Airbnb vs Expedia

This article examines Airbnb vs Expedia by concentrating on the main features that an Online Travel Agency (OTA) should offer. The data has been collected from Airbnb’s and Expedia’s websites and help articles.

Airbnb vs Expedia

Owner and Guest Fees

Owner fees:

Airbnb doesn’t charge any credit card fees. 

There are two types of fees charged by Airbnb: the split fee and the host-only fee. Split fees are divided between guests and hosts, usually between 14% and 16% for guests and around 3% for hosts. It costs around 15% of the booking rate for the host-only fee, while there is no charge for the guests.

In most countries, including the UK, the host-only fee has become mandatory as of 2020.

Airbnb charges up to 20% of the booking value as a service fee for additional features like hosting experiences.

Guest fees:

Hosts on Airbnb can charge guests an extra fee for cleaning services. Guests are also encouraged to rate the cleanliness of their Airbnb accommodation after they check out.

Airbnb guests may not be aware of the cleaning fee until they check out. The cleaning fee depends on the nightly rate and length of stay.

Tax rules depend on local regulations and differ from city to city.

Owner fees:

Expedia’s commission rate typically ranges from 10% to 30% of the booking price, and it can vary depending on the location of the property, the type of property, and the season.

Hosts pay the commission to Expedia on a pay-per-book basis. This means that hosts don’t get charged any fees until they actually have guests staying in their rental.

Each month, hosts can expect an invoice from Expedia with the amount owed in fees from bookings. There are no signup or subscription fees.

Here are some of the factors that Expedia takes into account when setting the host fee:

  • Location of Property: The location of the property is a major factor in determining the host fee. Properties in popular tourist destinations typically have higher commission rates than properties in less popular destinations.
  • Type of Property: The type of property also affects the owner fee. For example, hotels typically have lower commission rates than vacation rentals.
  • Season: The season can also affect this fee. Properties that are in high demand during peak season typically have higher commission rates.
  • Use of Expedia Marketing Tools: Hosts who use Expedia’s marketing tools typically have higher commission rates.

Host & Guest Protection

Liability Insurance

Airbnb’s liability insurance is part of AirCover for Hosts. This insurance covers up to $1 million in case of injury or damage to guests or their belongings while staying at your home. Co-hosts and cleaners are also included. Additionally, this insurance covers damage to common areas like lobbies and nearby properties caused by guests (or others).

Damage Protection

If a guest damages your place or belongings during an Airbnb stay, AirCover for Hosts provides $1 million in coverage. Airbnb’s Host Damage Protection covers damage caused by guests, co-hosts, or cleaners to your place or possessions. In addition, it protects against cancellations due to damage caused by guests (or others) and cleaning costs incurred as a result.

Security Deposits

Guests may encounter two kinds of security deposits when booking an Airbnb. The first is Airbnb’s $1,000 cap on security deposits that begin two days prior to the stay. Guests won’t be charged, but an authorisation hold will be placed on their payment method. Airbnb will email the guest if it cannot authorise the hold, giving them 12 hours to provide an alternative payment method. Airbnb will release the hold 14 days after the check-out or before the next guest’s arrival if there is no damage.

The other option is host-required security deposits. The amount will range between $100 and $5,000, which the host determines. Airbnb places no authorisation hold, so the host is responsible for this.

Expedia Travel Insurance

Expedia travel insurance is a standalone plan that can be purchased through Expedia. It covers a wide range of circumstances, including trip cancellations, delays, medical expenses, baggage losses, and 24-hour emergency travel assistance.

Package Protection Plan

Expedia Package Protection Plan is a travel insurance plan that is bundled with your Expedia booking. It covers a narrower range of circumstances than travel insurance, but it is generally less expensive. 

Smart Pricing

With Airbnb Smart Pricing, a property listing can be priced according to relevant data and factors. The system automatically adjusts the listing’s price based on market demand, but only within a set range of minimum and maximum prices.

A number of factors are taken into account, along with demand and season, including the rental location, size, amenities, and listing quality.

It will then calculate an “ideal” price based on the analysed information.

Expedia offers MarketMaker™, which delivers detailed market data. It helps property managers set competitive vacation rental rates based on current supply and demand.

In addition to providing insights into market conditions, MarketMaker analyses real-time marketing data about your property, nearby properties, and traveller search behaviour.

MarketMaker analyses:

  • Real-time supply and demand data.
  • Competitive rates of booked vs unbooked properties.
  • Local events affecting area travel.
  • Forecasted occupancy data.
  • Average rates of similar properties.
  • Booking lead times.
  • Search data from this year and last.
  • Historical listing performance.

