Uncover the best platform for listing your vacation rentals in 2024: VRBO vs. Houfy. Explore key differences and make an informed choice for your property.

Whether you're a new vacation rental owner looking to make a splash or a pro listing on multiple sites, the VRBO vs. Houfy comparison is hard to ignore. These companies always show up on Google's results for vacation homes, and the question remains: which one's better?

While VRBO is one of the largest listing platforms in the industry, Houfy is the new book-direct solution that helps hosts and guests save money. In this guide, we'll explain everything you need to know to compare these platforms and spot your winner in the VRBO vs. Houfy debate.

VRBO

Definition

VRBO, owned by Expedia Group, stands for "Vacation Rental By Owner". Initially founded in 1995, 13 years before Airbnb, it remains one of Airbnb's largest competitors, although it never reached equal success. The platform allows owners to list their homes for short-term rental and travelers to book them. VRBO handles the transaction and earns its fees.

Traffic and Listings

As of 2024, VRBO has over 50 million website visitors monthly, with its core audience in the US, UK, and Canada. Its Facebook page has 6 million followers. And when it comes to rentals, the platform boasts over 2 million properties in 190 countries and 48 million users.

Rental Property Types

VRBO provides a plethora of vacation rental properties. The options are endless, from city apartments and cottages to tree houses and castles. However, unlike Airbnb, which provides both private and shared rentals, VRBO only offers private ones. That's why VRBO has significantly fewer listings than Airbnb (2 million compared to Airbnb's 7 million).

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
VRBO vs. Houfy to find vacation rental properties

Host Service Fees

VRBO offers a pay-per-booking option for property owners, where they pay a set percentage of 8% every time they get a booking. This breaks down to 3% payment processing fees and 5% commission fees. Remember that these fees don't apply to cancellation or property damage protection.

The 5% commission applies to any additional fees you might charge visitors (such as cleaning or pet fees). On the other hand, the 3% processing fee is charged on the total payment received from guests, including taxes and refundable damage deposits.

Until recently, VRBO offered an annual subscription fee, where guests had to pay a flat rate of $499 yearly to maintain their listings. The flat rate covered all possible expenses that would otherwise be charged to hosts with every booking. However, VRBO has paused any new participation in the subscription plans until further notice since very few of their partners opted for it.

Guest Service Fees

Regarding guests, VRBO will charge a 6% to 15% service fee, minus taxes. One of the platform's cons is that although owners won't charge more per additional guest, VRBO will. The more people in a party, the more the charges.

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
VRBO vs. Houfy: which is better in the vacation rental industry

Demographics

VRBO mainly caters to large groups of travelers or families. Most rentals on the platform are large vacation homes with higher prices compared to other OTAs like Airbnb. As a result, VRBO mainly attracts older travelers with children or in large groups.

Guest Communication

VRBO makes it difficult for owners and renters to communicate with each other. Contact information is hidden from both parties, and if owners try to take business off the platform or promote book-direct solutions, they get penalized. The company wants its money. This can be tricky for building hosts and guests relations and having a say in who stays in your property.

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
Houfy for direct booking

Marketing and Advertising

What VRBO's fee is supposed to pay for is the marketing and advertising of your property. Via listing on their site, your vacation rentals get exposed to an extensive network of travelers worldwide without spending additional marketing budget. However, even the in-platform competition is fierce, so it's a numbers game at the end of the day.

Control

Listing with VRBO automatically means less control of your business and properties. You let a third party, a middleman, do the booking and transactions for you without much say in who rents with you. With communication restrictions and few options for establishing your brand, VRBO might not be a good fit for a long-term rental reputation.

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
VRBO vs. Houfy property

Houfy

Definition

Houfy, short for "House For You", is a social marketplace for vacation rentals focusing on book-direct solutions. Founded in 2015, it's a user-friendly medium to connect hosts and guests without hefty service fees. The platform encourages hosts to create their own website for direct bookings, providing them with the user-friendly tools to build it.

