Airbnb competitors and Airbnb alternatives

The Definitive List of Airbnb Competitors & Alternatives

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All we needed was a 10-person mansion in Napa Valley for a weekend. On short notice. Preferably with a hot tub.

We were traveling for a wedding, so our dates were not flexible. Hotels and Airbnbs had been booked for weeks, if not months, because of a wine tasting event that weekend.

Luckily, I’d encountered this problem before, six months earlier. I already knew about an Airbnb alternative that doesn’t get as much publicity but would save me in a tight spot.

The Problem with Airbnb

First off, let’s all agree that Airbnb is awesome. The site has great inventory (from inexpensive mattresses to entire islands), gorgeous photos, and a beautiful user interface.

If you haven’t signed up yet, get $25 off your first Airbnb stay when you join using this link.

However, being this awesome has brought Airbnb a lot of press and, consequently, renters. Therein lies the problem. Airbnb is now the #1 or #1A option for many travelers.

While they have plenty of supply for most occasions, demand surges for holiday weekends and special events. If you don’t book way in advance, you might be left scrambling to find a reasonably-priced place to stay.

If Airbnb is booked up, hotels probably are too. Or they’ve increased their prices enough to be unaffordable.

I’ve run into this problem twice: once for the aforementioned wedding in Napa and once for the Coachella music festival.

Both events had fixed dates and a lot of competition for a limited number of homes in small cities.

What’s a budget-minded traveler to do? Stay home?

Hell no.

VRBO to the Rescue

When accommodations are scarce, VRBO is my new first choice. It’s not as pretty or as well known, but it works.

As popular as Airbnb may seem to tech-loving travelers, it’s not the only game in town. Especially from the owner’s perspective.

VRBO, or Vacation Rentals by Owner, has been in business for over 15 years and is now owned by HomeAway, one of the biggest names in online vacation rentals.

For us renters, VRBO and HomeAway are fairly similar, both to each other and to Airbnb. The biggest difference is that HomeAway and VRBO focus on vacation or second-home rentals. The property owners typically use the homes themselves for less than half of the year.

On Airbnb, you’ll find a greater variety of properties (like a room or an apartment). Sometimes the owner will still be living there while you’re in the guest room. Because of this flexibility, you’ll find cheaper accommodations on Airbnb, especially for 1-2 people.

VRBO and other vacation home rental sites are ideal for larger groups of 4 or more. The bigger your group, the cooler properties you can afford.

Our group of 10 stayed in a “compound” with a pool, hot tub, and freaking bocce court in Napa. For Coachella, we booked a 3-bedroom house right in Indio. Yes, it also had a pool. Is this a recurring theme?

Other Airbnb Competitors

The accommodations market is huge. With new models like Airbnb and HotelTonight, you’ll find plenty of legit competitors and “me too” copycats.

Aside from VRBO and Airbnb, you have plenty of other options when availability is scarce.

Couchsurfing will certainly beat everyone else on price: it’s free. The downside, of course, is that you only get a couch.

If you’re looking for a room, flat, or apartment, check out Tripping.com. Tripping aggregates inventory from smaller sites like Wimdu, 9Flats, House Trip, Flipkey, and Roomorama.

More Alternatives: Everywhere You Want to Be

Whether you’re headed to Borneo for Christmas and want to rent a stilt house in a small village, or a luxury flat in a high rise condo (we’ve done both!), or you’re looking for a place in Montreal to host a company retreat, there are options, worldwide.

Worldwide

These are sites that have options the world over. Start digging, you’ll be amazed.

9Flats
230,000+ properties. Offers insurance up to 500,000€ for homeowner and renter. All hosts have been carefully evaluated and selected by their team.

Booking
Has 805,000+ hotels, apartments and villas available to rent. Free cancellation on most reservations. 24/7 customer service in English and 41 other languages. Owned by Priceline.

Casamundo
400,000+ rentals with a best price guarantee and large number of verified property reviews. Weekly rates only.

