VRBO Versus Airbnb For Hosts

JG - September 10, 2021

If you’re wondering what the difference between the VRBO and Airbnb short term rental platforms are and how they differ from a host’s standpoint, this article will detail exactly what you need to know. There are benefits and disadvantages to each. Read on to learn more!


Only Airbnb allows shared rentals spaces whereas VRBO does not. This means on VRBO, you cannot rent out just a room while you, the owner, are there.

Although there is some overlap, Airbnb targets younger guests in search of more affordable rentals where VRBO targets families. If your listing is child-friendly and accommodates a large group, then VRBO would be a good platform to use as a host.There is some evidence that VRBO results in bookings or longer stays whereas Airbnb’s typical stay duration is shorter. This is consistent with their respective target guests.

Airbnb is definitely the more well known brand but VRBO has been improving on this front with a large marketing push currently.

UI Platform Experience for the Host

When you need to create a listing, Airbnb’s website and app user interface is intuitive, easy to use and well designed whereas VRBO’s user interfaces are slightly more difficult to use.

VRBO requires at least 15 pictures whereas Airbnb only requires a minimum of 5 for the listing. There is no maximum number of photos on Airbnb, but there is a 50 photo max on VRBO which means showing a very large property can be challenging.

Tracking messages from guests on VRBO is also not great especially if you have multiple properties. Airbnb shows all your messages in one place in your inbox.


VRBO’s cancellation policy is super easy and happens at the click of a button. The process will take you through some options and they will give you some warnings (i.e. your search ranking may go down) but overall, super smooth and there are no financial implications when you cancel as a host.

Airbnb, on the other hand, penalizes you more as a host, charges you a cancellation fee, and does not free up your calendar so that you can book other guests. See more info on the cancellation policy here

Insurance For the Host

Airbnb has what they call Host Protection Insurance which covers up to one million dollars worth of liability insurance. This includes covering property damage and if someone gets hurt. You don’t have to buy this. It is covered if you list on Airbnb.

VRBO’s insurance only covers liability but not any damages caused to your property. This is also automatically covered if you list on VRBO. To cover any damages to your property though, VRBO offers a damage deposit that the guests must pay and it is a cost that you, as a host, set. This is the only protection you have on VRBO for property damages. It is also much easier to claim this damage deposit on VRBO than it is on Airbnb.

Even though both platforms provide some sort of protection for your business, you should really read the fine print on what is covered and you may want to add extra protection by buying some third party insurance.

Fee Structure 

Airbnb charges 3% on your nightly rate as a fee to book through their marketplace. So that means if your listing is for $100 per night, you will be paid $97.

VRBO’s fee structure is more complicated and they charge more from the host than Airbnb does. Effectively, you pay:

  • 5% on what you charge to the guest
  • 3% payment processing fee on the total payment amount from the guest

You can estimate this by applying a 3% fee charge from your total revenue for Airbnb and an 8% fee charge from your total revenue for VRBO. Therefore, you are paying more to list on VRBO than you are paying on Airbnb.

However, this is somewhat “countered” by how much the guest pays. Airbnb charges the guest approximately 12-18% whereas VRBO 10-15% so listings on VRBO are, in general, less given the same property listed on each platform.

Read more about their fees: Airbnb | VRBO.


If you list on Airbnb, it stays on Airbnb only. If you list on VRBO, the listing is published to Expedia as well as many smaller websites to give you visibility. You never have to deal with the smaller websites though and will still manage your bookings on the VRBO website.

Cleaning Fee

VRBO allows you to charge a cleaning fee per night which benefits guests that are staying for a short amount of time whereas Airbnb only allows a single cleaning fee charge for all your listings regardless of the duration of stay.

Guest Payment Options

Airbnb doesn’t offer you an option on how you want the guest to pay. The payment just comes 24 hours after the guest checks in. 

VRBO lets you select how you want the guest to pay whether it is 25% up front at the time of booking and then 75% X days later or 50/50 now and later. This gives more flexibility to the guest.

Guest Cancellation Policy

Airbnb’s cancellation policy favors the guest whereas VRBO’s policy favors the host. Airbnb’s most flexible cancellation policy allows the guest to cancel up to 24 hours before whereas VRBO’s policy requires the stay to be cancelled 7 days before for the guest to get a refund.

Rental Agreement

Airbnb supplies a universal rental agreement that the guest signs but VRBO allows you to upload your own rental agreement that the platform will make the guest sign.

Closing Thoughts

Even though this article highlights their differences, that doesn’t mean you should only list on one platform or the other. Listing on both is also a possibility and can be a wise choice.

Please keep in mind that these platforms are subject to change, and this information is accurate as of the writing of this article.

Disclaimer: BNB Toolbox does not provide tax, legal, investment, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, investment, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, investment, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.