We have compiled a list of the ten most popular vacation rental websites according to Alexa traffic, reader response, and expert industry analysis. While the vacation rental industry varies tremendously between simple listing sites to more robust vacation rental reservation services, this list is meant to provide a quick look into this rapidly growing industry and to provide readers a basis for future research into this industry. Please note that this list is not in any particular order and is meant merely as a guide.
1) Vacation Rentals By Owner
Perhaps one of the best know originators of the online vacation rental listing industry, Vacation Rentals By Owner has a huge database of private owner rental listings. Now owed by the behemoth mega-company, HomeAway.com, this is one of their many property rental brand websites. While best-known and extremely popular, the website is not without its faults. Constant criticism over listing security and property legitimacy are the primary complaints against this industry leader.
Another one of HomeAway’s popular off-spring, VacationRentals.com usually places first on most major search engines for the Holy Grail of keyword terms, “vacation rentals”. Basically the same premise as Vacation Rentals By Owner, this website is a robust advertising site for individual property owners and property managers.
Why stop now? Yes you are right, yet another HomeAway spin-off. Again the same premise as both CyberRentals and Vacation Rentals By Owner, CyberRentals provides yet another avenue for rental owners to list their property and to manage inventory. A clean website which follows the same patterns and guidelines as their predecessors.
We couldn’t mention a few of the most popular vacation rental websites without mentioning the parent company that owns them now can we? Based upon their information listed in Crunch Base, “The HomeAway portfolio of sites includes HomeAway.com, Vacation Rentals By Owner and VacationRentals.com in the United States; HomeAway.co.uk and OwnersDirect.co.uk in the United Kingdom; HomeAway.de in Germany; Abritel.fr and Homelidays.com in France; HomeAway.es in Spain; and AlugueTemporada.com.br in Brazil. The company’s portfolio also includes HomeAwayRealEstate.com, which offers unique real estate information that highlights a vacation home’s rental income potential and destination-specific characteristics. In addition, HomeAway operates BedandBreakfast.com, a global site dedicated to finding bed-and-breakfast properties, which provides travelers with another source for unique lodging alternatives to chain hotels.” Whatever is to be said about the future of the vacation industry it’s a safe bet that HomeAway will be at the center of it.
AlwaysOnVacation is a listing service that offers click-through payments for rentals. They offer owners an advertising guarantee stating that “if you do not receive a 10 times return on your investment during the first 12 months of your initial subscription, we will extend your subscription an additional 6 months free of charge!” Although yet another listing site amongst thousands of listings sites, AlwaysOnVacation does have a rather large database of property listings.
Zonder is an interesting twist on the vacation rental industry. Currently a partner with Orbitz, the long-serving hotel and flight reservation website, Zonder appears to be a solid option for vacation renters. Visitors are able to book online as well as contact owners who don’t offer online booking. It will be interesting to see how long the two-tiered business approach will work, as many argue that it will only cause confusion as the industry gains popularity, but for now Zonder’s future is looking strong.
7) Vacation-Renter, Inc.
We call this one the little engine that could. Extremely out-gunned on almost all levels, Vacation-Renter, Inc. has opted for a guerrilla-style approach when trying to attack the vacation rental market. They do this by offering market-specific websites aimed at achieving high Google rankings and international markets. While they don’t have nearly the inventory or operating capital behind them as the others do, they do offer online booking and live telephone reservation support with their market-specific websites and appear to have been growing steadily over the past 5 years. They also offer the only industry index available to vacation rental industry insiders. Here’s rooting for the little guy!
Rentalo.com is a popular listing site based upon the pay-per-advertisement listing system. Just like the HomeAway family of websites, Rentalo is a simple advertising website. They have a good reputation and currently offer listings throughout the world.
One of the more recent vacation rental websites that have hit the web, FlipKey offers a great user interface and the power of being part of the Trip Advisor marketing machine. Probably one the cleanest and most visually appealing advertising sites, FlipKey has hit the ground running and appears to be gaining some serious leverage on the industry.
One of a few of the larger websites that is not currently owed by HomeAway, VacationRentals411 is another advertising site that offers vacation rentals world-wide. Not quite as visually appealing as some of the other sites mentioned it still offers decent owner online support and an extensive inventory. This website is a good place to search for quality vacation listings.
Although this list cannot do the entire vacation rental industry complete justice, it does provide an interesting mix of size and type of company currently active in today’s market. While it does appear that certain companies clearly hold an advantage when it comes to investment dollars and sheer size, there are a few quality sites that offer a different approach to marketing short-term rentals. Wherever you decide to travel, try doing some initial research on some of these websites and see for yourself.