When looking to book an apartment, private room, or an entire home — those listed Airbnb prices can seem far too expensive.
And the truth is, they often are.
Yet, have you ever tried negotiating with a host?
I know it can feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Just a year ago, I thought it rude to even ask a host for a discount.
And sales was never in my blood. Yet now I routinely negotiate a discount on my Airbnb accommodation — without the use of any sleazy haggling techniques.
So why bother negotiating?
Because if you’ve never received a discount of 20% or higher on Airbnb, then chances are that you’ve been overpaying for your stay.
Actually, with the right strategy, negotiating an Airbnb discount is all about making an exchange and creating win-win situations. Not strong arming a host into lowering their price.
And with the systematic approach that I’ve developed towards negotiating on Airbnb, I regularly receive discounted rates.
So hey, why not share a good thing?
And that’s what I’ll do; by walking you though the process that I’ve successfully used for negotiating with Airbnb hosts — step-by-step.
And it begins with your profile
Did you make your Airbnb profile all about yourself?
I don’t blame you for doing so. It makes sense to when you’re thinking about your profile in a conventional way.
But to maximize your chances of securing a discount, you’ll need to think from within the mindset of the host.
Understanding that within every facet of how you communicate over Airbnb, lies an opportunity to convince your prospective host why you’re an ideal guest.
Because on the other side of that message is a human being just like you and I.
And if you’ll be renting someone’s personal home or sharing their apartment for more than a couple days — that Airbnb host will surely want to receive a guest who is both likable and easy to deal with.
So let’s take my profile as an example…
It’s not perfect by any means. But it works in my favor because…
Your profile photo matters
I’m a t-shirt & flip-flops kind of guy. Yet I made sure to use one of my more professional photos with my profile.
So save those party pics for your private Facebook, as many hosts will be turned-off by that.
But what else makes a good photo?
Smile. And smile wide. Even if you don’t like your own smile.
“A recent Penn State University study confirmed that when we smile we not only appear more likable and courteous, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent.” — The Untapped Power Of Smiling
Build your reputation
To a host you’re just a stranger from the internets.
So you’ll want to signal as much as possible that you’re trustworthy. And the best way to rid yourself of any stranger danger, is to show that you’re trusted by others.
A couple positive reviews from previous hosts is really all you need.
But if you don’t have that, ask a couple of your friends or colleagues to vouch for you. It’s quick, easy, and effective…
And be sure to ask for their permission in advance.
Understand the market
The quickest way for me to lose the respect of a host and all chances for negotiation, is to ask for an unreasonable discount.
So how do you determine what’s reasonable?
Start by using Airbnb’s filter feature for removing all of that noise from your search results.
If you are not interested in shared rooms, removed those listings. And you can filter by neighborhood as well if you already know what area you’ll want to stay in.
Then start searching by a date range of 2 - 5 days, while keeping an eye on prices. Then for a week. Then a month. Because Airbnb prices will often adjust automatically based on the duration of your stay.
Some general guidelines to pricing:
- Intend on staying for a week? Then the discounted monthly price will be close to the lowest daily rate that your host would probably accept.
- Staying for a month? Then the price paid should be the same or less as the 3 week price for the listing.
- And always, always, always… ask for at least a 20% discount on a stay of 1 month or longer. How could it hurt?
If you are staying in a country or region that is foreign to you, Google when the high and low tourist seasons are.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll better understand when you can negotiate the lowest rates.
Now you’re ready to start negotiating…
With your trustworthy profile established, research done, and a favorited list of accommodation; you can begin contacting a few hosts.
But how do you go about crafting your message?
To demonstrate, I’ll teardown a message of my own that I recently sent to land a discount of over 20% on a 1 week studio rental in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
Now, let’s dive in and understand exactly how this message works successfully.
I address the host by his name, then briefly mention why I took special interest in his listing:
Though another approach could be to mention a common interest that you’ve found while reading the profile of the host.
Again, your aim is to express your likability, within a short sentence or two. But don’t give any insincere praise to the host. In other words, don’t result to flattery.
Always give a reason why
Never ask for a discount without giving a reason. As a Harvard study has shown that even when you give a lousy reason for why you want something, it increases your likelihood of getting a “Yes” from someone, in comparison to giving no reason at all.
But rather than state a “soft objection” to the price, such as “Would you be able to give me $100 dollars off? I’ve seen cheaper rentals in your area.”
Give a “hard objection“ to their price, e.g. “Would you be willing give me 10 dollars off your daily rate? $40 a night is over my budget.”
Ask for 20 - 50% off the daily rate
We all know the phrase “leave room to negotiate”.
That’s because negotiation is a discussion, with the purpose of finding an agreement on both terms and price.
And I rarely get the exact discount that I ask for. So at a minimum, request a discount of 20%.
Offer something in return
To get, you have to give.
In my message I offered to give the host a thoughtful review and high-star rating (which could lead to more bookings for him.) I also opened up the possibility for staying longer (in fact, I negotiated an even lower rate for another month, after my arrival.)
You’ll want to incentivize the host into giving you a discount. But please do yourself the favor, by not offering to do any crummy chores around their house.
Instead, if you notice that their calendar was empty for the week; you could mention that you can arrive within a day or two.
These benefits to the host will cost you little — if nothing at all. Yet they can be a compelling reason for receiving a discount.
I was able to get the Airbnb host to budge down from a counter offer of $33 a night, to $31 (with a free upgrade to a larger apartment on my arrival), because I added urgency to my offer:
You’ll empower yourself to negotiate best when you’re willing to walk away. Which means contacting more than just one host.
As the small amount of work it takes to contact 2 - 3 hosts with a request for a discounted stay, could easily lead to hundreds of dollars in savings on Airbnb.
So there you have it.
As even if you consider yourself a horrible negotiator, by strategically applying the techniques that I’ve just laid out for you, your ability to negotiate a discount will no longer be left to chance.