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Why rent a room when you can have the whole house? Vacation Rental By Owner’s slogan is certainly enough to sway an undecided traveler into booking a whole house or apartment, instead of just staying in a hotel room. While Vacation Rental By Owner, or VRBO, isn’t as well-known as the likes of Airbnb to the average traveler, it offers thousands and thousands of amazing properties in destinations all around the world. So what is VRBO? Here’s the lowdown.
What is VRBO?
VRBO is a vacation rental site that connects homeowners with travelers who are looking for a ‘home from home’ while on vacation. The company came on the scene in 1995 and has grown into a large community of global travelers. The VRBO site has properties in 190 countries across the world, with listings ranging from beach condos, through to cozy cabins, or sleek capital-city apartments — there’s something for everyone. Users can also play around with their budget and see what type of property they would like to rent.
‘Home from Home’
Vacation Rental sites such as VRBO and HomeAway offer the ultimate sense of privacy. While hotels, apart-studios, and hostels can look great in photos, they can sometimes feel a bit “clinical” and remind you that you are not in a homely setting. A vacation rental gives travelers total privacy. You can lounge around as you want, avoid dealing with hotel staff and spread out around the vacation rental.
Vacation rentals listed on VRBO are great accommodation options for family and friends that are looking for space, privacy, and independence.
You can cook what you want when you want, stay-up with friends and family late in communal areas without being kicked out by hotel staff, and create unforgettable vacation moments in your own space. Vacation rentals offer much more space than a hotel room, which is ideal for groups of friends or a family. You can also benefit from things such as having a pool or outdoor area all to yourself, as well as use a barbeque and whip up a delicious feast at any time of day.
It’s also usually much cheaper to rent than it is to stay in a hotel. You can sometimes rent a whole house for half the price that it would be to stay in a hotel room — that means a lot of extra cash for fun activities on your vacation!
How to Use the VRBO Site
The VRBO site is really easy to use and has a similar format to the HomeAway site (VRBO was acquired by HomeAway in 2006). There’s a search bar where you can enter your destination and dates of travel and then you can browse thousands of listings. You can add filters to your search if you’re looking for something in particular, such as a four-bedroom house with a swimming pool, or a pet-friendly property. One of the site’s best features is its Pinterest-like “Trip Boards” where you can pin your dream vacation rentals and use it as inspiration for future trips. In fact, VRBO is rated as one of the best vacation rental sites.
Once you’ve found a vacation rental that you’d like to book, enter your details and request to book. Some properties offer instant booking, and others have a request period, where you wait for the property owner to accept or decline your booking. Be sure to check all the details thoroughly before booking and don’t forget that there’s usually a cleaning fee added.
VRBO has several measures in place to protect both the homeowner and the traveler. There are some listings on the VRBO site which are categorized as ‘Premium Partners’. These are listings that have gained Premium status as they are said to consistently provide great experiences for their guests.
When paying for a rental property through VRBO, your money is protected against fraud. This is something to be aware of if you’re also thinking of booking a vacation rental through sites which aren’t as regulated, such as Craiglist, which has, unfortunately, had its fair share of vacation rental fraud scandals. VRBO will pay you your money back if something goes wrong and ends up in the hands of someone other than the owner or property manager. VRBO also do background and fraud checks. A general tip is that whenever you book a home rental, always book with a credit card if possible, as this offers an extra layer of protection.
If something goes wrong and your rental gets canceled by the property owner at the last minute, you can contact the VRBO customer service where there are re-booking specialists on-hand to help you find a similar property.
Easy to Use as a Homeowner?
Listing on VRBO is easy to do. You just need a selection of photos of your property — the more photos the better — and details about the property you’re renting. Try to be creative and engaging with your description of the vacation rental. You’ll also have to provide information about the rental property such as pricing, availability, and your contact details.
As a homeowner or property manager, there are fees to list on VRBO. You can either pay-per-booking for property listings, which charges a fee for each listing, or purchase a subscription to the VRBO site. If you’re only renting your property for a short period, or if it’s an event-only property, pay-per-booking is the much more economical option.
VRBO is part of the Expedia Group and offers homeowners and property managers a high level of exposure as there are around 750 million visits to Expedia-family sites each month.
The best way to use VRBO is to be open-minded when searching for a vacation rental. Broaden the area you’re searching in — maybe you’ll find an extra-special property slightly out of town. Consider an apartment instead of a house. There are many apartments that still come with plenty of space and a lower price tag than a whole house. If possible, be flexible with dates. The property of your dreams might just be available on a different weekend.