- Kelly Marohl began renting her property in Ocean City, Maryland, on Airbnb and Vrbo in 2021.
- She prefers Airbnb because of the app and the fact that she gets more bookings there.
- Here is his story, told to writer Robin Madell.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kelly Marohl, 33, rents a property in Ocean City, Maryland, on Airbnb and Vrbo. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
In addition to running a maternity and baby website, I also manage a rental property in Ocean City, Maryland. My husband and I bought our property, which is on the beach, when COVID-19 started in 2020, with few plans to rent it out.
However, we also purchased our new main house in Severna Park, MD – which is just over two hours from our rental property – around the same time, and it’s a big renovation project.
After hearing the going rate for weekly rentals in our neighborhood, we knew it was too much to pass up. Our plan is to use our rental profits to pay for the entire renovation of our main residence.
Our beach house is listed on both Airbnb and Vrbo online rental platforms. I actually planned to just start using Vrbo and posted our list there first in December 2021. Vrbo has a reputation for having very family-friendly users, and I liked that.
But soon after listing on Vrbo, I read that it is better to cross-promote on both platforms, so soon after, I put up our listing on Airbnb as well .
I prefer to use Airbnb to manage my year-round rentals
For starters, I get a lot more bookings through Airbnb than on Vrbo. We are currently accepting four to six bookings per month and will end the year with around 50 in total. Only five of them go through Vrbo, while Airbnb remains our best platform for the rest of our bookings.
Before I started managing my own property, I used both platforms myself. I’ve always thought of Vrbo as the go-to platform for weekly beach rentals. In my mind, Airbnb was known for faster and more frequent stays. I think I get more bookings year-round on Airbnb because the short-term rental market views them the same way.
For this reason, overall, I spend most of my time and energy on Airbnb. On average, I spend between 5 and 10 hours a week directly on the Airbnb platform, compared to maybe an hour on Vrbo. Typically, this time is spent responding to message inquiries, sending arrival instructions for upcoming stays, and communicating departure reminders.
For example, when messaging on the Airbnb app, you’ll find nice icons at the bottom for quick replies, sending pictures, scheduling posts, and sharing recommendations with guests. Each user’s photo is displayed at a good size next to their post, and overall it’s a colorful display. Meanwhile, Vrbo Messenger is all black, gray, and white, and they have two basic buttons that just read “use template” and “attach file.”
Finally, I love that Airbnb offers hosts a 3% host commission option and let the customer pay the rest. Vrbo requires a 8% hospitality fee (commission plus payment processing), which slowly affected my bottom line.
For example, the average weekly stay at our property costs $7,000. Vrbo collects $560 from each of these reservations, while Airbnb only takes $210 from us for the same reservation. A difference of $350 may not seem like a lot, but losing 5% of our bottom line over a full year really adds up.
My #1 tip for renting out your property on either platform is to invest in professional photos
I see so many ads with dark, unattractive cell phone pictures. If you want to attract the most ad views, you need to have clear, bright photos of your home to entice people to click on your ad over another.
You should also start small. Maybe your goal isn’t to make your home a full-fledged rental property, and that’s okay. You can start simply by raising enough money to cover your car payment, groceries, or maybe even your mortgage.
Do you make money on Airbnb or Vrbo and have a story to tell? Email [email protected]