Author Archives: Jeff

HomeAway VRBO Alternative?

HomeAway owned VRBO has hit an all time low in customer satisfaction. Consumer Affairs website has given VRBO a 1 star rating, which is the lowest they can go. Customers are certainly not happy, and it shows if you read through the 850 or so reviews. Sitejabber users posted 450 reviews gives both HomeAway and VRBO just 1.5 stars.

Here is a sample of some of the reviews…

This reminds me of the time Netflix tried to raise their prices for mail-in and streaming subscribers. I completely agree with everyone else’s comments on this site… Really, It’s just a terrible business decision from VRBO.

Just awful and THEY PUT YOU AT THE BACK OF THE SEARCH LIST IF YOU DO NOT GO WITH THEIR PLANS, and now that I have signed up, I have not gotten one inquiry and it is over a month. I paid in excess of $2000 for my two homes for 2016 and feel I have just been **.

I join the masses of owners who have expressed their concerns over changes in Homeaway/VRBO. I am happy to see I am not the only one that is saying “What the hell is going on”. I have been happy for 6 years and now went from happy to zero with them. Just got off the phone with them, so far EVERYTHING they told me is not true.

The February 2016 traveler fee is a disingenuous move on the part of HomeAway thus making potential clients suspicious of property owners, creating a loss of business for property owners because it increases the rate by a significant percentage.

Clearly, sentiment has turned sharply negative in the past 6 months, and it will be interesting to see if HomeAway / VRBO can pull out of their nosedive and regain the trust of their core customers.

For those seeking an alternative to VRBO, check out is 100% FREE! No yearly fees, No commissions, No hidden costs.

Airbnb Revenues Exceed All Major Hotels

Now that Airbnb raised $100 million in new funding, and its valuation at twenty five and a half billion dollars, Marriott International has countered by purchasing Starwood Hotels for $12.2 Billon USD. The Priceline Group made its move by claiming to have listed 21 million rooms for rent.

According to Skift:

“Airbnb’s reported third quarter room nights sold (23.8 million), gross bookings ($2.2 billion), market cap ($25.5 billion) and revenue ($340 million) with major online travel agencies as well as TripAdvisor and HomeAway.

Airbnb’s $340 million in third quarter revenue has left HomeAway, which is being acquired by Expedia Inc. for $3.9 billion, far behind at $130.7 million in revenue. As with comparing Airbnb to hotel chains, gauging Airbnb (largely urban rentals of primary residences) against HomeAway (mostly vacation home rentals in resort areas) is choppy, at best.

Still, despite its projected 2015 operating losses, Airbnb’s revenue picture and traction is clearly on the upswing.”

Company Valuation/Market Cap Q3 Revenue
Marriott International $18.59B $3.6B
Hilton Worldwide $23.2B $2.9B
Accor Hotels $10.2B $1.58B
Wyndham $8.9B $1.56B
Starwood Hotels $12.4B $1.4B
Hyatt Hotels $6.9B $1.B
Airbnb $25.5B $340M
Choice Hotels $2.9B $241.5M

Source: Wall Street Journal, public documents

Vacation Rental Top Photos Contest Ends Soon

With over 6500 vacation rental listing entries, Free-Rentals is gathering a lot of great rental property images, so we decided to extend the deadline of our Top 20 Rentals competition by 30 more days. The selected 20 most stunning rentals will be featured for free on the homepage from September until the end of December 2015.

So please get in your listing now to eligible for a spot on our homepage. Sign up 100% free today. Deadline for this contest is now set at September 1st, 2015.

Pictured above is a really nice Panama City Beach Vacation Rental unit submitted by David. This image is in strong contention for our “Top 20 for 2015” contest. But we will wait until all entries have been received before making a final decision.

Thanks and good luck!

Value of .01% Stake in Airbnb?

MoneySo, just thinking out loud here, what is the value of a .01% stake in Airbnb? What a great question to ponder, let’s do the math.

According to the Wall Street Journal and CNN, Airbnb currently today July 11, 2015, has a valuation of $25 Billion USD.

So let me get out my calculator while I calculate .01% stake of $25 Billion dollars, wait, that won’t work, my calculator won’t fit in that many zeros.

Computer calculator puts it as follows: $25,000,000,000 X .0001 = $2,500,000.

A cool $2.5 Million USD. That would be nice eh?

