Everything to know about home rental site Vrbo, including how it works and what makes it different from Airbnb
When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.
- Vrbo is a vacation rental booking platform where homeowners can list their homes directly without going through a management company.
- Only entire homes are listed on Vrbo, so you will never have to share with the host or other guests.
- Below, we break down everything to know about the home rental site, from pricing and fees to how it differs from competitors such as Airbnb.
- Read all Business Insider travel reviews here.
Although it's commonly pronounced as "verb-oh", Vrbo is actually an acronym that stands for "vacation rentals by owner," which says a lot about the rental site's beginnings.
These days, travelers are pretty accustomed to direct communication with hosts thanks to the rise of online booking platforms like Airbnb, but when Vrbo first launched in 1995, it was a relatively new concept that helped homeowners bypass the cost of a management company. Today, the site boasts over two million private homes in over 190 countries.
While HomeAway and Vbro used to be separately branded sites that shared the same listings and were both run by Expedia Group, as of July 2020 HomeAway has been entirely folded into Vrbo. Users familiar with HomeAway will find a very similar feel and style on Vrbo and the listings are the same as those previously offered on HomeAway.
For those more familiar with Airbnb, Vrbo has many similarities, but there are a few key differences when it comes down to the booking experience, service fees, and the health and safety precautions being taken to protect travelers from the novel coronavirus. We also have a full breakdown of the differences in rental platforms here.
The main distinction between the two websites is that homeowners on Vrbo only rent out the whole property, which means you won't find anyone else sharing the space with you. This is unlike Airbnb where you may also book a room in a shared house. Normally, sharing a space with housemates wouldn't be a big issue if the price is right, but in the age of coronavirus, having the place to yourself is a big point for Vrbo.
Read on to learn how Vrbo works.
- How booking on Vrbo works
- How is Vrbo different from Airbnb?
- What is pricing on Vrbo like?
- How much is the service fee on Vrbo and what does it cover?
- Is Vrbo safe to book right now?
- What is Vrbo's cancellation policy?
How booking on Vrbo works
The booking experience of Vrbo is very similar to what you'd find on Airbnb and other booking platforms. You may filter by the number of bedrooms, property type, house rules, and amenities.
But, it gets a little finicky when it comes to pricing. Prices won't populate on the page unless you specifically filter by price, and unlike Airbnb, you won't know the total price of your stay until you click through to the main listing page where you can then see a breakdown of the total price and fees.
Each property is given an overall rating out of five stars and you'll be able to read reviews at the bottom of the page. If you like a place but aren't ready to commit, you can save it to a "Trip Board" and come back to it later.
Once you book and the homeowner accepts your booking, you'll be able to communicate directly with them about the property's details and check-in process.
Vrbo also offers a Book With Confidence Guarantee, which provides every traveler with payment protection against fraudulent listings and access to a team of re-booking specialists. If the owner cancels at the last minute or you can't get into the house for some reason, the re-booking specialist can help you find somewhere else to stay. Bear in mind that this is not trip insurance and if you decide to cancel your trip on your own accord, you won't be refunded unless you purchase additional trip insurance.
How is Vrbo different from Airbnb?
In many ways, the experience of sorting through properties on Vrbo is exactly like Airbnb. The main distinction between the two platforms is that Vrbo is strictly for entire home rentals and you will always have the entire home to yourself. Airbnb, on the other hand, tends to emphasize hospitality and market the value of a good host, while Vrbo is strictly about the property.
In fact, hosts and travelers do not have their own profile pages like they do on Airbnb. This means you can't click through to a reviewer's profile to see whether or not they leave overly negative or positive reviews, nor can you click through to a host's profile to see the other properties they have and read the reviews on those.
However, Vrbo does have its own version of Airbnb's Superhosts, which they call Premier Partners. These are owners with a low rate of cancellations and an average guest rating above 4.5.
However, even these qualifications are not quite as strict as Airbnb where Superhosts must average a 4.8 rating to earn Superhost status. Additionally, it's more difficult to compare prices on Vrbo than on Airbnb. For many Vrbo listings, you must click through to the final listing page to see the full breakdown of costs, while Airbnb is more upfront about this information on its listings.
What is pricing on Vrbo like?
The pricing is very reasonable on Vrbo when you compare similar properties in the same area across rental sites.
In some cities, you can find apartments for as little as $79 per night, like this tiny house in Austin, Texas or you might splurge on a unique property like a home built by a famous architect or a actual castle.
Nightly rates will vary depending on where you're searching and the time of year, but prices are rarely lower than $50 per night or higher than $500 per night, unless it is an exceptionally large or unique home, or located in a coveted area in peak season.
A good way to judge whether or not the rate is competitive for the area is to compare the rate to nearby hotels. For example, in New York City, even shoebox-sized hotel rooms typically start at $100 per night, but on Vrbo, you can find some apartments for less than that in all five boroughs.
Generally, the nightly cost for standard-quality listings is competitive with other listing sites like Airbnb and often cheaper than hotels. However, keep in mind that like Airbnb, the base listed price on Vbro doesn't include fees. Those fees can add up, so be sure to take that into consideration when browsing listings with a budget in mind.