What Platforms Should I Advertise On?
At North Georgia Vacation Rentals, we currently list on Airbnb, VRBO and its network, Booking.com, Georgia Rentals By Owner, and of course, our own website: northgavationrentals.net. If you let us manage your property, however, you won’t even have to ask this question.
Airbnb is the market leader, especially in small units. The gross volume of most vacation rentals comes from Airbnb, and some owners only list on Airbnb, though we definitely wouldn’t recommend that. Airbnb is free to list on (no listing fee for the owner), and there are no fees for the owner at all except the 3% credit card transaction fee. (This is painful, but there’s not much you can do about it.)
Besides doing great volume, Airbnb does take care of its host regarding damage protection. If a guest breaks something in the house or the house itself, Airbnb will cover pretty much anything, no questions asked, if the guests refuse to pay. They won’t pay for any damage to the property outside the house and its contents (e.g. driveway repair, ruts in the lawn, etc.), however. They also provide some protection to owners in liability, and will step in if a guest makes a claim.
There are some downsides to Airbnb. Their customer service is pretty poor. It’s very difficult to get somebody who knows what they’re doing, communicates well, and has the authority to do something about your issue. Usually you just get a low-level employee who makes a case and sends it to the appropriate team, and it can take days or even weeks sometimes to get an answer or help with anything.
They also lack some simple functions like collecting pet fees, requiring people to sign a vacation rental agreement, labeling financial transactions based on the listing, and some other things that should be commonplace in such a major company.
VRBO and its affiliated sites are a subscription service, with a current price of $499 per year (or 8% of the booking amount, but that is quite hefty if you are doing any volume at all). They have a great market share as well, especially in nicer and larger vacation homes.
On average, the guests that book through VRBO are a bit better quality as well, as regards taking care of the property and not partying. Their customer service is also considerably better than Airbnb, and they offer some really good owner support concerning data analytics and market reports.
The only downside to VRBO in our opinion is a few functional things such as not allowing guests to select a specific quantity of pets and not having enough options for certain aspects of listings, like a cancellation policy of the proper strictness.
Booking.com is another major player but doesn’t seem to do as much volume in North Georgia, and we haven’t had quite enough success with our listings.
There is no listing fee, which is nice, but they charge the owner a 15% commission yet no booking fee to their guests. To offset the 15% decrease, we just mark our rates up 15% on Booking.com so we can charge all our guests about the same price on all platforms.
Their website is not user-friendly at all on the owner side, as Booking.com is really set up for hotels, not whole-house vacation rentals. Also, their listings are very limited as far as what information you can input for your listing description and for advertising your amenities and rules, but they’re still worth listing on as they’re another free platform.
There are some other small players in the Georgia market, like Georgia Rentals By Owner, which simply puts guests in touch with owners/managers. They’re usually pretty cheap to list on (a flat fee of about $99 per year) and there are no commissions or other charges as the traveler can book directly through your own website.
Owners should also see what’s available on local platforms, such as their chamber of commerce website. Fortunately, here in Dahlonega we have an awesome website (Dahlonega.org) with high traffic and great visibility that sends people directly to our website.