(Last updated on: 30/09/2021)
What are the alternatives to Airbnb? More than a decade since its inception and billions of Dollars later, this is a question that many budding travellers are beginning to ask. But why are people beginning to seek alternatives to Airbnb? And what are these alternatives?
With widespread concerns about the negative economic impacts of Airbnb, media coverage questioning the safety of Airbnb accommodations and a growing societal desire to stay in different and unique accommodation types (for which Airbnb can not always satisfy), it is no surprise that tourists have begun to search for alternatives to Airbnb. And, whilst these are known to a lesser extent, there are in fact plenty of accommodation options that provide great alternatives to Airbnb.
In this article, I will tell you about the ten major alternatives to Airbnb and how they operate. In many ways, Airbnb has become almost a household name, I mean- who hasn’t heard of this prominent sharing economy platform? But Airbnb has a monopoly no more and competition is on the rise… now lets see what that looks like…
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online marketplace that involves the renting of property to travellers. They have also recently started offering experiences too.
Airbnb does not own any of the properties. It simply provides a platform from which people can rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Prices are set by the property owners and monies are collected via the Airbnb app.
Airbnb is a fantastic example of the sharing economy. People share their homes with each other, with Airbnb acting as the intermediary. The property on offer via the platform is diverse; ranging from a basic room in a person’s home to unique Airbnb stays, such as a treehouse, castle or even an entire island!
The Airbnb business model has been extremely successful, and it 2020 it was valued at a whopping $74billion. They have clearly done something right, but will the this success continue once the competition increases?
Why seek alternatives to Airbnb?
On a personal level, I am a big fan of Airbnb (read why in this post). But what I love is the concept, not the organisation, and I don’t think I am alone. So why haven’t more of us looked for alternatives to Airbnb to date? Well, this can largely be attributed to Airbnb being so well-know, but also the human instinct to gravitate to the familiar.
We know and understand how the Airbnb app works, we have Airbnb coupons, why would we go elsewhere? Well, actually there are a few reasons….
The main reason to look for an alternative to Airbnb is because Airbnb doesn’t offer what the person is looking for, perhaps they want to rent a large villa for a family visiting Murcia, but there are only small apartments available on the app. Or maybe a person wants a suitable place to stay for their workation near the best beaches in Cancun, but all of the Airbnb options are in loud and lively neighbourhoods. For many people, an alternative to Airbnb may provide them what they are looking for.
Other people may want to use a platform that specialises in the type of holiday that are planning. So, for example, they may gravitate towards a company specialising in luxury if they are planning a luxury vacation. Likewise, people who want a in-depth cultural tourism experience may prefer to use a company that specialises in authentic homestays.
Another reason that people are beginning to seek alternatives to Airbnb is because of a lack of supply. Airbnb has grown so much in recent years, that during peak times there may be few available accommodations. In other words, demand outweighs supply. This causes tourists to look elsewhere for their holiday accommodation.
Other people may simply wish to try something different. Fortunately, what ever the reason is, there are plenty of alternatives to Airbnb for tourists to test and try.
Alternatives to Airbnb
Recent years have seen many companies emerge who offer Airbnb a run for their money. Many of these companies operate on very similar (or almost identical) terms. Their philosophies and underlying principles are pretty much the same- the aim of the game is to put property owners in touch with tourists.
Below, I have outlined the 10 biggest alternatives to Airbnb. But remember, this is a fast-changing marketplace, and more companies could pop up at anytime!
The company was founded in 2007, then acquired by TripAdvisor an hour later. With hundreds of thousands of properties in at least 170 countries, this seems like it might be one of the solid alternatives to Airbnb.
However, FlipKey is no stranger to a negative review. Their TrustPilot page is home to some very mixed reviews, in fact: some one stars, some five stars and everything in between.
You can use the FlipKey site to search by location and add in your dates. You can filter by cost, number of bedrooms, rental type and also by must-have amenities such as pool, parking and whether or not pets are allowed. With a moveable map to the right of the screen which plots all of your accommodation options, the layout has a similar look to Airbnb. However it definitely doesn’t look as sleek!
