5 min read

airbnb alternatives

Written By

Clay Shiffman

Planning your next dream vacation involves finding the perfect place to stay, a sanctuary where you can relax and immerse yourself in the local culture. While Airbnb has long been a go-to option for unique and personalized vacation rentals, it's not the only player in the game. Numerous Airbnb alternatives offer diverse properties, each with unique features and benefits.

In this post, we explore some of the top Airbnb alternatives that can help you find the ideal vacation rental, whether you're looking for a cozy cabin in the mountains, a chic apartment in the city, or a luxurious beachfront villa. From options for budget travellers to high-end stays, these Airbnb alternatives cater to every type of traveller. Get ready to discover new and exciting ways to make your next vacation unforgettable!

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is an online vacation rental platform that connects people who want to rent out their homes with those looking for accommodations for long-term or short-term vacation rentals and long-term rentals. Founded in 2008, it has revolutionized how people travel and find lodging.

Origin

Airbnb, short for "Air Bed and Breakfast," was started by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. The idea originated when the founders rented out air mattresses in their apartments to conference attendees who couldn't find hotel rooms.

Platform and service

Airbnb operates through a website and mobile app where hosts can list their properties and travellers can search for and book accommodations. The platform offers a wide range of properties, including apartment rentals, entire houses, villas, treehouses, houseboats, and even unique spaces like castles and yurts.

How does Airbnb work?

Airbnb host

Hosts can create a listing for their property by providing details such as location, price, availability, and amenities. They can also upload photos and write descriptions to attract potential guests. Hosts have control over the house rules, pricing, and booking requirements. They can choose to offer flexible or strict cancellation policies.

Airbnb facilitates communication between hosts and guests and handles payment transactions. Hosts are paid through the platform, which deducts a service fee.

Guests renting from Airbnb

Guests can search for rentals based on various filters like location, dates, price range, property type, and amenities. Once they find a suitable property, guests can book directly through the platform. Some listings allow instant booking, while others may require approval from the host.

After the stay, guests and hosts can leave reviews and ratings, which help maintain the quality and trustworthiness of the service.

Benefits of Airbnb

Airbnb offers unique accommodations that are often different from traditional hotels, providing a more personalized and immersive experience. Guests can stay in a residential area and better understand the local culture and lifestyle.

With options ranging from entire homes to private rooms, Airbnb allows flexibility for budget and group size. The review and rating system helps build a community of trust where hosts and guests are accountable for their behaviour and the quality of their offerings.

Challenges and considerations

The quality of Airbnb listings can vary, and sometimes, the actual conditions of a property may not match the description or photos. Some cities have strict regulations regarding short-term rentals, which can affect availability and legality. Hosts and guests are charged service fees, which can add to the overall cost of the stay.

Understanding the vacation rental market

The vacation rental market in Canada has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing popularity of platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and other alternatives. This market offers diverse opportunities for travellers seeking unique accommodations, from urban apartments to rustic cabins.

Key features of the Canadian vacation rental market

Major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are popular for their vibrant culture, cuisine, and attractions. Vacation rentals in these areas often include modern apartments and historic homes. The market sees seasonal fluctuations, with peak demand in summer for coastal and lakeside properties and winter for ski resorts and mountain cabins.

Regulatory environment

Regulations vary across provinces and municipalities. Some cities have implemented strict rules on short-term rentals to address housing shortages and maintain neighbourhood integrity. Hosts may need licenses, adhere to zoning laws, and pay taxes. Compliance with local laws is essential for hosts operating vacation properties.

Trends in the Canadian vacation rental market

Platforms like Vrbo, Booking.com, and CanadaStays offer additional options for travellers and hosts, contributing to a competitive market. Travel restrictions during the pandemic led to an increase in domestic travel, boosting demand for local vacation rentals. Enhanced cleaning protocols and flexible cancellation policies became critical factors for guests when choosing rentals.

There is a growing demand for eco-friendly accommodations, including properties that use sustainable practices and renewable energy sources.

Benefits and challenges

Vacation properties often provide a more personalized and home-like experience than traditional hotels. For families and groups, vacation rentals can be more economical, offering larger spaces and amenities like kitchens. Staying in residential neighbourhoods helps travellers immerse themselves in the local community and culture.

The quality of vacation rentals can vary, leading to potential discrepancies between listings and actual conditions. Navigating local regulations can be complex for hosts, requiring attention to licensing, taxes, and zoning laws. In popular tourist destinations, the market can become saturated, making it challenging for new hosts to stand out.

