History of VRBO – Vacation Rental by Owner

History of VRBO – Vacation Rental by Owner
Photo from vrbo

If you have searched online for a vacation property in the past few years, you have probably stumbled upon a site called VRBO.

Owners and managers of vacation rental properties have made use of this well-known resource to list their vacation property for renting, making VRBO one of the best rental vacation sites online today.

VRBO originated in 1995 by founder David Clouse as a website used to rent his ski resort in popular destination spot, Breckenridge, Colorado. Websites were just beginning at the time, so VRBO was the first of its kind.

What Does VRBO Stand For?

The VRBO abbreviation literally defines what the company is. VRBO stands for “Vacation Rental by Owner,” which means that owners of the property can rent their home for short-term vacation rental.

In the beginning, consumers would pronounce VRBO as “V-R-B-O” because of its literal abbreviation. Today, consumers have shortened the abbreviation even more (who knew that was even possible?!) to be phonetically pronounced “ver-boh.”

This turned VRBO into the commonly referred Vrbo.

What Makes VRBO the Best Among the Rest?

Vrbo is the pioneer of online vacation rental websites. With up-and-coming vacation rental sites like HomeAway, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor, Vrbo has had to compete to remain a leading vacation rental website.

Customer Service

As Vrbo has grown to add over 2 million vacation rental properties worldwide, they have added an exponential number of employees to accommodate this growth. These employees are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling the vacation rental by owner customer service phone number. These representatives can answer any question you may have as an owner.

VRBO for Owners

First, you will need to create a Vrbo login for owners, and a Vrbo customer service representative can also help you set up your account if you should have any questions. This owner Vrbo login will allow you to access what is called the dashboard. On this dashboard, you will be able to control all aspects of your vacation rental listing.

Another feature of the owner Vrbo dashboard is checking your status with Vrbo to see if you currently owe Vrbo fees or memberships. On the Vrbo dashboard, you can see information pertaining to you as the host and you as a customer of Vrbo.


To list your property on Vrbo, you have the option of choosing a pay-per-booking subscription or a yearly subscription.

The yearly subscription option means you pay a flat $499 yearly subscription to list on the website.

If you choose the pay-per-booking subscription, you pay Vrbo 5% of every booking made with your property. A Vrbo guest who pays by credit card or electronic check will pay a 3% processing fee.

Depending on the rental income your property produces, it may determine which subscription model you choose.

Comparing VRBO to the Rest

VRBO the Best Among the Rest
Photo from vrbo

VRBO innovated, allowing homeowners to host their property online to rent, but they are no longer alone. Companies like Airbnb, Flipkey, and TripAdvisor make Vrbo have to work to remain at the top.

HomeAway acquired Vrbo in 2006, and then subsequently acquired by Expedia Holding Group, Inc in 2015. When you list your property on HomeAway for owners, the listing is also posed on Vrbo, and vice versa.

Some of the most common comparisons of vacation rental websites are HomeAway vs. VRBO, Airbnb vs. HomeAway, or Airbnb vs. VRBO. Each of these listing websites has various fees and features for you to review to determine which listing website is best for you.

Airbnb Fees

Users on Airbnb have the option of selecting a shared fee or a host-only fee.

The shared fee option is the best choice among homeowners looking to rent their property for short-term rentals. The shared fee option means that you and your guests share the responsibility of the fees owed to Airbnb.

Airbnb charges a shared fee of up to 20% for the property being rented. According to Airbnb, guest fees are typically 13% or less, but they can run upwards of 20%.

Additionally, the Airbnb service fee can run higher for guests if Airbnb collects a VAT (value-added tax) on the property. This VAT is added to the total service fees collected, making the service fees higher than normal.

When your property is rented and the payment is collected, Airbnb will collect a host fee of 3%. This fee will be deducted from the payout you receive from Airbnb. The guests will pay their portion of the fees during checkout. These fees will be displayed on the checkout screen for guests to review before submitting payment.

Flipkey and TripAdvisor Fees

Flipkey is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, which make them similarly comparable companies. Comparing companies like Flipkey Inc to Airbnb or any other vacation rental site to TripAdvisor will allow you to know what to expect from each company when listing your property.

