A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF VRBO

Have you ever been on a vacation or trip and wished you had other accommodation options aside that cookie-cutter hotel you had to lodge in? Well, you do have options – lots of them too! This is exactly what the travel company, VRBO, is saying to you.

VRBO could be a very useful resource to you if you plan to travel and are seeking a new and unique vacation or business trip experience at a reasonable price. It is equally a wonderful platform for you if you own a home or property that you are willing to rent out for a fair payout.

VRBO is an abbreviated version for the company’s full name, Vacation Rental By Owner. Just as implied by the name, VBRO is a hub for all sorts of vacation rental properties including apartments, condos, houses, villas and so on.

The company website was designed in 1995, allowing home- or property-owners to promote the rental of their properties, rooms and buildings. VRBO is dedicated to providing alternative lodgings to travelers seeking short-term rentals through hosts willing to lease out their properties to them.

VRBO provides a similar service to AirBnB, but there are some notable differences between these two services. VRBO was bought over by HomeAway in 2006, and became a part of the HomeAway travel service network that includes other sites like VacationRentals.com.

Read on for a comprehensive review and breakdown of the service offered by the VRBO travel accommodation website, to inform your decision as to whether or not this travel website can benefit you.

RENTALS AVAILABLE 

Anybody can post a listing on VRBO, and the site provides a wide range of rental properties and spaces including apartments, houses, castles and even tree houses, and a host of others.

But you can only rent whole homes and entire apartments on VRBO, unlike AirBnB where you can rent rooms and smaller spaces, and so fewer rentals are available on VRBO. Still, there are about two million rentals around the world available on VRBO.

VRBO doesn’t list smaller spaces such as single rooms, or shared spaces with the host. Rather, you can only get larger spaces like whole properties including houses, apartments and condos that the guests will have all to themselves.

The average home rental on VRBO spans 1,850 square feet, with a backyard. Thus, there is ample space for the home to be transformed into vacation lodging to give family, friends, pets or single individuals a quality experience.

The “don’t share” philosophy of VRBO is so strong that it has become a major selling point for them against competition. And so, while you don’t get as many rental options as you might on competing websites, you can rest assured that the space you do get will be wholly yours for the duration of your stay.

COST AND PAYMENT

VRBO did not charge guests any fee which used to be one of their unique advantages, until they recently included a new guest service fee. Guests pay 6-12% added to the cost of the rental as a service fee for VRBO.

It is also imperative that you do all of the necessary research before you book your accommodation, especially on the refund policy which we will also briefly discuss. The service fee for the property owners, on the other hand, is a bit more complex.

Prospective hosts must pay a subscription fee to VRBO before they can be allowed to list their properties for rental. Two major subscription payment packages are presented to hosts by VRBO.

Hosts may choose the pay-per-booking subscription package whereby they will be charged a service fee of 8% each time their property gets booked. This is the subscription plan that VRBO recommends for new hosts or for those people that rent out their properties for less than six weeks a year.

The other option is the annual subscription payment package whereby the host is charged a flat rate of $499 service fee upfront for the year. This option is best for those who will be renting out their properties all year round.

Aside these two major payment plans for hosts, VRBO also provides an outside management service whereby hosts can search for and employ third-party management partners there on the website, to help them manage their properties.

The service fee for this option is 13% per each booking. This plan best suits those people who own properties but don’t have enough time to manage their listings.

After getting their properties listed on VRBO, the next step for prospective hosts is to decide the payment method that works best for them.

The payment methods available on VRBO include the “Advanced Payment Service” whereby the funds can get to the host between three to seven working days after their property is booked, and the “Check-in Payment Service” whereby the host gets the funds between three to seven working days after the day the guest checks in.

CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY

Each property listed on VRBO comes with its own cancellation policy. It is of the essence that you inform the host as soon as possible if you plan to cancel. A lot of hosts will not give you a full refund, but VRBO also provides an optional vacation rental protection, and the rates you have to pay for access to this protection are relatively low compared to the total amount involved in booking a vacation rental.

Tax

VRBO may require hosts in the US to enter their taxpayer details so to comply with US tax legislation. Some particular states and areas may also have their own added taxes on the rental of properties, and so it is important that property owners fully understand their local property-related laws.

Additionally, for every amount greater than $600 that VRBO collects on the behalf of a host, such as to process credit cards through their “Reservation Manager” platform, they will send a 1099-K to the host. VRBO customers that process credit or have received a minimum of 200 debit card payments summing up to above $20,000 will also get a 1099-K. VRBO also charges for value-added tax (VAT) where necessary.

SERVICE REVIEWS

VRBO encourages guests to review their stays at the accommodations they booked. VRBO provides a section where guests can review and rate the experience they had at the accommodation they stayed. Reviews are made public and are displayed for each particular listing. A five-star rating system is employed by VRBO with attached comment boxes for brief reviews.

This is to make for an atmosphere of honesty and transparency, aimed at protecting the interests of prospective travelers and future guests. Hosts are thus held accountable to uphold the high standards of the travel experience provided by VRBO.

The property owners or hosts can also post replies to these reviews and ratings, which may also be displayed alongside each review, or they may send in private notes of appreciation for good reviews or sort out any issues or misunderstandings.

What this means is that prospective travelers have access to both the opinions of other travelers about the lodging and insight from the property owner (if made public), to help in their decision of whether or not to book their stay at that particular property or accommodation.

SEARCH FILTERS

One of the areas where VRBO beats its major competitors hands-down is the availability of filters on its website to help potential guests and travelers make the most of their property search. Potential guests can search for accommodations and properties by their types, some of which include beachside, mountain view, lake view, ski rental, and so much more.

Granular property types (made up of smaller, conveniently independent parts) may also be accessed. Indeed, the property type filters provided by VRBO are very robust and all-inclusive.

Pet owners can also take advantage of the filters to search for “pet-friendly” properties. The typical VRBO home can permit pets, especially dogs, as they mostly have backyards. Most of the results will have “pets considered” in their overviews.

Although this means that the property owner is open to the prospect of accommodating pets, it doesn’t give the guest the automatic permission to bring a pet. These terms will have to be discussed between the host and the guest first. Hosts sometimes charge extra fees for pets.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

VRBO has a very dependable 24-hour daily customer support team. Guests and hosts are, however, advised to try to work out their differences before they involve the support staff of VRBO. Nonetheless, the customer care service phone lines are always open to help both guests and hosts.

FINAL VERDICT

VRBO is perfectly suited for those travelers that want a full vacation, privacy and a true escape. The types of rentals and tools that the VRBO website provides prove just that. The host service fee payment options also allow for flexibility and adaptability. The company also encourages its customers, especially guests to place their reviews and ratings to help new travelers in their decision-making process.

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