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Vacation Property Renters: Here's a “Who’s Who” of Vacation Rental Websites

If you’re reading this, you've probably already discovered the advantages of vacation rental properties over traditional hotel-type accommodations, including:

  • More space to relax
  • More privacy
  • Better value for your money
  • Full kitchens (a great alternative to dining out)
  • Home-like amenities such as multiple TVs, washers and dryers, private hot tubs, garages and more

For most renters, the search for vacation rentals begins on the internet. Here’s an overview of some popular websites for finding vacation properties and some other info to consider.

The Old Guard: VRBO and HomeAway
Probably the most familiar name in vacation rental websites is “Vacation Rentals by Owner,” more commonly known as or, as some call it, “virbo.” This site was founded in the 1990s by a couple in Breckenridge, Colo., as a way to rent their ski condo. As the site became a success, other vacation property owners became interested — and were willing to pay to have their properties listed on the site.

In 2006, VRBO was purchased by vacation rental giant HomeAway. Today, HomeAway’s “family” of vacation rental websites includes,  and  — and in all, HomeAway’s sites display more than a million properties in 190 countries. Like VRBO, most of these sites began as “mom and pop” sites where vacation property owners might list one or two properties they managed themselves. But in the past five years, property management companies are using these websites to list the properties they rent and manage — sometimes hundreds of properties for one company.

New Kid on the Block: Airbnb
One recent success story in vacation rental sites is This site appeals to a younger demographic and was originally known for somewhat “quirky” listings such as simply offering travelers a couch to sleep on or “properties” that included teepees and yurts. Now valued at close to $30 billion, Airbnb boasts some 1.5 million property listings — and property management companies are loading properties of all types (from basic to luxury) onto Airbnb in huge numbers.

Regional Property Management Websites
While sites like VRBO and Airbnb offer millions of choices around the globe, many travelers find that if they’ve decided on their destination, it’s better to look for vacation rental websites that focus on that specific region. A quick Google search with a location name, e.g., “vacation rentals Breckenridge,” will turn up companies that, in addition to offering a great selection of local vacation properties, are also able to answer questions via email or phone about their properties and offer “insider tips” about local activities, restaurants and other information. They’re locals who know the area — and their rentals — very well.

The Mega Travel Websites
More recently, international travel websites (that previously focused on hotel properties) such as  (the largest travel website in the world) and (which recently purchased HomeAway) are expanding their listings of vacation rental properties. While these websites offer a large selection and (occasionally) good deals, they generally aren’t known for good customer service if you need to contact them for additional information or have issues with a booking made on their websites.

Websites to Avoid
In a word: While this is a fantastic website for many purposes, it’s experiencing a rash of “scam” listings for vacation rental properties, the goal of which is to steal money from unsuspecting travelers.

Check back soon — we’ll be posting more information on how to rent vacation properties online. And don’t hesitate to call us 970.453.7370 or email: We’re always happy to answer any questions about vacation rentals and finding the right property for you — whether you rent from us or not!