A Strong Case for Using VRBO

A Strong Case for Using VRBO

Although Airbnb is a more popularly used service for finding travel lodging, worthwhile competitors like VRBO and HomeAway provide a strong case for diversifying your use of the platforms. While I previously covered why Airbnb may be more beneficial to listings in urban areas, VRBO maintains its popularity for vacation rentals off the beaten path and offers a service that has existed over a decade longer than Airbnb.

Here are some good reasons for trying out VRBO if you haven't already:

1. Specific listing information. One of the biggest complaints about travel lodging is the inaccuracy in photos and description. While travelers have come to terms with photos depicting a different place due to lighting, framing, and even some application of well-known photo-modification tools to enhance the listing, the same cannot be said for inaccuracies in descriptions. A good example is the inability to be as specific as possible in an Airbnb listing. Does your listing offer a futon as a bed? Unfortunately, you can only choose actual bed sizes as an option, and if you feel necessary, can explain that the bed is actually a futon. Does your listing provide fans as a source of cool air? Unfortunately, Airbnb doesn't let you specify that this is actually the source of your air conditioning. In contrast, VRBO encourages you to detail everything in your rental, so there's no element of surprise to the guest, avoiding the chance of a bad review, or even a cancellation. This feature also gives you an edge over your competitors if you're constantly investing and upgrading your rental.

2. Clarification of location and amenities. A common complaint about listing descriptions on Airbnb concerns their location and amenities. For location, Airbnb provides an estimate through a map image, so you can get idea of where the listing is located. However, you are still guessing if it's in the center of the designated area, far east, west, and so on. Many times, travelers are forced to depend on detailed reviews from former guests about how far the listing is from popular bars, restaurants, oceanfront’s, downtowns, and more. However, many reviews are simple, scoring the location accuracy and leaving the rest to be determined by potential customers. This is also unrealistic for new vacation rental listings. VRBO once again solves  this dilemma by encouraging the listing to be as precise as possible. For example, if your rental property is "near" the beach, you can remove and sense of subjectivity by detailing exactly how far from the beach, through various forms of transportation. You can include how long it would take walking, by car, or even public transport if available. This applies for any category under the "Location Type" portion of the listing - you can include multiple hotspots besides the oceanfront, such as "Downtown."

3. Virtual tours. One feature that VRBO provides is a virtual tour. Now, if you’re only renting out a room or studio apartment, you might think a virtual tour is unnecessary. This is partially true – many travelers find it worthwhile knowing where exactly an air conditioning unit is placed, whether or not their room is facing the street or backyard, the setup of their bed and desk, and more. Access to this important feature helps make the decision to book and could ring true for long-term stays as well. For owners of multi-room vacation properties, a virtual tool could significantly boost sales. This is yet another feature to promote accuracy for your listing, removing any element of surprise for yourself, and the guest.


Bad transactions are mostly the result of inaccurate product listings. If a traveler is expecting to get a 5-star experience, then anything else is going to impact the duration of their stay, and ultimately, their review. Thus, accuracy is important, and a platform should provide unlimited opportunities to be detailed as possible. Although Airbnb is certainly more popular, VRBO promotes a well-detailed listing description in both writing, photos, and location. If you’ve found yourself a bad start on Airbnb, or are just getting started in vacation rental platforms, VRBO proves that they’re serving both the traveler and the vacation rental owner through punctuality and clarification.