Flipkey
Offers 30,000+ rentals in 1,100+ cities around the world. Property owners have to be verified by website’s staff. Has 5,000+ special daily booking deals. Not every listing can be booked directly on site: you may have to call or email property owner. Owned by Tripadvisor.

HomeAway
Largest Airbnb competitor with 1+ million worldwide listings. No booking fees and offers own travel insurance. Listed as one of Forbes “Most Trustworthy Companies.”

HouseTrip
One of largest holiday rental websites in the world with 300,000+ properties in 20,000 destinations. Over 95% of their guests recommend them.

Kid & Coe
Family-focused rentals with the goal of simplifying family travel. Translation: rentals have play rooms, backyards, highchairs, toys available, plus sitter recommendations. Property descriptions show closest playgrounds and family attractions. 500+ worldwide properties.

One Fine Stay
Listings hand-picked by site’s staff. Offers you advice direct from locals in popular tourist areas on best local attractions, restaurants, shops, bars/nightlife and landmarks. With your rental, you get an iPhone with free data, local calls and recommendations. Customer service available 24/7. Wifi is standard.

Roomorama
Over 300,000 properties worldwide with verified hosts. As an added security feature, when you book a room, you’re given a unique six-digit code which you give to property owner when you check in.

VacationRentals
No online booking fees or hidden costs. Has 1+ million listings across the HomeAway family of sites.

VRBO
Site is a little older in design than Airbnb, but still has same search functions with a larger listing database. No booking fees. Better suited for families, as their listings are entire houses or condos – no private rooms. Part of the HomeAway family.

Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Wyndham Vacation Rentals professionally manages over 108,000 properties worldwide, giving travelers a wide range of destinations, prices, and accommodation types to choose from.

Asia & Pacific

Agoda
750,000+ properties of hotels, villas and more. Huge database of properties in Asia, but properties across the world. Owned by Priceline.

Bookabach
New Zealand’s favorite holiday home rental website with New Zealand-only rentals. Part of the HomeAway family.

Stayz
Specializing in Australian rentals with 40,000+ properties. Part of the HomeAway family.

TravelMob
Rentals in Asia and the Pacific. Very similar to Airbnb, including varying cancellation policies. Part of the HomeAway family.

Europe

Alterkeys
100,000+ rentals in 5,000+ cities across Europe.

Atraveo
Largest holiday home market with 267,000+ properties in Europe. Best price guarantee.

Halldis
Carefully-selected apartments for rent in European and American cities, with a heavy emphasis on Italy.

Holiday Lettings
The UK alternative to Airbnb with 430,000+ holiday homes in 164 countries worldwide. 100,000+ guest reviews and payment protection. Owned by Tripadvisor.

Gowithoh
Hand-picked rental properties in Europe.

Niumba
100,000+ Spain-based rentals, known for its extensive inventory of beautiful properties. Owned by TripAdvisor.com, Payment protection.

Only-Apartments
2,000+ destinations worldwide with a strong focus of rentals in Europe.

Owners Direct
Over 70,000 properties. Great rental properties available, especially in Europe. No booking fees. Guarantee that covers up to 10,000€ when booking online. Part of the HomeAway family.

Toprural
Specializes in rural tourism with 10,000+ rentals and 165,000+ reviews. Part of the HomeAway family.

Wimdu
Europe’s biggest portal for holiday apartment rentals. It works a lot like Airbnb. 350,000+ accommodations in 100 countries. Three part quality check includes visiting properties on site. Free insurance for both guest and property owner against damages for up to 500,000€.

Windows on Italy
Apartments and luxury villas for rent exclusively in the Italian towns of Siena, Sicily, Tuscany, Florence, Sirmione, Rome, Milan, Verona, Trieste, and Venice.

Africa

Sleepout
Tag line: “Africa’s coolest places to sleep.” Mainly properties in Africa, but with smattering of properties in Indian Ocean Islands, Middle East, Europe, Gulf Arab States, South Pacific, Central America, Australia, Asia, and Caribbean.

South America

Aluguest
Specializes in rental properties in Latin America and South America.

RentalSpot
Map-based search for rental properties in United States.

