What Is VRBO and How Does It Work?

By: ROS Team

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VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner and has emerged as a popular platform for travelers seeking unique and personalized accommodations.

In recent years, the vacation rental industry has experienced significant growth, fueled by the desire for more immersive and authentic travel experiences.

VRBO, as a leading player in this market, connects homeowners and property managers with travelers looking for vacation rentals around the world.

In this blog post, we will explore what VRBO is and how it works, providing insights for both homeowners and travelers.

Understanding VRBO

History of VRBO

  • VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner, was founded in 1995 by David and Lynn Clouse.
  • Initially, VRBO served as a platform for homeowners to list their vacation properties and connect directly with potential renters.
  • In 2006, VRBO was acquired by HomeAway, a company specializing in vacation rentals and online bookings.
  • The acquisition allowed VRBO to expand its reach and offer a wider range of vacation rental options to travelers.


Understanding VRBO
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Key Features of VRBO


For Homeowners and Property Managers:

  • VRBO provides a platform for homeowners and property managers to list their properties and manage bookings.
  • It offers tools for setting rental rates, creating property descriptions, and uploading photos to attract potential renters.
  • Homeowners can communicate directly with guests, answer inquiries, and provide information about their properties.
  • VRBO facilitates the booking process and provides a secure payment system for transactions.


For Travelers:

  • VRBO offers a vast selection of vacation rentals worldwide, ranging from cozy cabins to luxurious villas.
  • Travelers can search for rentals based on location, travel dates, number of guests, and specific amenities.
  • Detailed property descriptions, photos, and guest reviews help travelers make informed decisions.
  • VRBO’s booking process allows travelers to communicate with property owners or managers, ask questions, and secure their reservations.


Do You Know: “VRBO is a global travel platform with over 2 million vacation rentals around the world.” Source VRBO.Com.

How Does VRBO Work for Owners and Property Managers?

If you’re a property owner and want to list your apartment as a vacation rental on VRBO, follow these steps:

how does vrbo work
Photo Credit: Canva

Step #1 Listing on VRBO


Registration and Account Setup:

  • Homeowners and property managers need to create an account on VRBO by providing the necessary information.
  • This includes personal details, property address, and contact information.


Property Details and Listing Requirements:

  • Homeowners need to provide accurate and detailed information about their property.
  • This includes property type, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amenities, and any additional features.
  • VRBO may have specific listing requirements, such as minimum stay durations or safety standards, that need to be met.


Uploading Photos and Setting Rental Rates:

  • High-quality photos of the property are crucial for attracting potential renters.
  • Homeowners can upload appealing images showcasing different areas of the property.
  • Setting rental rates involves considering factors like location, property size, amenities, and seasonal demand.


Step #2 Managing Bookings and Reservations


Receiving Inquiries and Booking Requests:

  • Homeowners receive inquiries from interested travelers through VRBO’s messaging system.
  • Travelers may ask questions about availability, pricing, or specific property features.
  • Homeowners can respond promptly to inquiries and provide all necessary information.


Accepting or Declining Reservations:

  • When a traveler submits a booking request, homeowners have the option to accept or decline it.
  • Homeowners should review the traveler’s profile, and previous reviews, and ensure the property is available for the requested dates.


Setting Availability and Calendar Management:

  • Homeowners need to keep their availability calendar updated to prevent double bookings.
  • VRBO provides a calendar tool to block off dates when the property is unavailable or already booked.


Handling Payments and Refunds:

  • VRBO offers secure payment options for both homeowners and travelers.
  • Homeowners can set their preferred payment methods and receive payments directly from VRBO.
  • Refunds and cancellation policies should be clearly defined to avoid any misunderstandings.


Step #3 Communication with Guests


Messaging Platform for Pre-Booking Inquiries:

  • VRBO provides a messaging platform for homeowners and travelers to communicate.
  • Homeowners can address traveler inquiries, provide additional information, and establish a rapport.


Providing Information and Answering Guest Questions:

  • Homeowners should be responsive to guest questions and provide accurate information about the property, amenities, local attractions, and check-in procedures.


Coordinating Check-In Procedures and Key Exchange:

  • Homeowners should establish clear check-in instructions and arrange for key exchange with the guests.
  • Communication regarding arrival times, key pick-up locations, and any special instructions should be conveyed promptly.


Handling Guest Reviews and Feedback:

  • After the stay, guests have the option to leave reviews and provide feedback on their experience.
  • Homeowners should actively monitor and respond to guest reviews to maintain a positive reputation and address any concerns raised.

How Does VRBO Work for Travelers?

If you are looking to book your vacation rental at VRBO, keep these points in mind:

VRBO Work for Travelers
Photo Credit: Canva


Point #1 Searching and Browsing Rentals


Filter options for Location, Dates, Amenities, etc.:

  • Travelers can specify their desired location, travel dates, and other preferences using VRBO’s search filters.
  • Filters may include options such as number of bedrooms, amenities (pool, Wi-Fi, pet-friendly), and property type (house, apartment, cabin).


Viewing Property Details, Descriptions, and Photos:

  • VRBO provides detailed property listings with descriptions, amenities, and specifications.
  • Travelers can explore property photos to get a visual understanding of the rental.


Reading Guest Reviews and Ratings:

  • Travelers can access guest reviews and ratings for each property.
  • Reviews offer insights into previous guests’ experiences and help travelers make informed decisions.


