Explore the pros and cons of listing your vacation homes on Houfy vs. Booking.com. Discover unique features, audience reach, and booking fees.

Whether you're a novice vacation rental host or have been around the industry for some time, you know there are many listing platforms to choose from. The recent Houfy vs. Booking debate invites hosts to decide which site is worth their time and effort.

In the past, we closely examined debates such as VRBO vs. Houfy and Airbnb vs. Houfy to give hosts a clear picture of each platform's pros and cons. However, with Booking.com being a prominent platform in the rental space, we couldn't leave it out of the equation.

That's why, in this guide, we've compiled the top factors to consider before deciding where to list your vacation rentals. From pricing to popularity and guest communication to business control, we left no stone unturned. Let's dive in!

Booking.com Vs. Houfy: How Do the Platforms Differ?

1. Definition

Booking.com was founded in 1996 in Amsterdam by Geert-Jan Bruinsma, and from a small Dutch company, it evolved into what it is today. The platform's concept is to connect visitors with a range of hotels, experiences, and transportation options to remove friction from traveling.

Houfy (short for "House For You") was founded in 2014 by Thijs H. Aaftink, originally from the Netherlands, born in the US. Its main idea is to disrupt the current rental system by offering direct bookings without service fees. As a result, both hosts and guests can save up their money instead of handing them to large OTAs like Booking.com.

2. Popularity

According to Similarweb, Booking.com has over 556.1M website visits monthly, making it a titan among large OTAs. Its core audience is in the US and the UK, with the platform boasting more than 28 million listings worldwide. The brand maintains an active presence on all major social media sites, with a community of more than 17 million followers.

Naturally, Houfy can't compare to Booking's popularity since the platform was founded much later, and today, it counts a community of 68,000 hosts and guests and over 65,000 listings. Its average monthly traffic is around 100,000 users, and its core audience comes from the US. While the platform grows slowly, it maintains an engaged community of over 9,000 Facebook members who shape the app's future.

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: Where to List Your Vacation Homes (2024)
Houfy vs. Booking: where to list your vacation rentals

3. Guest Types

Although both Booking.com and Houfy target the same market - travelers in need of accommodation - there are some critical differences regarding their guest types.

Booking.com has traditionally been more focused on hotels, resorts, and lodges. In recent years, it has made some serious efforts to attract more vacation rental properties, but guests who book through the platform still expect a hotel experience. As a result, it attracts more demanding mature audiences interested in all-inclusive stays with breakfast, regular cleaning, and respect for noise levels.

On the other hand, Houfy is more focused on a "home away from home" experience for visitors looking for authentic stays. The platform is more likely to attract families on the hunt for one-of-a-kind stays or destination rentals that allow them to live like the locals. Moreover, Houfy focuses on entire vacation homes that offer an Instagram-worthy experience Millennials crave.

4. Booking Fees

Booking.com has a commission-based model, which means hosts pay a set percentage per reservation. Depending on your country, fees range between 10-25%, with the average fee being 15%. Guests pay no additional fees, but hosts can charge more for cleaning providers or towels to compensate for the hefty price.

On the other hand, Houfy has NO booking fees for hosts or guests. Hosts only pay a one-time $5.99 verification fee to ensure a secure platform. You might ask, so how does Houfy make money then? Houfy offers optional paid plans for hosts who want to take their business to the next level. Other than that, it's completely free.

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: Where to List Your Vacation Homes (2024)
Houfy vacation rentals vs. Booking.com

5. Guest Communication

Similar to Airbnb and other vacation rental sites, Booking.com doesn't support direct communication between hosts and guests. The company wants its money and will do everything in its power to prevent hosts from taking business outside the platform. That's why it hides hosts' contact info and only reveals it to guests post-booking (or after they secured their commission).

On the other hand, Houfy encourages direct communication between hosts and guests and even allows property owners to add their contact details to their listings. Since Houfy generates no profit from bookings, it has no interest in penalizing parties for taking business elsewhere. In fact, it's one of Houfy's core values to support direct communication for better trust and satisfaction.

6. Cancellation Policies

When it comes to Booking's cancellation policies, there aren't many options. Property owners can opt for the following:

  • Fully flexible policy: guests only pay while staying at the property and can cancel for free within the hosts' selected time frame
  • Customizable policy: hosts get to choose how much guests will pay if they cancel after a specific date
  • Non-refundable policy: guests will be charged the total price even if they cancel, change dates, or never show up.

On the other hand, Houfy offers hosts complete flexibility regarding their cancellation policies. Your properties, your listings, your rules. This makes it easier to take control of your business and pick what works for you and your guests with flexibility.

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: Where to List Your Vacation Homes (2024)
Houfy for direct booking with guests

7. Payments and Payouts

Unlike platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com doesn't offer a centralized payment collection system. Hosts must collect their payments by credit card, bank transfer, or in person. Cash-on-arrival is usually a headache, and bank transfers also present complications. So, this leaves hosts with online transactions via credit cards, which they can process by setting up a Stripe payment processor.

Houfy's mission for direct bookings also applies to direct payments. That's why it integrates with Stripe and Square, enabling property owners to collect payments directly without intermediaries. Hosts can also receive deposits from guests to prevent fake or uncommitted visitors.

8. Marketing and Advertising

One of Booking's value propositions is that it does marketing for hosts without them having to spend another dime. However, the on-platform competition is fierce, so hosts might not get the promised visibility. At the end of the day, it's a numbers game, and your property will be displayed among thousands of others. Passively relying on getting business based on luck isn't attainable in the long run.

On the other hand, Houfy is pretty clear on its mission - to provide hosts with a free online space to market their properties themselves. If you want to get more bookings, you've got to invest in your marketing, social media, and ads to generate traffic. That said, Houfy equips hosts with many tools to make that possible, such as a free blogging feature or the option to rank higher in on-app search results for just $1,50 daily.

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: Where to List Your Vacation Homes (2024)
Houfy vs. Booking for property owners

9. Control

Listing with Booking.com automatically means less control over your business. You get a limited space to list your properties; you have to follow policies regarding cancellations, and you have little to no say regarding payments and guest communication. In other words, you're one host among many, allowing a third party to handle your business for you.

In contrast, Houfy is all about flexibility and freedom. Hosts can make their own rules and actually have a say in who books with them. In fact, they can include customizable rental agreements in all plans to secure their business. From custom quotes to direct communication with guests, they can take their business into their own hands.

10. Branding

Branding is often overlooked but can prove vital for the longevity of a short-term rental business. Hosts that list with large OTAs, like Booking.com, have limited branding possibilities.

For example, they're limited to the listing guidelines of the platform, without much space to tell their story and build personal rapport with guests. The fonts, colors, and structures are the same for everyone, making it even harder to stand out from the competition.

Conversely, Houfy offers hosts the option to create their own book-direct website where they can unfold their branding storytelling. This allows them to add their logo, pick their color palette, upload high-quality photos of their properties, and leave a mark in guests' minds. No copy-paste listings and no faceless businesses without a personal touch.

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: Where to List Your Vacation Homes (2024)
Houfy for vacation rentals

Houfy Vs. Booking.com: The Final Verdict

If you're fed up with OTAs who restrict and penalize you, it's time to join an extensive community of hosts choosing to disrupt the vacation rental industry. Being able to list your properties online and receive bookings without hefty fees should be your undeniable right.

Say goodbye to passively waiting for guests to come to you and take back control of your business with a hands-on approach. At Houfy, we won't sugarcoat it for you. Standing out in the vacation rental market is hard. But with the right tools and a supportive community to have your back, we're certain of your success. Join us today and save money for what matters in your business!

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