Airbnb and Homeaway are two of the most popular vacation rental sites out there right now.
Together they are disrupting the hospitality industry, transforming the way people travel, and offering travelers the comforts of home on the road.
What does this mean for you?
As a homeowner, you now have an opportunity to turn your vacant home into an income generator.
Homeowners are able to accommodate guests in their homes, giving them the opportunity to experience new destinations in unique and exciting ways.
At the same time, once vacant spaces become new sources of income for homeowners.
If you’re thinking about listing your home on either Airbnb or Homeaway, there are a few things you should know.
It is an excellent way to earn some extra money on the side, but where do you start?
These two platforms are similar in many ways, but have some key differences.
By comparing the two and sizing up the benefits, costs, and requirements of each, we will help you decide which one is best for you.
Airbnb and Homeaway both offer a comparable home sharing option for property owners and guests.
The two vacation rental platforms are similar in many ways.
Both offer a range of homes, apartments, boats, treehouses, and any other living space you can think of.
The biggest distinction between Airbnb and Homeaway are the types of “living spaces” that are offered.
On one hand, Homeaway only offers private spaces for their guests.
This means that guests can expect to have the entire property to themselves without any other guests or homeowners present.
Airbnb gives travelers the same private accommodation option.
But it also gives guests the additional option of staying in spaces that are occupied by the homeowner or even other guests.
Airbnb allows a guest to book an entire property, a private room, or a shared room.
In addition to accommodations, Airbnb also offers local experiences and activities that are available for users to reserve.
Consequently, that opens up another market for homeowners and locals to create experiences that guests will sign up and pay for.
When comparing Airbnb vs Homeaway, the most stark difference is their respective focus.
Homeaway has a very narrow focus on private accommodations only, while Airbnb broadly offers different kinds of living spaces as well as other vacation planning tools and experiences.
The type of home or living space you own will help you determine which platform might be a good fit for you.
If you own a home or living space that can accommodate a family in a private setting, you may want to try out Homeaway.
Airbnb may not be a bad choice for this home type as well since it also offers this very same rental option.
The difference is that if you want to rent out shared spaces, or even welcome people into your home to meet and interact with, then Airbnb would have to be your choice.
So which one is bigger and more reputable?
Well that depends on who you ask.
Homeaway has been around since 2005, three years before Airbnb was founded.
In 2015, Homeaway was acquired by Expedia for $3.9 billion, while Airbnb remains independent.
Homeaway eventually brought on other property rental companies, most notably VRBO, and now operates over 50 websites in 23 languages.
Homeaway’s offerings are diverse in style and location, but all are private homes for rent.
Comparatively, Airbnb is an independent company that has not been bought by a larger firm.
It operates more broadly, offering substantially more listings – both in number and in type – than Homeaway.
Airbnb has four million listings for homes, rooms, and experiences across 191 countries.
Cut that in half and you have Homeaway’s total listings of two million throughout 190 countries.
(Note that part of the reason Airbnb has so many more listings is due to the shared spaces, which can account for multiple listings in one location.)
Depending on what you are looking for, Homeaway tends to be more family-focused vacation homes and really highlights the private home rental aspect.
Airbnb certainly has higher end, whole-home options that are great for families and higher-budget travelers, but it also caters to the lower-budget traveler who is willing (or wants) to share a property or a room.
Ultimately, neither company is more reputable.
One is likely a better fit than the other for a given traveler, depending on their goals and needs.
Needless to say, Airbnb lends itself more to people who are searching for an approachable, budget friendly option.
That’s not to say that Airbnb’s inventory is primarily budget listings, or that hosts can’t make a good profit from renting their property on Airbnb, because this is definitely not the case.
But, predictably, shared rooms or homes are more affordable than renting an entire home.
Of course, you can rent out your entire property on Airbnb to make more money.
Additionally, Airbnb does have its fair share of nicer options and even offers Plus Homes, which are verified for quality and comfort.
To qualify, homeowners need to pass a strict criteria, have great customer service, and be a top rated renter.
Since Homeaway is a private accommodation site without shared space budget options, it could potentially attract a clientele that is willing to spend more.
But again, much of this is dependent on which type of home you have available to rent out.
When it comes to payment, on both platforms all transactions are done through the online app.
There is no cash that is exchanged between hosts and guests, making it a convenient and safe experience for all.
Secure payments can be made through Paypal, direct deposit, or international money wire transfer.
So what does it cost for a host to list his or her property?
Homeaway hosts pay an annual subscription fee of $499.
This fee covers 12-months of usage on the Homeaway website which shows your listing all around the world.
While this initial annual fee seems expensive at first, remember that hosts will not have to pay other fees for the rest of the year, besides taxes and credit card fees of course!
