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If you’ve ended up here, you are probably looking to learn how to advertise your vacation rental property in the best way possible so you can maximize your profit. Short answer: online! There’s no better way to reach people from all over the world than through the mighty infinite powers of the Internet. Plus, it’s efficient and you can see the results in minutes!
But, choosing which holiday rental website is the best for you – especially these days, when the web abounds in websites that promise you this and that – is no easy task. No worries, I did all the research, so you don’t have to.
Below you’ll find the best vacation rental listing sites out there, as well as lots of useful information on how to advertise your property like a pro.
What you need before listing your vacation home online
- A set of high-resolution images & a video tour of the property. By far, this will be the most important step. Hire a professional to take the photos, don’t make compromises, as this is a key element and can make a huge difference between you and your competitors.
- Description of the property to use it in the listing. Optimize the title and description of your property, make sure they’re catchy, but also relevant and informative. Again, if writing is not your forte, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to do it for you. You can find plenty of freelance writers on Fiverr.
- A website for your property. This is not mandatory, but preferable. You can start without one, but my recommendation is to create one along the way. More details on this further down this article.
- Your rates and calendar availability. Make sure your calendar is updated in real time, and always set your rent price considering factors like season, location, and facilities.
Now that you’re ready to go, have a look at the best vacation rental websites, classified into three main categories – free, paid (subscription-based), and pay-per-booking (commission-based):
Instead of requiring an upfront fee for an annual subscription, the pay-per-booking model allows you to pay only for the bookings you receive. Studies showcase that this flexible plan works best for those who don’t rent their property that often (less than 6 weeks a year). The commission varies from one website to another (3% on Airbnb to over 8% on HomeAway), and so do their services.
These are the best commission-based websites for holiday lettings:
Airbnb operates exclusively on a pay-per-booking model, and, with a 3% commission fee, it has some of the lowest tariffs out there. Nevertheless, this rental marketplace is mainly popular with short stays, so if you only accept week/month-long reservations, you might want to look elsewhere.
For a symbolic activation fee of either £1, €1, or $1, owners can create unlimited property adverts on Clickstay. This UK based holiday rental company gives you exposure to over 4 million people a year, and comes with a sister website (Rentalsystems) to help you manage your bookings through other platforms such as Facebook or your own website. Commissions range from 10% for bookings made via the Clickstay website to 2% for on-request bookings via an owner’s website powered by Rentalsystems.
This is Europe’s biggest platform for city apartments, with more than 350,000 properties in popular destinations throughout the world. Nevertheless, the site is not limited to urban flats, accepting everything from affordable beach cottages to luxury countryside villas. Listing your property on Wimdu is free, as the processing fee, which is automatically added to the price you have set, is paid by the guests.
TripAdvisor Holiday Rental Network
When advertising your property on TripAdvisor, this will automatically appear on its full network of vacation rental sites, including FlipKey, HolidayLettings, HouseTrip, and Niumba. This not only saves you tons of time, money, and energy, but also gives you exposure to over 455 million holidaymakers that visit the world’s largest travel website monthly. And the best part, publishing your listing is free. They only charge a low 3% booking fee per confirmed booking, deducted from your guests’ payment.
Listing your vacation rental on the world’s No.1 accommodation site comes with unparalleled benefits, including zero subscription costs, instant booking confirmation, and access to a huge global audience of around 480 million. Owners pay commission (somewhere between 15-18%) on a pay-per-booking basis.
Annual subscription (paid listings)
The advantage of this type of vacation rental websites is that you don’t have to pay any commissions or extra fees. An annual subscription involves one set price for unlimited inquiries and bookings for a whole year. Some of the most famous listing sites out there offer both monthly/annual subscription plans as well as a pay-per-booking option, allowing rental owners to choose what’s best for them.
The HomeAway Family
Owned by Expedia, Home Away is the world’s largest and most reputed vacation rental marketplace – a network of 50 international sites attracting a total of 75 million visits per month. VRBO, HomeAway.co.uk, Owners Direct, Homelidays, Abritel, VacationRentals.com, Stayz, Alugue Temporada, FeWo-direkt, Toprural, or Travelmob are all members of HomeAway’s family.
Their $499 USD annual subscription might seem pricey, but includes unlimited bookings for a year, fantastic exposure on their top 25 sites across the world, as well as access to a set of tools that make self-managing your property a breeze. Alternatively, homeowners can also opt for a pay-per-booking listing, which requires no upfront fee, just a commission starting at 8% per booking.
Perfect Places’ main advantage is its flexibility. Depending on their budget and marketing needs, hosts can choose between monthly, yearly, or two-year subscription options – all of which come with a professionally designed property listing page, plus a link to your personal website and translation into 6 languages. Also, your holiday home can benefit of great exposure through the Perfect Places Vacation Rental Network, which includes listing sites like forGetaway, CoastRentals, LakeRentals, MountainSkiRentals, as well as distribution to partner platforms like Tripping, AOL, or Vacaguru.
Another perk is their free trial, which means your first 5 email inquiries will be free and you can list on up to 3 of their sites.