While Free-Rentals is hardly Airbnb (yet), we were in this holiday rental industry years before they arrived to the scene. We are now seeking founding partners to help us gain a half million rental unit listing momentum, and we are giving out 0.01% blocks of stock equity in Free-Rentals to our members who help us make that happen.

Married Couple Retires to Airbnb

afarAfar Magazine does a Q&A session with a married couple that decided to spend their retirement by bouncing around from one Airbnb home to the next. They have already rented 55 Airbnb rooms in over 30 countries, and are continuing their journey.

“Turns out it was! So we got rid of most of our stuff, rented out our Seattle house, reduced our monthly expenses, and bought two one-way tickets to Paris. And we’ve been traveling ever since.”

Afar Magazine also provides a list of tips and techniques for maximizing travel when you hit retirement age.

How To Choose A Vacation Rental Service

otaloThere are literally thousands of vacation rental listing websites to choose from online either when seeking accommodations or having a room you want to rent out short term. But which of these websites is best for you to use as a guest? which is best to list your room as a host?

Aggregate directory of vacation rental listings Otalo has as excellent comprehensive overview of most of the top vacation rental websites, and facts and stats about each.

Holiday Rentals Search Engines

hometogoA new player has come to the seen with a metadata search engine for the holiday rental industry. They are a Berlin based start-up called, and they just raised €6 million in Series A funding from DN capital and Acton Capital Partners, which is in addition to the €2 million previously raised from various angel investors.

HomeToGo claims to be the biggest metasearch engine for holiday rentals, aggregating from over 150 rental websites and listing more than 2.7 million vacation rental units. But they have existing completion from with 2.5 million units, with 1.8m units, and with 416,000 units.

Airbnb Regulation Movement in San Francisco

Photo by Gabrielle Lurie - sf.airbnb -Coalition members call for city officials to immediately begin efforts to collect more than $25 million in past due taxes owed by Airbnb at a press conference on Monday, November 24, 2014, at the global headquarters of Airbnb in San Francisco.

Photo by Gabrielle Lurie – sf.airbnb -Coalition members call for city officials to immediately begin efforts to collect more than $25 million in past due taxes owed by Airbnb at a press conference on Monday, November 24, 2014, at the global headquarters of Airbnb in San Francisco.

And so it begins, another movement is underway in San Francisco to regulate Airbnb’s short term accommodations sharing program. A coalition of affordable housing activists and local home owners are battling an Airbnb backed group called “San Francisco for Everyone” over a ballot initiative aimed at curbing Airbnb’s growth of room sharing within the city.

According to TechCrunch:

Backers of the ballot initiative say the existing regulation passed last fall doesn’t go far enough, and neither will changes proposed by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Mark Farrell. The initiative proposes a law with a 75-day limit on hosting, quarterly data reports from platforms and an ability to go to civil court if the planning department does not react to complaints in time. Last week, Lee ordered the creation of a new enforcement office just as the city also sent violation letters to 15 hosts for allegedly turning 73 housing units into full-time short-term rentals. Lee and Farrell are trying to strengthen a short-term rental laws passed last year by putting a 120-day limit on the number of nights a host can rent out their home.

According to the San Francisco Examiner:

Supervisor David Campos wants a 60-day cap on the number of stays a host can book per year. Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Mark Farrell want a 120-day cap.But that’s hardly the end of the debate. Campos argues the only way to enforce a cap of any size, is to require hosting platforms like Airbnb to only allow listings on their sites with a valid city registration number — or face penalties. And he wants those websites to provide quarterly booking data.

Regardless how the standoff shifts, it seems two factors are a stake; how many days maximum can home sharing be allowed? And how is this measured and enforced? We will continue to monitor this story closely as it unfolds.

Comparison of Vacation Rental Sites

Here is a list of worldwide vacation rental websites and the fees and commissions they charge.

Website Guest Fee Host Fee Listing Fee 6 – 12% 3% Free 0% 10% $1 (TripAdvisor) 0% – 10% 3% $0 – $299 Free Free Free ?? 10% – 20% Free
PerfectPlaces 0% 0% $119.95 0% 0% $148 – $248
Roomorama 8 – 12% 0% Free 10% 3% Free 0% 0 – 2.5% $349 – $999
    Travelmob 0% 0% $98
Wimdu 12% 3% Free