Best Site for Renting Your Home? It’s Not What You Think.

Sure, it's pretty, but airbnb charges a booking fee. Weak.

Sure, it’s pretty, but airbnb charges a booking fee. Weak.

 

With the start of the “high season” upon us in northern Michigan, I thought now was a good time to talk over which sites have been the best way of sharing The Frankfort House with the world.

Before we started renting, Caitlyn and I discussed our options and decided, at least for the time being, to avoid paying a big lump sum ($349 or 10% of bookings) to places like HomeAway or VRBO, even though both are the “big dogs” of the vacation rental website business.

Knowing rental properties are a hot commodity in Frankfort, we took a simplistic approach, with the hopes that the house would rent itself. First, we created the website and Facebook page. Then, we posted it to Craigslist, both in northern Michigan and the Grand Rapids area (for Detroit, the property needed to be in the tri-county area). Lastly, we created pages on airbnb and FlipKey, both of which charge a modest amount for listing (although, FlipKey also charges renters a booking fee).

Craigslist: Simple, but effective.

Craigslist: Simple, but effective.

So, what service has gotten us the most bang for our buck so far? Turns out, it’s Craiglist, specifically the northern Michigan page, which has yielded the most bookings. We’ve had one booking through airbnb and an almost-booking through FlipKey, which eventually petered out. We had one booking through word-of-mouth and the website and that’s about it.

In a future blog post, I’ll get into the details of all these sites, but it’s interesting that a site as simple as Craigslist, with just pictures and block copy — no fancy widgets, availability calendars or other doodads — has been the most effective. Of course, we love it because then we don’t have to pay a middle-man any fees, but also don‘t like it because we have to re-post our ad everyday, lest it get buried among the rest of the listings. We’re also hoping no one rents our house to serve as temporary meth lab, but time will tell.

Which websites do you use to book vacation rentals?

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