Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique spaces around the world. Airbnb facilitates the process of listing and booking a space by handling all financial transactions. Thus, payments are timely and secure. This adds extra security, since a host is not paid until 24 hours after a guest checks in. It's also free to list your space on Airbnb. A small processing fee is charged only when a place is booked.
In contrast, HomeAway and VRBO are online classifieds where vacation rental owners pay to advertise their space. The site puts guests in contact with owners or property managers. However, the transaction is not facilitated and thus tenants and owners are responsible for processing their own payments.
Airbnb also has a balanced and authentic review system which allows only those who have had exchanged services to review one another. Since HomeAway does not facilitate the transaction, they cannot determine the accuracy of reviews.
Another key difference is the breadth of spaces and locations that Airbnb offers, with most available to rent for any duration of time. Since people can list any space for free, our spectrum runs the gamut from an entire apartment to a private island, an igloo to a sailboat, a treehouse to a castle. We also have an extensive global community spanning over 8,000 cities in 166 countries.