In order to list your property on FlipKey, you’ll need to create an account and provide details of your accommodation. Guests are able to leave TripAdvisor reviews for your property. These are linked to FlipKey, so users can see what previous visitors thought of their stay.
HomeAway is another of the various alternatives to Airbnb.
HomeAway is an Australian vacation rental site offering a variety of accommodation types (houses, cabins, apartments and studios) worldwide. Enter your location and dates as well as how many guests are staying, then choose from the following filters:
- Accommodation type
- Rooms and spaces
- Property reviews
- House rules
- Cancellation policy
- Feature and amenities
- Location type (waterfront, city centre etc)
- Nearby activities
- Host level
- Safety aspects
- Booking options
Clearly, HomeAway has a really detailed filter when it comes to finding the perfect accommodation for your trip! Another cool feature that HomeAway offers is the ‘Trip Board’ section. This allows you to save accommodation listings in a Pinterest-style way to keep coming back to as you continue to plan your future holidays.
Listing your property is simple and you are able to feel in control. The technology used is Salesforce, and there is 24/7 support available. For those who own 10+ properties, you can sign up as a property manager too. This gives you even more tools and support in order to succeed.
Pronounced ‘ver-boh’, Vrbo stands for vacation rentals by owner. It does what it says on the tin: rentals are provided by the owners, rather than by the company.
Launched in 1995 by David Clouse to rent out his Breckenridge Ski Resort condo, the company was acquired by HomeAway in 2006. However, HomeAway themselves were acquired by Expedia in 2015 – only the Australian site, as above, still exists. The other HomeAway sites merged in July 2020 to become the single Vrbo site that exists today.
The user interface of the Vrbo site is virtually identical to the Australian HomeAway site, except for the colour scheme and other minor design features. All of the filter options are the same. Both sites have the moveable map feature that makes them similar to many of the alternatives to Airbnb. The property listing and proper managing options are the same as the aforementioned HomeAway website too!
Well known as a giant in the holiday accommodation rental game, Booking.com now also offer a similar service to Airbnb.
On the Booking.com website or app you are able to book apartments directly from their owners. These options are labelled as managed by a private host.
With an easy to use interface, booking.com have millions of properties worldwide. You can filter by location, then further by proximity to the city centre as well as the following options:
- Star rating
- Accommodation style
- Health and safety measures
- Nearby things to do
- Reservation policy
- Specific landmarks (proximity)
- Facilities such as pets, parking, WiFi etc
- Accessibility (overally property and room-specific)
There is the option to view each property by map, and you can easily see the main amenities offered at each property before you click on it. Availability is also very visible too.
Booking.com don’t ask for sign up fees to list your property. You set your own guest rules, and there is 24/7 support available to hosts. There is also the option to sync your calendar here with any other sites you may use to list your accommodation. All in all, this is one of the best alternatives to Airbnb for both guests and hosts.
Labelled as ‘the Airbnb of RVs’, Outdoorsy is one of the clear alternatives to Airbnb for those looking to rent a motorhome. And with staycations on the rise, the demand for motorhomes is only set to grow further.
The Outdoorsy site is easy to navigate with clear options. You can search for RVs with the amenities you want, near to your starting destination. Send your dates straight to the RV owner, then arrange to pick it up or have it delivered. Then you’re free to hit the road and enjoy your trip with the added reassurance of 24/7 roadside assistance included. Afterwards, simply return your RV to the owner!
When it comes to listing your RV, this is free – Outdoorsy take a small cut of any successful bookings. Simply create your listing with photos and your location, accept bookings on an easy-to-use dashboard then hand your keys over to whoever is renting your vehicle.
This might be a site dedicated to a specific type of holiday accommodation, but in some ways this is what makes it such a great way to find exactly what you’re after!
When it comes to alternatives to Airbnb, this one is great if you want to be with a host during your stay. Homestay offers short and long term accommodation options – a spare room in a house, staying with a local family who will help you settle into an area, learn the language, find the most exciting things to do and so much more.
