Vrbo for Airbnb hosts

Hi everyone,

Sorry that my first topic here isn’t about airbnb, but i suspect this is the best place to ask…

Although I’m new to airbnb, depending on airbnb as my inky source of guests seems unwise. So Ive been looking at VRBO… buuuuuuuuut… It seems like a whole different kettle of fish.

For example, as guests don’t seem to have profiles, I have no idea how to vet them. Also, it looks like I need to get guests to sign rental contracts. In short, looks like a steep learning curve.

Has anyone here come acroas a guide along the lines of “VRBO for Airbnb hosts” which explains the nuances of VRBO from the point of view of an Airbnb hosts? Or, is there anyone here that has gone through the learning curve and can share their wisdom?



Have a read on the homeaway forum, every platform has its problems.

You mean on the HomeAway site? I was hoping to hear from Airbnb users and the Airbnb-to-HomeAway learning curve.

If I have to start from scratch, I think I will just put HomeAway off for the immediate future as this is my family’s home (which is very high end) and I can’t afford to screw things up.

If it is a high end home I think you will prefer VRBO. You get a real security deposit. Compared to nothing on Airbnb.

Things I don’t like about VRBO. Unless you pay the $399 subscription fee the fee’s are higher. I find it very cumbersome to change rates for special events.

I use both airbnb and vrbo.

In my opinion, the vbro interface is more difficult to use.

I don’t vet my guests, but you are right that it is near impossible on vrbo. I use instant book on airbnb, so no need for me to vet guests on vrbo. I do not instant book on vrbo - I don’t like the calendar synch, so I only IB on airbnb, and manually open/close my calendar on vrbo.

I use the vrbo “pay by rental” method, so I pay some % per reservation for fees. It seems to depend on the amount of the rental on what the fee is. Sometimes it matches airbnb, sometimes it is a lot higher. I just make sure my rates are that I can handle either. I do keep my rates higher on vrbo than I do on airbnb.

I don’t know what the reference to “sign rental contracts” is on vrbo. Is that just automatic maybe when a guests books? If I create a new listing, I don’t include a rental contract .

@Fahed if you ask me specific questions, I will try to answer them.

a High end family home belongs on HomeAway much more so than on Airbnb.
But…and here is the caveat…it is up to you to set all your parameters and regulations much more completely.
The site is not set up for “instant book” even though they are forcing the issue.
The site is not set up for reviews, although they pretend they are.
You also would be foolish to rent on HA / VRBO without a signed contract, but I feel the same about Airbnb. I would never turn over my “family’s home (which is very high end)” to anybody, anyplace, from any listing site, without a contract.
At this moment in time, theoretically, the owner has control of the security deposit on HA / VRBO, although there is some background rumbling noise.
I believe there is a client that seeks out a High End Home, especially a large property, that uses HA / VRBO and not Airbnb.
Also, historically, Airbnb targeted urban markets, while HA / VRBO targeted vacation areas, although that distinction is blurring and overlapping.
Most owners on HA / VRBO resent being controlled, and overseen, and forced into a box and like the freedom of controlling their own houses. Again, that is blurring too.

We have a high-end home, too, in a fly-to location (island in the Caribbean). I agree 100% with georgygirl that AirBnB is not the best place for a high-end home.

However, we can’t ignore AirBnB as it’s really well-known. We get 60-70% of our bookings from VRBO/HA. We’ve also created our own website. We don’t get a lot of bookings directly from it, but it’s a useful place for information on activities and restaurants, etc.,

There’s a different clientele between the two main sites, although the lines are blurring as time goes by. AirBnB guests are much more price conscious, in my experience. And, of course, AirBnB is still more of a “nanny state” than VRBO/HA.

You won’t get to vet guests very well on VRBO/HA. If you make it to “Premier Partner” (their answer to Superhost), you can call the guests, but you’ll have to take the booking through the platform or you risk your Premier Partner “badge” and getting deactivated. If you aren’t a Premier Partner, you’ll have 24 hours after they submit a Reservation Request to ask them questions to vet them. If you don’t like them, you can decline. However, you get penalized in the rankings if you decline, and some hosts are now just accepting the request, then refusing to honor the reservation if the guest booked fraudulently (too many people, too many pets, intend on having a party when no parties are allowed, etc.)

