Finding a Place to Stay While Traveling:
Airbnb vs HomeAway
by Daniel | Last Updated June 28th, 2019
Tired of checking into dull hotel rooms? Frustrated by mounting resort fees? Looking for a more homely experience on your next trip?
When it comes to staying in hotels, sometimes it can seem a bit repetitive and mundane. There are always strict rules and checkout times, and a hotel stay never really feels too comfortable.
It may be time to take the plunge and look into making a vacation rental home or apartment the snooze-spot for your next getaway. The online vacation rental industry is growing, but there are two companies that reign – Airbnb Vs HomeAway.
While both offer their pros and cons, it’s difficult to know which to use. That’s where we come in – check out our guide to discover which vacation rental website works for you.
First, let’s get the lowdown on what each vacation rental website is all about.
Airbnb is the most recognizable home-stay brand of the two and was set up as an online hospitality service and marketplace in 2008. That means from the get-go you’ll at least have some familiarity with the brand which helps if it’s your first time venturing from the usual hotel stay.
What makes Airbnb unique is that you can choose to spend the night in pretty much any kind of venue you can imagine. This can range from snoozing in a spare bedroom in the city, to a tree house in the forest, to a castle in the country.
Airbnb is a great option for travelers who love to meet the locals too. In many cases, hosts end up creating itineraries for their guests or giving them insider information on the local surroundings.
For those who don’t fancy staying in the spare room though, there are also plenty of private options where contact with hosts is minimal.
The website offers a variety of filters, so finding your dream stay is super easy. These filters include the choice of city, dates one wishes to stay, and even factors like whether pets are allowed on the premises.
Surprisingly, HomeAway is older than Airbnb, first established back in 2004. It has since gone on to grow and acquire other vacation home-sharing websites to enlarge their marketplace, including VRBO also known as Vacation Rental By Owner.
One big difference between Airbnb and HomeAway is that HomeAway only offers private rentals of entire properties. That means that it’s mainly property management companies creating vacation listings on the website.
Like Airbnb, HomeAway offers a range of unique accommodation including beach houses, cabins, and condos.
The range of filters on HomeAway’s website are large too – expect to search for everything from swimming pools, to gyms, to cribs.
The Variety of Accommodation
Airbnb and HomeAway both offer similar locations across the world, but when it comes to how many listings are available in how many countries, let’s see who’s ruling the roost.
Airbnb by far offers the most listings, with over six million vacation homes registered worldwide in over 191 countries and regions. This includes in over a whopping 100,000 cities!
As mentioned, there’s no shortage of unique offerings to take a slumber in either. Of these six million home-stay options, there are over 14,000 tiny houses, over 4,000 castles, and over 2,400 tree houses to stay in.
There are options for large groups and families, as well as the single or budget traveler meaning Airbnb certainly caters for all.
Another great feature that Airbnb offers is its excursions section of the website. These are various tours and experiences created and curated by the hosts as additional activities for their guests. They can be booked separately or in conjunction with another house booking too, so the options aren’t limited.
This is great for travelers who are seeking a genuine local experience. From cooking handmade pasta with a host in Italy to learning all about cigars in Cuba, there are plenty of exciting options that are likely to be a lot more authentic and affordable than the usual tourist traps.
Airbnb restaurant is another addition, which lets users browse and book the top restaurants in the location they’re staying in.
In comparison, HomeAway offers more than two million rental homestays in 190 countries around the world, so when it comes to listings HomeAway falls short.
While HomeAway does offer unique accommodation similar to Airbnb, it tends to focus on resort-like properties or lavish home rentals.
As a result, HomeAway tends to draw in families and larger groups as opposed to single travelers that can opt for a single room in an apartment or a dorm bed in a hostel-like property via Airbnb.
Pricing and Booking
Airbnb and HomeAway share many similarities when it comes to pricing. There usually isn’t too much in it when it comes to comparing similar property types, dates, and numbers of guests staying.
Both vacation rental websites also require a deposit fee when booking, so when it comes to booking they both follow a similar process. However, there are some key differences to note.
When it comes to additional fees, Airbnb does incorporate value-added tax or VAT when booking a trip in certain countries such as South Africa, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and those in the European Union.
This is demonstrated with the initial booking charge – Airbnb usually charges 6 – 12% for guests on the initial booking. However, Airbnb doesn’t include any additional charges for payments via credit cards which is a bonus.
Another Airbnb HomeAway comparison is that Airbnb offers more consistent payment methods. When booking with HomeAway, on the other hand, payment depends on the property manager. These payment methods usually include direct debit, credit, and debit.
Another nice feature that Airbnb offers is that hosts can create and manage special offers. Usually, this will involve setting low prices for certain dates or taking a certain percentage off an overall price. Long-term rental discounts and service fee discounts are also popular.
For example, a host may offer 50% off the service fee on selected dates. The only issue is that it can sometimes be difficult to find such offers!
When similar property types, dates, and numbers of guests were searched across both Airbnb and HomeAway, the cheapest accommodation was actually found through HomeAway. But of the cheapest options available, the amenities on Airbnb were significantly better.
However, remember that the huge range of accommodation types offered by Airbnb means that for the flexible traveler Airbnb usually offers the cheapest option available.
While HomeAway also offers deals and promotions, they aren’t as frequent as Airbnb’s contributions.
HomeAway does offer one distinct advantage over Airbnb when it comes to the booking process, and that is the Book with Confidence Guarantee.
This includes comprehensive payment protection, 24/7 customer service, and rebooking help if your booking is canceled last minute. All guests are covered, too no matter what property is booked.
Airbnb also offers guarantees and refund policies in case a booking is canceled or doesn’t go as expected, however, the claim process is more time-consuming and complicated than HomeAway’s plan.
Customer Service and Safety
When considering Airbnb or HomeAway as your vacation rental provider, it’s important to look at customer service and safety aspects when making a booking.
While both companies offer 24/7 customer service, there are differences in the way it’s conducted.
Guests are prompted to only call the customer support phone line in pressing situations, with certain questions directed to the hosts instead.
When it comes to leaving reviews, Airbnb does encourage guests to leave reviews using star rates and written commentary. Guests have up to two weeks to leave a review after their stay.
Both hosts and guests are vetted to ensure the utmost levels of security and safety are in place when making a booking.
When it comes to making contact, HomeAway is much more flexible. They allow phone calls and emails from both guests and hosts that need assistance, no matter how big or small the situation is.
Guests can also leave reviews using star ratings and text commentary. These reviews can be left for up until a year after the rental stay, so again there is more flexibility on this.
Like Airbnb, all property listings are vetted to ensure maximum safety and security.
Airbnb vs HomeAway
When it comes to comparing Airbnb vs HomeAway, there really is no bad choice to be made as both companies are fantastic options for those seeking more personal accommodation than the usual bland hotel room.
Try not to look at these vacation rental companies as one and the same thing – they’re both different with their pros and cons. Your choice should be entirely dependant on the type of vacation you’re hoping to achieve.
If you’re seeking a more flexible, local holiday where you might be traveling on your own, then Airbnb is a safer bet, for example.
However, if you’re traveling in a large group or with your family, the resort-style options that HomeAway may suit your tastes more.
Both brands offer a huge range of accommodation to suit different budgets, numbers, and styles so whatever you’re seeking it’s likely you can find options on both. Simply browse around, and search for the dream vacation spot that suits you.
Keen to discover more secrets on traveling like a local? Check out our list of the best travel apps for 2019 for inspiration!
Welcome to LuggageGuru!
My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.