You will likely make friends for life by using Homestay as an option for your trip. It’s a fantastic way to authentically experience the local community and to culturally immerse yourself into the destination. Great for solo travellers, those studying abroad and people looking to have a more well-rounded travel experience, Homestay has rooms all over the world.
The site is easy to use and there are plenty of reviews to ensure you are finding somewhere that’s right for you. Filter by the following:
- Meals – provided or not
- Who the host welcomes
- Host hobbies
- Amenities – WiFi, bikes and more
- Price range
The site lists over 33,000 rooms in over 150 countries. Simply list your room and wait for bookings – Homestay get their money from booking fees, and you get the full rental amount when your guest arrives. You control your prices as well as how long you’d like to rent your spare room out for.
Primarily a place to sell timeshares, as the name suggests, you can also rent timeshares at SellMyTimeshareNOW.
You can rent a place in one of 1,300 destinations across 4,000 resorts. Simply click the ‘for rent’ option and enter your destination. The user friendly interface allows you to see how many rental options you can choose from, filtered by:
- Rental type
- View (ocean, pool etc)
- Seasonal availability
- Unit menities – air con, jacuzzi etc
- Resort amenities – childcare, boat lake etc
- Nearby amenities – museums, theme parks etc
Timeshares might seem like a thing of the past, but by using this Airbnb alternative you can find affordable places to stay. It is an example of thinking outside the box when it comes to booking a trip! These units are often hotel rooms or villas in larger complexes, but you’ll be a guest of the timeshare owner.
The company offers 24/7 user support to help you find the perfect place for you, you’ll be able to pick somewhere that will truly blow your mind. Of course the prices are much higher than other alternatives to Airbnb, but these properties really are the height of luxury!
Select your location, dates and number of guests then set maximum your price per night. Filter by amenities, beds and currency. They are owned by AccorHotels, a trusted name across the travel industry. Choose from apartments, town houses, villas, houseboats and more. Remember, these options are the best of the best.
For property owners, everything is taken care of. Onefinestay do it all: managing everything for the homeowner including reservation, housekeeping and guest relations. 9 out of 10 homes are turned down by the site, so if your property does get selected then rest assured you are in good company here…
Running in a slightly different way to Airbnb, THIRDHOME is a home exchange service. It also focuses on luxury homes.
The concept is aimed at letting people trade time spent in their second home, for stays in other peoples’ second homes. There are options in over 90 countries currently. With 11,000 properties to choose from you are bound to find somewhere to suit you.
Users have to apply for membership. The website states:
When you are ready, fill out the form above, we will be in touch to learn more about your second home to find out if The Club is a mutual fit. If your second home meets our members’ expectations for location, quality finishes and well-appointed furnishings, and has a minimum value of USD$500,000, you’re in!
With the minimum price cap, it is clear that these homes are luxurious. You’ll pay an exchange fee of up to $1395 per stay based on the amount of time (that people can stay in your house) that you ‘deposit’ into your account. Obviously this is one of the alternatives to Airbnb that isn’t available to everybody but if it suits you then it is worth a look.
9flats is one of the more similar alternatives to Airbnb, operating on an almost identical business model.
You simply pop in your location, dates and how many guests you’ll be travelling with then hit search. Filter by accommodation type and amenities. Then scroll down, keeping an eye on the moveable map to the right hand side which lets you know whereabouts each rental is. The site is a broker in the same way Airbnb is – they don’t own any of the accommodation.
With rentals in a whole range of diverse locations, you can even choose to stay with friendly hosts who will give you the local treatment during your trip. Hosts are carefully selected by the team and receive community support. If YOU are looking to rent out your home to make some cash for your own travels, this could be the site for you.
Alternatives to Airbnb: Further reading
Are you convinced to try out the alternatives to Airbnb yet? Did you find this article interesting? Here are some more that you may like to read too!
- Homestay tourism: What is a homestay?
- 10 unique Airbnb stays that inspire wanderlust
- Airbnb explained: What is it, how does it work and is it safe?
- What is the sharing economy and how is it changing the tourism industry?
- Types of hotels | Understanding tourism
- The history of the hotel industry | Understanding tourism