Saving and Comparing Favorite Rentals:

  • VRBO allows travelers to save and compare their favorite rentals.
  • This feature helps travelers keep track of potential options and make comparisons before finalizing their choice.


Point #2 Booking Process and Payment Options


Submitting Booking Requests:

  • Once travelers have selected a property, they can submit a booking request to the homeowner or property manager.
  • Travelers should provide necessary details like the number of guests, desired dates, and any specific inquiries.


Payment Options and Security Measures:

  • VRBO offers secure payment options for travelers, including credit cards and online payment platforms.
  • Payment information is encrypted and protected to ensure safe transactions.


Understanding Cancellation Policies:

  • Each property on VRBO may have its own cancellation policy, which should be reviewed before finalizing a booking.
  • Travelers should understand the terms and conditions regarding cancellations, refunds, and potential fees.


Confirming Reservations and Receiving Booking Confirmation:

  • Once the homeowner or property manager approves the booking request, the traveler will receive a booking confirmation.
  • The confirmation typically includes details such as check-in instructions, contact information, and any additional information provided by the host.


Point #3 Communication with VRBO Hosts


Initial Contact and Inquiry Process:

  • VRBO provides a messaging system for travelers to communicate directly with the homeowner or property manager.
  • Travelers can ask questions, seek clarification on property details, or discuss any specific needs or requests.


Clarifying Property Details and Asking Questions:

  • Before and during the stay, travelers can communicate with the host to address any queries or concerns about the rental property.
  • This communication ensures that travelers have accurate information and a clear understanding of the property.


Coordinating Check-In Details and Arrival Times:

  • Travelers can coordinate with the host regarding check-in procedures, arrival times, and key collection methods.
  • Clear communication helps facilitate a smooth check-in process.


Providing Feedback and Writing Guest Reviews:

  • After the stay, travelers have the opportunity to provide feedback and write a review of their experience on VRBO.
  • Reviews help future travelers make informed decisions and provide valuable feedback to the homeowner or property manager.


By utilizing VRBO’s search features, secure booking process, and direct communication with VRBO hosts, travelers can find and book their ideal vacation rental property, ensuring a memorable and personalized travel experience.

Interesting Fact: “There are 30 different types of homes available for booking at VRBO.” Source

Advantages and Considerations of Using VRBO

Advantages of Using VRBO
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Advantages of VRBO for Homeowners and Property Managers:


Greater Control Over the Rental Process:

  • VRBO allows homeowners and property managers to have direct control over their vacation rentals.
  • They can set their own rental rates, availability calendar, and property rules, providing flexibility and autonomy.


Increased Exposure to Potential Renters:

  • VRBO’s extensive reach and large user base provide homeowners with increased visibility for their properties.
  • This exposure can attract a larger pool of potential renters and increase booking opportunities.


Flexibility in Setting Rental Rates and Policies:

  • Homeowners can adjust rental rates based on demand, seasons, or special events.
  • They can also set specific policies regarding minimum stay durations, pet policies, and additional fees.


Advantages of VRBO for Travelers:


Access to a Wide Range of Unique Properties:

  • VRBO offers an extensive selection of vacation rentals, including unique and unconventional properties that may not be available through traditional accommodations.
  • Travelers can find options that suit their preferences, whether it’s a cozy cabin, beachfront villa, or urban apartment.


Potential Cost Savings Compared to Hotels:

  • VRBO rentals often provide more space and amenities compared to hotel rooms at a similar price point.
  • Travelers can save on dining expenses by utilizing kitchen facilities and enjoy a more cost-effective stay, especially for larger groups or longer durations.


Direct Communication with Property Owners/Managers:

  • VRBO facilitates direct communication between travelers and homeowners or property managers.
  • This direct interaction allows travelers to ask questions, seek personalized recommendations, and receive prompt assistance.


Considerations and Challenges:


Competition and Availability Limitations:

  1. In popular tourist destinations, there may be high competition among VRBO listings, making it challenging to secure preferred properties during peak seasons.
  2. It’s important to book well in advance to increase the chances of finding suitable accommodations.


Ensuring Accurate Property Descriptions and Photos:

  1. Homeowners need to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their properties.
  2. Travelers should carefully review property descriptions, photos, and guest reviews to ensure they align with their expectations.


Handling Customer Service and Dispute Resolution:

  1. In case of any issues or disputes during the rental process, both homeowners and travelers may need to navigate VRBO’s customer service channels for assistance and resolution.
  2. Prompt and clear communication is key to resolving any challenges that may arise.

Does VRBO Charge A Fee?

Yes, VRBO charges a fee to both homeowners and travelers for using their platform. In general, 5% commission on the rental amount is charged by the company. However, you can find more about their pricing here.

How Trustworthy Is VRBO
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How Trustworthy Is VRBO?

VRBO is generally considered trustworthy and reputable in the vacation rental industry. The platform has been operating for many years and has built a solid reputation by connecting homeowners and travelers in a secure and reliable manner.

However, as with any online marketplace, it is important for users to exercise caution, read reviews, and communicate directly with property owners or managers to ensure a safe and satisfactory experience.

VRBO provides certain measures, such as secure payment options and guest reviews, to enhance trust and transparency within the platform.

Final Thoughts

VRBO has transformed the vacation rental landscape by providing a platform that bridges the gap between homeowners and travelers.

By leveraging its features, users can unlock the full potential of the platform, whether it’s monetizing a property or finding the perfect vacation rental.

VRBO opens up a world of possibilities for both homeowners and travelers, offering a unique and immersive way to explore accommodations and create lasting memories.