VaCasa
1,600 properties in US mostly Western with a few Eastern and Southern states. Recently expanded to properties in Chile, Panama, and Belize. General rules for all properties: no smoking or pets.

Note: has rentals in Hawaii.

Notable Rentals

Cabins
Vacation cabins, chalet or beach home rentals in North America, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Craigslist
I’ve heard of success stories of travelers using Craigslist to find reputable rentals, especially in Asia. As there’s no third-party overseeing the rentals or policing the property owners like other sites listed, use at your own discretion.

Misterbnb
Similar to Airbnb for gay-friendly accommodations in 130+ countries worldwide.

Outdoorsy
Like Airbnb only for RVs. Has 2,300 RVs listed on site with 75 new ones being added each day. Options range from $65/ night to $650/day glamping machines.

RV Share
Rent someone’s rarely-used RV for your road trip. Guarantee of $10,000. 24/7 roadside assistance for entire road trip. In USA only.

Yurts
Experience a unique stay in a Mongolian- inspired hut. Rentals only in United States and frequently in the woods or in a place where nature is right out your front door.

Hipcamp
Hipcamp is the best way to discover and book your next camping trip. Search over 280,000 campsites across the US. From public parks to private land, we’re the most comprehensive guide to camping across the country.

Luxury Rentals

Exclusive Resorts
World’s leading luxury home rentals. 5 year membership plan costs $120,000 plus annual dues. Or you can opt for a 21-day travel card for $32,550. Nights redeemable over 3 year period.

Luxury Reports
Worldwide elite properties to rent (like Richard Branson’s Necker Island property). Villas-only with 2,800 villas in 90 destinations. Each property is personally inspected and rated in categories (exteriors, bed and bath, etc). Costs: $1,000-124,000/night. Concierge service for all properties and 24/7 guest support with price-match guarantee.

Luxury Rentals from HomeAway
Luxury home rentals of 4500 properties in 40+ countries. Properties range from villas to estates. All rentals come with amenities such as cinemas, wine cellars, gourmet kitchens.

Oasis Collections
1,000 listings in primarily urban properties in South America cities, such as Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Miami. Average nightly rate starts at $149/ night for studio, but can go above $1,000/ night. Unique amenities include: stocked fridges, gym memberships, and access to network of private members’ clubs.

Vacatia
Vacatia focuses on resort residences and – the space of a home and services of a hotel. At the intersection of Vacation Rentals and Hotels because similar to a vacation rental, you get the space (multiple bedrooms) and comforts of home (washer/dryer, full kitchen) but like a hotel they all offer professionally managed services (front desk, house keeping, pools etc.). Perfect for families and large groups, as well as multi-generational family trips where everyone still wants to be together, but have their own space too.

Your Secret Search Weapon

Tripping
This website searches about 5 million rentals across 18 apartment rental sites, including HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, Housetrip, Interhome, Roomorama, and Booking.com in 100,000 destinations. Think of it like Kayak.com for short term rentals.

TL;DR

If Airbnb is booked and the hotels are all full, there are still plenty of options for finding comfortable, unique, or downright luxurious lodging, all around the world.

Photo: Unsplash

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Freedom Jackson December 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

Good idea good product.

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Stefani Pann May 21, 2013 at 5:27 am

Check out the list here: http://www.similarsites.com/sites/airbnb.com many sites that can replace airbnb easily 🙂

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Steve July 22, 2013 at 10:22 am

I had actually never heard of this site before, so I’m thankful I came across your article.

I just finished making a reservation through the VRBO site. The process wasn’t as “clean” as AirBNB, but the end result was the same: affordable, private residence, for one evening.

One downside was that each property owner determines the payment method they accept; I didn’t have the option to pay with an AMEX or PayPal.

That aside, I’m pleased with how the process went.

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Fred Perrotta July 22, 2013 at 11:42 am

Thanks, Steve. Glad VRBO worked for you. It’s definitely not as slick as Airbnb, but it works. I don’t mind putting in the extra effort for a good price on a cool place to stay.

