As a vacation rental property owner, listing your home on multiple booking sites like HomeAway, VRBO, and Airbnb will get your property in front of as many travelers as possible and help you bring in more revenue. But as the popular saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Most of these sites charge property owners and their guests various fees, so it’s important to understand what these fee structures are before creating your listing.
The most popular fee is a booking fee. Almost all of the listing sites on the internet charge owners and/or guests a booking fee for their reservations. Then, depending on the site, there might be other fees you might need to pay. With all of the fine print, sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly what these fees will be for sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. This is why we’ve broken down the meaning of each fee you’ll pay on some of the most popular property listing sites.
What fees does Airbnb charge?
It’s free to list your property on Airbnb. The company only collects money when you book a traveler. The host service fee on Airbnb is 3% for most homeowners, but that fee may be higher if your listing has one of Airbnb’s “Super Strict” cancellation policies (these policies and rare and by invitation only). The company says this service fee is calculated from “the booking subtotal (the nightly rate plus cleaning fee and additional guest fee, if applicable, but excluding Airbnb fees and taxes) and is automatically deducted from the payout to the host.”
You’ll also get charged if you end up canceling a reservation before the guest’s trip (and you’ll lose your Superhost status!). Sometimes Airbnb will waive these cancellation fees (they’ll look at how many times you’ve canceled in the past before waiving your fee). If you cancel on a guest more than seven days before their scheduled check-in, Airbnb subtracts $50 from your following payout. If you cancel on a guest less than seven days before their scheduled check-in, the company gets $100 from your next payout. While these fees might not seem huge, try to only cancel in case of emergencies. Whenever you cancel at least seven days before the guest is scheduled to arrive, Airbnb automatically posts a review on your listing saying that you canceled a reservation. If you cancel less than seven days before check-in, the guest gets an opportunity to write a review on your listing. Good Airbnb reviews are key to keep your listing at full occupancy. Too many reviews about cancellations may make you look like an unreliable host and keep guests from booking.
What fees does HomeAway/VRBO charge?
When you’re listing your vacation rental property on HomeAway or VRBO, you have 2 options for fees. With the subscription model, you pay an annual fee of $499. This fee includes a 12-month subscription to the site and it includes special features like online booking, listing your property on international sites, access to Reservation Manager, 50 HD photos, an interactive map, and a reservation calendar.
If you don’t want to pay annually, you can select the pay-per-booking option. This means you’ll just pay for the listings that you book. If you’re only renting out your property during certain seasons or for special events in your city, this could be a better option for you than the subscription model. These fees start at about 8% per booking but can go up to 10% depending on the reservation.
According to HomeAway, this 8% includes “5% commission charged for the rental amount, any fees (such as cleaning or pet fees), and any additional payments” and “3% credit card/eCheck processing fee charged on the total payment amount you receive from your traveler, including taxes and refundable damage deposits.” They also might charge an extra 2% fee if a non-US credit card is used. With the pay-per-booking model, you get the same inquiry management, calendar, and reservation tools as those with the subscription plan.
If you require a security deposit, HomeAway/VRBO will charge a 3% processing fee. That amount is returned to you once you refund the security deposit to your guest.
When it comes to cancellations, you may or may not get your fees back. If you cancel an upcoming guest’s reservation in “accordance with your cancellation policy which gives the traveler a full refund,” all billed fees get refunded. However, if your guest cancels the reservation and gets just a partial refund, your booking and services fees don’t get refunded, but the payment processing fee gets reversed for the amount refunded to the traveler.
What fees does Booking.com charge?
Booking.com is mostly known for hotel listings, however, you can also list your vacation rental property on the travel site
Learn how to create a listing that stands out among hotels here.
When a guest reserves your property, you pay Booking.com a commission when the guest checks out and pays. According to the site, the “commission rates range between 10% and 25%.” You will only pay Booking.com when you actually book a guest. They don’t charge property owners anything to sign up or just list the property.
When it comes to extra fees for guests, Booking.com doesn’t have any. The nightly price you set for your property is the total price your guest will pay. Keep this in mind when determining your rates, and don’t forget to include what it costs to clean and restock your property in your total price.
What fees does TripAdvisor charge?
TripAdvisor offers 2 ways to list your property. You can create a “free” listing or an “annual” listing, and both have different fee structures. For free listings, owners pay a 3% booking fee for each reservation. For annual listings, owners pay an annual fee to the site for each property. With this type of listing, you can choose to accept payment directly from guests or through TripAdvisor. For all payments done through TripAdvisor, the site charges a 3% processing fee.
Property owners who use the free listing feature also get access to free tools, like a property page editor, review management, marketing tools, and TripAdvisor insights. Annual members get all of the free tools in their membership, as well as business advantage tools, instant booking, and sponsored placements.
As for guests, they’ll pay TripAdvisor a booking fee when they reserve your vacation home. This fee is a percentage that’s based on the total cost of the rental. According to TripAdvisor, it “ranges from 8% to 16% for the majority of bookings, but can be slightly lower in some cases.” If you would like to charge guests a cleaning fee or any other optional fees, you have that option when you’re creating your listing.
Your property manager’s fees
If you use a property manager to manage your vacation rental and list your property on several sites across the internet, then you probably won’t pay each site’s fee individually. For example, TurnKey Vacation Rentals charges a “Variable Booking Fee” fee for each listing. This is a fee that the guest pays in order to cover the fees on booking sites like HomeAway, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and more.
The fee percentage can change depending on several factors such as the listing site, the demand of the home based on the market, the time frame when the reservation was made, and more. Varying the fee like this helps TurnKey improve conversion rates at your property for close-in and shoulder-season bookings. No matter the percentage, the fee will always be paid by the guest staying in your home and will cover your entire cost of Homeowner Agency Fees regardless of the source of the booking.
Your property manager will also charge you for the overall management of your property and the services they provide. A good property manager will obviously help you with marketing and listing your property, but they typically offer other services too that are included in the fees you pay them. For example, if you need a new rental permit for your home or if you need to upgrade your living room furniture, a great manager can offer suggestions and assistance to help you get the most out of your rental.
Property managers can also require a restocking fee. When you pay this fee, you don’t have to be responsible for managing and maintaining all the supplies in your home. The property manager is responsible for supplying all new guests with the essentials, like a couple of rolls of toilet paper per bathroom, a roll of paper towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and dish soap. This fee is typically determined based on the size of your home (larger homes need more supplies).
Choosing the right site
By listing your property across several different sites, you’ll also have to pay many of the fees we mentioned above depending on which ones you ultimately choose. We recommend sitting down to calculate how much you would be paying in fees if you list on these sites individually versus how much you would pay if you used a property manager who could handle all of the fees for you (as well as the handling the overall management of your rental).
If you’d like to learn more about how TurnKey can help you list your property across multiple listing sites, connect with us here.