For £40 a year, you can advertise your vacation home on TheHolidayLet and get the second year free. There are no commissions or other service fees involved. Among others, a full page advert allows you to link to your website, upload up to 28 images, and display seasonal prices for your holiday home. All inquiries will be sent to your email address so you can reply directly. For extra exposure, you can also feature your advert on the homepage for a fee of £15 a month.
With a $399 yearly subscription on Tripz.com you have total control over the booking process. Unlike other sites, this up-and-coming advertising platform encourages open communication between travelers and owners, and doesn’t charge any other unnecessary fees. They have over 60,000 properties throughout the world, focusing mainly on the US.
Based in Germany, Tourist-Paradise has been connecting rental owners with holidaymakers for more than 14 years. In order to advertise your vacation home here, you will be required to pay a low annual fee of 99 € plus VAT. This not only gives you access to the site’s 800,000 monthly visitors, but also to other international portals such as resido.fr, resido.es, resido.it, vakantiehuisnu.nl, or domy-letniskowe.com. The company specializes in affordable holiday homes & apartments in Europe.
Free listing sites
Free listing sites charge no fee or commission. They might not offer you the same exposure and professional tools as subscription or commission based websites, but are especially useful if you don’t have a budget and want to start slow. Also, even if you’ve already listed your vacation rental on one or more popular vacation rental platforms, it never hurts to diversify your audience with a couple of adverts on some free listing sites.
Here are some suggestions for online marketplaces where you can advertise your holiday property for free:
Founded in 2013, TravelStaytion describes itself as “an online platform for professionally managed holiday and short term-let rentals”. Listing one or more properties is completely free and comes with all the tools you need to increase your vacation rental occupancy and revenue. Expect 24/7 customer care support, a secure payment system, and exposure to over 25,000 travelers from around the world.
Another great site to promote your holiday home to millions of international vacationers for free is Domegos. Your listing will be automatically translated in 5 different languages and distributed across Domegos country network, which includes 10 sites in the USA, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, and South Africa. They can also create a mobile-friendly website for your vacation rental for a fee.
Euro Direct Rentals
Specializing in European holiday properties, Euro Direct Rentals offers landlords and property managers a chance to showcase their abodes to potential new tenants at no cost at all. With their free 10-year membership, hosts can manage up to 5 property listings from one control panel. Bookings are made directly with the owners.
Established in 2003, Welcome Worldwide is a great platform to advertise privately owned holiday homes for free. Once you create the advert, handling bookings is incredibly easy as all inquiries about your property will be sent directly to you via e-mail or free SMS text message. Their portfolio includes a broad variety of holiday rental properties, from exotic bungalows and country cottages to luxury beach villas and stylish city apartments.
True to its name, Free Rentals lets vacation rental homeowners expose and promote their properties to a worldwide base of customers without charge. Based in Phuket, Thailand, this short-term rental property listing hub boasts thousands of accommodations located in over 120 countries around the globe. And the best part – it enables free, direct communication between proprietors and holidaymakers, which is pretty rare in this industry.
Your own website
There are countless advantages of having your own website for the property you own/manage. This will not only help you look professional and establish trust & credibility with the audience you’re targeting, but it will also boost the number of bookings, thus increasing your profit.
Additionally, you can use Google Analytics to track useful details about your site’s visitors. For example, you can see from which countries are the most visitors, what brings them to your site, or what interests them the most, and then use this in your future marketing strategies.
These days it’s pretty easy to create a website on your own, even a professional one. Here are my step-by-step suggestions on how to set up a professional WordPress website:
- Choose your domain via GoDaddy
- Buy hosting from WP Engine (best WordPress hosting)
- Install WordPress
- Choose an attractive theme from Envato – Uncode is a great option
- Customize the look of the site and add relevant pages such as About, Location, Photo & Video Gallery, Rates & Calendar, Reviews, and Contact
The example above is what I use on this website: WordPress + WpEngine + Uncode
If you’re looking for something simpler, then try Weebly. This platform is super easy to use and provides all the tools you need to create a good-looking, high-quality, mobile-optimized website in under an hour. Although they have a Free option too, I would suggest going for the Starter plan (8 USD/month), which allows you to have your own (free) domain + 100 USD in Google Ads, so you can promote your website (not bad, I would say!).
A Facebook page doesn’t hurt either, but if you’re serious about renting out your property, then you need a website.
Some other honorable mentions where to list your property (free/paid/commission-based):
GoHolidayLets / TUI Villas / Kid & Coe / Owner Direct / Vacasa / 9flats / Everystay / Break Away Vacation Rentals / Locasun / VacationRentals411.com / MediaVacationRentals.com
Other things to consider
- Be active on social media
- Use a newsletter to keep your clients updated with your latest/special offers
- Respond immediately to any inquiry
- Ask for reviews from your clients. People love to see how others have experienced your property
- Always keep the calendar and the rates updated
- Try other marketing alternatives (classified ads, local newspaper ads, Facebook groups)
- Advertise the property on local websites
- Work with an agency that will do all this for you
This pretty much sums it up. Weigh up the pros and cons of each platform before deciding where to list your rental property. If you have any questions/suggestions, please let me know in the comments section below.