22 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2014 11:47 AM by patpat922 RSS

    VRBO vs HOME AWAY?

    mommap Contributor

      After researching, I discovered that VRBO and Home Away are the same company -- I learned they will give you a bundle discount if using both sites.

       

      Our property is located on the Gulf Coast near Gulf Shores AL-- I have been told most of our guest will come from a 400 mile radius and of course, snowbirds in the winter from further north staying a longer period of time.

       

      Who do you get your best results from VRBO or Home Away?  Most of my friends (including myself) have always used VRBO, but I see Home Away doing a lot of advertising so things "might" be shifting..

       

      Any ideas or thoughts would be GREATLY appreciated!

        • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
          carol Premier Contributor

          I originally paid for two listings, one one each site, and then bundled when bundling became available.  But if you do a search for your town in one of them, you'll find that the listings on the other site are also included below the listings on the primary site.  And if the traveler enters any search filters, e.g. number of bedrooms, all the listings on both HA and VRBO are sorted together.  So, I cancelled VRBO.  Despite that, more than half of my inquiries still come from VRBO.  

           

          You'll need to look at the listings in your area to figure out if you need to list on both or if listing on one and getting the piggy-back will be good enough.  If your area has hundreds of listings and your place is average in terms of size (3-4 bedrooms), you may need the extra boost of purchasing both sites as a bundle, plus a premium level.  But if your area has under 50 or so listings and your place is unusual -- bigger or with an unusual amenity like a pool or beach view -- then try a single listing at the basic level.  You can always upgrade later if you don't get the inquiries you need. 

            • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
              mommap Contributor

              Thank you for info Carol..

               

              I searched the city and state on both sites.  VRBO listed one of the condos in our building first (I did not select any filters.. just luck)   Home Away does have listings from our building but it was further down the list.

               

              When I typed in "Dauphin Island" AL, VRBO has 195 listings on the island and Home Away shows 187.  Of course this is a mixture of everything -- Homes/condos/-- no filters..

               

              From the above information, what do you suggest I do next?   I want to make a good decision and maximize my advertising dollars?

                • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                  carol Premier Contributor

                  That's alot of competition; my guess is that the other condo in your building that came up on top has purchased a premium level subscription. 

                   

                  If you filter on condos, you'll find 86 condos on VRBO, 3 of which are on Homeaway alone.  Searching on Homeaway, I see 84 condos, but 46 of them are on VRBO alone.  That tells me that owners in your area prefer VRBO over HA.   

                   

                  I'd start with a basic level ad on VRBO, but consider bumping it up to a premium level later if you don't get enough inquiries.  Remember, though, that inquiries will be slow at first until you get some good reviews.  You could promote your property as "Beautiful Condo - New on the market -- be the first to rent" or something like that.  

                • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                  mommap Contributor

                  Thank you again Carol.  I see what you are saying.  Okay, good advice..

                   

                  I understand about lack of reviews , but I am going to try to make lemonade out of lemons..  Do as you suggested and "sell" the idea of everything is new "lines, mattresses, appliances etc etc

                • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                  Community All-Star

                  Carol has given you good advice.  I only list on VRBO and have never paid for a listing on HomeAway.  About a year or so ago (I don't remember exactly when) HomeAway started including listings on both sites even if the owner didn't purchase a listing bundle.  My listing now also appears on HomeAway but at the bottom of the list under "more choices from the HomeAway Network" without using any filters.  As Carol has pointed out, if one uses filters in doing a search the listings from both sites are included together.  On HomeAway, my listing is 9th if one filters for reviews.  On the VRBO website, my listing is first if sorted by review count and fifth by VRBO sort. (The VRBO review count sort feature lists the property with the most reviews at top, and then ranks each property in descending order by number of reviews. The review filter on HA does not rank the properties by review count in descending order.  It includes all properties that have any reviews and still lists them by subscription level.)  As you are just starting out and have no reviews, this would not be a drawback for you with HomeAway.  Approximately 80% of my inquiries are from VRBO.

                   

                  Personally, I prefer the web design and other search features on the VRBO website to those on the HomeAway website.  When I search for a rental property for my family's vacations, I use VRBO.  I just find it more user-friendly and easier to use.  As stated above, I prefer the VRBO sort feature by number of reviews to the HomeAway feature.  I also prefer VRBO's filter categories.  They have specific filters for "beachfront" and "oceanfront."  HA's filter category is "beach" and includes properties that have access to a private beach even if the property is not actually "beachfront."  If one is searching for a property that is beachfront on HA, you have to click the boxes for "beach" and "waterfront."  Obviously, these are just my personal preferences regarding the two sites. 

