Trip Rental Regulars Lastly Get a Loyalty Program … Kinda

Is it higher to ebook a resort or a short-term trip rental? In some methods, that is like asking whether or not boxers are higher than briefs or whether or not crunchy peanut butter is best than creamy. And the reply is identical: It relies upon.

Sure, there are some clear-cut variations between the 2. Brief-term leases might be higher for massive teams or distinctive stays. Accommodations are usually extra predictable and provide advantages akin to rewards factors and elite standing perks.

I’ve railed in opposition to Airbnb previously for failing to supply a rewards program to its most loyal prospects. Regardless of spending a whopping $26,243 on its platform since 2016, I don’t have a factor to indicate for it — not even a gold star.

Properly, Airbnb’s greatest competitor, Vrbo, now has a rewards program referred to as One Key, which additionally consists of Expedia and That implies that short-term renters on Vrbo lastly get one thing again for all their spending.

“Vrbo can be the primary main on-line trip rental platform to supply a rewards program,” a Vrbo spokesperson advised me in an e mail, “So this can be a game-changer for the trade.”

Will One Key tilt the scales within the hotels-versus-rentals debate? Is it value it? And can I lastly get that gold star?

What took so lengthy?

The concept of a short-term rental loyalty program isn’t new. Airbnb introduced a “SuperGuest” program again in 2017 however by no means launched it. And Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky appeared to dismiss the concept throughout a current earnings name.

“One of the best loyalty program is constructing a product folks love a lot they need to come again,” Chesky says. “You do not have to pay them to come back again.”

Airbnb has dominated the short-term rental area, so it hasn’t been compelled to earn its prospects’ loyalty. Airways and motels provide such lavish perks to frequent vacationers due to the fierce competitors between these manufacturers. With out that competitors, there’s no want for loyalty applications.

Vrbo is attempting to alter that story and cease enjoying Bing to Airbnb’s Google.

How does the One Key rewards program work?

Expedia Group, the guardian firm of Vrbo, created the One Key rewards program to work throughout all three of its journey reserving platforms. You may earn rewards on Vrbo, Expedia or after which spend these rewards on any of the others.

There are primarily two components to the One Key program:

  • A rewards program that earns 2% again in journey forex (OneKeyCash) for every greenback spent on motels, automotive leases and trip leases. 
  • An elite standing program that provides perks for staying at sure properties via Expedia and 

Sadly, this second a part of this system doesn’t do a lot for Vrbo loyalists. You gained’t obtain any advantages for staying at a Vrbo property, even in the event you obtain the best “platinum” stage within the One Key elite standing program.

So mainly, Vrbo’s inclusion within the bigger Expedia One Key program implies that you’ll get 2% value of journey credit for spending on trip leases. Shrug.

And truly, it’s not even that a lot. The rewards are based mostly on the rental’s base worth, earlier than taxes and charges, not the entire price. Add-on charges akin to cleansing charges could be a huge a part of the ultimate invoice, so this may have a big effect on the efficient charge of earned rewards.

After I appeared up a one-night keep on Vrbo to see the way it shook out, a $252 rental solely earned $2.58 in rewards — a bit greater than 1% of the entire price.

That’s all to say that Vrbo’s One Key program doesn’t provide a lot tangible worth for trip rental regulars, although it’s an entire lot higher than nothing.

Is it value it?

Pay attention, I’m not going to show my nostril up at free stuff. Though 2% (or is it 1%?) in rewards is fairly paltry — Alaska Airways’ Mileage Plan gives roughly 10% in worth for each greenback spent, based mostly on NerdWallet estimates — it’s an honest first step in making a significant rewards program for frequent rental friends.

It’s a bummer that there aren’t any significant elite standing perks, even for friends who ebook dozens of stays with Vrbo. But it surely’s arduous to understand how these advantages would work given the platform’s host-based mannequin. Is a few random host going to present me a bottle of wine as a result of I’ve Platinum standing? That might be bizarre.

But it’s good that these rewards are usable — and earnable — via extra than simply trip leases. Incomes a number of rewards via Vrbo and some via might add as much as significant financial savings for frequent vacationers, particularly since these rewards are on high of these earned via journey bank cards.

Most significantly, I can now earn a gold star (or at the least gold standing) by reserving short-term leases.

Extra From NerdWallet

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the creator and don’t essentially mirror these of Nasdaq, Inc.

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