Cancellation Policy

Guest cancellation policy

There are six cancellation policies that you can offer your guests on Airbnb. These policies are called Flexible, Moderate, Strict, Long Term, Super Strict 30 Days, and Super Strict 60 Days.

With the Airbnb Flexible option, guests can get a full refund within 24 hours before check-in.

According to Airbnb cancellation policies, refunds do not include the rental service fee.

Host cancellation policy

You can cancel an Airbnb instant booking for free when:

  • The guest makes it clear they are likely to break one of the host’s house rules, such as bringing a pet or smoking.
  • The listing doesn’t fit the needs of the guests – for example, if it’s not suitable for families or pets.
  • The guest has several unfavourable reviews or a lack of profile information that concerns the host.

It may be necessary for you to submit proof of cancellation in these situations. Only three cancellations per year will be allowed for Instant Book reservations. 

You can also cancel for free for unavoidable reasons, such as emergency repairs, serious illness, proofing the guest’s intention to break house rules, epidemics, or government travel restrictions.

Suppose you failed to prove any of the above reasons or cancel a booking without any excuse. In that case, you will be charged a percentage of the booking price based on the cancellation time. There may also be other consequences, such as blocking the listing’s calendar on the affected dates. In the worst scenario, you may lose your Superhost status and have your listings suspended or removed.

Guest cancellation policy

Expedia touts a free 24-hour cancellation policy for users on all of its websites. During this window, guests may modify or cancel their reservations free of charge. Expedia typically does not charge a cancellation fee after the first 24 hours, but hosts are free to establish their rules wherein guests may be fined for cancelling their reservations.

There are five levels of cancellation policies a host can apply: No Refund, Strict, Firm, Moderate, and Relaxed.

Host cancellation policy

A host can cancel an instant booking on Expedia, but only under certain circumstances. The host can cancel if:

  • The guest does not meet the host’s house rules.
  • The host has a legitimate reason for cancelling, such as a family emergency or property damage.

If a host needs to cancel an instant booking, they should contact Expedia’s customer support as soon as possible to explain the situation and request a cancellation. Expedia will work with the host and traveller to find a suitable resolution, which may include rebooking the guest at a similar property or providing a refund.

It’s worth mentioning that cancelling an instant booking without a valid reason or repeatedly cancelling bookings can have consequences for the host. This can include penalties, loss of eligibility for certain programmes, or account suspension.

Listing Rules

  1. You need to specify:
  • The exact location of the property.
  • The number of guests you can accommodate.
  • How your property looks like by providing photos.
  1. Pets are allowed with a fee, which might differ from listing to listing. Assistance dogs are allowed with no discrimination. 
  1.  Airbnb encourages its hosts to provide clean accommodation. “Airbnb also encourages its hosts to add a cleaning fee in their total rate to cover the cost of hiring a cleaning service or buying cleaning supplies.
  1. The property must have the proper permits and licences, and it must be located in a zoning area that allows short-term rentals.
  2. The property must be clean and well-maintained and meet all safety standards.
  3. The listing must accurately describe the property, including its size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amenities, and location.
  1. Hosts must respond to guest enquiries and requests in a timely manner.
  2. Hosts must follow the cancellation policy that they set when they list their property on Expedia.
  3. Hosts must provide accurate and up-to-date information about their properties. This includes information about the property’s availability, rates, and amenities.
  4. Hosts must not discriminate against guests based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
  5. Hosts must not engage in any illegal or unethical activities. This includes activities, such as charging excessive fees.

Review System

Up to a limited extent, the Airbnb review system provides guests and hosts with insights about who they will be booking with. Both guests and hosts have 14 days to write a review.

The Airbnb review system appears as a five-star rating system with guests rating the accuracy of descriptions, cleanliness, communication, location, check-in, and value for money.

Expedia post-stay reviews tool automates the guest review process by:

  • Encouraging guests to share their feedback, including ratings for cleanliness, service, and amenities.
  • Informing you promptly when reviews are posted, allowing for quick responses.
  • Reviewing and translating reviews and responses to ensure they align with Expedia community guidelines.
  • Allowing you to display reviews on your own website.
  • Offering Review insights that analyse your reviews over a 12-month period, highlighting trends and identifying areas for improvement that may require attention.

Reviews are moderated by Expedia staff to ensure that they are accurate and helpful. Reviews that are not constructive or that violate Expedia’s terms of service may be removed.

Expedia allows guests to submit reviews in real time. Hosts can also leave reviews for guests.

