If you read our most recent analysis of travel advertising, you know that Airbnb is making a huge push right now. Because of this, we decided to take a look at how the Airbnb advertising strategy compares to one of their biggest competitors, Vrbo. While Vrbo has been around since 1995, it did not take off like Airbnb and so may not be as familiar to many consumers. Vrbo is trying to change that, however, and is attempting to compete directly with Airbnb for a bigger share of the short-term rental market.

Vacation Rental Advertising Trends

As a quick overview of what was talked about in the last travel piece, we’ve seen over 21,000 airings from Airbnb in just the first three months of this year. That’s more than the past two entire years combined from them. There’s mixed reporting, but some indication that they fared better than many hotel chains during the pandemic and are trying to use that success to springboard into something bigger. The data from Vrbo seems to indicate something similar.

We hadn’t seen any Vrbo airings before January 2020. Which means they chose to begin a national advertising campaign in one of the worst years for the travel industry in recent history. That being said, in December of last year, they made a huge advertising push. We tracked over 4,000 ads from Vrbo the week of December 20th. That combined with the Airbnb data from the past three months tells us that these companies think that not only are people itching to get out, but this type of business model is poised to absorb a lot of that demand.

The creative strategies of both companies are pretty similar. We find that both companies have relatively even advertising across the country, though as the map below shows, Vrbo does seem to target markets in the south eastern United States slightly heavier than other markets.

A Map of Vrbo ad occurrences

The creatives of the two companies are also very similar. Both are running ads focused on memories made on vacations in rentals. Vrbo is only running one ad across the country, you’ve probably seen it, it’s in narrative form showing different rooms in a house and talking about the memories had there. Airbnb is running a few ads and they’re structured to be as though you were looking through a photo album, a bunch of stills that are people heavy, smile heavy, and action heavy. Both companies clearly think they stand to benefit from post-pandemic travel and are counting on our nostalgia for fun trips with friends and family to bring us to them.

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