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Jan July 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I’ve made a website with a list of airbnb alternatives, as a host and traveller I’m using them all: http://similar-web-sites-to-airbnb-roomorama-wimdu.fastweb.no/

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Ginger Coolidge August 2, 2013 at 11:53 am

Good article, thanks. Vrbo and homeaway are full and quite pricey for my destination (San Francisco). A friend just told me about airbnb so I’m hoping I get a hit. So far the challenge I’ve had with listings on vrbo/homeway is they do not seem to update their calendars and the owners of the listings won’t respond to my inquiries. This is frustrating, even if they are booked I wish they would at least respond.

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Fred Perrotta August 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Airbnb is very popular in San Francisco (where I live). For each listing, you can see the host’s response rate (%) and average response time as well as when she last updated her calendar. That feature is helpful for guests and puts some pressure on hosts to keep their calendars up to date.

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Ginger Coolidge August 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thanks for commenting. I saw that response %, it is handy. Unfortunately I’m still at zero responses from both sites 🙁

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Allison October 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

You also have the option of staying in the greater Bay Area. With BART, it’s easy and fast to get from outlying areas to the heart of the city. Check out the East Bay, where I live. Lots of great listings in Walnut Creek. I’m “Bay Area Suburban Homestead near BART”, so I suppose I am a little biased. 🙂

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Ginger Coolidge October 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

Thank you Allison for your post – we’ll keep your place in mind for the next time. 🙂 It was frustrating when no one replied from vrbo.com or airbnb.com. Both were really bad about not having updated calendars. It did show me that if we can get a place there in the future we certainly would not have ANY problems keeping it rented!

Ginger Coolidge August 3, 2013 at 10:29 am

Update: went back and now the calendar is filled in for the dates we wanted 🙂 Oh well, I won’t give up, I so don’t want to stay in a “regular” hotel so I will keep on searching! 🙂

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Fred Perrotta August 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

You can also try Tripping.com. They aggregate a bunch of AirBnB competitors. Your dates must be very popular.

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Charlotte August 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

Someone recommended this to me, but to be honest, I’m not sure I’d use it for my upcoming travel plans… I’ll be travelling with the boyfriend for the foreseeable future and to have…sexy times… in someone else’s bed would be weird. I guess it’s the same at a hotel though, if I think about it…

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Fred Perrotta August 14, 2013 at 8:34 am

Haha fair enough. A cleaning fee is included, so while it may be someone else’s bed, it should at least have clean sheets.

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K Henry January 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

actually the last time I used airbnb, the place had left clean sheets for us… In The Dryer. Sheets that were on the bed were gross and since we got in late we did not find out about dryer sheets until the next day. Probably won’t book with them again.

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Fred Perrotta January 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm

That’s a failure by the host, not Airbnb.

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Br November 18, 2014 at 3:15 am

It is a failure by Airbnb for allowing crappy listings to be available on their website. They don’t verify ANYONE that lists with them

Joa September 12, 2013 at 12:57 am

Great article. Always, before I book, I check other alternatives similar to Airbnb and I’ve even found exactly the same rooms and flats cheaper elsewhere. In addition the sites you’re linking to above I’m using the following sites: http://similar-web-sites-to-airbnb-roomorama-wimdu.fastweb.no/rent-private-rooms-and-flats_201.html

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Sakineh September 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

SleepOut.com based in Port Louis, Mauritius has a pretty slick new interface!

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Donna Sinclair November 18, 2013 at 7:42 am

I am really curious now because I have read a lot of negative reviews about VRBO at sites such as this, http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.vrbo.com. Almost all the reviews are negative. I wonder if it is really just your lucky or your not scenario? I am looking to travel to Spain next year and I don’t want to get all the way there and have a bad experience.

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Fred Perrotta November 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

I’ve never heard of Site Jabber, so I’m not sure about trusting the reviews. You’ll notice that most are about the property owners, not the VRBO site. Just be careful about who you contact.

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Manjit December 2, 2013 at 5:47 am

It is time to have serious competitor to Airbnb. They are hitting down hill with their service. I guess they are getting too comfortable.

