VRBO Vacation Rental: How Does It Work?

VRBO vacation rental site is one of the top vacation rental platforms today. But what is it really and how does it work? 

Table of Contents

  1. What Is VRBO?
  2. How Does VRBO Work for Hosts?
  3. 10 Alternatives to VRBO and How They Stack up Against It
  4. Mashvisor: The Best Tool to Finding the Most Ideal Rental Properties
  5. Wrapping It Up

In this article, we will take a closer look at VRBO as a short-term rental platform and discuss how hosts and investors can use it to their advantage. We will also explore other similar options and find out how to spot the best rental properties to use as VRBO vacation rental homes. 

What Is VRBO?

VRBO is an online platform that lets users book rental properties for short vacations from rental property owners and managers. It stands for “Vacation Rentals by Owner.” The VRBO vacation rental platform works similarly to Airbnb. Users can book vacation rentals for short periods online as more affordable alternatives to expensive hotels and resorts. 

The great thing about VRBO vacation rental solutions is it gives users a wide range of vacation rental homes to choose from. The choices include but are not limited to the following: 

It is important for would-be hosts to know that VRBO is much stricter than other short-term rental platforms regarding shared letting. It only allows entire properties to be rented out and prohibits shared houses and rooms. 

Vacation rental sites like VRBO remain one of the most popular and most trusted choices for short-term rental property bookings. Launched in 1995, VRBO vacation rental by owner continues to pair homeowners with people looking for places to stay while on vacation. It is now considered a major global brand, with over two million vacation homes all over the world.

The company attracts loyal users, especially since it offers VRBO vacation rental insurance. The insurance protects guests’ payments against fraud and provides rental property owners with liability insurance. 

No wonder VRBO continues to make a loud noise in the vacation rental industry. 

Related: Airbnb vs VRBO: Where Should You List Your Rental Property?

How Does VRBO Work for Hosts?

As a business model, VRBO operates very similarly to another highly popular vacation rental platform, Airbnb. It connects folks looking for alternative vacation accommodations. The rental properties include apartments, cottages, condo units, beach houses, and pretty much any type of property that owners are willing to rent out for short-term stays. 

Vacation rental VRBO listings are pretty popular accommodations of choice. Compared to hotels, they are much more affordable and offer certain amenities and features expensive hotels don’t. 

For rental property owners, VRBO rental homes are an excellent way to establish a passive income source. It allows them to build equity and wealth, especially if their properties are located in really hot real estate markets

Let’s take for instance the Florida rental market scene. The Sunshine State’s been considered one of the hottest real estate markets in the US for several years now. Real estate website Mashvisor regularly keeps its rental market database updated. According to its most recent update, Florida’s short-term rental market shows a healthy cap rate of 3.37%, a cash on cash return rate of 3.29%, and an average monthly vacation rental income of $3,787

An investment property with a vacation rental agreement VRBO in Florida is very likely to make a pretty good return on investment for its investor and host. And since VRBO vacation rental property listings aren’t just limited to the US market, getting a property listed on the platform provides excellent exposure for it. Because of the high-level exposure, rental property owners find it a very worthwhile platform to list and advertise their vacation rentals. 

6 Ways to Get Started With VRBO Vacation Rental Listings

Real estate investors who wish to get a piece of the VRBO action can list rental properties on the platform in six easy steps.

1. Find the Right Rental Property 

The most important thing an investor needs when listing a VRBO vacation rental property is the actual investment property to be rented out and listed online. There are several ways of looking for the right rental property. However, modern-day investors recognize the greater potential of using technology to their advantage. 

A real estate website like Mashvisor can be considered one of the real estate technological marvels today. It continues to help tens of thousands of real estate investors make the wisest investment decisions. 

Users just need to log into their Mashvisor account and search for potential income-generating properties in their chosen location, Afterward, they can perform an investment property analysis for every property they are interested in. The site is easy to use, which makes navigation such a pleasant experience for both newbies and experienced investors. 

Users don’t only get to locate profitable properties. Also, they can make accurate projections on ROI using the platform’s regularly updated database. The real estate information is taken from the most reliable and trustworthy sources.

