Pros and Cons of Top OTA Listing Sites Used by Property Managers

Industry Insights, Property Manager Tips
Pros and Cons of Top OTA Listing Sites Used by Property Managers

Online travel agency (OTA) listing sites can be the short-term property manager’s best friend. However, with so many options out there, it can be tough to decide where to list your portfolio of rental properties. Each platform offers some great perks, but all of the top OTA listing sites have some notable drawbacks, too. 

To determine which options are best for you, explore the pros and cons of Airbnb vs. Vrbo vs. Booking.com vs. Expedia. 

Pros and Cons of Airbnb

First up is Airbnb, one of the world’s most popular OTA sites:

Advantages

Airbnb provides access to a global network of travelers, allowing you to reach a diverse audience and attract guests from around the world. The platform also offers a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to list entire homes, shared spaces, or private rooms.

With Airbnb, your portfolio will get plenty of organic exposure, and you’ll have a chance to connect with thousands of prospective renters. You can even boost your properties by targeting niche categories of guests.  

Perhaps most importantly, Airbnb gives you complete control over pricing, availability, and house rules. Use this opportunity to maximize revenue and efficiently manage bookings.

Drawbacks

Like many OTA listing sites, Airbnb charges service fees and commissions to property managers. While the fees are reasonable, it’s important to factor these expenses into your revenue calculations so that you can maintain an accurate view of profitability. 

Another concern is competition. There are literally millions of active listings on Airbnb, which can make it tough to differentiate your properties from other homes. The good news is that there are tons of niche categories on the platform. Use these to stand out and target niche demographics.  

Pros and Cons of Vrbo

Next is Vrbo, which offers the following perks and potential drawbacks: 

Advantages

Vrbo specializes in vacation rentals, meaning you’ll only be marketing your property to renters seeking short-term accommodations. Right away, you will be able to get your portfolio of homes in front of the ideal audience.

The platform also focuses on family-friendly accommodations, catering to people with minor children and large groups. You can use this to attract longer stays and maximize occupancy rates. 

Like Airbnb, Vrbo gives you tons of control over your portfolio. You can customize everything from pricing and availability to how you communicate with guests. Use this customizability to maximize revenue from your properties and deliver the best experience possible to renters. 

Drawbacks

While Vrbo offers a diverse selection of vacation rentals, its inventory may be more limited compared to other OTA listing sites. As a result, some members of your target audience might gravitate toward platforms with a larger selection, such as Airbnb. Therefore, you should consider listing on at least one other OTA site if you are going to use Vrbo.

Additionally, Vrbo charges booking and subscription fees, which can cut into your bottom line. It’s important to compare the costs of listing on Vrbo with the fee schedules of other OTA sites so you can decide which option makes the most sense for your business. 

Pros and Cons of Expedia

Expedia is a one-stop shop for vacationers. Here’s what it has to offer: 

Advantages

Expedia offers a wide range of travel services, including short-term rental accommodations, flights, car rentals, and activities. If your properties are located near tourist hot spots or major attractions, listing on Expedia can be a wise move. 

Additionally, Expedia Rewards offers loyalty benefits to travelers. Avid users of the platform may be incentivized to book with you repeatedly, as doing so will allow them to tap into the platform’s loyalty perks. 

Drawbacks

Expedia’s commission charges can be a bit high. Additionally, the platform has a history of booking errors, cancellations, and refund delays. If you begin to encounter these issues while using the platform, it can create a divide between you and your guests. 

One of the biggest concerns with Expedia is its relatively lax screening process. The OTA listing site acts as an intermediary that connects short-term rental property owners with guests. Therefore, you’ll probably know very little about the people coming to stay at your property.

Thanks to Safely, you can take advantage of Expedia’s huge reach while also protecting yourself from risky guests. Our automated guest screening solution provides detailed information about renters so you can decide whether they are a good match for your property. 

If you want even more peace of mind, check out our short-term rental insurance policies and let Safely help you protect your investment. 

Pros and Cons of Booking.com

Last up is Booking.com, which offers the following benefits and drawbacks: 

Advantages

Booking.com is known for its wide range of services, transparent pricing, and user-friendly platform. Cumulatively, these features can make the OTA listing site more appealing to prospective guests while also simplifying the process of renting your properties. Sounds like a win-win!

Additionally, Booking.com offers various marketing and promotional tools. Use these functions to increase visibility and attract more guests to your listings. This offer is one of Booking.com’s biggest differentiators, as many OTA listing sites, including Airbnb, don’t allow you to run paid listing ads. 

While you don’t want to lean too heavily into paid ads, incorporating them into your marketing mix can help boost revenue and increase visibility. Paid ads can be particularly useful during non-peak seasons. 

Drawbacks

Booking.com has built a reputation for offering hassle-free cancellations, many of which include full refunds and no penalties. The site’s stance on cancellations may be inconsistent with your deposit and cancellation policy, which could create friction with guests.

Additionally, you may run into support issues while using the platform. Some examples include delays in responses to complaints and unresolved support issues. 

Which Platform Is Right for You? 

The debate over Airbnb vs. Vrbo vs. Booking.com vs. Expedia isn’t about which platform is the “best.” Instead, you should consider which OTA listing site or combination of sites best aligns with the needs of your short-term rental portfolio. Using a mix of several different platforms can maximize exposure and optimize profitability, thereby ensuring you enjoy a strong return on investment. 

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Grace is the Chief of Staff at Safely and a licensed insurance agent. She began her journey at the company over a year ago in the Customer Happiness department, where she learned the ins and outs of the customer experience, getting to know Safely’s customer base and exploring Safely’s value proposition in the market. Grace was asked to step into the Chief of Staff role in 2023 and spends her time working on company-wide initiatives including investor relations, compliance, and expansion. Outside of working hours, you can find her trying new restaurants with her husband, walking her dog along the river, and exploring the city of Atlanta.

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