VRBO vs Booking.com The Ultimate Airbnb Homeaway Booking Showdown

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: March 2, 2023

Gone are the days when booking a nice villa warranted glossing over the telephone directory or consulting a travel agent who had some local leads.

Now, all the villas you could ever desire are available at the palm of your fingertips through VRBO or Booking.com.

This begs the question, which is better for booking a villa or an apartment? VRBO or Booking.com?

VRBO is better for booking simply because it has more listings and is also cheaper than Booking.com. However, if you are looking for a more relaxed cancellation policy, then Booking.com is the better option.

In this article, we’re going to go over the differences between VRBO and Booking.com glossing over their cancellation policies and whether you should trust VRBO considering its age in the market. 

Is The VRBO Company The Same As Booking.com?

At its core, both VRBO and Booking.com have the same premise, finding the cheapest rental properties available that offer great value.

However, from a bird’s eye perspective, they’re very different. Here are some different factors between VRBO and Booking.com:

  • Listings: VRBO has the largest number of listings compared to Booking.com. So, you end up with a lot more options on the website.
  • Price Parity: VRBO listings are often cheaper than Booking.com. This is because VRBO listings often hope that you’ll be staying for longer durations which ultimately generates more revenue.
  • User Interface: Booking.com has an extremely polished and well-thought-out user interface. While VRBO has tried to improve its aesthetic, the larger Booking.com still takes the cake when it comes to concocting a user-friendly experience.
  • Primary Audience: VRBO is meant for families and vacationers looking for rental properties. Booking.com is primarily a hotel booking site that also allows landlords to list their rental properties.
  • Global Presence: VRBO and Airbnb are used more extensively throughout the Americas, whereas Booking.com has a livelier presence in Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. 

Are VRBO Platform And Booking.com Owned By The Same Company?

No, VRBO and Booking.com are not owned by the same company and are in fact direct competitors in the travel shopping/travel consumer website marketplace.

Booking.com is a European company founded in 1996 with its headquarters based in Amsterdam.

VRBO, on the other hand, is owned by the Expedia Group based in the United States, with its most significant websites being expedia.com and hotels.com. 

Can VRBO Be Trusted?

Yes, VRBO is a trusted site that has genuine, legit rental properties listed on the website.

However, the rental properties are not owned by VRBO. VRBO caters to families and simply acts as an intermediate between the actual owner and the website.

Moreover, it is owned by the Expedia group, the same group that also owns hotels.com, a well-renowned trusted website for booking hotels around the globe and especially in the States.

So, before you do make a reservation and a transaction, make sure that you look at the reviews, the cancellation policy of that particular rental, and a close look at the images alongside the amenities offered.

However, this isn’t just for VRBO. Any intermediate websites like Airbnb or even Booking.com also suffer from the same fate.

Therefore, consider looking at the reviews as a priority and only book places with a high number of reviews. You wouldn’t want to ruin your vacation by booking a sub-optimal place just to save a few dollars.

What Does VRBO Stand For?

VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner.

It is typically pronounced as Ver-bo and isn’t actually spelled out alphabetically, as many assume. In terms of similarities in business models, it closely resembles that of Airbnb but with an emphasis on vacation rentals rather than apartments and conventional houses like Airbnb. 

VRBO vs Booking.com: Which Has The Best Cancellation Policy For Travelers?

Booking.com has the better cancellation policy simply because it allows guests to cancel for free if they’ve made the booking within 24 hours.

On the other hand, VRBO does not offer this versatility on any of its cancellation tiers.

VRBO offers easy booking along with Booking.com for vacation rentals and they both provide a platform for people to book vacation rentals however they both have different cancellation policies that hosts can choose depending on what appeases them the most. When booking on either site, take a close look at the policy, as it can vary significantly from rental to rental.

Check out both VRBO and Booking.com comparison by typing in search boxes below.

VRBO Homes Cancellation Policy

No Refund Non-refundable no matter the circumstances
StrictYou can cancel a booking if done 60 days before the start of the day
FirmCancellations before 60 days are refundable. Anything after that will receive a 50% partial refund
ModerateCancellations made before 30 days are fully refundable. Cancellations made before 14 days have a 50% refund
RelaxedCancellations made up to 14 days before the start of the day itself are fully refundable. Anything after (7 days) receive a 50% partial refund
Source:VRBO table for comparison

Booking.com Homes Cancellation Policy

Fully Flexible PolicyYou will pay only when you arrive at the property and can cancel anytime before check-in
Customized PolicyThe host will choose the cancelation policy and how much they’ll be charging 
Pre-authorization PreferencesCancellations before 60 days are refundable. Anything after that will receive a 50% partial refund
Source: Booking.com cancellation policy table.

So, as we can see, there are a lot of differences between cancellation policies within a website itself.

Therefore, we recommend reviewing your cancellation policies closely before picking up a rental. From our experience, properties that are priced low often have extremely strict cancellation policies.

This acts as a double-edged sword.

On one side, you do end up getting a stellar deal. But, on the other hand, you’ll also be losing a lot of money in case any other emergency comes up.

Or, you may end up finding a better place that suits your needs right before your trip. When that happens, you won’t be able to switch since you’ll be getting a partial refund, or you may not get one at all. 

Homeaway vs Airbnb

HomeAway and Airbnb are two of the most well-known vacation rental platforms in the world. While they have some similarities, there are also key differences between the two.

HomeAway was founded in 2005 and acquired by Expedia Group in 2015. The platform focuses exclusively on the rental of entire homes or apartments, making it popular among families and groups of friends.

HomeAway allows property owners to list their homes or apartments for rent and provides a platform for travelers to browse and book their desired accommodation.

On the other hand, Airbnb was founded in 2008 and allows travelers to book a variety of accommodation types, including entire homes, private rooms, and shared rooms. Airbnb is known for its focus on local experiences, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the culture of their destination.

Interestingly, both HomeAway and Airbnb are owned by major parent companies in the travel industry.

HomeAway is owned by Expedia Group, while Airbnb is owned by a group of investors from around the world, including Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and Andreessen Horowitz.

Final Thoughts On Differences Between VRBO vs Booking.com

Booking.com and VRBO are both great sites to book your villa in Florida. However, we feel like VRBO takes a slight edge over the booking juggernaut for travelers simply because of its cheaper pricing/ Booking fee and offers a greater variety of listings, especially in the continental United States.

So if it’s VRBO vs Booking.com Airbnb VRBO or any option you prefer be sure to keep a look out for those guest fee and service fee charges when making a reservation and always be sure to book with a credit card in case a refund is needed.

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