Traffic and Listings

When it comes to traffic and popularity in the VRBO vs. Houfy comparison, VRBO wins. Houfy is a relatively new marketplace, with an average monthly website traffic of 100,000 users and a core audience coming from the US.

Its Facebook page has 3,000 followers, and the company has an additional Facebook Group of 9,000 members, growing exponentially. Regarding rentals, Houfy facilitates bookings among 80,000 users with 65,000 listings.

Rental Property Types

Houfy is a vacation rental platform that focuses primarily on entire homes. However, Houfy might offer shared experiences like Airbnb. Besides that, the platform supports different rentals, such as condos, beach houses, and city apartments.

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
Other sites to list your vacation rentals

Service Fees

One of the biggest Houfy perks is that it helps hosts save money. No one wants to pay extra booking fees, and the VRBO pay-ber-booking structure can quickly add up to a pretty penny.

Houfy's direct bookings require no service fee from hosts or guests, making it an attractive option in the vacation rental scene. And who knows, guests may use those saved money to book one more night. Win-win!

So, how does Houfy make money? Houfy offers three pricing plans. The free plan lets you list unlimited listings without booking fees or commissions. You only pay a host verification fee of $5.99 once and benefit from all the perks.

For property owners wanting the extra pizzazz, there's a paid "Lite" plan at $7.19/monthly and a Premium one at $8.99/monthly. These include additional features such as options to hide price comparisons and nearby listings, as well as a website builder.

Moreover, unlike VRBO or other OTAs who "punish" hosts with multiple rentals by paying extra fees, Houfy uses a sliding scale where owners with more listings pay less. For instance, if you have just 1 listing and choose the Lite plan, you'll pay $7.19/month. However, if you have 3 listings for the same plan, you'll pay $3!

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
Houfy makes it easy to rent real estate properties

Demographics

Like VRBO, Houfy rentals attract families, large groups, and couples. Guests rent entire houses, so this might not be the best option for solo travelers and backpackers looking for an affordable roof over their heads. Age groups usually range between 30 to 50 years old, with most travelers booking from the US.

Guest Communication

Regarding VRBO vs. Houfy, Houfy encourages direct communication among hosts and guests. The platform has no interest in penalizing parties for taking communication out of the platform, as it has no profit from their transactions. The Houfy app promotes healthier host-guest relations so that both parties enjoy impeccable service.

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
Houfy makes it easy to rent real estate properties

Marketing and Advertising

Houfy hosts need to do the marketing and advertising of their properties themselves. Sure, the platform offers featured listings to help you skip to the top of search results for an additional fee ($1,50/day). However, since the Houfy community is less prominent than VRBO's, hosts must go the extra mile to generate bookings.

That being said, Houfy equips hosts with all the necessary tools to market their rentals. Property owners can access tons of information on boosting their online presence and building their brands to secure independence.

Control

Finally, in the VRBO vs. Houfy comparison, Houfy wins in terms of control. Houfy hosts can make their own rules regarding their properties with a customizable rental agreement included in all plans. Additionally, they're able to create their own custom quotes.

Moreover, the platform helps owners take their business into their own hands. For example, they can share links (per se, to their social media) via its messaging platform or display external links on listings. Talk about freedom!

VRBO Vs. Houfy: Where to List Your Vacation Rentals (2024)
VRBO vs. Houfy to connect homeowners with guests

VRBO Vs. Houfy: The Final Verdict

If booking fees and direct communication are some of your biggest pet peeves as a property owner, Houfy is THE best marketplace for direct booking. Say goodbye to little to no control over your business and large OTAs who restrict and penalize you. This is a hands-on approach to your vacation rental brand with complete freedom to grow it as you want.

However, becoming a Houfy host also means putting in the work for your rentals to succeed. The Houfy website provides the tools and resources; the rest is in your hands. Hopefully, this guide will encourage you to create your Houfy listing today and benefit from fair pricing and immense value.

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