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K Henry January 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm

airbnb customer service is terrible.

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cantbelieveit November 22, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I agree it’s terrible and this is because they’re too busy looking cool on facebook than caring or working at all. airbnb customer service is a bunch of tattooed pretend starlets with big egos and zero understanding about their role, aka customer service …

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Wordsmith January 14, 2014 at 2:58 am

How has nobody mentioned HouseTrip in this post? Great review scores and a lot of inventory.

http://www.housetrip.com

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Suchi Rudra January 23, 2014 at 8:03 am

Hey Fred, great article but I do have to say, in defense of CouchSurfing, that you don’t “only get a couch”. I’ve used CS a lot during my world travels and have often had an entire room or even an entire apartment for myself!! And I’ve also made some lifelong friends during my CS experiences. I highly recommend CS, as long as you use common sense to choose your hosts wisely. However, I can also suggest, for longer term travel, SabbaticalHomes, Workaway.info and MindmyHouse.com, all of which I talk about in my travel blog 🙂 http://travelnaturally.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/how-to-travel-for-free-2/

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ibicenco January 30, 2014 at 4:03 am

Airbnb was ok when I started using it (I have 2 properties in Ibiza and managed other 45 from friends and aquaitants) ) but since then, things have got worse: my properties doesn’t show up now (I realised today, that’s why I am so upset now), their customer service (well, hu, I mean FAQ’s) is close to useless when you got a real problem, and I haven’t been able that THEY STOP INVOICING ME and start invoicing MY COMPANY (an agency) for the comissions… I’ll have to deal with the spanish tax system in the coming years… thanks to airbnb.

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Beedroplet August 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

Any luck with how to invoice your company? Please help!

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Barns March 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Hey, thanks so much for this post (and the blog). AirBnB is the victim of its own success. For popular locations like Rome you have to book more than 1 mth in advance, but these alternatives helped me out! Great work and a big thankyou! 🙂

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Fred Perrotta March 24, 2014 at 7:50 am

No problem, Barns. Glad to help.

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Bennmargata April 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Wheretosleep

Amenities you deserve & lease rates you’ll love.Thousands of properties to choose from around globe Times are changing and the genius of technology has allowed us to throw away those old chains and restraints on our choices of short-term accommodation. Whether you are travelling to London and want lovely romantic apartment over-looking the River Thames or you are travelling with the entire family and want a large city town-house exclusively to yourselves, the choices are endless at http://flexiflat.co.uk/

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Nomad April 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I’ve only recently discovered airbnb. I’m attempting to book my first rental through them this week.
I have more experience with VRBO, both as a renter and a rentee. As a rentee, I really liked the service. As a renter, I have mixed feelings. I have been doing a considerable amount of traveling in Europe, and when you’re traveling with more than two people in Europe, apt or house rentals are generally the way to go. I find that many of the European rentals on VRBO seem to be handled through a second company rather than the owner. These companies do not keep the calendars updated. More often than not, the apartments are not available. When you submit a request, you get an email back saying, “the apartment is not available, but here are some that are” – and they are generally way more expensive. My second issue with these listings is that the total cost is always way more than the fee that is listed on VRBO. One rental in Italy wound up be twice as much as it was listed at when they factor in fees.
I have had some positive experiences with VRBO, but if they don’t find a way to address these type of issues, I think the site will start losing ground.

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Fred Perrotta April 28, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences. HomeAway is another option. It works the same way as VRBO (HomeAway actually owns VRBO too) but has a better UI and is more user-friendly. It might solve some of your issues.

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Jesse June 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Here’s my main qualm with homeaway and vrbo: the inability to search by price per night. Each of these sites is configured around a price/week setting, and it’s too time consuming for me. If I want to plan a weekend getaway or a work retreat for a couple of days, I don’t have time to click on each post to see if they allow stays for only a few nights since most listings are per week. If those sites would integrate that simple solution, I’d never use airbnb or flipkey again.

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Fred Perrotta June 15, 2014 at 8:31 am

Both sites’ UIs leave a lot to be desired. That’s one reason why you can get better deals and will have less competition for rentals.

