There are several websites you should consider using depending on where your home is and who you are trying to attract.
HOMEAWAY AND VRBO IS FOR TRADITIONAL RESORT EXPERIENCES
If your home is in a ”destination location” like by the beach, in the mountains, or in a desert location, you should consider using Homeaway and VRBO. Travelers searching for vacation rentals in a resort destination often go straight to HomeAway and VRBO. Travelers who are searching for the traditional resort experience are often traveling in a group of family members, friends, or even business partners and usually for several days, or even weeks. So be sure to consider their home needs as they will vary from group to group.
AIRBNB IS IDEAL FOR URBAN DESTINATIONS AND WEEKEND BOOKINGS
Airbnb is the go-to site for millennial’s and young travelers looking for properties in urban destinations. If you have a vacation rental in a city or trendy location, you should strongly consider using Airbnb. Airbnb travelers tend to be more interested in weekend bookings & shorter stays, so be prepared to have a higher turn over rate each month.
TRIPADVISOR AND BOOKING.COM ARE BEST FOR THE WIDEST RANGE OF TRAVELERS AND LAST MINUTE BOOKINGS
Booking.com and TripAdvisor are large international platforms that cover more diverse options for travel accommodations beyond vacation rentals, including hotel options, B&Bs, and more (so you will have a strong competition!). These travelers are often traveling internationally, and the group size can vary, but are usually small groups of 2-5. Think of this group of travelers as more nomadic than Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway, so their needs will be a little different and more basic in nature. If a traveler is specifically looking for a vacation rental, these platforms may not be the first place they look, so you may want to use other websites in addition to this option if you are looking for a full booking schedule. Also, be aware that this site has the highest cancellation rates in comparison to other websites, so be prepared.
COLLEGEWEEKENDS.COM IS NEW, BUT OBVIOUSLY FOR THE YOUNG TRAVELER
The travelers who are searching CollegeWeekends.com are usually going to be college students, and often value price and location over comfort. You can think of this website as more like a “hostel” experience. This is the perfect place to list that spare room in your house, especially if you are walking distance to a college campus. The website also caters to family members who want to visit college students, without having to go through the hassle of commuting to and/or from the nearest hotel after a long day touring a campus or watching the late local college football game. If you are going to list your home on this website, be prepared to be booked when school is in session (during the spring and fall), but you may experience some lack of bookings through this website during the winter and summer months as it’s likely that fewer people will be using the site.
These are the websites that are currently dominating the industry, but it is always changing and there are new sites popping up often, so check back in for more updates, and share your finds in the comments below!