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Only Consider These Holiday Rental Platforms

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Toby France
Short-let expert, Toby has managed thousands of holiday lets in London and across the UK and has boosted their profitability on booking platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com. Co-founder of HelloGuest, Toby has more than a decade's worth of experience in the industry.
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The Only Platforms You Should Advertise Your Holiday-Let On

When people think of short-term rentals, they normally think of Airbnb. But, if you want to be a successful host, it’s important to utilise alternative platforms to capture visitors wherever they’re searching.

The booming holiday rental industry

It is helpful to understand the ins and outs of the holiday rental market to create a successful rental business. The global vacation rental market was valued at $91.2 billion in 2021 (roughly £75.7 billion) and is projected to reach $315 billion in 2031.

Airbnb has managed to dominate the holiday rental industry, with an estimated 20% market share for the entire vacation rental market. But, it’s more of a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ than a specialist, so you may want to consider an alternative for a more specialised and personal platform.

The other 80% is divided up by dozens of competitors. Here are the top sites we recommend our hosts list their properties on Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, Flipkey, PlumGuide and TripAdvisor.

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Let the experts do it for you

Managing your property on multiple booking sites can be stressful, especially when a double booking occurs. Hiring a management company to keep tabs on your property is a great way of ensuring no booking overlaps and that your guests have the best stay possible.

The saying: “the more, the merrier” applies when advertising your rental property; we recommend putting your property on multiple platforms as it increases exposure and attracts new, potential guests.

At HelloGuest, we have successfully managed properties on multiple sites for over seven years, increasing our hosts’ bookings and revenue. Contact us today to find out more.

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Vrbo

Previously called HomeAway, Vrbo is one of Airbnb’s main competitors. Standing for “vacation rentals by owner”, Vrbo started as the first online holiday rental company and has now expanded into a global network helping millions of families worldwide reconnect.

They are a part of the parent brand, the Expedia Group, giving those who list their property on Vrbo access to the entire Expedia network. This means whenever you list a property on Vrbo, it automatically gets listed on Expedia, growing your visibility. Vrbo alone has 15.9 million monthly visitors, which jumps to 730 million on Expedia Group.

The more visibility your property has, the higher chance you will create a successful rental business.

Vrbo vs Airbnb: the fees

The fee is one of the most important aspects when choosing a site to list your property. Airbnb charges hosts and guest fees, as do Vrbo, but the numbers are slightly different.

Airbnb charges hosts a 3% service fee every time a booking is completed with Airbnb, and guests are typically charged 5-15% of the reservation subtotal.

Vrbo’s service fee is a little more complicated for homeowners: hosts must pay a subscription fee to list a rental on Vrbo. There are two primary subscription fee plans available for Vrbo hosts.

The first, ‘pay-per-booking’, charges hosts 8% for each booking received through the site. This payment plan is recommended for new renters or people who rent for less than 6 weeks a year.

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Booking.com

This Dutch booking site was the leading home-sharing platform before Airbnb with over 28 million accommodation listings globally, with 6.6 million being homes, apartments and unique short-term rentals.

Sticking with its origins, Booking.com is primarily for reserving hotel rooms online, whilst Airbnb allows homeowners to list their spare rooms or properties for profit. This attracts a slight difference in host and guest demographic.

This might be why, in Europe, Booking.com has a 67% market share, making it the most popular booking site in the continent.

Booking.com is more flexible than Airbnb: it gives you the power to determine your own rules, charge your guests directly and vet them. However, it is important to note that you cannot cancel bookings on Booking.com unless you find them another place to stay.

Booking.com fees

The fees vary depending on location, cancellation policy and more. For property hosts, Booking.com uses a commission-based platform to charge fees, meaning hosts pay a certain percentage of the reservation every time a reservation is made. This varies between 10% to 20%.

Additionally, it’s worth knowing about the Booking.com cancellation policy. If guests do not stay in your property – for whatever reason – then you, the host, will still be charged the commission rate as part of the Booking.com fees.

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Expedia

The Expedia Group owns over 200 travel industry websites in more than 70 countries, and they get about 18.8 million, monthly visitors. Their main accommodation focus has been hotels, leading to a broader audience than Airbnb.

Although Expedia doesn’t normally come to mind when thinking of holiday rentals, their filter options allow users to choose their desired property type on their website and their many partners.

Generally speaking, this can mean your vacation rental will have less competition on Expedia than on Airbnb, which increases your chance of getting booked. Expedia also exposes holiday rentals to a new audience that might have always been hotel stayers and never considered a holiday rental before but are now branching out.

