Airbnb.com is one of the major innovators of online vacation property renting, and its strengths lie in its community-based approach. Hosts and renters verify their identity information, tools are provided for guests to contact hosts and other users, and both hosts and guests can rate each other. This makes it tough for scammers to get a foot in the door, or stay for any amount of time if they do. However, the extra security measures on Airbnb can make booking a place a hassle. And Airbnb doesn't seem to have strong protections for your payment after you book, so the onus is on you to weed out (the rare) dishonest hosts before they make off with your money.
Airbnb's most popular alternatives address some of its downsides. For example, FlipKey.com requires hosts to be verified by site staff, while 9flats.com doesn't charge booking fees to guests. And HomeAway.com and VRBO.com offer lots of payment protection and insurance plans, so you're covered if something goes wrong.
Other Airbnb-like sites include Tripping.com; while it isn't a true alternative, we've listed it here anyway. Instead of letting you book rental properties directly, Tripping.com finds properties for rent on multiple rental property booking websites at once -- including Airbnb -- and compares their prices. That way, you can make sure that you get the best rate for your stay. A well-known website that works in a similar manner is Trivago.com.
Here is more information on nine of the biggest websites like Airbnb, and what they offer.
A popular Airbnb alternative, FlipKey is owned by travel giant TripAdvisor and offers over 30,000 rental listings in over 1100 cities from around the world. In addition, all property owners who list their places on FlipKey have to be verified by the website's staff, so the chance that you'll book with someone who has dishonest intentions is very low. And FlipKey features over 5000 special booking deals daily, so you can find places to stay for even less! One drawback to FlipKey is that not every listing can be booked directly over the website; some require you to email or phone the property owner.
Tripping.com is less of a rental property booking website than it is a specialized search engine. That is, it lets you search listings on many different travel booking websites at the same time, so you can look at far more properties on it than a single booking website alone. Plus, you can compare prices for listings posted on multiple websites at once, so that you can be sure that you get the best deal. You can even get exclusive discounts, too!
Want to learn more? Visit our Tripping.com course!
VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) is another website like Airbnb. Owned by HomeAway (which we'll get to in a minute), it offers over 800,000 listings of properties for rent across 100 countries worldwide. It contains a lot of listings for full-size vacation homes and apartments, so it's a good choice if you want a rental property that's accessible for your kids, grandkids, or pets.
We can show you how to use this Airbnb rival in our VRBO course!
In terms of online rental property booking, HomeAway is one of the largest Airbnb competitors, with over 1 million worldwide listings. It offers many of the same services as Airbnb, helping people find rental properties based on their location and travel dates, as well as several other criteria. HomeAway offers its own brand of travel insurance and other protections so that you can rent with confidence. HomeAway also operates several smaller vacation property renting websites, which are often aimed at certain geographical markets. These include VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner, which we mentioned above), TravelMob (for renters in Asia), and VacationRentals.com. Check out the full HomeAway family of sites!
Oh, and if you want to use HomeAway itself, we can teach you how in our HomeAway course!
Founded in San Francisco in 2013, Vacatia is a relative newcomer to the vacation property rental scene. However, its commitment to helping you and your family find a great resort rental unit to stay at during your vacation has earned it rave reviews. With an "A+" accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, Vacatia lets you browse resort units for rent all across North America, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. Compare resorts, and view information on things to see and do at your destination. When you're all set, book your unit instantly -- no need to contact the owner, as Vacatia will take care of all the technical stuff for you!
9flats is a European-based Airbnb competitor. They're relatively small (they have less than 250,000 properties), but they have a few unique features that make them attractive if you're looking to book rental properties. First, they have multiple secure payment methods, including the anonymous currency Bitcoin. Also, all booking fees are paid by the host, not you.
Based in Germany, Wimdu is one of the biggest alternatives to Airbnb in Europe (though it's now available in the U.S. and beyond). They have over 300,000 listings for properties in over 2000 cities and 140 countries around the globe. Like Airbnb, they also cover your stay with free insurance policies (though they aren't currently available in North America) and only release your payment to the property manager 24 hours after you've checked in, so you can stay with peace of mind.
If you're looking for a site like Airbnb that makes safety, security, and peace of mind its top priorities, then try Roomorama. Like FlipKey, Roomorama requires property owners who use it to provide information that ensures that they're not out to scam someone, such as personal ID, recent bills, or pictures of themselves. (In the same vein, as a traveller, you will be forced to use your full name on Roomorama.) As a further protection, Roomorama has a unique payment system in which you are given a six-digit code when you book a room, which you must provide to the property owner when you check in. This ensures that Roomorama only pays property owners for hostings in which the guest has no problems with the property right off the bat, and this cuts down on scammers even further.
OneFineStay is an alternative to Airbnb with a uniquely personal touch. The rental properties that you can search for and book on OneFineStay are hand-picked by the site's staff, and you will never have to share a space; you'll always have the place to yourself! Plus, OneFineStay offers advice direct from locals in popular tourist areas on the best local attractions, from restaurants to specialty shops, from bars and nightclubs to interesting landmarks. One thing to note about OneFineStay is that, since the properties it lists are ones that the site's staff have personally stayed at and enjoyed, you can only book places in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and New York City. The trade-off is that you'll be booking a quality rental property whose owner has personally earned the trust of the people who run OneFineStay.
Have you booked a rental property with one of these Airbnb alternatives? Did you sleep easy, or did you feel stuck in vacation limbo? Are there any other rental property booking websites that you've used, and think would be a good fit for our users? Share your story in our comments section, or spin us a tale on our Facebook or Twitter pages!
Also, if you'd like to use one of these alternative accommodations services exclusively in place of Airbnb, our final tutorial for this course will show you how to shut down your Airbnb account.
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