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Different Types of Booking Platforms for Short-term Rentals

Choosing the Right Online Booking Platforms

Nowadays, the most popular way for guests to book short-term rentals is through online booking platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com. 

More and more sites like these have been cropping up in recent years, and as a host, it can be hard to keep track of them all! 

While a particular site may work for some properties, it may not be ideal for others. 

As a host, advertising your listings on platforms directed towards your target audience will help maximise the number of bookings for your short-term rental. 

Here are five different types of booking platforms for short-term rentals:

  1. Airbnb 

Being one of the most well-known booking platforms out there, it’s no wonder that 4 million hosts have listings on Airbnb. On Airbnb, hosts can list their short-term rental properties to a wide audience, ranging from business to leisure travellers. 

Hosts will need to pay a service fee when a booking is confirmed. There are two different types of service fee structures to choose from: 

  • Split-fee: The most common structure used by hosts, with the fee being split between host and guests. 
  • Hosts usually get a service fee of 3% deducted from their pay-out. 
  • Guests are typically charged with a service fee under 14.2% of the booking subtotal, but this will vary depending on a variety of booking factors. 
  • Host-only fee: The entire service fee, usually ranging from 14-16%, is deducted from the host only. This fee is mandatory for hotels and some other hosts. 

When it comes to protection, Airbnb offers up to $1 million (USD) primary liability as part of their Host Protection Insurance. While there is no guarantee that you will get full coverage, at least there is something in place to protect you from property damage. 

With lots of listings on offer at an affordable price, Airbnb is a highly trusted platform when it comes to short-term rentals. But the rising number of scams targeting both hosts and guests is something to be aware of if you’re planning to list your property on this website.

  1. Booking.com

Booking.com may have primarily been known to offer hotel rooms, but the site has expanded towards homes, apartments and other unique places to stay, making up 6.2 million listings on their platform

Families and couples make up a large part of the target audience. But Booking.com is committed to attracting business travellers through their Work-Friendly Programme, which lists properties suitable for remote working. 

Booking.com operates on a commission-based model. Property owners must pay an average of 15% commission on each reservation. This percentage can vary depending on the location and type of property being listed. 

Although hosts take the burden of service fees, the flexibility of handling guest payments – charging before arrival, at check-in or check-out (depending on the policy they’ve booked) – allows hosts to receive transactions from guests directly. 

Much like Airbnb, Booking.com is a reputable company that receives a large amount of global traffic daily. But with no damage coverage, hosts are forced to deal with issues themselves, from setting up their own insurance policy to creating a damage deposit so guests don’t break house rules.

  1. Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner) 

Merged with HomeAway, this booking platform dedicates itself to providing the right holiday accommodation for families and friends, made possible with a unique selection of over 2 million holiday homes around the world. 

As part of the Expedia Group, Vrbo is tied to a large network of vacation sites. So, by using this booking platform, your property will be connected to different sites and seen by more people. 

A wide range of properties can be listed on the site, including villas, cottages and holiday homes. Rather than shared accommodation, Vrbo encourages hosts to list their entire property, limiting rental options for hosts. 

Owners will need to pay a service fee when a guest books their rental. There are two options to choose from – pay-per-booking or annual subscription: 

  • Pay-per-booking fees: For rentals on the pay-per-booking listing model, the overall fee includes= 
  • 5% commission charged for the rental amount (cleaning fees and additional payments) 
  • 3% payment processing fee charged on total payment amount (including taxes and refundable damage deposits) 
  • Annual subscription: If you’re planning to frequently rent your property, then a subscription of $499 can be paid every year. 

Similar to Airbnb, Vrbo provides owners and property managers with primary liability coverage through their $1M Liability Insurance policy. Although protection is provided for every reservation processed through the HomeAway checkout only. 

  1. TripAdvisor 

While this platform provides holiday rentals for budding travellers, what’s interesting about TripAdvisor is that it also acts as a comparison website. 

As of 2020, the site featured around 884 million reviews and opinions on listings such as restaurants, hotels and attractions

TripAdvisor owns 28 other vacation sites, including FlipKey and HouseTrip. By adding your listing to TripAdvisor, it will automatically be featured on these sites, bringing more visibility and exposure to your holiday rental. 

If you have a free listing on TripAdvisor, then you’ll have to pay a 3% commission per booking. With an annual listing, the processing fee is the same, but hosts can decide whether to receive payments directly from guests or through the TripAdvisor website. 

When it comes to instant booking, there are two different commission rates

  • 12% commission rate – claim ¼ of all ‘Book on TripAdvisor’ traveller views and any resulting bookings 
  • 15% commission rate – claim ½ of all ‘Book on TripAdvisor’ traveller views and any resulting bookings 

The benefit of using TripConnect instant booking is that you’re in full control of availability and listing rates at a cost that works for you. Not just that, but you only pay for bookings that turn into completed reservations, with the commission being taken out once guests leave your property. 

While consumer reviews are a major proponent of TripAdvisor’s success, divisive opinions and varying experiences can have a huge impact on how well your holiday rental performs on this site. 

With the bombardment of fake reviews flooding the platform, it is becoming harder for users to distinguish which properties will provide a good experience. 

  1. Expedia 

Much like TripAdvisor, Expedia is an all-in-one online travel platform that allows travellers to plan their entire travel from start to finish, from travel to accommodation. 

Consisting of travel websites like Hotels.com and Trivago, Expedia finds the best bookings for guests at an affordable price. Your listing can even be picked as part of a vacation package on this booking platform. 

Priding itself on providing accommodation for last-minute bookings, Expedia is popular with all types of travellers across the world, operating in 70 countries as of 2018

Although guests predominantly use Expedia to book hotel rooms, other vacation rentals are available such as guest homes and apartments. 

While the exact figure is uncertain, a 10-30% commission is charged if guests end up staying at your rental. These hefty service charges may be feasible for larger organisations, but difficult for owners with a small number of property listings. 

Going forward

The overabundance of short-term rental sites means that finding the best platforms to list your property can be a challenge. 

Rather than listing on every single website, pick out a few booking platforms that stand out to you – in terms of what they have to offer and whether they can reach your target audience. 

As long as each platform works for your specific property listing, your short-term rental will be booked by a variety of guests. 

Need help managing your property listings on various booking platforms? Visit the Keey website to find out more! 

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