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The vacation rental industry has seen significant growth over recent years as travelers opt for a more local and authentic experience staying in a home rather than a hotel. With this increase has come the emergence of various online platforms where guests can browse, compare, and book their ideal accommodation. However, with so many competitors in the industry, it can be hard to know who to trust and where to find a great deal. Luckily, we’ve done our research and compiled a list of the best vacation rental sites (including some of AllTheRooms’ partners and competitors):
Relatively new to the game, the vacation rental search engine AllTheRooms has aggregated nearly 14 million vacation rentals across the globe, including vacation homes, cabins, cottages, condos, and more. While the company has its hands deep in the vacation rental market, the search engine’s diversity is one of its strongest unique selling points. The platform helps savvy and indecisive travelers alike find the perfect accommodation by making vacation rental price comparisons easy across multiple providers in one simple search.
Airbnb is the proverbial “big man on campus”. They may not be solely responsible for the rise in short-term vacation rental websites, but they have definitely brought about a type of visibility and popularity that the market had not seen previously before its emergence. Airbnb has seen unprecedented growth since 2007 when it was founded, and estimates put their revenue at $8.5 billion for 2020. It is also believed that hotels globally lose $450 million per year directly to Airbnb. With a potential venture into the hotel market as well, Airbnb is looking towards complete domination over the accommodations market.
HomeToGo makes comparing vacation rentals easy. Built as a search engine, HomeToGo pulls homes from all over the web, making price comparisons a breeze. Their website claims they can search for rentals from over 600 providers located in 200 different countries. While they may not be the biggest name on the market, they do have a loyal following and a user-friendly website.
While Booking.com may not be exclusively designed as a vacation rental service, but since they launched their vacation rental platform in 2014 it has grown rapidly and now boasts almost 6 million homes, apartments and other vacation rental listings. Booking.com has one of the best filter options on the web. When looking for a place to stay, folks can narrow down results by various facilities like in house gyms, Jacuzzis, and pet-friendliness. Our favorite search feature is Booking.com’s ability to filter by a vacation rental’s proximity to major landmarks. And because Booking.com was not built solely for home rentals, guests can find their perfect place to stay and then book flights and car rentals right there on the same site.
Started by Expedia, HomeAway has always been successful because of the backing of its parent organization. This vacation rental marketplace has a huge inventory, with over 2,000,000 unique rentals across 190 countries. They also operate via 50 other websites in 23 languages. Their homepage additionally makes it easy to find and look through unique accommodations — simply head to the site and choose from specific home types like boats, bungalows, cabins, farms, and houseboats, among others.
VRBO, although founded in 1995, was acquired by HomeAway about 11 years later — something which becomes apparent when comparing the two webpages, which have near identical interfaces, listings, and features. Really, the only difference there is between the two is their two logos. That said, since HomeAway is a great site, VRBO is right to mimic it. Another fun feature of these two sites is their “Trip Boards”, a function that operates like Pinterest for upcoming vacations. These “Trip Boards” provide inspiration for booking a vacation rental and also give users a space to save accommodations they like.
As evident from this list, most of the big names in travel have their hand in vacation rentals one way or another, and FlipKey is no exception. FlipKey was purchased by TripAdvisor a number of years ago and is now their answer to the growing vacation rental market. With access to all of TripAdvisor’s reviews and photos, FlipKey has great suggestions on things to do near to all of their vacation rental listings.
TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals
While FlipKey was TripAdvisor’s first foray into the vacation rental market, they are trying to associate their own name more closely with home rentals. To do so, users can now book accommodations directly on their site. As for hosts, the platform lets folks list their property with zero contracts or upfront fees. And like FlipKey, TripAdvisor’s vacation rentals are backed by the reviews and information provided by the world’s largest online travel community.
Homestay is certainly not the biggest name in the vacation rental sphere; compared to the millions of listings on Booking.com and VRBO, Homestay works with about 55,000 accommodations. However, they set themselves apart in other ways. One such way is that they target students. Homestay features many properties that are specifically made for young people studying abroad, learning a language in a new country, or doing an internship. Also, rather than only allowing guests to look for accommodations, hosts can look through lists of people seeking somewhere to stay.
Originally starting in Singapore, Agoda has since expanded to become a major player in the global vacation rental market. Now owned by Priceline, Agoda has access to over two million accommodations worldwide. While the company used to primarily target hotels, they now have extensive listings for homestays also. On their home page, users can switch between hotels and homestays to find the best option. The Agoda homepage equally posts travel recommendations as well as daily discounts to various destinations. They recently launched a new vacation rental-focused site called Agoda Homes.
One of the smaller and newer sites to make an impact, RedAwning take advantage of their smaller size. The OTA (online travel agency) believes that major sites like Airbnb and Booking.com have gotten too big to provide personalized service to property managers or to guests. Emphasizing their ability to integrate their services with unique technical solutions, RedAwning claims they can eliminate the lack of transparency coming from bigger sites. By offering current marketing solutions, smart technology, and wide-reaching visibility, hosts that sign up are guaranteed their property will reach millions globally.