airbnb negotiate price

How to Negotiate Airbnb Prices and Fees

You can save a lot of money when you learn how to negotiate Airbnb prices and fees.

Everyone needs to get away sometimes. Even in strange times like this.

Airbnb might be just the answer you’re looking for. After all, it’s much easier to maintain social distancing when you’re renting someone’s home than when you’re renting a hotel room.

But wait! Before you book – did you know that Airbnb fees are more negotiable than you might think?

If you’ve never had your Airbnb stay discounted by 20%, then you might have missed a trick or two.

As full time travelers we basically live in Airbnbs. Last year alone we had 18 Airbnb stays!

And we have negotiated down Airbnb rates and/or fees all over the world.

Check out some of the places we have stayed. From London to Thailand. From Malta to Australia. Guatemala, and even in the USA!

Airbnb Croatia
Working at our Airbnb rental in Motovun Croatia

It’s actually quite simple to negotiate Airbnb rates and fees. But it’s definitely a delicate process.

So in this article we’ll talk you through some in-App tips, explain how to build a rapport with hosts, and arm you with all the negotiating tools you need to save money on your next stay!

Prepare for an Airbnb Negotiation In the App

The key to successful Airbnb negotiation is building personal rapport. If you can connect amicably with your host, you’re much more likely to have a helpful dialogue.

This process starts in the App itself.

Your profile and reviews can give you instant leverage in negotiating over an Airbnb stay cost and fees.

Here is how to do that.

Sell Yourself with Your Profile

If you want the best chance of a discount, think of your profile as a way to sell yourself rather than to express yourself.

Hold back on the party pics (these will spell instant trouble to anyone letting you into their property!).

Remember that your goal here is to look like a professional, stress-free guest who’ll respect the space.

Never forget: Airbnb hosts are entrusting you with their biggest personal investment – their home or rental property. So earn that trust in your Airbnb profile.

Be strategic. Even if you haven’t dressed professionally in years (and Lisa and I do pretty much live in t-shirts and loungewear), it’s well worth taking a couple of pictures in smart attire for your profile picture.

It also never hurts to smile! Otherwise you’ll be working against creating a friendly tone.

Our Airbnb Profile

Lisa does all of our Airbnb bookings. So let’s look at her profile as an example.

Her profile is concise but clear about a few things.

First, she leads with a headshot with a big friendly smile. Second, she joined Airbnb in 2014, letting hosts know that she’s been Airbnbing for a while. So the sooner you join Airbnb the better. If you have not joined Airbnb yet. click here and sign up for an account and you’ll get $65 off your first stay!

Use Your Airbnb Profile to Your Advantage

She also has lots of reviews (more on that in a minute) and had her identity verified.

And then her ‘About’ conveys that we are a stable married couple who travel a lot but are also serious business people. Airbnb hosts looking at this profile know right away that we are traveling to work, not to party.

Everything about her profile says that they can trust us with their property.

And that provides negotiating leverage!

Reputation Matters – Airbnb Reviews

Again, Airbnb hosts take big risks on guests. It’s important to remember that to them, you could be anybody! So making yourself seem trustworthy is a really important step.

The single most critical way to do this is with positive feedback from other Airbnb hosts on your profile.

Just one or two positive reviews from other hosts will be a huge boost to your trustworthiness from a host’s perspective.

Think about it: when you are shopping on Amazon which do you trust more: a product with no reviews or a product with even just a couple 5 star reviews?

It’s the same for Airbnb hosts. They want to hear from others about you as an Airbnb guest.

There are 3 simple things we always do to earn good reviews from hosts:

  1. Be a great (not good, but great) communicator. Hosts love clear, concise and prompt communication from their guests.
  2. Respect the rules of the property. Obey quiet hours and other restrictions.
  3. Leave the property as clean as possible.

Here are a few of the 22 positive Airbnb host reviews we have earned. You can see how important communication, respect and cleanliness are to all of them!

negotiate airbnb rate
Good Reviews are Critical to Airbnb Price Negotiations

Message Your Host

So great, you have your profile set up to sell yourself. And you know how to get positive reviews from Airbnb hosts.

What’s the next step in negotiating over Airbnb prices or fees?

Message your host.

Do not use the ‘Reserve’ or ‘Book Now’  button.

It might seem like a perfectly logical thing to do, but it’s actually a trap!

You’ll get no chance to negotiate if you book this way.  Instead, scroll down and use the ‘contact host’ button at the bottom of the listing.

airbnb contact host
Contact the host.

This allows you to contact your host in person and begin building that all important rapport.

We rarely ask for a discount right away in our first message with a host (although with travel during COVID we bent that rule a bit and sometimes just ask if the host is willing to provide a discount since COVID-19 reduced tourism so much).

Instead, be friendly, personable, and show off your winning personality.

Maybe ask some polite questions about the property, or the area. Even better – compliment them on how nice their place looks. Your goal should be to engage them and create a bond.

