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Any experiences with Evolve (vacation rental website)?

Any experiences with Evolve (vacation rental website)?

Old Dec 17, 2023, 12:12 am
  #1  
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Any experiences with Evolve (vacation rental website)?

Been looking to see if there are other credible vacation rental websites for the US and I came across a website called Evolve. Other than AirBnB and VRBO, it had the most options in the areas I've been looking at (SoCal and SoFla). But I have no experience with them. Has anyone used them successfully? Good CS?

In case it helps anyone else, I also found (although none had enough rentals in the areas I needed to matter to me):

PlumGuide
Vacasa
Blueground
Sonder
Hometogo.com (aka Tripping.com) Meta search engine
FlipKey (TripAdvisor)
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Old Jan 14, 2024, 4:01 pm
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Originally Posted by TravelinSperry
Been looking to see if there are other credible vacation rental websites for the US and I came across a website called Evolve. Other than AirBnB and VRBO, it had the most options in the areas I've been looking at (SoCal and SoFla). But I have no experience with them. Has anyone used them successfully? Good CS?

In case it helps anyone else, I also found (although none had enough rentals in the areas I needed to matter to me):

PlumGuide
Vacasa
Blueground
Sonder
Hometogo.com (aka Tripping.com) Meta search engine
FlipKey (TripAdvisor)
Evolve advertises itself to owners as a property management company. They're really more of a listing/booking management company--if an owner signs up with them to manage your property, Evolve handles all the listing/booking details (including getting photos taken, setting rates, etc.) and will also publish the listing on Airbnb/Vrbo/etc., along with on their own site. The owner still needs to arrange their own contract with cleaners (or clean it themselves) and will still be called upon to help out at the property itself if there are any issues (maintenance, issues getting the TV to work, etc.). They charge a much lower management fee (about 13%) than most full-service property managers (20-40% or more) but they also offer a lot less to the owner. The individual owner is still responsible for furnishing/decorating, choosing what is offered in the property, the condition and cleanliness of their home, etc. It's kind of a service for owners (especially older folks) who aren't as tech-savvy and aren't comfortable with dealing with everything needed to sign up for an Airbnb and/or Vrbo account and get all the amenities listed, rates set up, etc., or a property investor who has a good cleaning and maintenance team in place but doesn't have the time (or desire) to handle the back-and-forth communication with customers.

You can book Evolve-managed rentals both through Airbnb/Vrbo (the property manager shows as Evolve) or, as you've discovered, also through their own site. Bookings via their own site are likely a little cheaper as they avoid the Airbnb/Vrbo service fees, though booking through Airbnb especially gives you an extra layer of guest-centric protection if you have a poor experience. FWIW, I just did a search on Airbnb and found an Evolve-managed rental and then found the same property on Evolve's own site. For a rental this week, it was $718 on Evolve's site and $800 on Airbnb, so Evolve does appear to mark rates up on Airbnb.

From a consumer's perspective, booking through Evolve means that the booking process and communication about access should be fairly standardized (i.e. you don't risk dealing with an absentee/non-communicative owner...or one who insists that they meet you in person to show you around their home and remind you of all their persnickety rules), and while Evolve doesn't maintain a physical presence near their managed rental properties, they do at least some level of monitoring and due diligence to make sure the properties they manage aren't poorly rated. While the potential for variability is higher than with a full-service property manager that handles all of their own cleaning and maintenance (like Vacasa), in my experience, Evolve tends to attract owners who put a little more thought and care into providing a comfortable home with nice, personalized touches (and likely fully stocked kitchens, since many owners use their properties themselves), whereas large property managers can be a bit institutional and not as attentive to the condition and amenities offered in the home.

