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September 20, 2023

Migrating Guests to Direct Bookings, Part 1: The Alternative to AirBNB & VRBO

It's time to revolutionize your vacation rental game! While Airbnb and similar large booking sites have been a go-to choice for many, there's a vast world of rental platforms out there that can supercharge your vacation rental business. These platforms can amplify your property's visibility, broaden your clientele, and boost your income streams. In this guide, we'll explore Airbnb alternatives that could mean lower fees, and higher margins, helping you stay ahead in the game and maximize your potential.

Why You Should Explore Beyond Airbnb

Airbnb may be the veteran in the vacation rental industry, but it's not always the perfect match for every property owner. Hosts, like you, value flexibility, savings, and diverse experiences. Airbnb's service fees, functional constraints, and booking processes may not align with your needs.

Diversifying your platform usage opens doors to a broader audience. It's all about getting creative and adapting to the evolving landscape. Listing on multiple platforms doesn't just increase visibility; it can lead to higher returns. Some platforms attract unique types of travelers, expanding your customer base. Plus, if one platform sees a slowdown, others can keep your bookings steady.

For extra marketing strategies that go beyond the usual platforms, check out our comprehensive Vacation Rental Management Tools Guide for valuable insights.

And here's a pro tip: Offering direct bookings through your website is a savvy way to dodge service fees and maximize profits. Pairing your own website with listings on multiple platforms covers all your bases. A variety of online  tools makes setting up your hosted website a breeze, automatically syncing your property info and booking calendars. Fernhosts can also help by providing you with tools to communicate with your guests. 

Explore the Best Airbnb Alternatives 

Venturing beyond Airbnb uncovers a treasure trove of untapped potential. Numerous rental platforms cater to unique custom niches seeking exciting travel experiences. Keep in mind that the pricing mentioned here is based on the publication date; always verify current rates on the platform's website.

  1. Vrbo - Millennial Family-Friendly Getaways

Founded in 1995, Vrbo specializes in whole-home rentals, ideal for those traveling with family and friends. It offers a wide range of choices, from condos to unique spaces like barns and yachts. Vrbo's "Book with Confidence Guarantee" program provides payment protection and 24/7 customer service, ensuring peace of mind.

  1. TripAdvisor - Your Global Virtual Billboard

Think of TripAdvisor as your digital billboard, visible to a worldwide audience. A TripAdvisor Business Listing highlights your property, offers contact links, and showcases your special deals. The best part? You can direct traffic from TripAdvisor to your own vacation rental site, skipping third-party fees.

  1. Booking.com - Where Millennials Meet Adventures

Founded in 1996, Booking.com connects millions of travelers with lodging options, including vacation homes. With listings in 43 languages and 24/7 customer support, it's a global travel marketplace perfect for millennials seeking adventures.

  1. Find Rentals - Direct Booking Bliss

Since 2002, Find Rentals has been delivering a consistent message to travelers about the advantages of booking directly with locally-run vacation property managers. It's a direct booking channel that boosts occupancy rates by driving qualified renters to your website.

  1. bnbfinder - Affordable and Personalized Travel

bnbfinder aims to make travel more accessible and affordable. This platform uses a “no-fee” subscription model, allowing renters to book directly with hosts, putting guests in control of their travel experience.

  1. HomeToGo - Booking Convenience for Guests

With 50 million monthly visits, HomeToGo is a massive platform where vacationers typically book three months in advance, opting for week-long stays. Less turnover, fewer cleanings to schedule, and steady revenue generation make it appealing.

  1. Houfy - Taking Back Control

Established in 2013, Houfy eliminates high service fees and gives control back to property owners. It's free as of June 2023, with plans to switch to a monthly tiered subscription later in the year.

  1. Getaway GoGo - Last-Minute Deals for Travelers

Getaway GoGo is perfect for guests seeking last-minute vacation rental deals. With roughly half of U.S. travelers booking accommodations within two weeks of their arrival, this platform connects you with budget-friendly options.

  1. Golightly - Traveling Safely as a Woman

Golightly, a private club, provides a vacation rental and home-sharing platform for women. All Golightly properties are owned or managed by women, ensuring a safe and secure travel experience.

  1. GuestSmiles - Empowering Guests

GuestSmiles.com connects property owners, managers, and travelers, allowing you to establish your own rental agreements and policies. There are no third-party fees, offering a seamless experience for millennials.

  1. Rentalz.com - A Hyper-Local Booking Experience

Rentalz.com is designed for property managers, providing direct communication with guests and a hyper-local booking experience. You set the terms and conditions, ensuring a personalized stay for millennials.

  1. Monthly Rentals by Owner and American Snowbird - Extended Millennial Stays

Specializing in extended stays of 28 days or more, Monthly Rentals by Owner and American Snowbird cater to guests  looking for mid-term rentals and snowbird getaways.

Camping Options - Embrace the Outdoors

For millennials seeking unique outdoor experiences, Outdoorsy and HipCamp are ideal alternatives to Airbnb.

Regional Vacation Rental Platforms - Explore Local Gems

Some platforms focus on specific geographical areas, like FloridaRentals.com and emeraldcoastbyowner.com.

Crafting a Guest-Friendly Vacation Rental Business

Success in the vacation rental industry isn't just about listing properties; it's about creating memorable experiences. Consider offering high-speed wifi and comfortable workspaces for digital nomads or providing local attraction discounts and customized city guides. Your property's uniqueness will draw millennials back and encourage them to recommend your space to others. Fernhosts can help better communicate experiences to your guests.

As you develop these strategies, a property management checklist can be your best friend. Our Property Management Checklist article offers a comprehensive guide to efficiently managing your vacation rental. It ensures nothing falls through the cracks in the hustle and bustle of running a successful business.

Expand Your Vacation Rental Journey Beyond Airbnb

Your journey in the vacation rental market doesn't have to be limited to Airbnb. Exploring alternatives opens up diverse opportunities and income streams. Managing multiple platforms can be effortless with vacation rental software. Learn more in our comprehensive guide to rental management software platforms.  And read more tips about optimizing your rental revenue

Don't limit yourself to one platform. With the right tools at your fingertips, you can embrace them all, ensuring success in the vacation rental market. Explore our communication features to optimize your business and embark on a vacation rental journey beyond Airbnb. Your adventure awaits!