Vacation Rental Glossary

Welcome to our vacation rental glossary alphabetical glossary of vacation rental jargon. Things can get a little tricky when it comes to vacation rentals. Don’t get tripped up by complicated words and concepts, which can take the fun out of planning a dream vacation.

There may be a lot of jargon out there used by homeowners, renters, and real estate agents, but luckily for you, we’ve got the ABCs and 123s of all the big terms and abbreviations in the vacation rental dictionary to help you better navigate your way to fantastic summertime fun. The ABCs of vacation rental terms are presented.



Alternative accommodation

The term commonly used to refer to any non-hotel accommodation offerings.


The desirable or useful features of a property. For example, air-conditioning, WiFi or a barbecue.


Airbnb is an online marketplace that lets people rent out their space, which can be anything from an entire property to a spare room, to guests. With over 6 million listings worldwide, Airbnb is a household name in accommodation and vacation rentals. The platform is accessible via the website and mobile app.

Availability calendar

An online calendar that shows up-to-date calendar availability for a property.

Available nights

The total number of nights that a property is open for bookings throughout the year. Often, the owner will want to spend a few days per year at the property themselves!



Backpacking is a combination of hiking and backcountry camping. It allows you to expand your horizons beyond the car campground in order to provide a more rich and immersive outdoor experience. The size of your backpack (and you) must bear all of life’s essentials on your back, which is a crucial difference from day hiking.

Bed and breakfast

A system of accommodation in a small lodging establishment or guesthouse in which you pay for a room for the night and for breakfast the following morning.

An online travel agency (OTA) that allows you to book hotels and holiday rentals. is available in 43 languages and is one of the most well-known brands in the travel industry, with over 28 million listings worldwide.


A vacation rental industry movement aimed at informing guests of the many benefits of booking directly with the owner or property manager rather than via third-party platforms (OTA) in order to save money, get the best deal, and communicate directly with owners.


Often referred to as “Reservation” refers to reserving a specific vacation rental property for a specific guest for a specific period of time.

Booking confirmation

Notification (email, SMS, etc) includes booking reference, a rental contract, and house rules. Usually sent to guests at the time that they book your vacation rental.

Booking engine

An application or piece of software that is used on hotel websites to process reservations and payments in a safe manner.

Booking fee

Some companies or websites charge a fee to guests who book through them.


Cancellation fee

If a guest cancels a reservation after the cancellation deadline has passed, they will be charged a cancellation fee.

Cancellation policy

A collection of rules that govern what happens if a guest cancels their reservation with less than a certain amount of notice.


The process by which a property officially registers a guest’s arrival for their stay.


The process by which a guest officially vacates the property at the end of their stay.

Cleaning fee

A one-time fee charged by hosts to cover the cost of cleaning their property after the visitors have left.


Damage deposit

A refundable amount of money that an owner receives from each guest in addition to the overall booking cost, also known as a security or breakage deposit. If the visitor does any harm to the house, the owner has the right to subtract the cost from the damage deposit. The deposit is refunded in full if there is no harm.

Damage protection insurance

A product that the traveler purchases, usually when paying for their booking. This one-off insurance cost is around $50 to $100 per stay and is bought instead of leaving a damage deposit.

Damage deposit

The act of returning the sum that tenants have paid as a damage deposit to them (provided everything has been left in the same condition).

Direct booking

When a guest book directly through the property owner’s or manager’s website rather than through a third-party distribution channel, it is known as direct booking.

Double booking

A double booking is when one reservation overlaps with another.

Down payment

A partial payment, normally a percentage of the total sum, is made by a guest at the time of booking in order to obtain a reservation.



Expedia is an online travel agency (OTA) that allows customers to book a variety of travel and lodging items such as hotels, flights, holiday rental accommodations, car rentals, and more., Trivago, and Orbitz are only a few of Expedia’s partner sites.



FlipKey is an online vacation rental marketplace. It is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor. In 2016 the company listed more than 300,000 properties in 179 countries. Its headquarters are in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.


Guest experience

The relationship between guests and the host during their stay in a vacation rental property, as well as the time spent in the property.

Guest fee

Additional guest fees are charged in addition to the original price. A guest fee may apply to a service fee, a cleaning fee, a pet fee, or an extra person fee, for example.

Guest house

A guest house (also guesthouse) is a kind of lodging. In some parts of the world (such as Grenada West Indies), guest houses are a type of inexpensive hotel-like lodging. In still others, it is a private home that has been converted for the exclusive use of lodging.


House rules

House rules cover everything that guests should be aware of during their stay at the house. A layout of requirements, as well as what visitors can and can’t do at the property and what consequences will be imposed if the house rules are violated.

Holiday Homes

The UK term for vacation rental properties, cottage, holiday home, or vacation property is accommodation used for holiday vacations, corporate travel, and temporary housing often for less than 30 days.


Instant book

A common reservation method that does not require the host’s approval until guests are able to book a house. Without speaking with the host first, guests can select their travel dates, book, and pay.



A listing is a property’s profile on a listing site or an Online Travel Agency that includes a title, description, pictures, and pricing.

Listing site

also known as “Online Travel Agency (OTA)”. They’re third-party agents that list accommodations and advertise them through their own network. Vrbo and Airbnb are examples of vacation rental listing sites.

