Sites like Airbnb and VRBO are fantastic alternatives to a cramped hotel room. But you don't always have to settle for the rate the owner is asking, especially when travelling last minute. By learning to negotiate the rate, and knowing what to ask for, you can lower your holiday costs significantly.
I managed my parent's beach condo for the past few years on VRBO. Here's how it works: The owner sets up the entire listing and adds the nightly rate for specific times of the year and sits back and waits for inquiries.
Inevitably, slow periods happen and holiday home owners don't get paid if their place sits empty. Always use this to your advantage and negotiate a lower rate, especially when booking your stay within 2 weeks of your arrival. While I have no firsthand experience with Airbnb, I think it is safe to assume the same rules apply.
Here is a solid strategy break down:
- In your initially email inquiry, politely ask if they would consider a discount for last minute travellers. Start your negotiating by asking for 25% off the original nightly rate and be prepared to meet in the middle.
- If they don't budge on the fee (or very little) consider asking for a free night. This works really well if you are staying at least 3 or more nights. Simply ask if they would consider throwing in your last night for free.
- Another good tip is to ask if the cleaning fee could be waived. Many holiday home owners do their own cleaning and are often willing to remove this fee to get their place rented. This has a potential savings of $75-$250 depending on the size of the place.
Having networked with dozens of rental owners over the years, I can tell you that this works in most cases. Be sure to try it when booking your spring travel plans this year. Be polite, be reasonable, and both parties will undoubtedly come out ahead.