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Alternatives to Airbnb: home-sharing platforms you should know about

By Nathan Guss|8 min|December 2022

Airbnb isn’t the only home-sharing platform out there. Here are 6 alternative platforms where you can be a host.

In the almost 15 years since Airbnb was founded, many other rental platforms have sprung up. That’s good news for property owners looking for the broadest possible reach online. Many are solid alternatives that allow you to diversify your revenue sources. This list gives you pros, cons and the costs for each platform so that you can find options that work for you.

1. Vrbo

The vacation rental platform Vrbo (vacation rental by owner) now belongs to Expedia and attracts millions of visitors every month. Unlike Airbnb, only entire homes can be listed. The site features houses, condos, apartments, cottages and more. It’s often an appealing option for small-scale property owners interested in short-term rentals.

Pros

Without competition from hotels, renting your property can be easier on Vrbo than other platforms.

Cons

Vrbo is primarily aimed at tourists. That means guests will usually book short stays, which can mean more logistics:

  • Frequent housekeeping
  • More arrivals to manage
  • Potential annoyances, such as parties, noise, carelessness with household items, etc.

How much does it cost?

When the Expedia Group acquired Vrbo, it imposed service fees. Vrbo charges a 5% commission fee and a 3% payment processing fee for every booking on the total amount you receive from the guest (the latter includes taxes and refundable damage deposits). Hosts could previously pay an annual flat subscription, but as of this writing, this option is currently off the table.

2. Sinistar

Are you interested in helping people in your area who have lost the use of their home after water damage, a fire or some other unfortunate accident? Please allow us to toot our own horn a bit! The Canadian platform Sinistar lets you rent your home to insurers looking to relocate displaced policyholders.

If you have some qualms about the bad press other home-sharing platforms have been getting for contributing to the housing crisis, ours is a feel-good alternative. Sinistar allows you to belong to a network of hosts giving displaced families a helping hand and making their communities more resilient.

Pros

You can also usually earn as much from renting to insurers as you would in the vacation rental market. And you can do so while enduring far fewer hassles. Since you’re dealing with insurance companies, you won’t have any difficulty collecting rent. In fact, you won’t have to do so at all: Sinistar takes care of payments. Furthermore, because most rentals are medium-term stays, you’ll have fewer cleanings to arrange and arrivals to handle. With most displaced policyholders looking for housing in a specific area, you’ll probably face less competition from other hosts.

Cons

Displaced families want to find a temporary home quickly: you’ll need to react fast when an opportunity to bid on a relocation contract comes up.

How much does it cost?

Listing your home on the platform is free: Sinistar only deducts service fees from rental contracts that are awarded to you. Fees vary from one contract to another, but as of December 1, 2022, they range from 3.5% to 6%.

3. Booking.com

Booking.com is an online travel agency based in the Netherlands. It offers a wide variety of lodging options ranging from homes to hotels.

Pros

With monthly visits regularly topping 350 million, the site gives your property global visibility. If any issues or questions arise, the company provides support 24/7.

Cons

The downside of listing with such a huge player is the intense competition. Your property will contend with over 28 million listings. That said, the site offers tools and products to boost your visibility. For example, if you meet certain criteria, you can become a “preferred partner” and gain on average 20% more bookings.

How much does it cost?

Advertising on the site is free. But Booking.com charges a steep 15% fee when your home is rented. You can also pay extra fees to promote your lodging.

4. Expedia

Expedia is another major travel platform. Its flight, rental car and hotel deals attract many would-be tourists. On average, the site has over 70 million visits monthly. Individual property owners can also list their homes among the accommodation offerings.

Pros

With so much traffic on its site, Expedia can be a great place for your rental home to gain worldwide views. You can take advantage of their TravelAds, which allow you to bid for a top sort order position in searches.

Cons

Like Booking.com, Expedia is less worthwhile for small-scale property owners. You’ll have to compete against hotel chains and travel agencies that operate on small profit margins. Plus, it can be hard to stand out on a site with so many listings.

How much does it cost?

Advertising your property is free. However, you pay a commission for each reservation. According to one source, the commission varies between 15% and 30% of the rental amount.

5. Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe caters to travelling families looking for upscale accommodations. If you live in an attractive tourist destination, this platform could be a good option.

Pros

Kid & Coe provides editorial and photo editing to give your listing a professional’s touch. Plus, they can manage your booking calendar and give you tools to keep you up-to-date on reservations. Since there aren’t many Canadian listings, you won’t face much competition. Interested hosts can participate in the company’s home exchange program.

Cons

You must apply to list your home. Kid & Coe reviews your property to ensure that it meets their criteria—desirability of the location, safeness and amenities for children, stylishness of the décor, among others. Although you can fail to meet some criteria and still list your home, many properties may not be a good fit.

How much does it cost?

To get started, you pay a $99 editorial fee that covers fact checking and creating a listing for your home. Private listings are charged a 10% processing fee on all reservations.

6. Classifieds

If you want to avoid services fees and commissions, online classifieds, such as Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace, can be good choices. These sites allow you to post any type of lodging for both short- and long-term rentals.

Pros

Advertising on these sites is free. Furthermore, there are no service fees or commissions on rentals. Another big plus is that, unlike some other platforms, you can provide a link that directs traffic to your own website.

Cons

Postings on most classifieds platforms eventually expire. On Kijiji, for example, vacation rental ads stay active for 30 days. You’ll need to remember to repost your listing. Also keep in mind that these sites can be magnets for scammers. You’ll need to be on the lookout if you use them.

How much does it cost?

Nothing!

Get out of your comfort zone

Airbnb is often the platform of choice for newbies in the home-sharing market. But it’s far from being the only worthwhile option. As our list shows, there is no lack of platforms for Canada with many strongpoints for hosts.

Are you ready to expand your horizons?

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