                    • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                      ttaylor0 Active Contributor

                      Let me jump in and muddy the waters. I only advertise on HomeAway because they were the one that I saw advertising on TV. However I do get a couple of rentals a year from VRBO, because as others have stated, you will be listed on both sites "if" the guest uses the filters in looking for a home/condo.

                      Good luck in however you decide to do it.

                      • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                        mommap Contributor

                        I am glad to see that I am not the only person who believes VRBO is more "user friendly".. I agree with you 100%.. I also like the filters on VRBO..

                         

                        The lack of reviews is going to be a problem

                          • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                            Senior Contributor

                            mommap wrote:

                             

                             

                            The lack of reviews is going to be a problem

                            Not sure if this will be a problem or not.

                             

                              BUT if you are concerned - simply create a review of your own.  Im sure its been done before (1000's of times in fact).

                             

                            I havent done it, but you certainly wouldnt be the first.

                             

                            Or if someone else has stayed there, have them write a review.  Make sure that it will be a 5-star before asking them though!

                        • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                          sage Community All-Star

                          There are regional differences.  In some places VRBO is dominant, in others homeaway.com may prevail, and some markets might even favor flipkey.  But if there is no clear local preference, consider that VRBO shows much better numbers for traffic than do the others.  Below (hopefully) you will see a chart summarizing data taken from http://www.alexa.com/:

                           

                          Notebk1.jpg

                           

                          While these numbers do not show the exact number of visitors to the sites, and they say nothing about individual markets, the rankings seem to show VRBO having a clear edge over Homeaway, and Flipkey is a relatively minor player (#1 is the top rank for number of visits within the U.S. and worldwide, respectively).  The Homeaway bounce rate, being 50% higher than the others, suggests a greater number of people find themselves there and immediately do not like what they see, so they do not look at anything beyond their landing page.  Likewise, the number of pageviews and time on site suggest either that people very quickly find exactly what they are seeking on Homeaway, or they do not perist.  Generally it is a good indication when time on site and pageviews/visitor are higher.

                           

                          There also is some interesting demographic information.  VRBO has an advantage among college graduates who are goofing off at work.  Homeway seems to have a slight edge among people with a graduate degree.  Flipkey is strong among people searching while at school (it may be the place to put advertising aimed at the spring break crowd).  If one is marketing to travelers outside North America, one might want to avoid VRBO.

                           

                          And I agree with mlbmaine's comments regarding personal preferences and practices.  I find the homeaway.com design to be user-hostile, although that of flipkey is even harder for me to navigate.

                            • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                              mommap Contributor

                              Thank you Sage for sharing the data.. Great information.  Sounds like VRBO is a clear winner..  When searching for my own family a vacation spot, it is my preference for all the reasons mentioned... 

                               

                              Y'all say a little prayer for me this summer that we do well....  My DH wants to go with the management company, but I am having a difficult time giving up 25% .... 

                               

                              One thing, I don't like about VRBO and probably all the others, is I wish all listings were directly between owner and vacationer.. Not management company and vacationer ....  I thought it was suppose to be "Vacation Rentals By Owner"... I hope I haven't stirred up a hornet nest!

                            • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                              2barefeet Contributor

                              I own in Ft Morgan and like Dauphin Island it is unique.  Guests need to know the exact location - since we are 'away from it all'.  Most of my guests come from VRBO since the filters are easier to understand and my HA guests tend to be 'needy'. 

                               

                              However, I only get snowbirds and most of my fall season from HA.  CrAzY - probably something to do with advertising.

                               

                              Hands down for our area - VRBO but for the rate of income adding the bundle is def worth for me.

                               

                              Your listing will have 'new listing' banner for a while so no reviews is expected.  Just make sure you have great photos and comparable rates.  Best of luck to you!!! 

                                • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                  mommap Contributor

                                  Thank you to EVERYONE!    

                                   

                                  Love the name "2Barefeet".. Is the name of your property?  Either way, very catchy!  I did not realize I would have the "NEW" Banner.. thanks for sharing, that might help..