To learn more about how Mashvisor can help you make faster and smarter real estate investment decisions, click here.

2. Register as a Host on the Platform

Registering as a host on VRBO offers several advantages. The platform provides its users with more flexibility regarding its fees. Compared to its competitors, it allows hosts to select their fees. They are given two choices, namely, a one-time annual fee of $499 or a 5% per-booking fee plus a 3% credit card processing fee. Depending on how much you want to operate, one of the two fees can be more suitable for your situation than the other.

Related: A Breakdown of Airbnb Host Fees

3. Register as an Online Travel Agency With a Minimum of 10 Rental Properties

Rental property investors with at least ten vacation rental properties can sign up to be an online travel agency with the VRBO vacation rental platform. 

4. Create an Ad and Start Marketing Your Property

Once you’re officially registered with VRBO, you can start creating your VRBO vacation rental listings and marketing your property to generate enough momentum to give you a very healthy positive cash flow

Check this article out to get a more complete guide on creating VRBO listings. 

5. Come up With Rules and Nightly Rates

Investors who did their homework will get a very good idea of how to set nightly VRBO rates. It is why a rental market analysis is very important. Obtaining the right information and relevant data will help investors come up with the most ideal and competitive nightly rates for their rental properties.

On the same note, investors should also list down a very specific list of rules that address proper guest behavior and etiquette for their entire duration of stay on the property.

6. Publish Your Listing

Once you’ve done all the previous steps, you may now publish your listing, entertain inquiries, and start earning money.

10 Alternatives to VRBO and How They Stack up Against It

VRBO vacation rental site isn’t the only one of its kind. Several other websites offer guests and investors the same services and investing opportunities. That being said, here are other vacation rental sites besides VRBO:

1. Airbnb

Among all of VRBO’s competitors, Airbnb is perhaps the one it is most compared with. After all, they pretty much share the same features and cater to the same target market. The only difference is Airbnb allows shared housing unlike VRBO, which makes starting a vacation rental business a lot easier. 

2. FlipKey

Just like VRBO and Airbnb, FlipKey comes with an abundance of vacation rental inventory all around the world. The platform is associated with TripAdvisor, which helps generate business for rental properties listed on it. Its inventory is made up of plenty of larger properties that are perfect for small groups of travelers. 

3. TurnKey

One of the main advantages of TurnKey as a vacation rental platform is that it no longer uses key exchanges, fully utilizing the door code system. it gives renters the freedom to come and go as they please without worrying about misplacing or losing a key. All you need to obtain a door code is to download an app, which can then be used to find the best dining and entertainment spots in the place you’re visiting. It is one feature most vacation rental platforms don’t offer their users. 

4. Plum Guide

If you’re looking for the absolute best vacation rental properties, Plum Guide is the place for you. Its strict vetting process ensures that all the properties listed on the platform are of the highest quality and exceptionally beautiful. The platform offers outstanding customer support, in addition to providing the most luxurious vacation accommodations. 


Unlike VRBO and Airbnb, allows users to find not just vacation rental homes but book hotels, too. However, unlike the two rental platforms, the booking process on is very similar to that of a hotel room online. There is no host-guest interaction whatsoever. So, you cannot chat with a host to know more about the place or make special arrangements for your visit.

6. Outdoorsy

Individuals who are into life on the road will get a kick out of Outdoorsy, the RV and campervan equivalent of VRBO. With over 14 million RV rentals, renters enjoy a very wide array of choices. They can choose based on what will fit their needs and preferences for a road trip.

7. Homestay

Homestay is a rental platform that gives guests a more personalized and authentic local experience. The guests need to stay in homes where they have to be under the same roof as the property owner. Of course, it comes with perks and drawbacks. Ultimately, it is an experience one will never forget. 

8. Sonder

If you’re looking for inexpensive rates like VRBO and Airbnb but the best accommodations like hotels and resorts, you will want to check out Sonder. It offers guests the best of both worlds and only lists private rental apartments. It means you don’t need to share space with owners. The best thing about Sonder is its highly efficient app, which can pretty much do everything without any need to interact with the host.  

