How To Get A 50% Discount On ANY Airbnb in 2020
When you’ve spent the last 3 years backpacking around the world you start to look for just about any way to save money. The one way we’ve found that saves us more than anything is to actually slow down our style of travel and spend longer in the places we visit. This affords us certain luxuries that weren’t previously available to us, most notable of which is paying about half as much on accommodation than we are accustomed to.
It should be no surprise to anyone that booking accommodation for longer periods would result in better deals. But one thing that surprised even us, was how we were able to save 50% off most Airbnb’s we found. This is a strategy that we’ve refined over the course of 2 years and has allowed us to stay in luxurious properties (like the one featured above) for only $20 a night! This trick has a few different stages to it so let’s break them down.
Villa Alasa – We had the pleasure of calling this property home for just over a month in Lombok, Indonesia. We paid just 20/night for 2 people (including breakfast) using the strategies laid out below.
The 4 Airbnb Discounts
There are 4 primary discounts you can get when booking with Airbnb. Extended Stay Discounts, Sign Up Discounts ($45 sign up offer here), New Listing Discounts and Host offered Discounts. Our strategy will revolve around getting as many of these into one booking as possible (yes, they are all stackable).
- Extended Stay Discounts -
This is a discount that a lot of people overlook when booking on Airbnb. Scroll down on a page’s listing until you find the availability section. Just above, you will see both the weekly and monthly discounts available for the property.
Pay attention to these, in some cases it’s actually cheaper to book more nights in order to qualify for a larger discount.
This is where the ‘Contact Host‘ button comes in handy along with Host Offered Discounts.
Located in the 'Availability' section, you can see the weekly and monthly discount.
- New Listing Discounts -
New listing discounts can usually be found towards the end of your search results and usually range from 10-20% off new listings. Airbnb Hosts will create these to increase bookings when a listing is new and doesn’t have enough reviews yet. The discount is displayed as a ‘Special Offer’ and is normally only available for 1-3 bookings.
Pro Tip: Target special offer discounts by setting your date range to less than 7 days and use the price filter to ‘show discounted stays only’. This will show only the properties that offer special offers for those dates. Once you have found these listings you can re-adjust your date range to your desired dates on the listing page. (Desktop only).
Fun fact: these discounts are stackable. See the following image of how I was able to stack 2 new listing discounts with a monthly discount for 59% off!
It’s worth noting that new listing discounts can usually only be found on last minute bookings or within one month of your stay.
The dates selected covered 2 special offer discounts as well as a monthly Airbnb discount for 59% off!
- Host Offered Discounts -
This strategy will bring us the most success in finding discounts when booking. Most people don’t realize that you can actually contact Airbnb hosts in order to negotiate better rates for your stay. Instead of clicking the usual ‘Reserve Your Stay’ button, you instead want to scroll down the page and click – ‘Contact Host‘. This will allow you to send a message to the property owner, I will break this part down more later.
Make sure, before messaging the host, you have your desired dates selected in the browser and preferably quite a few discounts already applied. This is important because Airbnb will send this information to the host along with your well-crafted message. You want as many discounts applied before messaging as this figure will be shown to the host and will provide a good starting point for you to begin your negotiations.
Don't reserve your stay through the traditional button.
Contacting the host directly will get you the greatest discount available.
Setting Your Airbnb Filters
The Airbnb app is pretty great but there’s one feature on the website that makes me recommend using your computer instead. When on desktop, you can see the original price as well as the discounted price after promotions have been applied. This will be useful in finding the properties that offer Airbnb’s monthly discounts and lets you check them first.
Note: For some reason this only works if you're not logged in...
Ok, firstly you will want to enter your destination and your desired dates. It’s important that you select 28 days or more if you want to see the properties that are offering a monthly discount. Airbnb also offers ‘Weekly Discounts’ but these are usually considerably less.
