Vacation Rentals Real Estate Events Magazine DestinFM News Book Activities Things To Do Sign In

The Good Life After VRBO: An Owners Success Story

Imagine running your own vacation rental business and partnering with an advertising company that allows no tenant screening, takes a large portion of your business profit, and sometimes pays you incorrectly. How does that sound? Unfortunately, this is a reality in the short-term rental business, and it is happening to thousands of property owners on Airbnb and VRBO.


We are thrilled to introduce you to, also known as Emerald Coast By Owner. ECBYO is a major Gulf Coast player in the #BOOKDIRECT movement. To put it simply, ECBYO is a marketing website that saves property owners tons of money and gives control back to the property owner. ECBYO offers you the freedom to handle your business how you see fit.  You do not pay a per-reservation commission—instead you pay a very reasonable annual listing fee. Compared to Airbnb/VRBO, which charges both the owner and the renter for each reservation, ECBYO can save you thousands of dollars annually.  ECBYO cuts out the middleman so renters can book directly with you, the owner! As a business owner, you should be in charge of the booking!


As part of the #BOOKDIRECT movement, we recently interviewed a former VRBO user that converted to ECBYO. Danica Connell left the corporate giants and was an early player in the #BOOKDIRECT movement, proving to other owners they can survive without the greedy websites.  Danica is the owner of Waterscape Rentals by Owner, a condo rental company specializing in Waterscape Resort, located on Okaloosa Island near Destin, Florida. Danica has been quite the powerhouse in the rental business world. She purchased her first rental in 2012 and has been growing since. Danica continued to purchase condos in Waterscape for several years, and with the desire to continue her growth, she decided in 2020 to manage condos as well. Danica is now full-time with her Waterscape gig, and she truly pours her heart and soul into her business. It was very clear from our interview that this is her true passion, which is exactly why she had to get out of VRBO—they tied her down!

Section Image

After speaking with Danica, we learned a lot about what went wrong when it came to VRBO and why she believes “ECBYO was the best decision I made for my business.” She left VRBO very shortly after they began charging renters a “Service Fee,” one of the first to cut the cord.  With VRBO providing 100% of her revenue stream, and no one else to lead the way, she felt the move could be risky. However, she was mad with the new model and decided to take her chances. She said, “VRBO has a lot of fees that can be avoided by booking direct. For starters, they will charge the renter a fee. So if the budget is $3500, wouldn’t you, the owner, want all of that? VRBO is also another link in the chain when something goes wrong.  It is me who shows up at the door to help, not VRBO.  Why the extra red tape?”  She also found that VRBO payouts were not always accurate, and figuring out why the money was off could take hours on a phone to someone that couldn’t explain it anyway.   “Why are we allowing another company in our money chain??!!”


Danica referred to VRBO bookings as a “faceless game.” VRBO hid the guests from her until the guests paid. This was difficult for her because she wanted to know who was staying in her home, and talk to them directly, not through a monitored platform. It was tough to form relationships with the guests. Not only does Danica take pride in her properties, but she seeks to create the guests’ experience at the highest level.


The straw that broke the camel's back on VRBO was a situation regarding Danica’s watermark. Like any smart business owner, it’s important to protect every aspect of your business. Danica had placed a very small watermark on all her photos to protect them from scammers and other improper use. VRBO disabled all of Danica’s ads and told her she had to remove the watermarks to reinstate.  Danica thought about it, and simply replied “no thanks.”  She closed the door and started a new chapter.


Danica discovered ECBYO and knew the listing site had a huge market share focusing specifically on the Gulf Coast area. “The day I chose to leave VRBO and advertise with ECBYO was a turning point in my business. I regained my happiness and passion and eventually decided to grow.  I have absolutely no regrets.”


As of today, ECBYO is the only paid advertising platform Danica uses. She is living proof owners can leave the large corporations and switch to #BOOKDIRECT. She now has higher occupancy rates, better control of her business, and higher guest satisfaction since guests are both saving money and working with no corporations standing in the way. Danica wants everyone to know the freedoms they can have if they switch to #BOOKDIRECT. ECBYO appreciates Danica in so many ways--she is a leading woman in the #BOOKDIRECT world. She is personable and genuinely cares for her guests.


If this situation sounds familiar to you as an owner, then it’s time to choose freedom from the greedy websites. Stop allowing these companies to take your hard-earned paycheck, and take back control of your business today! ECBYO is simple: renters contact property owners and managers directly, both parties save money, and owners enjoy the business again! If the big companies sound like less of what you like, and ECBYO sounds like more of what you’re looking for, don’t wait any longer!  ECBYO can’t wait to talk with you!