The interface is different, but the general concept is the same. Write a description, upload pictures, select your amenities, populate your calendar and set prices, decide whether you want the subscription or the commission-based model, and you can go live. They do have “house rules”, but only three and you can’t use a lot of words on them.

I have my own contract, which I require the guest to execute within 24 hours of booking or their booking isn’t confirmed. I send them the contract via DocuSign. It’s four pages - two for the contract and two for the House Rules (no smoking, don’t dive in the pool, quiet hours, etc.). Since most of our bookings are for five nights or longer at a price of $400 US per night and up, this is not really a hardship.

You may also qualify for early release of the rent payment. We take 50% at booking and 50% due 45 days before arrival, and generally get the funds released to us about 5 days after the guest pays. Of course, if they cancel, we have to have the money in our bank account to give them their money back. So we have a dedicated account set up for the rental, instead of our personal bank account.

This may be more than you wanted to know, but I hope it hits the highlights for you. Good luck!

(Edited because I didn’t read the earlier posts well enough)


Their guidelines say not to accept a booking without a contract, but you can’t give a contract without making a booking. My thinking is to create a contract in which the details of the property, amounts, dates etc are all put into a Annex/Schedule. When they request a booking, send them the contract for them to confirm all is fine. And then, once they confirm, send them the full version for them to sign and send back. If they don’t, then cancel the booking.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

In all fairness, it’s not a home where we live. It was bought as an investment and, until recently, was rent out on a long-term basis. A night in any of the high-end nearby hotels will cost about 40% of the price a night at my place despite mine accommodating 9 people in 5 bedrooms with 2 living rooms. Also, it’s in Central London. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d focus on corporate lettings only. More on that in my response to @PitonView

So far, the guests we’ve had through Airbnb have been good. 4 families and 1 corporate with colleagues flying in for a conference. Mind you, the rates were discounted in order to attract reviews and we haven’t had any bookings with our high rates except for a Christmas booking which is in the future.

Yeah! I don’t have any faith in websites in of themselves because it all comes down to traffic and I think that is, at the end of the day, what Airbnb bring. In any case, I will create a website (photographer is coming tomorrow) with hope that I can use the website to reach out to relocation agents, nearby corporations, nearby hospitals etc. Am hoping that

What are my options? Can I ask them to send me their Government ID? What else?

Taking the booking through their platform seems fair enough. Any reason to object to that?

How does refusing the guest work out at a practical level? Wait until the party starts and then kick everyone out? :joy: Would it be an option to accept people you’re concerned about but with a high deposit to put them off so they choose not to book instead of me declining it?

Thanks! :pray:

Very thorough. Save this response. It may be worth a hoot to look back at it in the future. Thanks for putting in the energy to answer in detail.
@Fahed has so many questions, that it is rattling my brain.
Airbnb has truly been the downfall of VRBO/HA.
@Fahed =

  1. you upload your entire contract which is seen during the check out process.
  2. you have 3 rules. Make sure one of those is to download that contract and read it top to bottom
  3. after confirm send them the contract to sign and initial and return with govt id. This is critically important as VRBO/HA does not handle $$$$ the same as ABB. They use and outside processing source, rather than internal, and like any business , an owner is subject to fraud and chargebacks. Huge difference.
  4. So it is not really a high end family home. It is a large home, centrally located, purchased to make money. Maybe you need to get to work and wave a magic wand to attract those corporate rentals. Corporate booking lie too, and trash houses too. That is Not a “no-risk” answer.
  5. Your track history is very short. Six rentals is miniscule to determine any pattern.
  6. Rates: you will have to figure that one out on your own. It depends upon what you offer.
  7. Options? It is your home and your biggest investment. Require what you need to protect yourself in order to ensure that the house is taken care of, that they don’t exceed your allowed number of guests, and that you get your money.
  8. Also, make sure you are legal if that is an issue in London.
  9. You have to collect and submit taxes, unless VRBO/HA has notified you that they handle it in your area.
  10. Lots of reasons to object to their platform. As we started the talk, VRBO/HA old timers deeply resent the new “nanny state” created by ABB. The platform takes a service fee from the guests, and thus that drives up the price and makes you less competitive. I did fine before they reached into my pockets and stole my profits.
  11. Refusing the guest is a long topic. You need to make sure they fit before the door is opened to them, and not after. If , after booking, they are not a match, you need to make the guest initiate and do the cancel. Then give them back their money.
  12. You must balance “concern” with high deposit. Sure. But it is best to just accept groups where there is no concern…if there is such a thing. There is a learning curve to that. You need to state your deposit up front, so you have to think that through.
    Good luck.
    As said earlier, you need to get off this site and go elsewhere if you want to learn more about other ways to rent outside of ABB.

