Top5 Review

FlipKey Review

FlipKey is the short-term vacation rental division of TripAdvisor. FlipKey connects the insider knowledge of homeowners with the collective wisdom of 661 million TripAdvisor traveler reviews so you can stay the smarter way. On FlipKey, you discover not only the best rental but also the best restaurants, attractions and experiences – no matter where you’re headed.

The short-term rental platform at TripAdvisor lists 830,000+ unique rentals in over 200 countries worldwide. FlipKey offers the best vacation home rentals if you are a foodie or an avid review reader. Their extensive collection of reviews gives you a one-stop shop to find restaurants, attractions, and experiences near your vacation rental home.

As an internationally accessible website, FlipKey’s parent company is boasting 456 million unique page views per month. TripAdvisor acquired FlipKey just one year after its inception and they have been a subsidiary ever since. TripAdvisor lists six main categories on the homepage: hotels, things to do, restaurants, flights, vacation rentals and cruises. You will find vacation rentals listed prominently on the front page of the #2 rated travel website. However, vacation rentals are not displayed in accommodation search results by default. Users must seek out the vacation rental sub-section to see homes vs hotels.

Vacation rentals are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional hotel stays. Why? Because they offer travelers the space, amenities and privacy of home when on vacation … along with incredible value! Forget anonymous hotel rooms – from entire oceanfront houses with private beach access to city condos in luxury buildings, FlipKey offers you places with personailty to make your trips unforgettable. For stays to suit your needs and individual travel style, there’s nowhere better. -TripAdvisor

Pros

Diverse short-term housing types
24/7 customer service
A wide variety of location-specific activities reviewed

Cons

Guest fees can be up to 16% of subtotal
Outdated website experience
No dedicated app for vacation rental division

Platform Stats

Founded: 2007
Founders: Carl Query, Jeremiah Gall, and TJ Mahony
Countries in: 200+
Properties: 830,000+
Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts
Number of Employees: estimated 265

Features

Search functionality on FlipKey allows you to filter for kid-friendly, pet-friendly, wheelchair access, smoking allowed and more. Hosts self-identify features and seem to over select in order to show up in more search results. One unique search feature is the ability to look for rentals in close proximity to a point of interest. For example, you could look for only rentals close to the Space Needle in Seattle. This allows travelers to create geography specific itineraries easily.

In addition to showing properties reviews, it also shows you how many people have booked that property in total. In the short-term rental market, a low review percentage that could indicate less than ideal experiences. When a guest has a lackluster experience at a vacation rental, they often do not leave a review. Guests simply let the one-off bad experience go, especially if the property has high reviews prior to their stay. That is why a low review percentage leads platforms to show that listing lower in the search results.

TripAdvisor has a global reach. It is the #2 most popular travel site online. TripAdvisor users live all over the world. You can access TripAdvisor in 28 different languages. Individual property listings, as a result, are translated automatically. Even more, exposure happens at the same time on five sister websites.

Customer Price

Guests pay a booking fee when booking vacation homes on TripAdvisor Rentals and its family of sites. This helps meet some of the costs of running our websites, including:

  • Making sure your transactions are secure
  • Developing the websites and improving the user experience
  • Providing owners and travelers with 24-hour customer support

If you pay for your rental through our platform, you also benefit from TripAdvisor’s Payment Protection policy.

The booking fee is a percentage of the total rental cost (not including refundable damage deposits or taxes applied by the owner). The fee is variable and ranges from 8% to 16% for the majority of bookings, but can be slightly lower in some cases.

Host Income and Fees

If you have a free listing

All bookings are taken online through our website and you pay a processing fee of 3% per booking. We calculate this commission based on your total rent, including any required and optional fees you specify for your property, for things like cleaning.

Payments can be transferred to either your bank or PayPal account. You will not pay any additional PayPal fees.

If you have an annual listing

You pay an annual fee per property, you can decide how to receive payments from guests – either directly or online through our website.

For payments taken through our website, you pay a processing fee of 3%. We calculate this commission based on your total rent, including any required and optional fees you specify for your property, for things like cleaning.

Payments can be transferred to either your bank or PayPal account. You will not pay any additional PayPal fees.

Final Verdict

While FlipKey touts itself as the world’s largest travel community, it seems clear they are riding the coattails of their parent company for that distinction. Users of TripAdvisor might not even realize they are basically being steered away from seeing search results of vacation rental homes. Until TripAdvisor commits to featuring vacation rentals more prominently, it isn’t clear to travelers that homes are even an option.

While you may have an easier time creating geography specific trip itineraries, that advantage seems lost if you never see results for vacation homes to begin with. Vacation rental hosts seem to be shying away from the platform because of an overall lack of marketing and support for this branch of TripAdvisor. Online reviews overwhelmingly stated there was difficulty getting responses from FlipKey on a variety of issues.

The platform seems to be on the brink of being a vacation rental giant. They have recently created new resources for hosts to easily sign up as hosts and training to get them earning income from their homes. Expect to see some big moves from FlipKey in the near future. A larger market share will allow them to grow their operations and support for this branch of TripAdvisor.

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