Airbnb hosts are charged around three percent for every booking they make.
This percentage is calculated from the subtotal of your nightly rate, plus any guest fees you charged, but excludes Airbnb’s applied service fees and taxes.
To offset some of these expenses, owners have the option of tacking on additional booking fees like pet, cleaning, additional guest charges, or maintenance fees which guests must pay.
Lastly, for Airbnb experiences, hosts are charged a whopping 20 percent for every activity they book with a guest.
However, this fee is waived if the activity is a nonprofit partnership.
Property and Liability Insurance
Airbnb’s insurance options seem to be slightly more clean cut than what Homeaway offers.
Airbnb offers a $1,000,000 Host Guarantee that covers accidental property damage, free of charge.
It also offers additional Host Protection for the same amount, which protects hosts from liability if guests get injured or their property is damaged.
Homeaway offers a similar $1,000,000 liability protection to owners, however, the property insurance is not set up the same way.
Homeaway hosts have the option of adding a Property Damage Protection charge to the final price of their listing, however, it only covers $5,000.
The difference between Homeaway and Airbnb is that Homeaway strongly encourages that you have a vacation rental insurance.
It is also highly advised by both platforms that refundable security deposits are collected prior to the rental.
Airbnb has what it calls its Resolution Center which allows hosts and guests settle disputes or monetary differences between each other before escalating it to Airbnb.
Both parties have 60 days to file a Resolution Center request that does not involve the security deposit.
Any security deposit dispute must be reported within 14 days of the checkout date.
If an agreement cannot be made within a 60 day period, Airbnb will mediate the conflict and make a fair judgement.
Homeaway operates in a similar fashion, however, there is a catch.
Homeaway hopes that the guest and homeowner can resolve any issues that may arise.
If they are unable to, Homeaway will do a similar mediation between the two parties.
The requirements for a guest refund seem a little challenging and are reserved for very particular instances, like “material misrepresentation,” which means the home is not as advertised and is defective to the point that normal usage is impossible.
The catch is that most, but not all, rental properties on Homeaway are covered by this protection.
When it comes to reviews, the two platforms are for the most part the same yet differ in the amount of time reviews are allowed to be submitted.
Airbnb requires guests to complete their review within 14 days of checkout.
After guests write a review of 500 words or less, they have 48 hours to edit it before it is finalized.
In comparison, Homeaway allows guests to review their stay up to one year after they checkout.
That is quite a bit longer.
The nice part is that for both platforms you can review guests that have stayed in your home.
This means that before guests visit your home, you can also look back at all of the previous homeowners reviews of the guest.
Then you can make an educated decision of whether or not you feel comfortable doing business with them.
Both platforms also require reviews to be honest, accurate, and primarily focus on the stay at the home experience.
Reviews cannot be used as a means to blackmail or extort either party into giving reduced rates or discounts.
It come as no surprise that the requirements to become a host on either of these platforms is more stringent than to become a guest.
Airbnb requires all of their hosts to meet five basic requirements to create a listing on their platform.
- Provide Essential Amenities: This includes anything a guest would need like toilet paper, a pillow, towel, and other basic essentials.
- Be Responsive: It is best to respond to guests within 24 hours of their inquiry.
- Accept Reservation Requests: Airbnb wants to know that you are actively hosting guests at your listing.
- Avoid Cancellations: Cancellations are taken seriously and should be avoided at all costs.
- Maintain a High Overall Rating: Guests expect to have a great experience, so it is in everyone’s best interest to maintain a high rating!
While Homeaway’s requirements are not as clearly spelled out as Airbnb’s, without a doubt they are encouraging hosts to follow similar guidelines as these.
The sign up requirements are much alike for Homeaway and Airbnb.
Here are a few of the mandatory pieces of information you’ll need when completing your listing:
- Location Details: Address, Map Location
- Profile Description: Headline, Description of Property
- Property Information: Property Type, Number of Rooms, Number of Guests, Photographs
- Contact Information: Email, Phone Number
- Pricing and Rules: Rates, Fees, and Cancellation Policies
Pretty straightforward, however, both platforms will require your profile to be completely filled out in order to give potential guests a feeling of trust and comfort.
Which Platform Fits You?
Both Airbnb and Homeaway are fantastic vacation rental websites to list your home on.
Really it just depends on what you are looking for in your next business venture.
If you are looking to be a little adventurous and interact with guests in your shared space or home, then Airbnb is the way to go.
But if you are interested in renting your entire private home for guests with friends and family, then Homeaway may be right for you.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt to give both a look.
The best option may be the one that gives you the most bookings, regardless of which rental site!