@Fahed - To vet guests, you can ask questions like “Why are you coming to visit London? How many people in your group? What are their ages? All family or a group of friends? Any pets? Where do you live?”. The idea is to figure out whether they are going to bring too many people or have parties or bring pets - the three main issues. Sometimes you get groups that are just plain messy or surprise you even after you ask questions. As georgygirl said, you can require them to send you their ID. Be sure to put that in your three house rules.

I upload my contract but clearly state that it is a template and not legally binding. They book, I tell them their booking is NOT CONFIRMED until they sign the contract and return it. Once they’ve done that, I confirm their booking. So far, everyone has done that, although a few of them took a couple of reminders.

I never said that AirBnB was a bad place for your home, just that VRBO/HA is a better place (or was - hopefully they don’t end up being a clone of AirBnB). We book our home at a much higher price through VRBO than we usually can get on AirBnB. Most guests are used to signing a contract so they don’t object. AirBnB has an “extenuating circumstances policy” where they decide whether to refund the guest or not when the guest cancels - making the host the guest’s insurance policy at no cost to the guest. So far, VRBO/HA has not adopted that policy.

AirBnB does get more traffic than VRBO, but we get more bookings from VRBO.

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VRBO - I do find that it is very difficult to communicate with guests - as in … I try to ask them a question before I accept their booking, and they rarely answer - or they answer 18 hours later. Also, after I accept, they don’t answer well. So I don’t know if they require users to set up email or text, but I wonder if all the emails go into the guests junk. I try to keep all communication on the platform - not call/text/email direct because that is how to do it with aribnb, but I find that it is difficult. (the same way I feel about flipkey - communication via the platform is horrid)

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I host and rent via vrbo – the emails come in fine from the guest’s perspective. People “shop” more on vrbo and the site encourages them to contact multiple hosts at one time (after they make one request, the form is pre-filled and similar listings are pulled up). The ones who disappear are just going with another property.

The site is generally a pain to use and I usually shift to texting after a booking is made.

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Wow! Thanks for the excellent feedback everyone!

Considering that a contract isn’t a contract without the particulars of the rental (their details, my details, the property’s details, the rental details), my thinking is to make a contract which refers to an Annex. That way they see the Pro Forma contract during the checkout and then sign the one with the Annex after. Would that work well?


True, but there is a bit more accountability. I’ve spent the entire day reading through the forum archives and the attitude of all channels is infuriating. The idea that Airbnb gives you 48 hours to provide receipts or VRBO stepping out of the picture leaving you high and dry is petrifying. At least with a corporate letting the contract is between me and them. And if they breach it, then there are legal procedures which can be followed which don’t put me at the mercy of Airbnb etc support. I’ve had one interaction with Airbnb support and, in my opinion, I feel like there’s a 13 year old on the other end.

So the first rule is for them to read the contract. The second rule is to send their ID. What’s the third? :stuck_out_tongue:

Out of interest, are you “pay per booking”? I’ve been reading that you get more exposure if that is set.

No, we are on subscription. You might get more exposure if you are set to PPB (because VRBO will make more money off each booking you get), but you’ll probably find it isn’t worth it financially unless you only book a few nights over VRBO. But PPB is a good way to start if you don’t want to pay the subscription.

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