Future outlook

The Canadian vacation rental industry is poised for continued growth, driven by evolving travel preferences and the rise of remote work. Key areas of focus for future development include:

  • Technological advancements: Improved booking platforms, virtual tours, and smart home technologies will enhance the guest experience.

  • Sustainable practices: Greater emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly accommodations will appeal to environmentally conscious travellers.

  • Regulatory evolution: Ongoing regulation changes will shape the market, requiring hosts to stay informed and adaptable.

Popular Airbnb alternatives

Vrbo

When exploring alternatives to Airbnb, Vrbo stands out as a great Airbnb alternative for its extensive range of whole-home rentals, appealing primarily to families and larger groups. Established in 1995, Vrbo offers diverse properties, including beachfront villas, ski chalets, and luxury estates.

It caters to travellers seeking spacious accommodations with family-friendly amenities such as kitchens and multiple bedrooms. Vrbo also allows hosts to set their own cancellation policies and house rules, providing flexibility for guests and property owners.

Booking.com

Originally focused on hotel bookings, Booking.com has expanded into vacation rentals, offering a broad spectrum of accommodations globally since its establishment in 1996. It provides a user-friendly platform with comprehensive search filters that enable travellers to find properties based on specific needs such as pet-friendliness or on-site parking.

Booking.com's global reach, covering over 220 countries and territories, ensures a wide range of options from hotels and hostels to apartments and vacation homes, making it a versatile choice for travellers.

HomeAway

Now part of the Vrbo family since its inception in 2005, it specializes in whole-home rentals ideal for family vacations and group travel. With a focus on homes, villas, cabins, and apartments, HomeAway offers detailed property descriptions, high-quality photos, and direct communication with property owners.

This platform aims to provide a personalized booking experience, allowing travellers to engage directly with hosts to ensure their expectations are met.

TripAdvisor Rentals

TripAdvisor Rentals integrates vacation rentals with its extensive travel review network, offering a diverse range of properties globally. Established as part of TripAdvisor, this platform provides access to millions of traveller reviews and photos, ensuring transparency and trustworthiness.

TripAdvisor Rentals caters to various preferences, from apartments and homes to cottages and unique stays, with secure booking processes and payment protection for added peace of mind.

Plum Guide

Plum Guidedistinguishes itself as an Airbnb alternative by curating high-end vacation rentals for luxury travellers seeking stylish and unique accommodations. Established in 2016, Plum Guide employs a rigorous vetting process to ensure properties meet stringent quality standards.

It features meticulously selected homes in major cities and popular destinations, offering personalized services and local recommendations through its concierge service.

CanadaStays

Founded in 2008, CanadaStays is one of the Airbnb competitors that specializes in vacation rentals within Canada, offering a deep understanding of local markets and destinations. This platform provides various properties, including cottages, cabins, chalets, and condos, catering to different vacations, from rural retreats to urban escapes.

CanadaStays facilitates direct booking and communication with property owners, allowing travellers to explore Canadian destinations with ease and confidence.

Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe, established in 2013, is an Airbnb alternative focused on family-friendly vacation rentals tailored specifically for families travelling with children. Kid & Coe curates properties with child-friendly amenities such as cribs, high chairs, toys, and safety equipment, ensuring a comfortable and stress-free experience for families.

This platform also provides travel guides tailored to family-friendly activities and destinations, enhancing the overall vacation planning process.

HouseTrip

HouseTrip is part of the TripAdvisor family. It was established in 2010 and offers a broad spectrum of vacation rentals globally. With a comprehensive selection of apartments, homes, villas, and unique accommodations, HouseTrip provides user-generated reviews and ratings to help travellers make informed decisions. It prioritizes secure booking processes, ensuring safe transactions for guests and hosts.

Aside from these options, you can also research more Airbnb alternatives to understand your vacation rental options and compare prices and services to get the best deal.

Pros of alternatives to Airbnb

Vrbo

Vrbo specializes in whole-home rentals, making it perfect for families and larger groups seeking spacious accommodations with amenities like kitchens and multiple bedrooms. Hosts can set their own cancellation policies and house rules, catering to diverse traveller preferences.

The platform offers a wide range of properties, including beachfront villas, ski chalets, and luxury estates, ensuring there's something for every vacation experience.

