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Airbnb, the biggest name in the business, has spearheaded the craze for short-term rentals and home-shares. The San Francisco-based brand had the fastest-growing travel website in 2015, with a massive 94.9 million monthly visits. In the same year, its name recognition grew from 24 percent to 35 percent. Now, just a few short years later, Airbnb has nearly 5 million listings in more than 191 countries. When it comes to travel, the continued growth of the sharing economy has ignited the debate: vacation rentals vs hotels.

The Match Up

Short-term vacation rentals provide a whole host of benefits that you won’t always find when you book a hotel room. These lodging options offer a simple alternative to big-name hotel chains and today, more travelers are choosing to book a short-term rental rather than stay in a hotel than ever before. Let’s see how vacation rentals and hotels stack up.

Length of Stay

In 2016, research from TripAdvisor revealed that 43 percent of travelers plan to stay a week or longer in a vacation rental, while 24 percent intend to stay between one and two weeks. This is significantly longer than the average hotel stay. 40 percent of business travelers spend only one night at a hotel, 23 percent spend two nights and 37 percent spend three or more nights. The number of leisure travelers spending three or more nights at a hotel was even less at just 24 percent. These statistics suggest guests will spend more time at their destination when using a vacation rental, making them perfect for travelers wanting to take longer trips.


Short-term rentals can provide a range of amenities during your stay, such as free WIFI, a washing machine and dryer, a yard or patio (maybe even with a hot tub), and a full kitchen. Research from TripAdvisor reveals that 50 percent of travelers choose a vacation rental over a hotel when they travel because of “better amenities,” while 94 percent who have stayed in a rented property were satisfied with the experience. The most popular amenities that travelers are looking for? A kitchen, stunning views, a private pool, free Wi-Fi, and pet-friendly properties, according to a recent study.

Size of Accommodation

Guests are afforded more space when they stay in a rented property, according to research. The average size of a vacation rental is 2,000 square feet, compared to 400 square feet for a hotel room. The result? More space to rest and relax after exploring the local area and a great space to spend time in while you stay in.


Here at Pillow, we’ve found that guests appreciate value when looking for accommodations. Travelers can expect to pay up to 50 percent less per square foot than an average hotel room when they book a vacation rental. And, the cost can easily be divided between friends and family, a cheaper alternative than pay-per-night rates for multiple rooms at a hotel.

Generational Appeal

Vacation rentals are thought to be the domain of Millennials. 75 percent of respondents between 25 and 34 used a home-sharing service in the last year, making rentals popular with young families who want facilities like swimming pools and gardens, leaving some cramped, crowded city-center hotels unable to compete.

With vacation rentals, including apartments and condos, in cities and resorts across the world, homeowners attract business and vacation travelers who are looking for something different from a conventional hotel room. With this in mind, vacation rentals are becoming popular among many generations, including Baby Boomers, who are the fastest growing users of the lodging option.

Renter demographics also suggest that, while rentals are often cheaper than hotel rooms, the price isn’t always a factor. 70 percent of respondents in a Goldman Sachs study who used a home-sharing service in the last year generated an annual income between $70,000 and $119,000. In addition, usage not only spans both traveler demographics but also traveler styles: 10 percent of long-term rentals are booked by solo travelers, 52 percent by couples or friends and 38 percent by families and large groups.


Instant booking services provided by companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway make it easier than ever for travelers to book a property. You no longer have to visit a homeowner’s website to request a reservation and wait for a response about availability. Using popular short-term rental platforms, like Airbnb, are in some cases even easier to navigate than hotel websites and allows you to explore nearly 5 million listings. With the freedom and flexibility that vacation rentals provide, it’s no wonder more and more people are jumping onboard.

Who Wins in Vacation Rentals vs Hotels?

After going toe to toe in six rounds: length of stay, amenities, convenience, cost, size of accommodation, cost, and generational appeal – we have a clear winner. When it comes to vacation rentals vs hotels, vacation rentals win in every category.

If you own a multifamily building and are thinking about offering short-term rentals as an amenity to your residents, we can help. Here at Pillow, we help you manage short-term rentals safely and easily.

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About Pillow

Pillow is solving short-term rentals for multifamily properties, allowing building owners and property managers to have control and transparency over short-term rentals while enabling their residents to rent their units short-term on Airbnb. Pillow is the official and exclusive multifamily housing partner for popular short-term rental listing platform Airbnb. Pillow takes a complicated, time-consuming process for multifamily building owners and created a solution that greatly benefits Multifamily operators and residents alike.

If you own a multifamily complex or management company and are interested in providing short-term rentals, email or visit

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