Everyone has a time when they need to get out of town and need to find somewhere to stay. Some people love room serviced hotels while others prefer apartments and houses. For vacations and trips, either for business or fun, there has always been one option available: hotels. Hotels were the indisputable kings of the hospitality business. This was all before a small San Francisco Startup came on the scene and disrupted everything. Airbnb opened the eyes of everyone to an alternative to hotels. Homeowners can rent out their homes for short or long periods of time to travelers. Also, travelers get to experience a home away from home, and at a fraction of what hotels cost!
It was genius, and like everything genius, everyone wants a piece of it. There are now several alternatives to Airbnb available in the Vacation Rental Industry. These companies are like Airbnb in their operations. They provide hundreds of vacation homes for the modern traveler. It does not matter what you are looking for as a traveler, you are likely to find it on one of these sites.
Is it a house perched on a hill with an infinity pool? A vacation home in the woods with hundreds of acres of pristine forest and green grass? Are you more of an exotic type that must have that relaxing dip in a clawfoot bathtub? All styles and tastes are catered for by these vacation rental businesses. No more boring hotel rooms with the ubiquitous beige carpets and striped wallpapers. Why go for that when you can have a quaint 2 bedroom apartment to yourself for a fraction of the price? The hospitality industry has indeed changed in recent years. The question now is how much has it changed exactly? Why is the new order of things more appealing to the modern traveler?
How Airbnb And Co Changed The Hospitality Business
The hospitality and travel industry has gone through a facelift since the concept of vacation rentals became a thing. Before Airbnb and others started gaining customers, vacationers were good at booking hotels. Trips were planned in advance and hotel bookings were settled in advance. To get a luxurious hotel experience, most customers had to pay through their nose. For the budget traveler, low budget roadside inns and motels were the only options. With hotels, you either go big or go home.
These inns and motels offered the lowest level of amenities they could get away with. It usually seemed like they were all built by the same contractors. Same boxy TV set, wallpaper, and carpet. It made traveling a tedious experience for vacationers that couldn’t afford hotels like The Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons. Of course, there is a slew of nicer hotels between those two extremes that don’t cost too much. But at the end of the day, they are still impersonal hotel rooms.
Then Airbnb entered, to make all crooked bedspreads straight. This is how it works. You are a traveler, visiting a new city for the first time and you want to experience the local life. Instead of booking a hotel and getting a local guide to take you to the hottest spots, you go the vacation rental route instead. You visit the website, check out the houses listed in that area, find one you like and then get in touch with the owner. You pay the amount for the rent and you arrive at the city all nervous and excited. Maybe the owner is around, they give you a detailed breakdown of the local cuisine, culture, best watering holes, and all you need to know. Your trip is off to a great start already. Also, you are not in a “sterile” hotel room, you are in a lived-in house with feelings and memories. It feels like home. You have the best time and go back home feeling like you have experienced the heart and soul of that location.
Can you see how the Airbnbs of this world could hold more fascination for the average traveler than the Radissons and Best Westerns of this world? Of course there is still something to be said for a well put together hotel. But that homey feel you can get from vacation rental apartments is too good to pass up, sometimes.
Airbnb started the party, but others joined in the fun later on. There are several other companies that offer the same services Airbnb does. Some even go the extra mile to offer more. They are doing quite well and some have even evolved over the years. This article is going to talk about these companies that are similar to Airbnb in terms of the services they offer.
10 Companies Similar To Airbnb You Should Consider For Your Next Trip
Like Airbnb, HomeAway boasts over 2 million listings in about 190 countries. The company lists houses, usually from professionals who rent their houses out for a living. So, you are likely to get a more refined service. It will be something close to a hotel level service from these vacation houses.
The houses listed here are more or less targeted towards older people. The houses are large and well suited to families and big groups of people looking to vacation together. HomeAway is the parent company of VRBO, which is also an Airbnb competitor. VRBO offers different property listings than HomeAway but is similar in operation.
VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. This is a sister company of HomeAway. VRBO has a lower number of listings and caters to a different set of travelers. The listings on VRBO are usually more suited to travelers that want to stay for a longer period of time. Even though it has fewer listings than its parent company, VRBO has been very consistent. It has been bringing in impressive numbers the past few years. VRBO has over 2 million listings, most of which are huge vacation homes. These usually do not have hosts and are suitable for long term vacationers.
This “vacation rental marketplace” as it is fond of calling itself has over 300,000 properties listed. Flipkey was acquired by TripAdvisor in 2008 which means it enjoys a seasoned parent company. That is why it has grown so much in popularity over the years.
On the platform, each property profile is detailed and has all the information you might need. This ranges from the number of beds, bathrooms, photos of the space, and other facilities available. Flipkey also offers something extra that is bound to keep homeowners interested. When you put your property on FlipKey, it also gets distributed to other vacation rental sites including TripAdvisor. This means that a lot more people get to see your listing and at no extra charge!
Booking.com has established itself as the defacto platform for booking flights and hotels and getting good deals on them. It definitely comes as a surprise to hear that you can rent apartments on the platform too. Yet, that is exactly true. This is a perfect option for those that do not want too much interaction with the hosts. People who want the options and freedom that come with renting an apartment but also want to enjoy the privacy that comes with booking a hotel room.
When you are searching for apartments on this platform, their filtering process is one of the best in the business. You can find exactly what you are looking for, down to the smallest detail. It also helps that you can book your flights, taxi service, and restaurant all on the same platform!