Payment Process

Using its centralised payment process, Airbnb collects money from guests and pays hosts automatically 24 hours after check-in. You can choose how to receive payments when setting up your accounts, and the payout may take longer depending on the chosen payment gateway. Fees and deductions will always be included in the payment.

For guests who stay 28 days or more, you will get paid monthly instalments starting 24 hours after check-in.

When a guest makes a reservation, Expedia will charge the guest’s credit card for the full amount of the booking. Expedia will then deduct its commission from the booking amount. They will then transfer the remaining amount to the host’s bank account within 30 days of the guest’s check-out date.

Special Features & Services

Instant Bookings

Upon signing up for an Airbnb account, the Airbnb Instant Book feature turns on and automatically accepts reservations. You can, however, disable Instant Book and decline a reservation if a guest has unreasonable requests or a low rating.

Users of Instant Book are rewarded with higher search rankings on Airbnb.


Airbnb’s Experiences 

Airbnb offers Experiences – aggregated local activities that local people host. It presents a long list of experiences, such as restaurants, adventures, and creative activities. This feature can help attract travellers looking for Airbnbs and Experiences in your area, thus increasing your occupancy level. 


Host Community

Airbnb’s Host Community provides property managers with opportunities to share their experiences of listing their properties on Airbnb. 


Airbnb Plus

Airbnb Plus features some of the best quality Airbnb homes with hosts known for their great reviews. These vacation rentals are picked based on their elegant design, consistent amenities, and spotless maintenance.


Airbnb Superhost

Airbnb Superhost programme recognises and rewards its highest-rated and most experienced hosts. The benefits of being a Superhost include increased visibility, increased earnings potential, and premier rewards.

Instant Bookings

Expedia allows you to turn on or off Instant Booking on your listings. Listings with instant booking are generally ranked higher than listings that require guest approval.


TravelAds is a pay-per-click sponsored listing that appears in a premium placement alongside search results. With TravelAds you can:

  • Highlight your property using personalised advertising text and images.
  • Tailor the audience and timing of the ads to reach the desired target market.
  • Establish a daily spending limit and pay only for clicks received. 
  • Monitor performance and make real-time adjustments to the budget and targeting.

Accelerator Tool

Accelerator is a tool that helps boost your placement in traveller search results without discounting rates

This tool enables you to:

  • Enhance your position in search results without lowering your rates.
  • Incorporate payment as part of your overall compensation rate. 
  • Specify your preferred dates and terms.
  • Opt out of the Accelerator feature whenever you choose. 
  • Preview the effect on your sorting position and modify your potential placement before confirming.
  • Only make payments when you receive actual reservations.

Campaigns and Promotions

  • Tailor your marketing efforts to attract your desired audience and achieve your objectives. 
  • Select from ready-to-use promotions or design your own. 
  • Provide discounts on room rates or create value-added promotions.
  • Take part in localised or regional multi-channel campaigns that incorporate brand advertising.

VIP Access

VIP Access is a privileged programme available only to select properties that consistently provide excellent service to their guests.

To qualify for VIP Access, participants must maintain high star ratings, receive positive post-stay reviews, and achieve favourable Content Scores, all of which demonstrate their consistent delivery of exceptional service.

Joining VIP Access incurs no fees, and there is no expectation to lower your rates or increase compensation. However, your commitment lies in offering VIP and Premium VIP guests special acknowledgements during check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi, and an exclusive property benefit, such as a complimentary breakfast, waived parking fees, or spa credits.

The main benefit of listing your property on Expedia is getting listed on multiple other Expedia travel brands worldwide, including Hotels.com, Orbitz, Wotif, Ebookers and more.

Airbnb vs Expedia: Which One to Choose?

Airbnb is known for attracting a diverse range of travellers seeking unique experiences and accommodations. With Airbnb’s strong brand presence and large user base, your listing can benefit from increased visibility. Airbnb gives property managers full control of who stays at their property and provides a streamlined payment process.

Expedia offers a structured booking process and various communication channels to facilitate interactions between hosts and guests. Expedia’s wide network of partner sites can extend the exposure of your listing. In addition, guests can book and bundle up all parts of their trip on Expedia. Expedia is widely known for offering attractive vacation packages, which are more economical than booking separately.

All in all, remember that both platforms are not good at handling security deposits. So, you still need a Property Management System (PMS) for seamless rental operations, especially managing security deposits.

We are committed to ensuring that all our comparison articles are factually entirely correct and accurate. If you have spotted anything that you feel is wrong or misleading in this article, we’d appreciate hearing from you.

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