Tuesday Travel Tip: How to negotiate (and save) on your next Airbnb stay

Jun 16, 2020

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While the coronavirus pandemic continues, many travelers may be itching to go on their first vacation in months. A home-rental platform, like Airbnb, might be the ideal place to find your next stay. That’s because it is easy to find properties that have enough personal space in our era of social distancing.

Whether you’re an experienced Airbnb guest or just a novice, did you know that there may be an opportunity to negotiate on your next booking? It only makes sense to do in certain situations, but with 42 Airbnb stays under my belt, I have been able to negotiate — and save — on reservations around the world.

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How to message a host before booking

While searching for the perfect Airbnb, you can actually message the host prior to going through the booking process. After selecting a property from the search results, scroll down to information about the host. Here, you should see the “contact host” button, highlighted below.

Photo courtesy of Airbnb
One of my favorite Airbnb hosts. (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

 

From there, you can explain why you’re reaching out. Since this article is all about negotiating the rate, read on to learn more about how — and when — to do so.

Negotiate delicately — and be respectful

First, I want to make this clear: don’t message every host that you come across and demand a lower rate than published. Like with any negotiation tactic, restraint and respect are necessary. In fact, Airbnb can outright ban you if enough hosts complain that you are aggressively asking for a reduction on the listed price.

Many hosts have thought pretty carefully through their pricing and — especially in light of the pandemic — will be looking to recoup some of the lost revenue from the downturn in travel. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate at all.

Although by no means exhaustive, here are a few things to consider when negotiating your Airbnb stay.

Related reading: When Airbnb is better than a hotel for families

When you’re staying for a week, a month or more

(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)
An ideal social-distancing home. (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

 

If you’re planning on staying for weeks or months at a time, let the host know this ahead of time. If you can guarantee revenue for the host for an extended period, the host may be willing to discount the total cost of your reservation. Keep in mind that hosts already have this functionality — you may see a “weekly” or “monthly” discount when searching for these respective time periods.

But it can still be worth messaging the host, as long as you’re straightforward about your intentions.

When you’re staying during off-peak time periods

A non-peak period is another opportunity to message a host to inquire about a discount. If it’s summer and you’re renting in a ski town or it’s winter and you’re traveling to the beach, you’re more likely to come across hosts that may be willing to shave off the cost of a nightly rate.

When you’re staying at new rentals with few ratings

Airbnb in Sri Lanka (Photo by Chris Dong / The Points Guy)
One of my favorite Airbnbs in Sri Lanka (Photo by Chris Dong / The Points Guy)

 

New hosts just trying to get their properties on the map, so to speak, may also make for good candidates to negotiate. If you notice that they have few reviews or ratings, politely message them to see if there’s any wiggle room with the reservation.

Again, do not cold-message all hosts who don’t have any reviews. If you’re seriously interested in a property, inquire within. 

Related reading: Best credit cards for Airbnbs

 

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A long weekend getaway (read: quick winter escape!) doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With so much capacity to San Juan from the NYC area, we scored a great flight deal during a traditionally expensive weekend. Other ways to keep costs low: 1. Stay at an Airbnb for part or all of your trip — an entire one bedroom apartment in San Juan cost us $50/night 2. Rent a car and explore on your own instead of booking a tour to El Yunque. 3. Use points instead of cash when it makes sense — we redeemed 12,000 Hyatt points for a night at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve (it would’ve cost $400 cash) P.S. Puerto Rico is very much open for business after recent setbacks from earthquakes so go, go, go!

A post shared by Chris Dong (@thechrisflyer) on

Bottom line

There are numerous other factors to consider when negotiating your next Airbnb stay. Do you have a good rating as a guest? Many hosts may work with you only if you have established yourself as a reliable Airbnb customer.

Are you booking last-minute or far in advance? If a host is desperate to fill their space and the reservation is imminent, they may be more willing to negotiate.

The biggest rule of thumb is to put yourself into the shoes of the host — why would they be interested in discounting their property for you? Be tactful, clear with your intentions and drop the negotiation if it’s obvious the host isn’t interested.

Featured photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

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