Home invasion: Vrbo aims to poach listings from Airbnb as summer heats up

Both firms duke it out with programs to attract hosts amid scarce supply

Photo Illustration of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and Vrbo CEO Jeff Hurst (Getty)
Photo Illustration of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and Vrbo CEO Jeff Hurst (Getty)

Vacation rental platforms are pulling out all the stops to bring in listings — and they’re also directly going after each other’s hosts.

Two of the leading U.S. firms — Airbnb and Expedia’s Vrbo — launched programs to make listing easier for owners amid a shortage of available rental properties, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In March, Vrbo launched its Fast Start program that allows property owners to more easily transfer their Airbnb ratings onto Vrbo, pitching hosts on the advantages of listing on multiple platforms. The company said the program has already brought in thousands of new listings.

Market leader Airbnb said in May that it slashed the number of steps for an owner to list a property from several dozen to just 10 and claims it has added more than 100 upgrades to its website. It’s also offering one-on-one consultations for hosts.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Demand for short-term rentals has surged as pandemic restrictions are lifted and the U.S. enters the warm summer months. Demand was up 5.4 percent in April from two years prior and up 66.4 percent last last year, according to AirDNA, which tracks short-term rentals.

April’s 61.6 percent occupancy was the highest ever for that month. Average daily rates were up 20 percent from 2019 to $245.

The shortage of listings is due to several factors beyond the spike in demand. Guests generally are booking longer stays and more owners are delisting their properties to use themselves.

[WSJ] — Dennis Lynch