Helping Others Feel Like Home Away From Home
You may have a spare room or empty apartment, you may be a very friendly, hospitable and easy-going person, who wants to meet new people, or you may just want to generate additional income. These are the main reasons, why people decide to become hosts and rent out their property on various booking websites.
For those who only start to break new ground in the hospitality field, we will try to provide an overview of the most popular and reliable booking websites to list your property on. It may interest even experienced hosts. Ok, let’s start.
Three pillars of peer-to-peer rentals or private accommodations are the Homeaway family, the Tripadvisor family and Airbnb. Together they account for roughly 70% of all vacation rental traffic. It means that 7 out of 10 people searching for vacation rentals on e.g. Google, will most likely land on one of these 3 vacation rental websites families and most likely book through one of them as well.
The Homeaway’s network consists of 25 websites with over 1 mln properties in 190 countries, and the most successful among them are Homeaway, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com, the most traffic of which comes from the USA and Canada.
The procedure of listing your property on these websites is the same: you sign up, create a listing, and upload photos of your property. But along with this you must choose a pricing option. The Homeaway family offers two such options: annual subscription and pay-per-booking option.
An annual subscription allows you to list a property for a full year and pay one set price for unlimited bookings: $399 for listings that have Online Booking activated, and $549 for listings that don’t have this feature. With this variant, youcan list your property to 25 top international sites at no extra cost. Instead of paying for annual subscription, you can choose to pay nothing upfront and a minimum of 8% on each booking.
This option is ideal for properties with short booking seasons or that are only available for special events. Payment on these sites is convenient and secure: they have their own payment system HomeAway Payments, allowing to accept most major credit cards and all eChecks directly from the dashboard.
The second large group of booking sites is the TripAdvisor family, with complete exposure to over 340 million travellers per month. TripAdvisor is known all over the world as one of the most trusted brands in travel, standing out for its unique review policy. So a strong review profile with them can add some serious credibility to your business.
In total, the TripAdvisor family offers distribution to five separate, most predominant channels: Tripadvisor, Flipkey (most popular in North America), HolidayLettings (most popular in Europe and the United Kingdom), Housetrip (Europe), and Niumba (Spain).
It’s free to publish listings, they deduct just 3% from the guest’s payment. Don’t forget about it while setting the price. If you have more that 5 properties, you can have with TripAdvisor websites a manager account, which will give you access to a better quality of customer service, connectability with property management software, and two other payment options: beyond the regular free-to-list (3%) option you will have a pay-per-lead option, and a fixed fee per listing option (which can vary in price depending on the size of your inventory) – whatever best fits your business.
Now we are coming to the third pillar. Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb is undisputedly the fastest growing vacation rental website in the world today. It’s 100% free to list your property and advertise with them, and your properties will be distributed to ALL of their international domains – that’s access to 88 to 120 million travellers per month!
Airbnb’s listing service works on a commission pay-per-booking model, charging a simple transaction fee of just 3% per booking. It also offers a pretty good protection plan with their Host Guarantee. They offer coverage of up to $1,000,000 in the rare event your property is damaged by a guest, which also happens to be one of the highest policies in the industry right now. Another great thing about Airbnb is their transparent review system, which allows you to know more about the person renting your properties. Not only hosts are reviewed for their properties, but travellers are also reviewed by their hosts.
Now let’s switch from real rental giants to others separate sites. 9flats is one of the most popular vacation rental websites among European travellers with the bulk of its traffic coming from Germany. Listing with 9flats is free, though you have to pay the 15% commission per booking (for instant bookable places the commission is just 12%). They also offer a pretty good protection plan with 9Flats.Insurance program (in partnership with Zurich Insurance). It covers up to €500,000 in the rare event your property is damaged by a guest, which a pretty solid policy in comparison to what other channels are offering. In general, it has much in common with Airbnb, for example.
One more popular in Europe rental platform is Wimdu. It has more than 350,000 properties in more than 150 countries, and is available in 15 languages, including English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Listing here is also free, they don’t even charge a small commission. Instead, they charge travellers a processing fee so it costs you absolutely nothing to list with them. Be sure, the price which you have set for your property is what you will receive when you have had a booking. An extremely good variant for those, who wants to try out.
Founded in 2009, Roomorama is a short-term and vacation rental platform that offers over 80,000 vacation rentals worldwide. It won’t cost you thing to list your property. There are zero processing fees and no commissions. Instead, a traveller shall pay a booking fee. Basic principles are actually the same, as of other popular rental portals; however, there are some special features. ShoutOuts is designed for guests who are looking for accommodations. When they post a ShoutOut, a notification the managers send an email to all active hosts based on the requested city. Hosts can also access the ShoutOuts page. He can search for guests who might be interested in booking their property. Moreover, hosts can offer the guest an alternative property if the current one is unavailable and organize their property listings by group. To use these features, you should have multiple listings.
All these services have many similar features: you can communicate with guests and respond to inquiries via inbox, text messages or even a special app, in most cases they offer almost the same terms and conditions, provide instant booking and secure payment methods, and as a rule, you receive money from guests only 24 hours after their check-in. But the most obvious common feature is that you receive income from offering your property. However, there is one service, completely different from the described above.
Have you ever heard of Couchsurfing? You can list for free, the main idea is sharing and cultural exchange. Opening your home to travellers you can learn about a new culture first-hand or practice a language. Initial registration is free of charge; however “verification”, which allows members to send unlimited messages, is available upon payment of an annual fee. There is also a review system, so you can always have a look at other members’ references. Today this service is extremely popular with students all over the world.
Of course, there are many other rental sites. More and more people search for an alternative to expensive and impersonal hotels. There is a growing demand for private accommodations. But remember, the main thing is not the number of sites, where you list your property, but the quality of your listings and service.