As far as the other sites you mentioned, the ones I'm familiar with are:
  • Vacasa: a large-scale full-service property management company that manages individually-owned properties. They have a physical presence with cleaning and maintenance staff in the areas they serve, so you're more likely to find them in vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach or Panama City or Branson or Estes Park and not as likely to find them for your urban short-term rental needs in Pittsburgh (but they do have operations in the Poconos!). They list on Airbnb/Vrbo but presumably booking direct would have a slightly lower rate.
  • Sonder: They seem to focus on short-term rentals in urban areas (so the opposite of Vacasa). They offer full-service property management to individual and institutional owners or even rental arbitrage (renting/leasing the property at a fixed monthly rate and then keeping whatever they make in short-term rental income above that). Not actually sure if they list on Airbnb/Vrbo, but they do list at least some of their properties on OTAs like Expedia and Priceline. Presumably booking on their own site would have lower rates.
  • HomeToGo: a booking platform similar to Airbnb/Vrbo. They're based in Germany. They don't really offer anything to either consumers or owners that Airbnb/Vrbo don't, other than that they're not Airbnb/Vrbo. I believe they charge owners a commission instead of charging guests a service fee, but most owners just mark up their rates accordingly, so the all-in price at the end usually ends up being similar.
  • FlipKey: also a booking platform more similar to Airbnb than Vrbo. Easy for owners to list on but has never really gotten popular. Anyone who has listed on FlipKey/TA has almost certainly also listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. I think they've closed down sign-ups for new owners while they re-evaluate their business model.
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Last edited by jackal; Jan 14, 2024 at 4:18 pm
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Old Jan 14, 2024, 4:48 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by jackal
Evolve advertises itself to owners as a property management company. They're really more of a listing/booking management company--if an owner signs up with them to manage your property, Evolve handles all the listing/booking details (including getting photos taken, setting rates, etc.) and will also publish the listing on Airbnb/Vrbo/etc., along with on their own site. The owner still needs to arrange their own contract with cleaners (or clean it themselves) and will still be called upon to help out at the property itself if there are any issues (maintenance, issues getting the TV to work, etc.). They charge a much lower management fee (about 13%) than most full-service property managers (20-40% or more) but they also offer a lot less to the owner. The individual owner is still responsible for furnishing/decorating, choosing what is offered in the property, the condition and cleanliness of their home, etc. It's kind of a service for owners (especially older folks) who aren't as tech-savvy and aren't comfortable with dealing with everything needed to sign up for an Airbnb and/or Vrbo account and get all the amenities listed, rates set up, etc., or a property investor who has a good cleaning and maintenance team in place but doesn't have the time (or desire) to handle the back-and-forth communication with customers.

You can book Evolve-managed rentals both through Airbnb/Vrbo (the property manager shows as Evolve) or, as you've discovered, also through their own site. Bookings via their own site are likely a little cheaper as they avoid the Airbnb/Vrbo service fees, though booking through Airbnb especially gives you an extra layer of guest-centric protection if you have a poor experience. FWIW, I just did a search on Airbnb and found an Evolve-managed rental and then found the same property on Evolve's own site. For a rental this week, it was $718 on Evolve's site and $800 on Airbnb, so Evolve does appear to mark rates up on Airbnb.

From a consumer's perspective, booking through Evolve means that the booking process and communication about access should be fairly standardized (i.e. you don't risk dealing with an absentee/non-communicative owner...or one who insists that they meet you in person to show you around their home and remind you of all their persnickety rules), and while Evolve doesn't maintain a physical presence near their managed rental properties, they do at least some level of monitoring and due diligence to make sure the properties they manage aren't poorly rated. While the potential for variability is higher than with a full-service property manager that handles all of their own cleaning and maintenance (like Vacasa), in my experience, Evolve tends to attract owners who put a little more thought and care into providing a comfortable home with nice, personalized touches (and likely fully stocked kitchens, since many owners use their properties themselves), whereas large property managers can be a bit institutional and not as attentive to the condition and amenities offered in the home.

As far as the other sites you mentioned, the ones I'm familiar with are:
  • Vacasa: a large-scale full-service property management company that manages individually-owned properties. They have a physical presence with cleaning and maintenance staff in the areas they serve, so you're more likely to find them in vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach or Panama City or Branson or Estes Park and not as likely to find them for your urban short-term rental needs in Pittsburgh (but they do have operations in the Poconos!). They list on Airbnb/Vrbo but presumably booking direct would have a slightly lower rate.
  • Sonder: They seem to focus on short-term rentals in urban areas (so the opposite of Vacasa). They offer full-service property management to individual and institutional owners or even rental arbitrage (renting/leasing the property at a fixed monthly rate and then keeping whatever they make in short-term rental income above that). Not actually sure if they list on Airbnb/Vrbo, but they do list at least some of their properties on OTAs like Expedia and Priceline. Presumably booking on their own site would have lower rates.
  • HomeToGo: a booking platform similar to Airbnb/Vrbo. They're based in Germany. They don't really offer anything to either consumers or owners that Airbnb/Vrbo don't, other than that they're not Airbnb/Vrbo. I believe they charge owners a commission instead of charging guests a service fee, but most owners just mark up their rates accordingly, so the all-in price at the end usually ends up being similar.
  • FlipKey: also a booking platform more similar to Airbnb than Vrbo. Easy for owners to list on but has never really gotten popular. Anyone who has listed on FlipKey/TA has almost certainly also listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. I think they've closed down sign-ups for new owners while they re-evaluate their business model.
Wow, thorough write up, thanks!
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