9. OneFineStay

OneFineStay is unlike any other rental platform on this list. All the properties listed on it have been thoroughly vetted by its staff by actually staying on the property and trying out the amenities themselves. The site only lists the cream of the crop, which ensures only the best hotel-like stay in anunhotel” experience for guests. 

10. Vacasa

Vacasa, often referred to as a “tech vacation company,” rounds up our list of VRBO alternatives. It uses artificial intelligence to its advantage as a vacation rental platform, which helps guests and, more importantly, rental property owners. From 3D property tours to an all-around app that gets everything done for guests, Vacasa is another great VRBO alternative worth checking out. 

Related: The Short-Term Rental Investor’s Guide to Vacasa

Mashvisor: The Best Tool to Finding the Most Ideal Rental Properties

As an online real estate marketplace, Mashvisor covers almost all real estate markets in all 50 states. Because of its widespread coverage, investors are more confident in the information and data available. It is particularly helpful since Mashvisor’s real estate database is regularly updated. 

Countless real estate investors are able to find the right rental properties that meet their investment goals and criteria by using Mashvisor’s investing tools like the following: 

Property Finder

A lot of investors prefer to use Mashvisor because of its user-friendly features. When you log into the site, the Property Finder tool is the first thing that you’ll see. You don’t need to navigate through different dropdown menus to find the tool. Instead, it’s right there smack in the middle of the page, ready to be used. 

Using Mashvisor’s property finder tool isn’t complex. All you need to do is enter the city, neighborhood, zip code, or specific address you’re looking for. Then, it will lead you to a page where you can see investment, traditional rental, and Airbnb properties in the area of your choice. 

The results shown on the right-hand side of the screen can be sorted by price, area by square foot, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, cash on cash return, rental rates, and cap rates. All listed properties are categorized under three tabs (Investment, Airbnb, and Traditional) for easier property searches. The feature is perfect for investors who are serious about starting a rental property business like a VRBO vacation rental. 

Real Estate Heat Map

After hitting enter on the Property Search bar, you will be taken to a page where you can see a map of the area of your search. It is not an ordinary vicinity map but rather a brilliant real estate heat map. The heat map is designed to help investors locate the best possible deals using different filters. The filters include property price, cash on cash return rate, rental income, and occupancy rate.

What it does is it shows areas that perform excellently and poorly under the filters you choose. The green areas represent top-performing areas while the red ones show which areas are performing at dismal rates. The filters can be set by clicking on the dropdown menu labeled Heat Map Data Set on the upper left corner of the map.

After selecting the preferred filter, the heat map will show a colorful display of the vicinity representing the different levels of performance of properties. Users can zoom in on certain areas and select properties (represented by pins) to see how they fare against each other. 

The heat map tool makes searching for an investment property a lot faster and more efficient compared to the old-school way of doing research and analysis. 

VRBO Vacation Rental - Mashvisor's Real Estate Heatmap

Mashvisor’s Real Estate Heat Map allows investors to search for profitable areas using a set of filters, such as property price, cash on cash return rate, rental income, and occupancy rate.

Investment Calculator

Last but not the least, Mashvisor’s investment property calculator allows investors and users to make sure the math checks out on the properties they are considering. Profit projections and ROI calculations can be done in a fairly accurate way, thanks to the website’s regularly updated database. The data used for crunching numbers all come from reliable and trustworthy sources and real estate comps to ensure investors see close to actual numbers. 

The best thing about the investment calculator is that once you’re done doing the calculations, you can search for properties that align with the projected numbers. It makes the process of weeding out irrelevant properties less time-consuming. 

To learn more about how Mashvisor can help you find profitable investment properties, schedule a demo.

Wrapping It Up

VRBO vacation rental investing is an excellent way to build equity and wealth provided you do it right. When done correctly, investing in a vacation rental property can be a very lucrative venture and business model. Just ask the tens of thousands of successful rental property investors who’ve made a considerable amount of money as vacation rental owners and hosts. Of course, it all starts with spotting the perfect real estate deals that will help you achieve your investment goals. 

To get access to our real estate investment tools, click here to sign up for a 7-day free trial of Mashvisor today, followed by 15% off for life.

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