Say No to VRBO Service Fee ? – how to get around those nasty little charges

Say No to VRBO Service Fee – How to work around those booking charges and get more direct traffic

If you are the sort of person that wants to organise your own property rental and deal directly with customers – this is for you.  If you are happy for platforms to hold on to your money and take a commission both from you and your customers then just carry on what you are doing.  For the rest of us business owners – lets save some money – read on

1. Background :-

I have a property that I advertised on a holiday rental portal (I’m sure you know the ones). All used to be fine – I would pay a lot to advertise my property , I get enquiries accept bookings – and everyone is happy. My customers are happy that they have managed to find a lovely place to stay. They like dealing directly with me, I have a lot of local knowledge and I am more than happy to help people where to go, what to see etc. I like to help where I can – hence this post.

I get some repeat customers, who still come through  the Property Rental Platform  – which means I always have renewed my advert, as I know it is working for me. BUT things change, with the rise of AirBnB and others, the business model changed. Not only do they charge the customers to book, they also want to charge me for the ‘privilege’ of getting a booking!!

So – I decide to have a look around and see what my options are. I looked at various other websites and it seems they have moved on to the same business model – charge customers and charge owners for each booking – make lots of money. Cant blame them for that I guess BUT there is a way around this.

2. Time to fight back with some other means.


My  background is in IT, and over the last few years has been in eCommerce (#1 ecommerce tool on Facebook) as well as working with some other tools that help to boost your websites for the most popular keywords. Dont worry this is not a selling post – I am here to give you a way to get your own back and get customers coming directly to you and so you can avoid the booking fees. 

Having spent a long time working on Keyword Research, Website Auditing and Competition Research tools I understand how to optimise a page for a specific keyword phrase.  Now the IMPORTANT bit – the more obscure the keyword phrase the easier it is to optimise as there is NO competition.

The BIG Corps have one thing they dont want to happen – they do NOT want their customers being able to contact the owner until they have paid money to them, the customer made the booking and they have the money. They do NOT want the customer to contact you the Owner – because they know what will happen.

When you have a middle man that takes a cut of the booking – people will come to an arrangement outside of the booking – and they will pay the owner direct instead – and the owner usually accepts,  as it means everyone isn’t hit with a fee.  If I was to show you how to do it – then I guess you would be interested – if so read on.

3. What you will need to do and know how to do it (or get someone else to do it)


Do you know how create , edit and add tags to a webpage ?  


In order to do what I did – you will need to know a little about how to create a webpage on your existing site if you have one.  You will need to be able to add a H1 heading Tag and a couple of H2 Headings and know how to set the Page Title as well as the URL of the page.  Let me explain these things for a moment – as it is simple once you know how.


Page Title – is the title tag on the webpage that tells Google what the page is about.

H1 Headings are the like the Headlines in a newspaper – H2 headings are like sub headlines.

Web Page Url – this is the friendly address eg

Meta Desciption – this is the 3 lines of text below your Google listing.


When a search engine visits your webpage in order to understand what the page is about it will look at  Page Title, the Headlines and text on the page and the address details.

4. The Reveal – as simply as I can


I have a listing on a VRBO site as well as booking . com. With the VRBO site, I have a free advert and they take about 8% commission per booking. Also on Booking . com I have a free advert, so basically I only pay when someone books. On both adverts I have called my  ‘property name’ something unique. For example do NOT call it Serviced Apartments Cardiff  INSTEAD call it something relevant to you and something not named anywhere else AND which is easy for your customers to remember.


So for example – property name is Purple Poppy Apartment London. The more obscure but easy to remember the better – I’m sure you get the idea. 


My potential and previous customers do the following they will search on VRBO and Booking . com for an apartment in my location, they then Google my property name. They do this for a number of reasons – to either get some information or a review or maybe find a way to contact me directly instead.  So for example of a friend of mine has done the same – here is the Google Search link  Take a look at the results and look for the result that says  “SHANDON Apartment Cardiff Book Direct AVOID booking fees”


When people see that headline information – the next thing they do after reading  – avoid book fees, book direct – they click on it and make contact.

5. Summary

Now that I have explained how everything works and what you need to do in order to achieve some direct traffic all you need to do is follow what I have done.

If you know how to edit a webpage then it is straight forward enough to achieve – make sure your unique property name is in the URL, the Page Title, is a H1 Heading on the page and make sure you have plenty of text – over 300 words, plus pictures. Make sure that all the images use the Image Alt tag.

Most importantly make sure the Page Title and the Meta Description have your property  name plus some text that says Book Direct AVOID Booking fees etc etc – this will grab the attention of anyone looking through Google Search results – as you have seen with my example.

6 Follow up – Next Steps

If you made it this far – then thanks for reading .

There are a couple of extra things I would like to ask / offer / suggest. I created my own free listing site here , which is for owners who want to advertise their property in Wales (UK) for free.

If you want any help creating an optimised webpage that you have – then I can possibly help out – but I would have to charge for my time – I estimate it would take 1 – 2 hours.

You can contact me directly below

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However – I like a challenge,  if you have a property, images and all the text description then contact me below and lets see if I create a new section on here called VRBO owners with a selection of pages – then maybe we can get your property rental page to #1 of Google using your property name, location etc.   This wont be an exhaustive list – just a few select ones to see how it goes and we’ll take it from there. 

Other things I do :-

Say No to VRBO Service Fee – How to work around those the booking charges and get more direct traffic