Alternatives to VRBO and AirBNB

Vacation homes can be a great source of additional income if you know how to market them properly. Unfortunately, many homeowners opt to go the easy route and trust rental platforms like AirBNB and VRBO to take care of this task for them – however, the convenience that these platforms offer may often come at a significant price. Their fees have been rising continuously, and many vacation homeowners are looking for alternative options, which would not have that much of an impact on this venture’s profitability. Furthermore, it may sometimes be difficult to compete with other properties that are in the same area but have been listed there for years – they have excellent reputation and take the majority of customers. Starting from zero on AirBNB or VRBO can be tough. 

It is important to note that AirBNB and VRBO are indeed convenient ways to find customers – however, they are certainly not the best option if you plan to do this long-term. Investing more time and effort in one of the alternatives to popular rental platforms can save you a lot of fees in the long run and even help you find more reliable renters. So, let’s start talking about the best alternatives to VRBO and AirBNB:

Check Out Local Listing Sites

Regardless if your vacation home is a popular area for vacationers, you are bound to find at least a few good local websites listing such properties. The primary advantage of these sites is that the fees there are usually non-existent – you can save up to 7-14% (depending on location) fees that you would otherwise have to pay to a commercial rental service.  

All you need is a few minutes of research to find the reputable sites in your area, create an account, and then upload the relevant information about your property. Typically, homeowners leave a phone or email that potential customers can use to reach out to them. If you are unfamiliar with such websites, then you can take a look our list of Lake Websites to get an idea how they feel and work.

Hire A Property Management Company

Usually, reputable companies in this branch have been active for over a decade, and they have a well-developed network of promoters, as well as a targeted, regular customers that are eager to see the best they have to offer. However, it is important to note that these services are not free – there is a fee associated, but it should still be cheaper compared to AirBNB and VRBO. On top of this, the fees paid to property management companies include a ton of perks:

  • They’ll do everything for you – no need to contact customers or settle payments/disputes with them.
  • They will manage your property – this includes cleaning, repairs, and refund missing items. 

One of the household names in the branch is, a company specializing in property management around Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma. 

Start A Website, Build Your Online Presence

Starting your own website is probably one of the best paths to take, but this should not be your sole strategy at the start. We recommend starting a website but using some of the alternatives mentioned above to maximize your reach. Once you start gathering customers and introducing them to your website, you can build your own audience and gradually detach from 3rd-party listings or property management sites.

Building a website for your vacation home will have some upfront costs, but it should be very affordable after this – a domain name (URL) costs about $10-$15 a year, while a website hosting service totals around $100/year. If you have some computer experience, you should be able to easily manage everything on your own once the website is up and running. Websites specializing in rental properties have an in-built booking system and lots of other perks to make the whole process more convenient for both you and the customer. Most importantly – your website will have a mobile version as well, which is especially important considering that most website traffic comes from mobile users.  

Apart from functionality, websites are great when it comes to building your brand and reputation – having a dedicated page for your property certainly looks more professional in the eyes of customers. They are likely to be more inclined to choose the offer with a professional-looking website, beautiful gallery, and detailed description of the property. 

Do not forget that any money you save from not having to pay extra fees to 3rd-party services can be invested in ads for your website – of course, make sure to target the right audience, and do consider consulting an expert when it comes to online marketing campaigns. 

A good example of such a website can be found at – it features the drone footage that we will discuss in a bit, as well as a detailed overview of all comforts, amenities, and activities that visitors can enjoy. 

Hire A Real Estate Photographer

My final tip is to have some high-quality photos taken of your rental, regardless of where you are getting your bookings from. Even if you stay on VRBO or AirBNB, good photos will lead to more bookings.

Neglecting the importance of a professional-looking gallery is a mistake that many homeowners make when it comes to selling or renting out their property. Taking photos in poor lighting conditions, using a smartphone, or failing to capture all important parts are just some of the mistakes that amateur photos can lead to. In fact, a poorly taken set of photos may often end up tarnishing your chances of attracting more customers. 

Regardless if you are going with a website, property management company, or a listing site, we advise you to spend some money on hiring a photographer specializing in real estate. These people have tons of experience in the field, and they can do miracles when it comes to presenting a property. Keep in mind that their photography sessions can be lengthy – it is not uncommon for photographers to spend a night at the place they are working on. This allows them to take photos in the morning, dusk, and night. Furthermore, modern photography services also offer drone footage, which is absolutely one of the best ways to stand out among your competitors. 


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GOOD. Water slightly stained; 91 degrees; 1.42 feet below pool. The lake is slowly releasing water and conditions are normalizing. Hot weather has slowed the bass bite during the day. There is little to no topwater action in the morning while fish stay close to bottom in 8-14 feet and 16-22 feet of water. Target bass slowly working a Texas or Carolina rig. On a day with light wind, shallow and deep diving crankbaits are working. Now the best bite has been at night, and with the full moon coming it will only improve. The best bite is on big spinnerbaits on main lake points in 10-16 feet of water, but while a Texas rigged worm or 9-10 inch lizard are not catching numbers these baits are landing fish up to 9 pounds. Crappie are still hit-or-miss over the lake, but it seems like the mid lake area from around the bridge north a few miles has been the best. Minnows are best but jigs will land a few bites focusing on brush piles and standing timber. Report by Stephen Johnston, Johnston Fishing.

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