The vacation rental industry has officially made it. Booking.com just launched Villas.com, a smart and streamlined site dedicated solely to vacation rentals, with more than 150,000 listings. Meanwhile, Tripping—the self proclaimed “world’s largest search engine for vacation homes and short-term rentals” and the brainchild of Expedia, Travelzoo, and StubHub veterans—just got a new round of funding, rumored to be between $5 and $10 million.
On Villas.com, you can filter by property type (apartments, chalets, vacation homes, and villas), amenities such as a barbecues or tennis courts, and distance from the beach. Many of the listings—a mix of professionally managed and individually owned properties—have impressive photography and descriptions, and all show ratings (on a 10-point scale) and click-through reviews. And there’s no need to back and forth with property owners: Booking is done directly from the site; some even use a hotel-style model of reserving online and paying upon arrival, which is uncommon in the vacation rental market. And customer service is available 24/7 in 42 different languages.
While you can’t book directly on Tripping, you can compare prices of more than 1 million properties, aggregated from sites such as HomeAway, 9Flats, FlipKey, and Booking.com. When you select a property, you’ll automatically be redirected to the host site. But Tripping is more than just a portal to booking sites—it’s also a treasure trove of useful information. The site breaks down rental companies—both its partners and others that it is not yet aggregating—showing side-by-side comparisons of fees, payment methods, protection insurance, and more. "Many sites don't show fees until the final step of the booking process, so we wanted to bring some transparency to the market for travelers who are thinking about booking a vacation home," says founder and CEO Jen O'Neal, who adds that there are roughly 40 more booking sites currently waiting to get on Tripping.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this site—it’ll be interesting to see what it does with its new influx of cash.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.