You will want to set a Max Price on your budget, this will prevent what I call the ‘Airbnb slip’. Which is where you progressively see properties that are slightly out of your price range, but are ‘oh so nice’ and you find yourself paying double what you originally planned for. Trust me, this is especially true once you begin implementing this strategy and every listing starts to feel obtainable.
So decide on your max budget and increase it by about 40%. Now set the price filter accordingly.
In the ‘More Filters’ option, you will find a few more helpful options like WIFI, Kitchen, AC, etc. So select these if they are important to you, but don’t go overboard with it as you want to keep your searches pretty broad.
Selecting The Right Properties
Here comes the fun part, or mind-numbing part, depending on how you feel about house hunting. Based on your needs, scan through the 20 to 100 property listings and heart the ones that fit your needs the best. Remember to keep it broad, we’re playing a numbers game here.
My initial strategy was to only target the properties that offered large monthly discounts (30-50%). However, over time I’ve refined this strategy and learnt that it’s the properties that haven’t yet considered adding the monthly discount where the most savings can be made. For this reason, I pretty much target any of the listings that suit my needs, but generally start with the most discounted properties.
Booking Ahead of Time
To get the most out of this strategy you will want to book 1 – 2 months in advance. As you are booking an entire month, a single other booking could cause your ‘dream listing’ not to show up. So as always, the best results come from planning ahead! (If you are making a last minute booking, try to find properties offering a new listing ‘special offer’ discount.)
Beware the Service Fee!
One of the things that drive up the price of an Airbnb more than anything is the service fee. It’s a somewhat flawed system, but the service fee amount will be the same for a single night as it is for a 30-night stay at the same property. This is another reason longer stays provide so much value, as you will naturally target the listings that are taking advantage of overpriced service fees by only paying them once!
Polish Up Your Airbnb Profile
A lot of the Airbnb process is about trust. You need to trust that the property you booked is going to match the photos, and the host needs to trust that you aren’t going to steal everything in their house! So tailoring a good profile and making a good impression goes a long way in getting your ideal booking.
Adding a clear high-quality photo of your face and taking all the verification steps is essential in building trust.
Here is a message I received from one host who later gave me 50% off my stay.
Make sure to take all of the verification steps. It only takes 5 minutes and will help with securing the listing.
Next, you will want to add a short description of yourself and add it to your Bio. You can always just copy it from your Instagram profile if you want to save time.
Contact The Host
Without a doubt the best way to receive the largest discount on Airbnb available is to receive a Host Offered Discount.
Crafting the perfect message is the most important part of this whole process. Remember to have your correct dates selected and as many discounts applied as possible before hitting ‘Contact Host‘.
Here are some of the points you MUST include in order to make a good first impression;
- Refer to the host by their first name. You don’t want it to look like you’ve copied this message to every other Airbnb host in the area. Be thoughtful and comment on why you think their property would perfectly suit your needs.
- Specify your Budget – Say clearly how much you are willing to spend by telling them your exact budget.
- Give them a time-sensitive offer – Anyone that knows anything about sales will tell you, in order to sell, your offer needs to have an expiry period. Be subtle, but politely let them know that you need to finalize your booking in the next day or so.
Here is the message I use when reaching out to Airbnb hosts;
- Introduce yourself and your story. This will help the host to think of you as a real person. Also mention when and for how long you are visiting.
- Everyone is proud of where they are from! So show excitement for the hosts’ hometown or city.
- Compliment their property and list something unique that you like about it.
- Be direct about your budget and offer. Don’t ask them for a lower price, tell them what you can offer.
- Offer proposition. (Please only do this if you genuinely have something to offer.)
- End the message politely and formally.
Negotiate With The Host (Offer Value)
What you first need to realize is that you, as a customer, are already bringing huge potential value to this Airbnb listing. By booking for an entire month you are saving them a lot of headache when it comes to finding bookings, cleaning rooms and managing poorly behaved guests. A lot of these Airbnb properties will spend a good amount of time unoccupied, which only loses the owner money. By offering to stay for a whole month you are solving a lot of these issues and giving the host a lot less work than their usual 2-3 day bookings.
