of families looking to travel
Kid & Coe was created in 2013 out of the founder’s desperation to find sites like Airbnb that were family-friendly and could accommodate a growing family. The main difference to Airbnb is the focus on kids—each property will be equipped and ready to host families making for a smoother vacation for parents.
- Offer professional photo-editing services to help your property stand out
- In addition to providing hosts with short-term rental insurance, they also offer further business insurance
- Unlike other sites like Airbnb, the focus is on properties that are kid-friendly
How to list and what are the costs with Kid & Coe
To list on Kid & Coe, hosts must pay $99 as a starting fee. Depending on how your property is classified, you will either pay a 12% or 10% commission on bookings.
misterb&b: LGBTQ+ vacation rental haven
The site was created to ensure LGBTQ+ guests can travel safely and comfortably while promoting tolerance and inclusivity. The niche aspect of misterb&b differs from Airbnb, reassuring guests that book through their site that they will feel welcomed and safe. Launched in 2013 in Paris, France, misterb&b has grown to have over 1 million listings in 200 countries.
- LGBTQ+ travelers’ top choice of booking site across North America and France
- Two-way review system for added trust and safety
- One of the Airbnb alternatives that are committed to inclusivity
The fees and listing requirements of misterb&b
Hosts must be LGBTQ+ friendly. A commission of 4.5%—much lower than Airbnb’s!—is applied on all reservations. misterb&b has connectivity with Channel Managers and a few PMPs. Most hosts and managers will need the Channel Manager on top of their PMP to list on misterb&b.
There are so many other sites like Airbnb out there, whether you want general listing sites or a place to promote your niche property to access specific guests. By listing on Airbnb competitors’ sites, you can reach a wider audience and level up your marketing with Hostfully’s PMP.