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The 4 Best Alternatives to Airbnb

Author: Matthew Smith

With the rise of technological advances and widespread economic development, the sharing economy, also known as the peer-to-peer economy, has grown in popularity and viability. One of the first endeavors to boost the sharing economy's popularity in the short-term rental space was Airbnb, a San Francisco-based technology startup founded in 2008. Airbnb provides an online and mobile platform that allows users to connect for the purpose of discovering, listing and booking unique accommodations. Since its start, Airbnb has provided short-term rentals, from city apartments to remote villas to ornate castles, to more than 60 million guests around the world. The company boasts over 2 million listings on any given day, spanning more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

While Airbnb is the most notable name in the short-term vacation rental space, the tech giant is not the only accommodation-focused platform available to travelers or individuals interested in listing their homes for booking.

onefinestay

Established in 2009 by Greg Marsh and Demetrios Zoppos, onefinestay touts itself as a luxury vacation rental site hosted online. While the company has a smaller reach compared to Airbnb, onefinestay provides a sound alternative for travelers and hosts looking to take part in the sharing economy through short-term, high-end rentals. The company is headquartered in London, but it presents listings in New York, Paris and Los Angeles as well. Travelers can browse listings online or on a mobile device, and reservations and payments are handled directly through the company, similarly to Airbnb. The company does not provide detailed information on how much hosts are paid for each rental, but it offers insight into current vacation rental trends and the potential for earnings to prospective and current hosts on the site.

In addition to only offering luxury listings, onefinestay differs from Airbnb through its host and traveler vetting processes. The company takes a unique approach to vetting hosts, including an in-person visit to the potential property after receipt of a host questionnaire submitted through the site's platform. onefinestay accepts homes to list on the platform only after a visit takes place and the potential rental is deemed truly unique and high-end.

For travelers, onefinestay does not provide full listing details until a reservation confirmation is complete and payment is accepted. As with hosts, members of the onefinestay team personally meet a guest prior to providing access to the listed home to verify identity and provide the house rules dictated by the homeowner. In addition to strict vetting measures, onefinestay provides both hosts and guests the ability to connect with customer service 24 hours each day, either via phone, email or live chat.

HomeAway

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, HomeAway is another alternative to Airbnb in the vacation rental space. The company boasts more than 77 million travelers searching for listings on the site, with over 1 million listings from various hosts from 190 different countries. The online platform requires an entire property be listed as a rental; it does not allow single rooms for rent or partial access to a structure. Individually owned condos, townhomes, apartments, single-family homes, villas, cabins, cottages and mansions are among the most popular listings on HomeAway.

HomeAway was created to serve as a secure way for home or property owners to earn rental income, offering a number of ways to list accommodations. The company allows hosts to list their rentals on a pay-per-booking basis; there is no up-front cost for creating or posting a listing. Instead of having a HomeAway representative involved in the booking process, the company simply provides the medium for hosts and guests to connect, book and pay for a reservation. Each reservation request is sent directly to the home or property owner, who makes the final decision as to the quality of the potential guest. Hosts who use the site regularly to rent out property can earn up to $56,000 annually, according to HomeAway. Travelers can search the site and book reservations at no cost.

FlipKey

Owned and operated by TripAdvisor, FlipKey presents itself as another competitor to Airbnb. The online platform was launched in 2007 and currently offers listings on more than 300,000 vacation homes and single rooms. FlipKey rentals are available in 11,000 cities worldwide. Through the TripAdvisor website, the company touts more traveler exposure to hosts than any other vacation rental site. The company provides listings on budget rentals, kid-friendly rentals, lakefront properties and luxury accommodations. In addition to individually owned properties, FlipKey provides vacation rental opportunities through the platform to property managers with five or more properties. FlipKey differs from other Airbnb alternatives with this property management feature.

The company allows both travelers and hosts to sign up for site access without any up-front cost. However, each host pays a 3% booking fee for each listing published. Hosts are responsible for managing booking requests submitted through the platform and taking the appropriate steps to ensure guests are trustworthy. Travelers can book directly through FlipKey for select listings, while the majority of reservation requests are made directly to the property owner or manager. Travelers make payments through the site, providing a secure way to complete transactions.

Roomorama

Established in 2009, Roomorama is a Singapore-based vacation rental platform that provides access to more than 300,000 short-term accommodations around the world. The property types listed on Roomorama range from studio apartments up to large multifamily villas, and each property is individually owned. Travelers can search by property type, number of bedrooms, specific neighborhood and amenities. Each listing includes a detailed description, photographs of the property and traveler reviews.

Travelers using the Roomorama booking tool must establish an account through the online platform before they can book listings. There is no cost to sign up, nor are there additional fees for booking an accommodation. Additionally, travelers can view a host's response time, rating and contact information with each booking. Hosts are also required to sign up through the site, also at no cost, but they must complete a verification process prior to listing their homes or property on the site. Travelers and hosts are privy to Roomorama's fraud prevention system, and all payments for reservations are made through the company's secure credit card platform.

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