Over the last few years, I've used Airbnb a number of times and had nothing but good results. While Airbnb's easy-to-use website and gigantic selection of vacation rentals are reason enough to use their service, there are ways to sweeten the deal further! In this post, I'll share three strategies you can employ to get the most out of your Airbnb experience.
1. If you're staying for five days or longer, consider booking for a full week
The vacation rental industry typically rewards a weeklong stay with a 10-25% discount over the daily rate, and monthly stays often receive a similar discount off the weekly rate. This varies from company to company, but basically, the longer you stay the cheaper the cost-per-day becomes, and Airbnb hosts often follow a similar rate structure.
Before booking, play around with the dates to see exactly how many days you have to stay before triggering the discount (usually at 7 days and 28 days). For example, below is screenshot of the host page on our account, showing a discount rate structure we have used in the past for our vacation rental in Santa Barbara.
2. The price you see is not necessarily the best price
Are you traveling to a place that values bargaining skills at its markets and souvenir shops? Well, these places will probably have lots of hosts willing to negotiate price on your vacation rental accommodations, too!
In the last three years, I've rented six different times using Airbnb in four countries (Colombia, Croatia, Argentina, and Hungary). I have been able to negotiate rates between 10-20% lower every time, usually just by asking. For example, our upcoming stay in Budapest, Hungary (image below) this summer is already booked at a 15% discount below the published rate for a five-day stay; we saved over $75 with a one-paragraph message to the host!
Even if you're staying somewhere you don't expect to bargain, it never hurts to ask. It helps to find several options on Airbnb within your desired location and send the same message to each of them. In this way, they will be competing for your business. If you prefer one to the other, but the lesser option has offered you a bigger discount, ask your preferred option to match the discount.
With the exception of hosts whose calendars look mostly booked, there is significant incentive to make a deal, because an empty house brings in no money at all. Also, pointing to your history of thorough, positive reviews of other hosts makes you a desirable renter in a market where peer reviews count for a lot; new hosts need reviews to improve their booking rates in the future.
3. Know when Airbnb doesn't make sense
Vacation rentals are great for lots of different travel situations, but there are times when they don't make sense. Nothing beats knowing that no matter when you arrive at a hotel, there will be someone ready to check you in at the front desk; not so with vacation rentals.
Communication and sticking to a schedule are more important when dealing with vacation rentals, many of which are being rented by the owners. These people often have another job or obligations besides letting you into your accommodations, so complications can arise. Even though most Airbnb hosts are willing to adjust to your schedule, it just feels wrong changing things up at the last minute and the hassle of interacting with the homeowner might not be worth it for a shorter stay.
Another general trend with vacation rentals is that they tend to be more economical the larger your group gets, so be sure to check around for hotels that might actually be cheaper if you're traveling solo or with just one other person.
The Bottom Line
Look for length-of-stay discounts, don't be afraid to ask for better rates, and know when Airbnb might not be the best option available for your trip.
These strategies are field-tested to save you money and complication. Employ them every time you are considering travel accommodations and you will know if Airbnb is right for your stay and also get the best value for your money. As usual, this post should help you DO MORE AND LOVE EVERY MINUTE!
If you have yet to use Airbnb, you can use my code to receive $20 off your first stay (I'll also receive $20 once you complete a stay...thanks!).