In this, part two of our vacation rentals site comparison, we’ll look at three more sites and what their strengths, weaknesses, and user’s commentary are. Then we’ll finish with a summary of both parts of this review and what our favorite vacation rental site from this list is.
This site is a search aggregator, not a listing source, and pulls information from several other sites. It acts as a sort of central search engine for vacation rentals. The site just launched and has a total of 200,000 listings so far in its database. It was founded by Michael Giles (of Furl) and Baer Tierkel.
The site’s income comes from commissions for referring customers to other sites, since once your search is complete, your results are links to other sites with rental properties that match your criteria. The site itself is slick and extremely functional. First, choose a continent/country, then refine your search further (on the map) or just enter a location directly (such as âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬Paris, IdahoâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹). Listings come up at each refinement stage and you can further narrow by number of rooms, amenities, and so forth.
The greatest weakness of this site, currently, is its dependence on other sites for results. Since none of the listings are with Otalo.com itself, some outdated listings are obviously possible. This is a small problem, though, when the number of available listings at any time is so large on this site’s database. Especially when compared to the arduous task of going from rental site to rental site to search, search, and search again for your prime spot at the right price.
This site is also owned by Homeaway.com (see Part I), but of the three clone sites is the more easily-used. It offers little to differentiate itself from Homeaway.com other than site design. See the Homeaway.com review in Part I of this review series for more information.
Of all those on this list, Vrbo.com is probably the oldest of the vacation rental sites online. VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner and is just that: a site that lists vacation rental properties, listed by the owners themselves. So you won’t find a lot of quasi-hotels or motels in their listings, mainly just homes and the occasional apartment/condo.
One user to this site has been on multiple vacations, with accommodations being done through vrbo.com. In all instances, his accommodations were homey and as expected and were much cheaper than local hotels or resorts and with more amenities. One of the benefits of owner-driven sites like this are the bonuses that can come with the rental, like free rides to and from the airport.
All in all, vrbo.com seems to be an experienced setup that’s easy to use. The site isn’t hard to navigate and we found few negatives to mention. Since it is owner-driven, however, listings are not always current. Check at the bottom of each listing’s detail page to see when the page was last updated.
Choosing from these sites was not easy. The âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬big threeâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ on the list (Homeaway.com, Otalo.com, and Vrbo.com) are all great resources with a lot to offer. In the end, however, we settled on Vrbo.com with Otalo.com as a close and useful second choice when Vrbo.com just doesn’t quite have what you need for a specific vacation.
Vrbo.com is a more homey, personal site than Homeaway.com and has a more human feel to it. In addition, the listings are truly homes and condos owned by the people who’re listing them and you’re more likely than not going to meet the person whose home you’re renting for your vacation stay. This means the entire experience is a more person-to-person interaction and therefore meets what most non-resort-stayers would expect from this style of vacationing.