With that said, here are some ways you can provide more value to the host and bring the price down further;
- Skip breakfast
– If you’re a late riser or don’t particularly care for cheap breakfasts you can offer to skip them. This could effectively bring the price down $4 a day.
- Forgo room cleaning
– If this is something that isn’t super important to you, offer to go without daily room cleaning or even switch it to weekly.
- Pay for your own electricity
– Airbnb prices are often inflated because of guests overusing power with their A/C. If you are responsible with your power usage it is sometimes an option to pay for power separately. This would only be available if you are booking out an entire property as it would be too difficult to monitor otherwise.
- Arrange your own airport transport (if it’s included)
– Some higher-end properties offer free airport transfers for long stays. Their perceived value of this service is often inflated and you can find cheaper ways to get to your property yourself.
- Promise a thorough review
– This one works surprisingly well. To the hosts, 5-star reviews are insanely valuable and mentioning this helps a lot with your overall pitch. I once negotiated a free extra night in exchange for a review after I accidentally misbooked dates.
- Offer photo/video content
– If you are lucky enough to have a background in photography or videography (like us) this is another tactic. I would be apprehensive about this one as it’s hard to quantify how much your photos/ videos are worth to the property. You don’t want to feel like you are their employee for the month!
- Social Media Exposure
– Again, I would be careful with this one. But we got one property slightly cheaper because of our Social Media Followings.
Remember, the Airbnb hosts managing these listings are just people and if you can make their lives easier they will normally take you up on it.
Most of these properties will have a base price in order for them to run at a profit. This base price is usually made up of cleaning costs, included meals and utility bills.
The more resources you can forgo and the more you can lower that base price, the cheaper your stay will be. I once got told by a host that ‘I got his base price so low that he only made $50 off me for the month’! He told me he was happy to do it because he needed reviews for the property.
Reap The Rewards
By now, after following all the above steps, you should have an inbox full of replies.
These will fall under 3 categories;
Hosts who agree to accept your budget (40-50% off).
That’s great! Scan through the properties and select which of these offers is going to best suit your needs. Finalize your deal by asking the host to send you a custom offer with the agreed-upon amount. You will have 24 hours to accept.
This is a counteroffer that I made which brought the price down an extra $90.
This property usually costs $42.33 a night + service fees. I was able to pay just $19.50 a night + service fees.
Hosts who counteroffer with a new price (25-35% off).
These hosts are open to the idea of negotiation but are not willing to give you entirely what you want. You can normally stretch them another 5% on their offer but it is unlikely to change much more than that. If your dream listing falls under this category, you can use some of the techniques found in the ‘offering value‘ section to strengthen your negotiation.
This host offered a 25% discount but is unlikely to discount much further.
Hosts who reject your offer and are not open to discounting the stay (0 – 15% off).
These responses are actually surprisingly uncommon. Most commonly the host will offer you an extra 5-10% off which will likely still sit outside your budget. I have only ever been told once by a host that he was not willing to add any extra discount (see below).
Some Airbnb hosts are not open to discuss discounts. With these results, it's best just to move on as you are very unlikely to change their mind.
So now, as you finalize your negotiations, you should have plenty of good options that are heavily discounted. You simply need to pick the best!
What is most interesting about this strategy is I’ve almost never found a property that hasn’t at least lowered their price a little bit. Which means, just through asking, you are guaranteed to save yourself at least some money.
However, if you have refined your pitch, followed the steps listed in this article and have reached out to enough hosts you should save between 40-50% off the original listing price on top of the monthly and special offer discounts.
Creating a New Airbnb Account
Now this one is against the official Airbnb terms of service but it is possible to create a new account and be entitled to a $54 sign up credit (depending on the length of your stay this coupon will result in a further 10-50% off).