Low season

often referred to as “off-peak season” It’s a time of year when travel is less common, resulting in less bookings for vacation rental owners and property managers, forcing them to lower their prices to remain competitive.


Minimum stay

The minimum number of nights a reservation must be for the owner to approve the reservation. In order to maximize revenue and minimize turnover, some owners will adjust their minimum stay settings during peak season.



the situation in which certain guests who have made a reservation do not turn up to use the property they have booked for no apparent reason.

Non-refundable rates

Non-refundable rates are usually cheaper but come with special booking requirements. If visitors cancel, change their plans, or fail to show up, they will still be charged the full amount. In other terms, they will not be refunded if the trip is canceled.


Off-peak season

Off-peak season refers to the time of year when fewer tourists visit a destination and rates are typically lowest. Often known as the off-season.

Online payment service

PayPal, for example, is a fast and easy web-based payment service that allows instant money transfers over the internet or directly from a credit card and/or personal checking account.

Online payment service

PayPal, for example, is a fast and easy web-based payment service that allows instant money transfers over the internet or directly from a credit card and/or personal checking account.

Online Travel Agency (OTA)

Third-party online agents whose websites list and sell lodging from their own network. Vrbo, HomeAway, Airbnb, Expedia,, and other common OTAs are examples.

Online Travel Agency (OTA)

Third-party online agents whose websites list and sell lodging from their own network. Vrbo, HomeAway, Airbnb, Expedia,, and other common OTAs are examples.


The practice of selling more reservations or merchandise that can be accommodated is known as overbooking. The aim is to compensate for the sales loss caused by no-shows. An airline, for example, can overbook a flight in anticipation of a certain number of no-show passengers.



A place that welcomes pets and is appropriate for them. Making a property pet-friendly is one of the most effective ways to increase bookings.

Price per guest

A pricing policy in which prices vary according to the number of guests staying.


A gift or incentive on a holiday rental (e.g., a discount for family and friends)


A vacation rental, Bed and Breakfast, or short-term rental home.

Preparation Time

Preparation Time Before Arrival (PTBA), also known as “Release Days,” is a term used to describe the time spent preparing for arrival. A booking must be made a certain number of days in advance, for example, two days before arrival. This gives property managers more leverage over last-minute bookings and more time to plan for the arrival of the guests.


Repeat guests

Guests who return to a property after having previously stayed there.


The term “reservation” is often used to refer to the act of making a reservation. It is the term used to describe the rental of a property for a set period of time.

Reservation confirmation

A letter or email sent to guests by the vacation rental owner or property manager to confirm that the reservation was made successfully.

Reservation deposit

A reservation deposit is a sum of money (usually one night’s stay) paid at the time of booking that serves to confirm the rental agreement. The advance deposit is used to secure a reservation, and the entire sum is added to the guest’s bill when they check out.

Room type

a variety of room types available at a property or properties On the property’s website and through its distribution networks, images, and explanations of the key features and facilities applicable to each room category are normally included. Different room styles have different prices.


Seasonal rates

higher lodging prices during peak travel seasons. Since the destination is attractive, rates are usually higher. This is frequently due to the environment, local attractions, or upcoming activities.

Security deposit

Security deposit: see Damage deposit.

Self-catering accommodation

Self-catering accommodation is a form of lodging that typically includes a private or shared kitchen where guests can prepare their own meals.


A term used to describe visitors who check into a property without having to meet someone in person (for example, the host). This eliminates the need for face-to-face communication.

Short-term rentals

Guests are leased properties and accommodations for a limited amount of time.

Smart locks

Smart locks are Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled smart home devices that allow users to lock and unlock doors by transmitting safe signals from a smartphone, computer, or tablet application. Smart locks allow for keyless entry to a property from a distance.

Smart home

A smart home is a home that is fitted with smart home devices that can be controlled remotely.


A word used on Airbnb to describe experienced hosts who set a good example for other hosts and have exceptional experiences for their guests.

Sustainable tourism

Tourism addresses the needs of tourists, the industry, the climate, and host communities while taking into account current and potential economic, social, and environmental impacts.


Themed vacation rental

A property that adopts such motifs in the property or in specific rooms. Location-based themes, such as mountain or beach, or famous TV shows and Disney movies, for example, may be appropriate depending on the target audience. Themed vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular, and they can help a vacation rental stand out from the crowd by offering a magical experience.


Potential visitors are referred to as “potential guests” in the industry.


TripAdvisor is an online travel company based in the United States that operates a user-generated content website and smartphone app as well as a comparison-shopping website. Users will share their thoughts and memories about their travels.


Vacation rental

Vacation rental refers to the temporary rental of a furnished apartment, home, or professionally run resort-condominium complex to visitors as an alternative to staying in a hotel.

Villa holiday

Villa rental or villa holiday is the preferred term in Europe for detached houses in warm climates.


Originally known as Vacation Rentals by Owner, Vrbo is a vacation rental listing site that only lists whole homes for guests to book, rather than individual rooms inside private homes.


Welcome book

A physical book for visitors to keep, similar to a welcome app. In a welcome book, hosts can gather all relevant details in one location, reducing guest questions and strengthening their perception of you as a well-organized host.

Weekend pricing

Weekend pricing is a pricing method in which different nightly prices are added for Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Welcome letter

Even if you can’t be there in person, a welcome letter introduces visitors to your house. The object of the welcome letter is to provide guests with an intimate, warm welcome to your home.