You can also multiply your ideal price/night times seven, and use that as the weekly price. If you set your dates, you should only see properties where you meet the minimum night stay requirement. It’s not obvious, but it mostly works.

You can also use a service like TaskRabbit or FancyHands to outsource the task for a few dollars. They can send you a shortlist of vetted places for you to choose from.

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Rusty Camacho June 15, 2014 at 5:19 am

Good article. As a renter on both sites Homeaway and Airbnb.. To list on Homeaway costs $$$ with no guarantee of rental income of course. Airbnb costs nil, a fee applies when someone books of course. Airbnb I like. Came across this recently: dwellable.com

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Fred Perrotta June 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I haven’t used Dwellable, but they recently raised more money. Guess we’ll be hearing more from them, although I don’t really need ANOTHER site to search.

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tlmb July 27, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Have used airbnb in the past. Not impressed. Not by their high ” comissions” or whatever you care to call them. I was impressed by the people I accomodated with.All were nice easy to like folks.This , of course , has little to do with abnb and much more to do with the personalities of the hosts.
Airbnb? Passable and overpriced. Hosts ? It takes a special kind of people to make for a pleasant experience.I have been happy with the people I have lodged with.

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Fred Perrotta July 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Hi Tim,

Airbnb’s commissions are pretty standard for online marketplaces. Remember that the hosts set their own prices so if you think it’s overpriced, take it up with them. Or use one of the alternatives mentioned in this post.

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Modern Nomad August 30, 2014 at 9:29 am

We love the properties Boutique Homes has on their site.
http://www.boutique-homes.com

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Gogeting September 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm

We love the India properties basically located in Goa.http://guesthouser.com is upcoming huge market of hospitality….http://waytomanali.wordpress.com

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whitehousevacationrentals.com November 12, 2014 at 3:35 pm

well if you plan to visit Brussels, Buenos Aires or Provence have a look to our website at http://www.whitehousevacationrentals.com. As owners we prefer VRBO and home away by all means.

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Alysia Caringi November 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

One thing to note is that AirBNB charges an additional fee to travelers while HomeAway and VRBO do not. It cases where properties are listed on both homeaway/vrbo and airbnb, it’s often cheaper to book them outside of airbnb because of the additional traveler fee.

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Richard December 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

We own a property in a small town in the Appalachian mountains in Pennsylvania, and for a time we were using both Airbnb and VRBO. We dropped VRBO because the company was, quite frankly, sleazy and manipulative.

For one thing, VRBO was literally forging my signature on communications on badly worded communications sent out to guests. In one instance it sent a note demanding payment for space that had already been paid for through its own system — and “signed” it in my name.

VRBO is owned by Homeaway, a large online travel agency that is actively trying to sell itself to an even larger player. The corporate arrogance is palpable. Cutting ties with Homeaway/VRBO was the best thing I could have done for our small business.

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Jonas May 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I can highly recommend Thankeyou.com. If you are a host you don’t pay any fees and you get instant payments when the guest books your home. You also don’t have to pay any penalties as a host if you have to cancel a booking. The customer support is also very good, you can chat with them and they reply fast on email. They are actually dedicated to the work they do, and they have this “hungry” feeling to succeed. The “negative” part is that they are newly launched, so there are not many listings on the site. But on the other side, that means less competition between other hosts. Highly recommendable to list on that site as an alternative.

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Marcia and Bob in Michigan March 5, 2014 at 10:26 am

Hi all,
We have hosted many couchsurfers from around the world with a bed and bath and enjoyed every one of them. We have also been hosted by Couchsurfer folk in Colorado and in Scotland by lovely people. When we travel, we sometimes want privacy and sometimes to meet people. Both Airbnb and VRBO in Florida, Washington, Ohio and have provided us with lovely places and hosts. We think enjoying and providing hospitality is a wonderful ways to live!

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Fred Perrotta November 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

You can view a host’s profile to check their verifications: phone number, social media profiles, reviews, etc. Airbnb is the platform, but hosts also hold individual responsibility.

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