Vacation Listings By Owner (VLBO) was started in 2005. The website is a simple posting website where individual owners can post their vacation rentals for a small fee. Owners of vacation rentals can post an unlimited number of high-resolution images and offer listing information to their customers for a one time easy fee. VLBO is simply a place for people to host their postings and is not considered a booking agency. This means that all of the rental information is communicated directly between renters and owners. Additionally, the owner determines fees and cancellation policies. 

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The Good

  • No booking fees
  • Great search function
  • Cost effective

Since VLBO is handled directly by the owner that means you have absolutely no booking fees. All of the pricing is handled directly from the owner so there is a possibility of flexible cancellation and rescheduling depending on the policies of your rental property.

Additionally, VLBO has an easy search website that allows you to search for available properties by city and lodging type. VLBO features vacation listings near tourist's spots such as popular beaches, ski resorts, lakes, and golf courses. Here is what's good:

  • No booking fees - at the time the reservation is made, there are no additional costs
  • Real-time availability calendar - check to see if the desired property is available
  • Listing statistics - number of times a vacation rental is booked or viewed
  • Customer feedback - real user reviews available
  • Keyword searches - cuts down on research time

VLBO is a very cost effective way for private owners to display their vacation rental listings, this makes it so travellers can get the best possible price for their vacation rentals. Additionally, if you do have any issues with your vacation rental, VLBO offers a 24/7email support line and a customer service phone number during business hours.

The Bad

  • Missing features
  • No guarantees
  • Limited locations

VLBO is simply a vacation listing service. Since they don't charge booking fees, they don't offer simple conveniences that their competitors do offer. In an attempt to keep the interface simple and the service straight-forward and uncomplicated, there are some things missing from their platform. Here is what VLBO could improve on:

  • No guarantees - pricing guarantees not available
  • No fraud protection - lack of verification can cause problems
  • No rental insurance options - to help cover the any damages
  • VLBO takes no responsibility for any misleading ads
  • No mobile app - download available on iOS or Android
  • No cancellation policy or information (depends on owner)
  • No property verification - can increase fraud issues

Additionally, VLBO doesn't support very many locations. All of their postings are in the United States, Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. This means if you're looking to travel abroad, there will be very few to no postings. Lastly, the biggest concern users have with VLBO is their entire lack of protection for the renter.

It is up to you to decide if the property owner is trustworthy and if something goes wrong with your rented vacation home, then VLBO doesn't offer any support. VLBO even warns against paying for any property before the time of arrival to ensure that your listing is exactly as it was advertised.

The Bottom Line

Travel experts would not recommend VLBO as a good place to find your next vacation rental. Although VLBO has great properties at a low price, the risk of fraud is too high. Most competing websites will at least verify your vacation home; however, VLBO does not have any security features in place to protect your vacation rental. Those that use VLBO to make their vacation rental reservation can expect the following from the service:

  1. No service fees
  2. Fast research times
  3. No price guarantee
  4. No fraud protections

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