Vrbo vs Booking.com

Homesharing platforms have gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. They allow people to book short-term stays in the spaces of those who are willing to rent out their properties in exchange for money. Vrbo, purchased by HomeAway and how part of the Expedia Group.  Booking.com is considered an online travel agency that makes it easy for guests to choose accommodation and transportation on the same site. It is important for homeowners who wish to make income from renting out their property to know the key differences and similarities between Vrbo and Booking.com.

A brief background of Vrbo and Booking.com

Established in 1995, Vrbo, with a presence in 190 countries, now exceeds 2 million listings, offering homeowners a platform to showcase their properties for short-term rentals. Notably, Vrbo has now the HomeAway brand, enhancing its reach by featuring properties on other affiliated HomeAway sites.

Booking.com, initially known as Bookings.nl, was founded in the Netherlands in 1996. After merging with Bookings Online in 2000, it evolved into Booking.com. Presently, it boasts over 27 million listings across 227 countries globally. Booking.com operates as a metasearch engine, enabling users to book diverse accommodations through its platform.

The similarities and differences between Vrbo and Booking.com

The main similarity between Vrbo and Booking.com is that they both provide a platform for people to book vacation rentals such as resorts, villas, cabins, apartments and hotels. Other similarities include having a wide global reach and charging guest and owner fees. Differences include how communication with guests occurs, cancellation fees, how owners can claim for damage caused by guests, a difference in user interface and many more.

Global reach

Both Vrbo and Booking.com have a global reach, so they are both great options for property owners looking to rent out their properties for rental income.


Showcasing your property on Vrbo provides an excellent avenue to boost visibility. Your listing won’t just appear on Vrbo; it will also be featured on its affiliated sites, including HomeAway, Expedia, Trivago, and KAYAK, significantly expanding its exposure. This increased visibility is likely to attract more guests, translating into higher profits for you as a vacation rental homeowner.

Booking.com is popular in Europe, with 43 languages available for users.

Guest and owner fees (service fees)

Vrbo charges owners a fee of $499 annually, or they can opt for a 5% deduction on every booking with a 3% credit card processing fee added. Choosing between the two models depends on how many bookings you get annually. If you get many bookings, paying a once-off of $499 may save more money in the long run. But of course, one wouldn’t know how many bookings they get until they sign up. However, you can always change your owner fee structure to benefit you. On the other hand, guests using Vrbo are charged 10% to 11%.

Booking.com charges owners 15% per booking, in addition to 3% for credit card processing fees. Unlike Vrbo, guests don’t pay any service fees on Booking.com.

Cancelation fees and policies

Vrbo offers a range of cancellation policies for hosts to choose from, each with its own refund structure. Options include “No Refund,” “Strict,” “Firm,” “Moderate,” and “Relaxed,” each specifying conditions for full or partial refunds based on the timing of cancellations. It’s important to note that the selected cancellation policy takes precedence over the rental agreement. Integrated property managers (IPMs) and platform partners have distinct refund structures, with IPMs receiving a refund of the amount payable and platform partners receiving a refund of the amount paid. Hosts can also customize refunds, provided the custom amount aligns with their cancellation policy. Seasonal cancellation policies allow hosts to adjust their policies for specific date ranges, impacting the strictness of the policy for those periods. However, modifications to seasonal cancellation policies do not affect existing bookings; existing bookings maintain the originally selected cancellation policy.

Booking.com penalizes guests who cancel through a full or partial charge.With Booking.com you have the flexibility to opt for a fully flexible policy or customize one based on your preferences. The fully flexible policy enables guests to pay upon their stay, allowing free cancellations within a specified timeframe before check-in. Alternatively, a customized policy grants you control over the cancellation timeline, charges for cancellations, prepayment options, and the ability to apply different policies to distinct room types. Pre-authorization preferences allow you to communicate your approach to card pre-authorization, specifying the amount and timing. Deposits provide financial coverage if a guest cancels, and you can decide whether to refund or deduct the amount from the reservation cost, especially useful for those unable to charge credit cards, as deposits are typically handled via bank transfer.

Communication with guests

Owners who have listed on Booking.com receive no information about guests until they have made a booking. This makes it easier for accommodations such as hotels to accurately screen and monitor guests.

On Vrbo, guests and owners are limited to email communication until the booking has been made.

Damages caused by guests

Booking.com’s Partner Liability Insurance covers hosts against third-party lawsuits or liability claims related to bodily injury or property damage during a guest’s stay. Covered incidents include bodily injury, such as a guest breaking their arm and holding the host responsible, and third-party property damage, like water damage caused by a guest leaving a tap running. However, the insurance does not cover incidents involving damage or harm caused by pets, personal injury to the host, intentional actions resulting in damage or injury, and damage to the host’s personal property, such as a broken TV or table caused by a gues

Vrbo also encourages owners to ask for a damage deposit, and they offer an efficient claims process that allows one to easily claim for damages should guests damage the property. Vrbo offers $1 million in liability insurance for owners and property managers.

User interface

Booking.com has a great user interface for both owners and guests. It allows owners to create host and company profiles, set up bulk promotions, edit and adjust house rules for multiple properties simultaneously, view group analytics, as well as view all properties listed using Group Connect. Guests can expect a myriad of properties to choose from, as well as vacation properties, flights and transportation. This is precisely what makes Booking.com an online travel agency.

Vrbo doesn’t offer flights and transportation on its platform, as it purely focuses on the various properties listed. The site’s design is fairly easy to navigate for guests, and there’s less offered in terms of being able to view multiple properties that you manage at once.

Vrbo and Booking.com are both great options for homeowners looking to make rental income. Using the above similarities and differences, owners can equip themselves with the necessary knowledge to ensure that the best possible platform is used to list their properties.