Flipkey and TripAdvisor collect fees on a pay-per-booking concept, similar to Airbnb. While the hosting fee is the same as Airbnb at 3%, the guest fees make up the bulk. Guest fees are calculated to TripAdvisor rentals at around 8 – 16% of the rental cost. This can be steep for guests who are looking to book the least fee-riddled property.

Listing your vacation rental on TripAdvisor can be inexpensive to you but expensive to your guests. This may mean a decrease in bookings if you use Flipkey and vacation by owner TripAdvisor as your only channel of listings.

Why Managing a Vacation Rental By Owner Can Prove Challenging

Because of everything involved in making a vacation rental business profitable, there will be some challenges along the way. To be a successful vacation rental owner, you have to adopt a strategy for both marketing and operating your vacation rental business to yield more income and increase occupancy.

  • Relying Only On Sites: this is a mistake many vacation rental owners make. If you decide to list your vacation rental property on several sites, you are still going to be just one among thousands. The competition is going to be high. To stand out, you need to create a website and then use social media platforms to drive traffic to your website.
  • Not Being Prepared: another mistake or common challenge is not being prepared for emergencies that may arise. For example, if the AC or an appliance breaks while you have a guest, you need to be able to quickly resolve the issue so that it doesn’t interrupt their vacation.
  • Lacking Transparency: Vacation rental by owner properties may be more susceptible to guest commentary about the overall guest experience regarding their time at the rental and the location. When listing your vacation rental by owner, you need to be transparent. If there is a train that goes by or other traffic noise, make sure to mention this, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to your guests. The guest experience is important, and they will make this clear in their reviews.

Vrbo has over 2 million bookable vacation rentals listed. Individual property owners and management companies can use Vrbo to attract more short-term rental guests. When listing a rental on Vrbo, you can set your own rates, including weekly or nightly rates. You can also control the availability and who you allow to rent your property.


V-R-B-O, now commonly known and pronounced as “ver-boh” has maintained its presence at the top of the vacation rental by owner podium. While additional companies have come on the scene, Vrbo has competed with these up-and-comers by offering competitive fees for both the owners and the guests.

The history of VRBO from its beginning in 1995 has shown that Vrbo will remain at the forefront of the ever-changing vacation rental world.

Do you or your property manager need help to stay on track when it comes to your vacation rental business? VRScheduler can help you do just that. We are a vacation rental software solution featuring iCal booking import, property management software integration, an administrative dashboard, and so much more.

Get in touch with us today to request your free 14-day trial and say goodbye to spreadsheets and wall calendars.

Vrbo FAQ

Still have questions about Vrbo and listing a vacation rental? Take a look at our FAQ below for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.

What Are the Benefits of Listing Your Vacation Rental on Vrbo?

When choosing to list your vacation rental on Vrbo, you are gaining instant exposure for your listing. Many renters use sites like Vrbo because it makes finding a rental easy, it offers a certain level of protection and allows guests to book with more confidence.

You will also find the advantage of combined listings. Since Vrbo and HomeAway joined forces, your rental listing will appear on both sites. Vrbo is also affordable and provides a user-friendly website and mobile app.

What Commission Does Vrbo Charge Property Owners?

Vrbo has a commission structure for property owners. If the owner pays Vrbo on a per-booking basis, then a 5 percent commission is charged on each booking. However, the commission is only charged on nightly rates and the optional fees that the owner chooses to charge.

Does Vrbo Collect Taxes?

Vrbo does collect and remit lodging tax required in jurisdictions when rental bookings are made on their platform.

Does Vrbo Have a Mobile App?

Yes. The Vrbo traveler mobile app is free to users and can be downloaded on both Apple and Android devices. It helps travelers set up their perfect vacation getaway and allows them to search more than 2 million unique places in over 190 countries.

What are the cancellation policy options for my Vrbo vacation rental listing?

When you post your listing, you can also set your cancellation policy. When doing so, you can choose from five options on Vrbo: no refund, strict, firm, moderate, and relaxed.

Is Owning a VRBO Worth It?

When you choose to list your short term rental on sites like Vrbo, HomeAway, and Airbnb, you can supplement your income, and it is even a good choice for those just beginning in the real estate and rental industry.