Vrbo vs Expedia

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

Vrbo vs Expedia

Owner and Guest Fees

Owner fees:

Vrbo charges 3% if your guest pays with a credit card.

Vrbo has two pricing models. The annual subscription of $499 is worth it if you have an empty house and expect many reservations during the year. Paying 5% per booking fee suits you better if you invest in a short-term rental.

Guest fees:

Vrbo allows hosts to charge guests an additional cleaning fee in their total rates. They also encourage guests to rate the cleanliness of their place of stay after check-out.

Cleaning fees must be clearly stated on the first listing page of Vrbo.

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

Vrbo’s Liability insurance provides protection for all reservations made through the HomeAway check-out process. It covers hosts up to $1 million if a traveller damages the property of a neighbour or the host is legally liable for guests’ injury.

Damage protection

Vrbo’s Property Damage Protection (PDP) is an optional insurance plan to protect guests from having to pay out of pocket for damaged property. The host can suggest an insurance plan level. Alternatively, guests can select a PDP level, whether as a refundable security deposit or a non-refundable amount.

Security deposits

With Vrbo, the damage deposit and amount are set upon the host’s request. Following check-out, they keep the refundable damage deposit for seven or 14 days. In the event of loss, hosts have seven or 14 days to claim all or part of a refundable damage deposit. Otherwise, the deposit will automatically be released.

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

Vrbo offers its partners an online tool named 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.

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

On Vrbo, five levels of cancellation policies are defined: No Refund, Strict, Firm, Moderate, and Relaxed.

Due to its rental types, Vrbo is strict. Even the Relaxed option cannot provide a full refund since it only reimburses 50% if the cancellation occurs 14 days in advance.

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

Host cancellation policy

You can cancel an instant booking if guests do not comply with your house rules or Vrbo policies. To do so, it’s best to ask the guest to submit a cancellation request, so your metrics won’t be affected by the cancellation. If a guest meets all your house rules, the reservation should only be cancelled at the guest’s request.

For cancellations caused by factors beyond a host’s control, Vrbo offers “cancellation waivers.” You might qualify for a cancellation waiver based on your reason for cancelling, such as natural disaster, property damage, house rules violation, and past due balance. According to the Vrbo cancellation policy, a booking annulment negatively impacts your ranking metrics if you don’t receive a waiver.

At Vrbo, owners have the discretion to cancel a reservation. Thus, they can cancel a booking anytime, without worrying about any penalty or bad reviews.

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. Pets are also allowed with a fee for Vrbo properties. 
  2. Vrbo owners can ask their guests to keep the property minimally clean. “This includes running the dishwasher, putting out the trash, or leaving all used linen in one area. The platform offers guidelines on how hosts can clean specific rooms in their properties.
  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

Vrbo has a review option, but does not offer a thorough vetting or verification process. Guests or hosts can leave a review for up to a year after their stay. Nevertheless, once one of the parties submits a review, the other party has 14 days to share theirs.

Vrbo uses a five-star rating system, and hosts’ responses to guest reviews appear in the review section.

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

Vrbo offers hosts a secure payment platform to get paid through. 

Following a guest’s check-in, you will receive your payout within one business day. New partners whose first booking is within 30 days will receive the payout about 30 days after the guest makes payment.

The payout summary report displays payout amounts after commissions and fees are deducted.

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

Vrbo allows you to turn on or off Instant Booking on your listings.

The Instant Booking feature can determine your rank and search position, as the property with Instant Booking will rank higher on Vrbo.

Vrbo’s Trip Boards

Vrbo’s Trip Boards make it easy to organise and compare travel destinations. For group trips, guests can invite friends to collaborate on the board and search for accommodations together.

Partner Community

Vrbo also provides the owners with a website called the Partner Community that allows property managers to share their Vrbo experiences.

Vrbo’s Premier Partner Programme

It rewards owners and managers for providing excellent service to guests in a sustainable manner. Upon meeting the criteria, you will automatically be added to the programme, where you benefit from a Premier Host badge and filter, the Boost programme, as well as priority 24/7 support.

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.

Vrbo vs Expedia: Which One to Choose?

Vrbo and Expedia are owned by the same company, Expedia Group. While they share the same parent company and operate on a similar platform, it’s worth noting that each offers unique features and functionalities that can impact your listing strategy as a host.

Vrbo’s primary focus is on connecting travellers with vacation rental properties, such as holiday homes, cabins, and beach houses. By listing your property on Vrbo, you can tap into a dedicated user base of travellers actively seeking these types of accommodations. Vrbo also provides hosts with a comprehensive set of tools and resources to manage their vacation rentals effectively.

Expedia is a more comprehensive online travel agency that covers a wide range of accommodations. Expedia caters to travellers with diverse accommodation preferences, allowing you to reach a larger pool of potential guests. Additionally, Expedia offers hosts various marketing options to optimise the performance of their listings.

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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