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Alternatives to VRBO and Airbnb - NO Service Fee in 2023 [Infographic]

alternatives to vrbo
Alternatives to VRBO and Airbnb

Are you looking for alternatives to VRBO in North Conway, NH? Would you like to use a website like VRBO or Airbnb, but not pay any service fees?

Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch is a North Conway cabin rental that books 100% of our guests direct which means NO SERVICE FEES from VRBO or Airbnb. ​VRBO Service Fees have inspired vacationers to seek out alternatives to VRBO and Airbnb when booking a North Conway cabin rental or a North Conway vacation rental by owner. Find out the best vacation rental sites in 2022 and learn how to find no booking fee rentals.

Before we talk about the alternatives to VRBO, let me explain how Vacation Rentals have become such a big thing!

Did you ever think of booking directly with the owner? I wrote an article on how to safely book directly with a vacation rental owner. Take a look a the great ideas I listed on how to find a great vacation rental and not pay Service Fees.

Vrbo, Airbnb and the rest of the OTA's (online travel agencies) are changing the way they charge their Service Fees.

Since 2016, they have charged YOU between 6 and 20 percent for the use of their websites. The Service Fees used to be a line item in the charges for renting a vacation rental that you paid.

Starting in 2021, Vrbo, Airbnb, and the rest are burying those fees in the nightly rental rates. When payment is received by the companies, they deduct their Service Fees and give the owners what's left.

alternatives to vrbo
Service Fees Vrbo and Airbnb

Their motive is to let travelers feel like they are not paying the Service Fees any longer. Believe me, you are!

In 2015, I used to refer to Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch as the Southwest Airlines of the vacation rental industry. Southwest Airlines kicked Expedia to the curb and did just fine - I kicked Vrbo to the curb and my guests and I couldn't be happier!

My guests were and are too important me to allow them to waste their money on a Service Fee! The Service Fee to rent Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch with Vrbo and Airbnb would START at $499!!

Yikes! I would rather you use that money to make family memories going out to dinner or skiing for the day!

Vacation rentals booked directly with owners (call me if you looking in North Conway, NH!) are one of the most popular ways to travel these days because of how convenient and affordable they are! Because of the huge increase in popularity, the Internet has become clogged with Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) like VRBO (Verbo), Airbnb and, that clamor for your travel dollars. Several years ago, HomeAway, VRBO and Airbnb started allowing property managers of vacation rentals to advertise on their family of sites. So now, instead of talking to the owner of vacation rentals, you might be dealing with a property manager that has an inventory of hundreds of properties. Any questions that you have are answered off a description sheet instead of chatting with an owner who loves their property! You might be wondering what’s so special about booking a vacation rental directly with an owner?

Here are several reasons to rent a vacation rental directly from an owner and not a property manager or an OTA such as Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway.

  • NO VRBO Service Fees (or Airbnb,, Homeaway, etc) or Booking Fees = Save Big Bucks!

  • You can set up a payment schedule instead of paying 100% up front

  • You get to experience the area like a local

  • Rent from locals and get the benefit of their experience

  • Owners can describe and help you enjoy the property like no-one else

  • NO middle man when it comes to customer service

  • Have contact information for the owner right from the start

  • Ability to call and chat with the owner before booking the vacation rental

  • Vacation rental owners (like me) that only book directly with guests are typically more invested in the vacation and more involved with the cleaning, upkeep, maintenance, etc. of their home

  • MORE and FREE amenities

In December 2016, VRBO and HomeAway were both purchased by Expedia for 4 BILLION dollars. Now, Expedia is on a mission to earn back that money. Do you know where it’s going to come from? YOUR pockets! That's right, VRBO is now a publicly traded company and their price per share on the stock exchange is their main concern. Customer service rankings have tanked and owners of vacation rentals are being treated as inventory, not as folks that have huge sums of money invested in their vacation rental real estate. If you look around Facebook, you'll find groups of vacationers and vacation rental owners that are frustrated and upset about how VRBO, Airbnb, and the rest are treating them.

Expedia now owns VRBO and the first change they made was to introduce a (VRBO) Service Fee in February of 2016 of 4-12%.

The VRBO Service Fees are applied to your payment when you complete the booking online on any of sites owned by Expedia and the percentage you'll pay has risen.

Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and other OTA’s charge similar fees, except theirs are higher. Expect to pay 4-21% when using these sites.

Most folks don't know that the Service Fee that the vacation rental GUESTS pay is a fee for using VRBO, Airbnb, websites!

Most folks are looking for one stop, vacation rental shopping, but is that the BEST way to book a vacation rental?

I’ll let you decide if up to a $699 Service Fee from VRBO/HomeAway and up to 15-21% from TripAdvisor/Flipkey, tacked onto your credit card is worth using their sites.

There is talk industry-wide that those fees are headed higher in 2020!

Don’t Despair! You don’t have to pay VRBO Service Fees and there are alternatives to VRBO and Airbnb!

You don't have to be a computer geek to use these quick tricks and find a great North Conway vacation rental or North Conway lodge on websites like VRBO - except you won't pay any Service Fees.

My personal favorite way to find great vacation rentals is using Google to do an image search.

Follow along and I'll show you how...

alternatives to vrbo
Alternatives to Vrbo and Airbnb
  1. Google Image Search - Check out the sites like VRBO, Airbnb, Expedia or others and find a vacation rental that seems perfect for your vacation. Drag and drop the first photo in the ad onto the search line in Google. I'll be you find either a Google Business listing or a website for the property. Search around to find contact info.

  2. Facebook Search - Read the entire description on the ad and gather as much information as possible. You will probably be able to determine the town, name of the owner, and name of the property. I own Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch in North Conway, NH. My ads all say my name, "Teena", list North Conway as the town, have the name of the North Conway lodge which is Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch. In my case, you can find my property with just my name because it's so unusual.

  3. Google Search - Gather information from ad including the name of the property, location (town, city), owners name, and location and enter it in a Google search.

  4. Ask Friends - Folks love to talk about vacations and places they love to rent. Take advantage of that and ask coworkers, friends, and relatives where they recommend you stay.

  5. Niche Websites - Search the Internet for small, niche websites for vacation rentals. Type in the town, area, or state plus "vacation rental listing site" in a Google search. Most small sites allow you to communicate directly with owners and do not have Service Fees.​

Imagine renting a vacation rental house and getting a ski lift ticket free or being able to take your entire family out to dinner at a gourmet restaurant for free? You CAN if you book directly with a vacation rental owner.

  • Lodge, cabin, condo, house or villa?

  • How many guests in your group?

  • Will you bring pets?

  • Are there child-friendly amenities?

  • Flexible with dates of travel or do you need an exact match?

  • What luxury amenities do you need?

  • What city or town would you like to vacation?

And then… Pull up your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and in the search box type in something like [town, vacation rental, amenity]. Refine the search to fit your group’s needs and hopefully, you will have a list of vacation rentals that meet your needs to choose from. Read out blog on Safe Rental Tips! Happy vacationing!


Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch (603) 662 - 5391


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