Booking.com

With a global reach spanning over 220 countries and territories, Booking.com provides a vast selection of accommodations ranging from hotels and hostels to apartments and vacation homes. Advanced search filters allow travelers to refine their search based on specific needs such as pet-friendliness and on-site parking.

Many properties on Booking.com can be booked instantly, streamlining the booking process and providing convenience for travellers.

HomeAway

HomeAway specializes in whole-home rentals suitable for family vacations and group travel. The platform offers detailed property descriptions, high-quality photos, and direct communication with hosts, ensuring a personalized booking experience.

Travelers can choose from various properties, including homes, villas, cabins, and apartments, catering to different preferences and ensuring a comfortable stay.

TripAdvisor Rentals

Integrated with TripAdvisor's extensive travel review network, TripAdvisor Rentals offers access to millions of traveller reviews and photos, providing transparency and reliability. The platform features a diverse selection of properties globally, from apartments and homes to cottages and unique stays.

It prioritizes secure booking processes with payment protection, ensuring peace of mind for guests during transactions.

Plum Guide

Plum Guide curates high-end vacation rentals with a rigorous vetting process to ensure properties meet stringent quality standards. It specializes in stylish and unique accommodations in major cities and popular destinations, offering personalized services and local recommendations through its concierge service.

Plum Guide appeals to luxury travellers seeking exclusive stays and memorable vacation experiences.

Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe focuses on family-friendly vacation rentals tailored specifically for families travelling with children. The platform curates properties with child-friendly amenities such as cribs, high chairs, toys, and safety equipment, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay for families.

Kid & Coe also provides family-friendly travel guides with recommendations for activities and attractions suitable for children, enhancing the vacation planning process.

HouseTrip

Part of the TripAdvisor vacation rentals family, HouseTrip offers a comprehensive selection of vacation rentals globally, including apartments, homes, villas, and unique accommodations. Travelers benefit from user-generated reviews and ratings to make informed decisions about their accommodations.

The platform prioritizes secure transactions, ensuring safe booking processes and protection for both guests and hosts.

Cons to Airbnb alternatives

Vrbo

Vrbo may offer less interaction with hosts compared to platforms like Airbnb, which some travellers prefer for a more personalized experience. This focus on entire properties means guests might miss out on the local insights and hospitality that come with staying in shared spaces or hosted accommodations.

Booking.com

Despite its extensive global reach and diverse accommodation options, Booking.com's focus on various lodging types, from hotels to vacation homes, can lead to varied quality control. Travellers might encounter discrepancies in property standards and amenities, so doing thorough research and reading reviews is essential to ensure expectations are met.

HomeAway

Although HomeAway provides detailed property descriptions and direct communication with hosts, guests may encounter complex pricing structures. Additional fees set by hosts, such as cleaning fees or extra charges for amenities, might not be immediately transparent, potentially leading to unexpected costs during the booking process.

TripAdvisor Rentals

Similar to Airbnb, TripAdvisor Rentals charges service fees on bookings, which can increase the overall cost for guests. While the platform offers a wide selection of properties globally and integrates with TripAdvisor's review system for transparency, these fees add to the total expense and should be considered when comparing options.

Plum Guide

Despite its curated selection of high-end properties and personalized service through a rigorous vetting process, Plum Guide may have limited availability in certain destinations.

Its focus on luxury accommodations means travellers might have fewer choices than more mainstream platforms, particularly in less popular or remote locations.

CanadaStays

Specializing in vacation rentals within Canada, CanadaStays offers a deep understanding of local markets and destinations. However, its regional focus may limit international options compared to platforms with a broader global presence, restricting choices for travellers seeking properties outside of Canada.

Kid & Coe

Catering specifically to families with children, Kid & Coe offers properties with child-friendly amenities. While ideal for family vacations, this niche market might result in fewer options available in certain destinations, especially for travellers without children who may prefer more varied accommodation choices.

HouseTrip

As part of the TripAdvisor family, HouseTrip provides a comprehensive selection of vacation rentals globally. However, integration with other services and platforms within the TripAdvisor network can sometimes lead to technical challenges or inconsistencies in booking processes, affecting the user experience.

How to start a vacation rental property business

Research and planning

Conduct thorough research on your target market, including popular destinations, traveller demographics, and competition. Identify niche markets or unique selling points that can set your vacation rental apart.

Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your goals, target audience, marketing strategy, financial projections, and operational plan. This will serve as a roadmap for your business and guide decision-making.