This is another functional platform that is similar to Airbnb. If you are planning a getaway in Europe, Wimdu is your plug. Wimdu’s over 350,000 properties gives you an array of choices. These make the search for that perfect home that much easier. Wimdu is touted as the biggest site for holiday apartment rentals in Europe. It is also a good platform to check out if what you are looking for is a short rental.
Tripping.com is like a buffet of your best meals, only it’s not just food, it’s vacation rental apartments. It boasts over 12,000,000 properties available in over 190 countries. That is not something to huff at. An interesting thing about this site is that it has partnered with several other vacation rental sites.
Users can view and compare listings across all the sites. This has positioned Tripping.com as your one-stop-shop for all things vacation rental. It was also the first vacation rental site to start on-site booking in 2015. Tripping.com offers a wide range of vacation rental apartments. From luxury condos to beach rentals, to cozy ski cabins. You can find it all and compare prices too!
Okay, this is not your typical Airbnb competitor. It offers a service that is important enough to the hospitality industry to make it on this list. Outdoorsy is the world leader in peer to peer rentals of any kind of motor home you can think of. These include RVs, Campervans, VW vans, motorhomes and so on.
Outdoorsy is exactly like Airbnb, only that their main focus is houses on wheels. If you are one of those that prefer the sunny outdoors to slick apartments with infinity pools, this is for you. Outdoorsy is especially important for the traveler that wants to visit parks. It also makes it easier to experience the great outdoors. There are usually no vacation rental homes available in these places.
Outdoorsy boasts about 15,000 plus owners on their platform and over 240,000 trips taken. The platform is a great way to connect two sets of people. The first is RV owners, who most likely do not use their vehicles for most of the year. The second is outdoor travelers who want to experience traveling in a mobile home but do not own one. Really brilliant!
Turnkey is another outlier platform that is doing things a little different from other platforms. On TurnKey, vacationers do not deal directly with homeowners. Unlike Airbnb, they deal with Turnkey who serves as a kind of middleman. Turnkey takes care of all the minute details involved with vacation rentals. That way it is not stressful for homeowners as they don’t have to deal with it. Things like cleaning, security, repairs, housekeeping, scheduling and others are handled by Turnkey.
Homeowners get to go on living their best lives while the local team of TurnKey staff handles everything. The advantage of this is that the guest gets a consistent and professional level of service. At the same time they get the homey feel of vacation rental homes, all in the same package.
Another unique part of the TurnKey business model is that they have managed to do away with the not so popular key exchanges. A traveler staying at one of TurnKey’s rental apartments is given a door code, not a key. This gives the traveler more flexibility as they can leave anytime they want. They do not have to bother about dropping keys. Turnkey also has an app that provides guests with valuable local information. This includes best restaurants to eat at, local entertainment and so on.
TurnKey managed up to 3,700 homes in the United States as of 2017. They are only present in the United States at the moment but have plans to expand. They are a great Airbnb alternative travelers should check out.
HomeStay is a direct Airbnb and Couchsurfing competitor. Their services are focused on hosted vacation rentals. This means the traveler is always staying with a host.
This model doesn’t work for everyone. Some people may be uncomfortable staying with a stranger during their vacations. But the flip side is you could have a richer experience staying with a local than you would staying alone. Your host can give you a breakdown of the local life and where to go to enjoy your trip to the fullest. It could actually be a rewarding experience for both the host and the guest.
Couchsurfing is another Airbnb alternative. Couchsurfing is a service that connects members to a network of travelers all over the world. Couchsurfing is a community of 14,000,000 people all over the world who are residents in more than 200,000 cities. They share their life, experiences, and their homes.
Couchsurfing usually organizes weekly events where Couchsurfers meet and engage. The service is a cheaper alternative to Airbnb. Couchsurfing travelers do not pay the homeowners for staying. This holds more appeal to young folks who want to explore and meet new people.
Since you are not paying your host when Couchsurfing, it is good manners to be a fun guest. Interact with your host and tell stories, have meaningful interactions. It can also be a little scary, planning to stay with someone that you have not met before in a city you have never been to. This is why it is important to follow safety procedures when Couchsurfing. Of course the platform itself is mindful of safety and screens hosts and guests. But there are still a few things you can do as a Couchsurfer to ensure your safety:
- Choose your hosts carefully.
- Check their reviews, the experiences of other travelers that have stayed there.
On a whole, it is a cheap and fun way to travel around the world.
The vacation rental industry has enjoyed fast and meaningful growth in the past few years. For an industry that became popular in recent times, the rapid growth is quite impressive. Thousands of people are traveling daily all across the world and they all need places to stay. Hotels are still a viable option for most people. But, some also prefer a more relaxed and homey experience. This is where Airbnb and other similar platforms in the industry shine. They provide great vacation homes at a fraction of the cost of hotels. Vacation rental services also provide some extra value for travelers. These include information on local events, restaurants and so on.
Even though Airbnb was the first kid on the block, the competitors that have sprung up have given the San Francisco based company a run for their money. A lot of them also offer services that Airbnb does not offer. Companies like Outdoorsy has mobile home rentals and TurnKey provides entry codes. At this point, it seems like whatever you fancy, there is a vacation rental service out there that has your back. This is an industry that has the potential to eclipse the entire hospitality market if given enough time. Because after all is said and done, there will always be travelers and they will always need places to stay.