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HomeAway VRBO: a snow-covered mountain cabin

HomeAway vs. VRBO: What’s the Difference?

Last updated: June 20, 2019
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It’s never been easier to find a short-term rental for your vacation, business trip, or other travel needs. Vacation rental sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO have all taken a process that used to be complicated and turned it into something that’s as easy as a few taps on your phone and a couple of text messages.

With all the new vacation sites, however, it can be tricky to decide which one to use. HomeAway and VRBO, in particular, have a lot of similarities. They’re so similar, in fact, that it can leave you wondering if there are any advantages to choosing one over the other.

That’s why we created this guide. We’re going to take a look at all the differences between HomeAway and VRBO. That way, you can decide which one is best for booking your next trip.

VRBO Is Part of HomeAway

Let’s get one thing out of the way to start: HomeAway owns VRBO. In fact, VRBO has been a subsidiary of HomeAway since its acquisition in 2006. HomeAway owns quite a few vacation rental sites, actually. This includes United States-based sites like BedandBreakfast.com and VacationRentals.com, as well as other sites based in Germany, France, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom

So If HomeAway owns VRBO.com, why haven’t they just rebranded it as HomeAway? Only the people at HomeAway know the precise reason, but it likely has to do with brand recognition. People were already familiar with and already trusted the VRBO brand, so HomeAway was happy to maintain it as a nominally separate site while still reaping the increased profits, exposure, and rental property inventory.

Given all that, are there any real differences between VRBO and HomeAway? Let’s take a look, starting with how the two differ from a renter perspective.

HomeAway vs. VRBO for Renters

In order to provide a comprehensive comparison of HomeAway and VRBO, we’re going to look at the following factors:

  • User experience
  • Pricing
  • Rental options

This way, you can quickly decide which service is better for you based on what you find most important as a traveler.

HomeAway vs. VRBO User Experience

Let’s start with the websites themselves. When you go to HomeAway.com and VRBO.com, you’ll notice that the two sites are almost identical.

Here’s the HomeAway home page:

HomeAway VRBO: HomeAway's website home page

And here’s the VRBO home page:

HomeAway VRBO: VRBO's website home page

At first glance, the only differences are the name on the site, the colors of the interface, the background photo, and the description on the page. Indeed, the statements “Book beach houses, cabins, condos, and more worldwide” and “Beach house? Condo? Cabin? Your perfect vacation awaits” are just different ways of saying the exact same thing.

When we move on to searching for listings, things remain pretty similar. Here’s the result of a search on HomeAway for a rental in the United States for two guests with a check-in date of May 1st and a departure date of May 8th:

HomeAway VRBO: the first page of results for a vacation rental search on HomeAway

And here’s the result for the exact same search on VRBO:

HomeAway VRBO: the first page of results for a vacation rentals search on VRBO

The results are almost identical. In fact, the first result for both properties is exactly the same listing.

Here’s the listing on HomeAway:

HomeAway VRBO: a property listing on HomeAway

And here it is on VRBO:

HomeAway VRBO: a property listing on VRBO

If you look very closely, you can even see that the property number is almost identical. For HomeAway, it’s “4139308,” while on VRBO it’s “4139308ha.”

The user interfaces are also identical, allowing you to add the same filters to help you narrow your search.

We hope you get the point: from a user experience perspective, the only differences between HomeAway and VRBO are the color of the interface and the name on the top of the website.

HomeAway vs. VRBO Pricing

So what about the cost of the two services? Will you pay more or less depending on whether you use HomeAway or VRBO? No.

To illustrate this, here’s the pricing breakdown for the same listing on both sites, starting with HomeAway:

HomeAway VRBO: a booking summary on HomeAway

And on VRBO:

HomeAway VRBO: a booking summary on VRBO

From the booking fee, to the cleaning fee, to the service fee, to the taxes and damage deposit, it’s all the same. So you aren’t going to save any money from using one site over the other. Furthermore, both use the same payment methods, requiring you to pay with any major credit card.

HomeAway vs. VRBO Rental Options

What about the rental options on the sites? Does one site give you access to different inventory than the other?

As we already demonstrated above, the listings on the two sites are more or less the same. In fact, if you read the information on both VRBO and HomeAway regarding their “Expanded Distribution Network,” you’ll see that any property listed on one site will display on the other (as well as a variety of partner sites). The VRBO page on the topic doesn’t even bother to use “VRBO” instead of “HomeAway” when describing the arrangement:

HomeAway VRBO: Expanded Distribution Network FAQ on the VRBO site

In other words, you don’t need to worry about missing out on properties when searching one site or the other.

HomeAway vs. VRBO for Owners

So far, we’ve examined the differences (or lack of differences) between HomeAway and VRBO from the perspective of someone looking to book a vacation rental. But what if you’re a property owner who’s trying to choose a vacation rental company to list your property? Are there any differences you should know about?

Here’s a closer look at how HomeAway and VRBO compare for property owners, based on the following factors:

  • Listing process
  • Fees

HomeAway vs. VRBO Listing Process

Let’s start with the process of getting your vacation home or other property onto the rental site. Here are the steps for listing your property on HomeAway:

HomeAway VRBO: instructions for listing your property from the HomeAway site

And here are the listing steps for VRBO:

HomeAway VRBO: instructions for listing your property from the VRBO site

As you can see, there’s no difference whatsoever. And once you’ve done the process on one site, your property will automatically display on the other.

Both sites also partner with Expedia to show your property across a variety of third-party booking sites — including Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz — and with booking sites like Kayak and Trivago. You can learn more about this in the Expanded Distribution Network help article.

HomeAway vs. VRBO Fees

When deciding where to list your vacation property, the fees you’ll pay are an important consideration. After all, they directly affect how much you’ll earn each time a guest stays at your place.

Both HomeAway and VRBO offer the same fee options. On the one hand, you can choose the pay-per-booking model. With this option, you’ll pay a 5% commission every time a guest books a property you’ve listed on HomeAway or VRBO (plus a 3% credit card/eCheck processing fee).

On the other hand, you can choose to pay an annual subscription fee of $499 USD. When you pay this fee, you’ll only pay a 3% commission every time a guest books a property you list on HomeAway or VRBO (though you’ll still pay the 3% credit card/eCheck processing fee).

You’ll have to decide which option makes more sense for your situation. As HomeAway and VRBO put it, “The basic rule of thumb is that if it is rented more than six weeks a year, the annual subscription is more viable.” If you’d like more guidance on which fee option to choose, have a look at our complete guide to HomeAway fees.

HomeAway vs. VRBO FAQ

To conclude this guide, here are the answers to some common questions about the differences between HomeAway and VRBO:

1. Does my HomeAway account work for VRBO?

Yes, it does. Once you have an account for HomeAway, you can also use it to sign in to VRBO (and vice versa).

2. Do I have to pay the annual subscription fee for both HomeAway and VRBO?

No, you don’t. Once you’ve paid with one platform, your property will automatically be listed with the other.

3. Is HomeAway available in different countries than VRBO?

No, it isn’t. Both services are available in the same countries across the world.

4. Is Airbnb part of HomeAway or VRBO?

No, it’s not. Airbnb is a separate company with its own listing rules and procedures. If you’re curious about how to use Airbnb, have a look at this guide for both hosts and guests.

HomeAway and VRBO Have No Real Differences

We hope this guide has helped you understand the differences (or lack thereof) between HomeAway and VRBO. Both sites are excellent choices for finding home rentals, whether you’re looking for a weekend in Florida or a week in France.

Looking for more vacation rental sites? Check out this list we created.

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