We recommend Expedia for properties that have a ‘hotel’ feel; properties that are private rooms or part of a shared house might not do as well.

Expedia fees

On Expedia, the commission for hosts can range from 10-30%, with the average being 15%. The commission is only charged if guests are physically staying in your rental. Hosts pay the commission to the OTA on a pay-per-book basis, meaning hosts don’t get charged any fees until they have guests staying in their rental, protecting hosts from extra charges that come with cancellations.

The percentage Expedia takes from hosts depends on the location of the property. This differs from Airbnb, which charges a standard 3% for each property.

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FlipKey

FlipKey is part of TripAdvisor Rentals, a leading marketplace for holiday rentals with over 830,000 properties in 190 countries. They offer rentals of all kinds, including ski chalets, beach houses, studio apartments and even private islands.

A benefit of FlipKey being a part of TripAdvisor Rentals is that it connects holiday rentals with TripAdvisor reviews, providing holiday-goers with an informative booking experience.

Like most sites, FlipKey and Airbnb offer similar services – travellers use the filters to adjust the search results to suit their requirements. Reviews and ratings for each property are also available for users, as well as cancellation policies. FlipKey does not offer shared room listings.

FlipKey fees

Listing on FlipKey is free and uncomplicated. The FlipKey charges are simple and similar to Airbnb: a booking fee of 5-15% of the total reservation from guests and a commission of 3% on all reservations from hosts. If guests wish to cancel, their booking fee will be refunded, but only if they cancel within 24 hours of booking.

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Entire home rental managed by HelloGuest

TripAdvisor

Another household name in the travel industry, TripAdvisor, has been around for over 20 years, providing users with an extensive set of reviews and attractions for holidays.

TripAdvisor is now on the rental side of the industry, but Airbnb still trumps them in size and scale. TripAdvisor reaches 190 countries compared to Airbnb’s 220 countries and has nearly 10 times more listings than the TripAdvisor family.

On both sites, you can find various properties, including houseboats. However, TripAdvisor is more selective about which properties it lists; the site only accepts ‘entire place’ properties.

When deciding whether TripAdvisor is for you, consider your target audience and property type. Listing your property on TripAdvisor is great if you want to have less competition. The guest demographic also differs for each site; Airbnb has access to guests you may not find on TripAdvisor, like business travellers.

TripAdvisor fees

Like most competitors, listing your home as a rental on TripAdvisor is free, but hosts pay a 3% fee to TripAdvisor per booking. However, the site does allow hosts to create extra fees to charge guests, which means the hosts can easily make up for the 3% lost.

Owners can charge extra fees for things like hosting a large group, allowing pets and providing items for guests. However, TripAdvisor doesn’t disburse refunds to guests; any cancellation and subsequent refund must be processed through the third-party booking agency. This can be a long process and put guests off.

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Plum Guide

Plum Guide, a relatively new vacation rental website, offers a special selection of vacation homes and apartments that can be booked online. Plum Guide is based in London and currently lists over 12,000 holiday homes on its platform in several desirable locations worldwide.

Plum Guide has often been compared to the luxury version of Airbnb; it has a strict selection process for properties, even measuring shower pressure and wifi speed to ensure guests have the best stay possible. Properties listed in Plum Guide have gone through rigorous testing and must meet 150-point criteria. Only 3% of homes make the cut.

Plum Guide believes that peer reviews are flawed and unreliable, and the company relies on their staff, who independently review the properties before being listed. Guests are still encouraged to leave a review for the hosts and Plum Guide; it just won’t become public.

Plum Guide fees

It is free to apply and list your property on Plum Guide if accepted. However, there is an onboarding fee: a flat fee of currently £300 is due after the first guest check-in for each listing. This is a one-time fee charged only after the check-in for the first listing booking and covers the costs for creating, merchandising and advertising the listing. Plum Guide says this will be deducted from your first payout.

Plum Guide then has two fee structure options for hosts. The first – ‘Host/Guest Shared fee structure – is divided 3% for hosts and 12% for guests of the total accommodation charges. The cleaning fee is included in the total accommodation charges.

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What next?

If you are considering starting your Airbnb or short-term rental business journey and think you may need help managing the property, contact HelloGuest for more information on holiday let management.

We not only offer a full management service, covering everything from communicating with guests but we also advertise your property on 40+ booking sites for full exposure.

Contact us today for a free earnings assessment.

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