                                   

                                  I wonder if Home Away is more popular up North?  Would explain your snowbirds..

                                   

                                  Since you are in the area, does the management companies charge 25% on the mainland?  BTW, this is what I call Fort Morgan since our ship (ferry) delivers at your port!      

                                    • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                      2barefeet Contributor

                                      Thanks!! 2 Barefeet Properties LLC is my business.

                                       

                                      In our 'mainland resort' ;-)  the standard mgt commission is around 30% plus they have no cancellation policies and nickle and dime you to death.  I was once told I had no wine glasses (just months after doing my own inventory!).  Needless to say I visited and found double the wine glasses, 2 irons, and 2 blenders - all of which I was charged for with no approval from me!  That was when I decided I could do better on my own.  We figured we would give it a shot, not much to lose. 

                                       

                                      My first year on VRBO, classic level - I quadrupled my income!! I do have to deal with any problems, etc.  But that is why you also need to find a great cleaning company that can step in when you can't.

                                       

                                      And you are right gymbeau - getting away is sometimes best.

                                    • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                      gymbeau Senior Contributor

                                      I too, feel that VRBO is a better preformer for me.  Not sure how to quantify this, but I get a 'better renter', less headaches than with HA.

                                       

                                      Love Ft Morgan, we are on West Beach, but stayed on Ft Morgan for years. I have friends with a unit near the Fort, their unit rents like crazy!  They market it as get away from it all and then go 20 more miles!   Not everyone wants to

                                      be next door to a bar.

                                       

                                      Good Luck with your rentals.

                                    • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                      mommap Contributor

                                      Thank you again everyone.. Really appreciate this forum.. It has been a life line for me -- Hopefully, I will gain some experience soon and will be more of a "giver" than a "taker" of information!

                                       

                                      Anyone wanting to visit a secluded island, I will have link up in 4 to 6 weeks.. Waiting on furnishings to arrive..

                                      • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                        mommap Contributor

                                        It is called "Dauphin Island", AL..  Most renters on the island are families with children under the age of 12.. Or Nature Lovers..  It is a barrier island 30 minutes south of Mobile, AL..  During Migration, 1000's of birds stop on the island on their way to South America.

                                         

                                        No fast food chains.(sorry McDonalds).  Like Florida was years ago.. All restaurants are family owned.. But plenty of water sports. Kite Boarding, bike rentals etc etc..  you can take the 45 minute ferry ride to Fort Morgan and hit all the shopping, restaurants, and go carting etc.. And then come home to nothing but the sound of sea gulls and waves crashing.. 

                                         

                                        Not for every vacationer.   But, for those wanting nothing but R and R, it fits the bill!

                                        • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                          joan.l Senior Contributor

                                          <<<<

                                            And if the traveler enters any search filters, e.g. number of bedrooms, all the listings on both HA and VRBO are sorted together.  So, I cancelled VRBO.  Despite that, more than half of my inquiries still come from VRBO. 

                                          <<<<

                                           

                                           

                                          How did you decide which one to cancel?  Just curious?  What were the factors that made you decide to cancel VRBO over HA?  

                                           

                                          When I look at the HA site, it looks less "nice". 

                                            • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                              carol Premier Contributor

                                              I actually wish I had stayed with VRBO instead of HA; but I had a lower number with Homeaway since I had been there longer, and didn't want to lose the seniority.  This may have been an imaginary concern -- perhaps they monitor seniority over all the HA family of sites, not site by site.  Anyone know?

                                               

                                              The look and feel of the two sites really isn't a factor, in my opinion.  A traveler is already on one site or the other, so they get the same user interface for all ads they see. 

                                               

                                              Anyway, even though my ad is on HA, I get more inquiries from VRBO than HA. 

                                                • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                                  serenade Community All-Star

                                                  I thought it was only my imagination that VRBO gave me better renters than HA, but guess I'm not the only one who came to that conclusion.

                                                  So I'm glad I only advertise with VRBO now. I still hope VRBO will someday let us review the guests and give the homeowners more control over and not having to bend over backwards to please the unpleasable guests.

                                              • Re: VRBO vs HOME AWAY?
                                                patpat922 Active Contributor

                                                Sorry, but I have significantly more renters from HomeAway than VRBO.  It might be because I have a Global Bundle and are close to Disney.