Try not to ask any questions that are already covered in the description though. You don’t want your host to think you’re wasting their time.

Play to Your Strengths and/or Offer Your Services

Are you a photographer? A copy writer? A gardener? A cleaner? Whatever your skillset, if you can offer something back to your host, then do so. 

Imagine you’re a host trying to attract guests, and someone offers to take professional photographs of your apartment in exchange for a 10% discount off of a stay. You’d be falling over yourself to say yes!

Maybe you can just help the host improve their Airbnb profile by giving them assistance with their English in their descriptions of the property.

Or offer landscaping or handyman services while you are there.

It pays to be creative.

Remember that money is not the only currency.

Timing is Crucial

Another key factor in getting the best price is timing.

Let’s look at some ways in which timing can improve your odds of saving money.

Off Season or Shoulder Season Bookings

It’s well worth doing some research into your destination’s seasonality. If you can book at a quiet period, this could be a great point on which to open your negotiation.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that hosts may be much more grateful for your stay at a time of year when business is quiet for them.

We’ve had great ‘shoulder season’ discounts in Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Portugal and the Caribbean.

Foote Prints in the Sand Negril Jamaica
We got an amazing discount at this Airbnb in Jamaica during shoulder season!

Long Haul Stays

If your host has a daily rate and you’re staying for a week or longer – this could be a great opener for your negotiations. Would they offer you a discount, considering that you’re offering them more consistent income than they’re used to? It’s well worth asking.

The same goes for monthly rate vs. weekly rate.

In fact, if you’re staying for a month or more we highly recommend that you ask for at least a 20% discount. We have done monthly rentals all over the world and Airbnb hosts are thrilled to get a break from the constant hassle of new guests coming and going.

In any case, it can’t hurt to ask!

Capitalize on Mistakes and Cancellations

Hosts sometimes have someone pull out of an arranged stay, and they need to fill a gap.

Though unfortunate for them, these kind of calendar errors can be gold for the discount-savvy guest.

Look for holes in otherwise busy properties. This often indicates someone canceled. Hosts might be anxious to fill those holes -especially as the dates approach – and will often offer a discount to do so.

New Hosts

If you stumble across a host profile with no reviews, then they might be really grateful your stay – at any price.

As we mentioned above, reputation pays on Airbnb, and new hosts need to get a start somewhere just like new guests do!

In fact, looking for new hosts is also an effective strategy to get your first few stays before you have any guest reviews from hosts. They are just as desperate to get good reviews as you are!

Just like the new host is trusting you, you’re also taking something of a risk by trusting a new host. So it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for a small discount in these circumstances.

Just be sure to earn a good review as a guest, too!

Your Flexibility

If you can offer a host flexibility, they may well appreciate this enough to give you a discount.

Try offering to remain flexible on dates until the last minute.

Or, politely ask if they’d offer you a discount for filling any gaps in their calendar.

Negotiating Airbnb Prices and Fees

So, you’ve messaged your host, you’ve built rapport, and now the time has come… you’ve got to start negotiating.

The key things to remember here are to be delicate, to be polite, and to ask rather than demand.

If your hosts suspects that you’re just haggling for the sake of haggling, negotiations may go south rather quickly. Indeed, Airbnb are within their rights to ban or suspend you if too many hosts report you for aggressive negotiating.

So instead of demanding Airbnb discounts from every host you speak to, use our suggestions above as a reasonable jumping-on point for your negotiations. Say something like:

“Considering that it’s off season, would you be able to offer me a small discount?”

“Would you consider a discount if I took some pictures for you, as we discussed?”

Ultimately, you should frame this as making a perfectly reasonable suggestion to your new buddy, the host.

Because you won’t get far by seeming like you do this every time you book.

Be Prepared for Rejection

And, frankly, be prepared for rejection.

Our discount enquiries are often rejected or ignored.

But there are plenty of fish in the sea! So if you are not in love with the property, keep looking for a discount.

And if you do love the property, just go ahead and book it at full price. You can always hunt for a bargain on your next Airbnb stay!

And Once You’ve Secured that Sweet Discount…

… Remember to remain courteous, follow through on any promises you made during negotiations. Most of all: respect the property and the owner’s rules!

And, of course, write your host a positive review.

As we mentioned above, Airbnb operates on reputation and trust. Don’t throw that away by abandoning your good manners as soon as you’ve bagged a discount.

It’s not only rude to leave a bad review for good service (not to mention against Airbnbs terms…). But it could hurt your reputation when negotiating future stays.

Finally, don’t mention your discount in the review. Keep that between yourself and the host.

Leave positive but honest feedback, and trust that others will do the same about you.

Be a positive force out there. It will pay off in the end.

Following these simple steps can save you hundreds of dollars on each Airbnb stay you make. Use them wisely!

Click here to visit Airbnb to start negotiating Airbnb prices and fees!

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