Vacation rentals are one of the most exciting spaces in the real estate market. These short-term rental properties, including furnished apartments, beach houses, condos, professionally managed resorts, and sometimes even single rooms, have become increasingly popular with travelers who want unique and intimate experiences for their vacation getaway.
As an investor, a vacation rental income can be pretty profitable. According to Vrbo/Homeaway, vacation rental income comprises 24% of the average owner’s annual income. For that to become a reality, however, you need to make sure you’re listing your property where potential guests will find and book it. Here are some of the best vacation rental websites to get you started.
The Best Vacation Rental Sites
Airbnb is not only the most popular and trusted vacation home rental website, but it’s also the fastest growing. The company has over 6 million vacation rental listings worldwide in more than 220 countries and regions. There are currently more than 4 million hosts on Airbnb who have earned a collective $150 billion from the website.
For homeowners, there is no fee to list a property though there is a service fee when a property is booked as a short-term rental. This can be between 3 and 15 percent depending on location.
If you’re looking to enter the vacation rental property market, having your property listed on Airbnb is a no-brainer. But the popularity that makes Airbnb such an easy choice is also the disadvantage you face as a property owner. There is much competition with millions of active listings, including unique living experiences such as treehouses, chalets, and entire homes. It would be best to stand out in a crowded marketplace to be seen and then get booked. Airbnb helps you get around this by offering Airbnb Plus, marking out high-quality homes, and vetting hosts with great reviews. The platform also awards a Superhost badge as a perk to hosts who go over and above for their guests. The typical U.S. host on Airbnb earns $13,800 a year.
Vrbo (Vacation Rental by Owner), part of the Expedia Group, specializes in helping families find the perfect holiday home. The company, which saw its beginnings as the first online holiday rental company, recently merged with its sister site HomeAway. To rent a property on Vrbo, hosts pay $499 annually or opt for the per-booking option, which starts at an 8% commission. Vrbo has 2+ million holiday homes listed on the website and only allows private apartments and houses to be listed.
Vrbo is popular with families who are looking for kid-friendly and pet-friendly spaces. To succeed on Vrbo and other vacation rental platforms, it’s always a good idea to offer a few basic on-site amenities, provide free wi-fi, and create a perfect vacation experience by making the check-in experience seamless. You can add a cleaning fee to your pricing and offer concierge services on top if your property allows for it. You can sign up as a property manager if you manage more than ten properties.
Booking.com was founded in 1996 in Amsterdam and has become one of the world’s largest digital travel and vacation rental companies. The website is available in 43 languages and offers more than 28 million total accommodation listings, including over 6.2 million listings of homes, apartment rentals, and other unique places to stay. There are reportedly 1.5 million nights booked on the platform every day. While there is no cost to listing a property on the platform, hosts are charged a 10-25% commission/service fee per booking, depending on location.
Booking.com’s parent company Booking Holidays, also owns Agoda, Asia’s largest online travel agency and the world’s fastest-growing online travel booking platform. The company was started in Singapore in 2005, and the website and app are now available in 38 languages and 200 countries and territories worldwide. Like with Booking.com, Agoda is not exclusive to home rentals, which means the traveler demographic is wide-ranging and may be looking for more than a family home. Like Booking.com, Agoda is best known as a hotel booking site, but it is also a vacation rental site worth considering when you’re looking to list your property.
Founded in 2000, TripAdvisor is one of the oldest and best platforms for vacation rentals. What makes TripAdvisor unique in this list is that it’s best known as a comparison website, featuring more than 859 million reviews on hotels, restaurants, vacation rentals, and tourist attractions. Since TripAdvisor owns a host of vacation rental websites such as FlipKey, HolidayLettings, Vacation Home Rentals, and HouseTrip, listing your property on TripAdvisor automatically lists it on some of these other websites as well, giving it even more visibility and exposure. The commission rate for TripAdvisor is 3% per booking and, unlike some of the other websites we’ve listed, charges guests a fee of anywhere between 8 and 16 percent.
The connection to TripAdvisor makes FlipKey a fantastic option for listing your vacation rental. Since FlipKey is connected to other TripAdvisor properties such as TripAdvisor Vacation Home Rentals and HomeTrip, listing your property on FlipKey automatically lists it on the others as well, giving you more visibility and, therefore, more potential bookings from interested travelers. There’s a 3% service fee on each booking made through FlipKey, a particularly low rate compared to some of the other bigger vacation rental players.
Expedia is one of the 200+ travel sites owned by the Expedia Group, founded in 1996. The website itself is one of the largest online travel shopping platforms. In addition to vacation rentals, it offers booking options for air tickets, car rentals, cruise ships, and holiday packages. Accommodation includes hotel rooms, villas, motels, guest houses, and more.
Listing your property on Expedia is free, though the commission is relatively hefty, ranging between 10 and 30 percent. Still, the website attracts millions of visitors a year. It has unique search filters that make it easy for guests to find suitable properties for their next trip, thus giving you higher visibility and discoverability on the website. Travelers generally use Expedia to book their entire itinerary from start to finish, which means your vacation rental has a higher chance of being seen—and booked—by someone eager to schedule their entire trip in one go.
HomeToGo is a vacation rental search site that displays more than 18 million listings by pulling them from big vacation booking sites such as Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, FlipKey, etc. This ease of use and multi-platform search capability makes HomeToGo extremely popular with travelers looking to find the best vacation rentals for their stay. Since HomeToGo doesn’t have its inventory, you don’t need to list your property on it specifically.
HomeToGo also owns Tripping.com, which, much like its parent company, is a metasearch vacation rental site that aggregates listings from different booking platforms, allowing users to browse offerings from multiple websites at the same time. When users search for properties on Tripping, they’re shown a map alongside the listings. The website includes hotels, hostels, and vacation rental properties for a greater range and variety of properties. Neither hosts nor guests pay fees for their property showing up on Tripping.com.
As its name suggests, Homestay.com primarily focuses on home sharing and offers quality rooms at “wallet-friendly” prices. The website allows hosts to rent out homes as well as spare rooms. Founded in 2013, Homestay.com offers 63,000 vacation rentals and private rooms in over 176 countries. According to its website, the average length of stay through a Homestay.com booking is 12 nights and the average price per night globally is $38 per room.
What distinguishes this vacation rental website from the others on our list is that on Homestay.com, a guest and host can do a home swap or barter stay in exchange for housekeeping or work. When there is an exchange of money, Homestay.com charges a 3% service fee for the booking.
If you have a luxury or chic apartment or apartment complex, however, consider looking at Sonder. This innovative platform offers private units in apartments and seamless, personalized experiences without sacrificing style. This is great if you have a property in large cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Paris.
Easily invest in vacation rentals
With a low entry barrier and many tax benefits, vacation rentals can be the perfect way to get started in real estate investing and benefit from the rental market. For new investors, vacation rentals can be a quick, hands-off way to make consistent year-on-year cash flow as your property appreciates. Depending on the location of your property, your vacation rental can command high nightly rental prices for minimal marketing effort.
At Arrived, we aim to give real estate investors the best opportunities to make consistent cash flow without the hassle of being a landlord or managing a property. By investing in our properties, you not only get access to the best real estate in the most popular markets but with flexible investment amounts that work for you. To browse through our available properties and get started, visit this page.