Legal and regulatory considerations

Research and comply with local laws and regulations governing vacation rentals in your area. It may include zoning laws, permits, occupancy taxes, safety regulations, and licensing requirements. Obtain appropriate insurance coverage for your property, including liability insurance and coverage for damage or loss caused by guests.

Property acquisition and preparation

Choose a property that aligns with your target market and business goals. Consider factors such as location, property type, amenities, and potential for profitability.

Prepare the property for guests by ensuring it meets safety standards and is furnished with comfortable amenities. Consider the décor and ambiance that will appeal to your target audience.

Setting up your vacation rental

Take high-quality photos of the property and create a compelling listing on vacation rental platforms, other sites, or your website. Highlight unique features, amenities, and nearby attractions to attract potential guests.

Determine competitive pricing based on market research, seasonality, local events, and demand. Consider offering flexible rates and discounts to attract bookings.

Marketing and promotion

Establish a strong online presence through a dedicated website, social media profiles, and listings on popular vacation rental platforms or other major sites. Optimize your listings for search engines (SEO) to improve visibility. Consider investing in online advertising campaigns to reach a wider audience.

Guest experience and management

Develop clear communication channels with guests, including check-in instructions, house rules, and emergency contacts. Provide timely responses to inquiries and feedback.

Implement a system for cleaning, maintenance, and regular inspections to ensure the property remains in optimal condition for guests.

Guest satisfaction and safety

Implement safety features such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits. Ensure compliance with health and safety standards to protect guests and maintain positive reviews.

Enhance the guest experience through thoughtful amenities, personalized recommendations for local attractions, and exceptional customer service. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals can boost your business.

Do you need a credit score to get a vacation rental?

Whether you need a credit score to book a vacation rental can vary depending on the platform or property owner's policies. Major vacation rental platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com typically do not require guests to undergo a credit check or provide a credit score. Instead, they rely on payment methods and verification processes such as email verification, phone number verification, and sometimes identity verification through official documents like passports or IDs.

Most vacation rental platforms allow guests to pay using credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, or other secure payment methods. The payment method itself may be subject to verification to ensure security and prevent fraud.

Some vacation rentals may require guests to pay a security deposit upfront. This deposit is typically refundable after check-out, pending inspection of the property for damages or rule violations. The amount and method of collecting the security deposit vary by property and platform.

Do you need a credit score to be a vacation property host?

As a vacation property host, whether you need a credit score can depend on several factors, including how you manage your property and your relationship with booking platforms or property management companies. If you're already the property owner of the vacation rental or are renting a private room in your home, you likely don't need to worry about your credit score since major vacation rental property platforms don't require hosts to have specific credit scores.

However, if you don't have a vacation rental space yet, you likely need a credit score to help finance and secure a vacation rental property. A higher credit score can give you better interest rates and terms for your loan. Property owners have options for financing, such as a personal loan vs. a line of credit or a mortgage vs. a home equity loan.

You may not be able to get a personal loan with bad credit, as lenders see you as a risky borrower. Understanding your options helps you make an informed choice about purchasing an investment property.

You can build credit with a personal loan by using it responsibly and making timely repayments. Paying off your loan has a credit impact as it shows responsible borrowing behaviour and can increase your score. You can also improve your credit by paying credit card debt, eliminating credit card debt, debt consolidation, or credit repair.

Conlusion

Looking to explore alternatives to Airbnb? If you're considering vacation rental options and need financial support, KOHO is here to assist you every step of the way.

We offer a range of tools and resources designed to help you navigate the vacation rental market effectively. Whether you're managing a property or planning your next getaway, KOHO provides virtual credit card solutions and overdraft protection coverage. These tools are invaluable for responsible spending and timely repayment, essential for maintaining financial health while exploring alternative accommodations.

Monitor and build your credit with KOHO's free credit score report, providing insights into factors impacting your score. Understanding these dynamics empowers you to make informed decisions as you explore different vacation rental platforms. Plus, KOHO offers a high-interest savings account, helping you save and earn interest at competitive rates for your next vacation rental or property investment.

KOHO is committed to supporting your financial journey, whether you're hosting guests or seeking unique vacation experiences. KOHO also offers KOHO for businesses for rental companies to manage their vacation rental business. Explore KOHO's various plans for saving and spending to empower your financial strategy and discover smarter ways to manage your vacation rental ventures today.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!