How to Avoid Airbnb & VRBO Fees
Airbnb and VRBO are two of the most popular short-term rental platforms. Both have large audiences, with a good inventory of short-term rental options and a large base of travelers that utilize the sites.
While these platforms offer easy logistics and access to a large customer base, they also come with substantial fees. The service fees vary based on a variety of factors but are around 14% for Airbnb and 5% for VRBO. In some situations, fees can be as high as 20% of the rental cost. Understandably, many property owners and tenants would prefer to avoid these hefty fees, yet are unsure of how to get around them.
The good news is that there are ways that short-term property owners can find renters, handle booking logistics, and protect both parties without relying on either of these platforms. Here are three ways we recommend all short-term property owners market their rentals to avoid service fees.
Create a Website for Your Property and Connect Directly With Renters
Perhaps the best way to avoid service fees is to connect directly with renters. This doesn’t have to completely replace the use of Airbnb or VRBO, but can be an additional way to market your property. To do this effectively, first name your property, so that travelers can search for it online. Be specific so that it’s easier for people to find – for example, Sandpiper 223B. Use this name outside the property, on rental signs, on marketing materials, and on all rental platforms.
Next, create a website for the property. The goal here is that renters see your property, do a Google search for it, find your website, and then connect with you directly to book.
Here are some tips when setting up the website:
- Make the property name as prominent in the URL and page as possible.
- Use the same pictures that are on all rental platforms so that image searches will lead to your site.
- Implement systems that make booking easy – for example, an availability calendar and FAQs covering rules, payment procedures, and other important information.
- Include a phone number and email address so renters can easily connect with you.
- Use the same description that you use on all rental platforms so that if renters use the description in a search engine it will direct them to your site.
Creating your own site and handling all communication with renters means a little more work for Landlords. However, once you get a few basic systems in place, it’s not a major lift and can lead to better returns for owners and fewer costs for renters.
Utilize Rental Platforms That Connect Travelers Directly With Owners
In addition to setting up your own site, you should also take advantage of other rental sites that don’t charge fees. There are several “for rent by owner” websites that make it easy to market rentals and don’t charge a fee or limit communication between owners and renters. Here are just a few examples:
We recommend that all short-term rental owners look for “for rent by owner” websites in their area and region and list their property on as many as possible.
Market Your Property on Facebook
One increasingly popular way to market short-term rentals is on Facebook. Facebook Marketplace has some rental listings, but even better are Facebook Groups dedicated to short-term rentals.
Search for and join those groups in your area. Travelers will post about specific needs, and you can comment to share your listing. This will get your property in front of thousands of travelers coming to your area.
Here are a few examples of these types of groups:
- Vacation Rentals By Owner Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast
- Vacation Home Rentals – No Fees Booking Direct
- California Vacation Rentals/Airbnb Swaps
- Smoky Mountain Vacation Rentals By Owners
Do some research to find the right groups for your property, join those groups, and daily check-in for relevant posts and opportunities to share your property information and link.
Visit ezLandlordForms.com for Property Management Tools
If you’re going to handle more of your short-term rental bookings yourself, it’s important to have a rental contract. One of the features that platforms like Airbnb and VRBO tout to justify their high fees is increased security and peace of mind for owners and renters. While that’s something to consider, we’ve found that with the right systems in place, you can ensure the same amount of protection for yourself and your Tenants.
A detailed rental contract, clearly stated policies, and good systems of communication ensure the process goes smoothly and reduce the risk of bad rental outcomes. Visit ezLandlordForms.com for Vacation Rental Forms and property management resources to make booking and management easy for everyone.
Emily Koelsch, ezLandlordForms Contributing Writer
Emily Koelsch is a freelance writer and blogger, who primarily writes about business, real estate, and technology.