How to Negotiate a Discount on Airbnb - 5 Messages That Work

Accommodation Travel Tips | 13 mins read |

How to Negotiate a Discount on Airbnb - 5 Messages That Work
5 secrets for negotiating discounts on Airbnb - discover proven messages that work and get you at least 10% discount on your next Airbnb booking.

When we travel, most of the time we use either or Revolut Stays to book our accommodations - see 5 reasons why we prefer to use instead of Airbnb . However, in certain locations, we may want a longer stay and a place that feels more comfortable - preferably with a kitchen to prepare our favorite meals. Airbnb is the perfect platform, for us, to find a cozy place on the other side of the world, far away from the place we call home in Bucharest, Romania.

What I love about Airbnb is that you can message the hosts before booking the accommodation and negotiate a better price. Over 80% of the time, I managed to get a discount of at least 15%. The jewel in the crown is a price discount of 60% which was worth over 4000 Euro for our one-month stay in the Dolomites in September 2023. It was an incredible deal and I still can’t believe that I managed to pull it off just by asking.

How I learned to negotiate better deals on Airbnb

I started to negotiate better deals on Airbnb after I stumbled upon the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss. I believe these are some of the best $20 I ever spent because they returned tens of thousands of dollars in all the negotiations that I have done afterward. I wish I would have found this book back in 2016 when it was published. I recommend this book as a starting point to improve your negotiator skills not only on Airbnb accommodations but in any negotiation you are part of.

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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It - Chris Voss
Life is a series of negotiations: whether buying a car, getting a better raise, buying a home, renegotiating rent, or deliberating with your partner, Never Split the Difference gives you the competitive edge in any discussion.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It - Chris Voss

My experience tells me that on Airbnb there is always room for a discount on the listed price. I will share with you 5 different ways to negotiate the price on Airbnb, all based on real stories and real discussions that I had with the hosts. It all depends on your ability to negotiate and how much time you are willing to spend negotiating. I usually spend 5-10 minutes to write a message and I get a better deal 80% of the time.

How to ask the host for a discount on Airbnb

Compared to where it is hard to reach the host, on Airbnb you can message the host very conveniently straight from the property page. After you select the dates that you are looking to book for your trip, when you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is a button that reads “Contact Host”. Thus, instead of booking directly or making a request to book, you would first message the hosts to ask them for a better deal.

When you message the hosts, if they accept to give you a discount, then they will have to create an offer for you. Airbnb allows them to set the special offer and you should accept it in one day or it would expire otherwise. After you send the message to the host asking for the discount, patience is the key. Some hosts reply within minutes, others in hours or even the next day. Keep in mind that hosts usually run Airbnb as a side hustle and they might be busy and can’t answer right away, or they have to reach their husband/wife/co-host to get approval for offering the discount. Be patient, they will get back.

Tip 1: Offer a very low price

In September 2023, we stayed for one month in the Dolomites, Italy, hiking the most beautiful mountains in Europe. Dolomites are getting more and more popular as a hiking destination and the accommodation prices are high when you want to go there in a good period (June-September). As we were planning a one-month stay, we had some very specific criteria: a washing machine, kitchen, a large living area where to be able to spend time relaxing after a hike, and a comfy bedroom with a modern bathroom. That’s not an easy one, especially in the Dolomites and above all at a good price. All the properties matching our criteria were at least 150 Euros per night, way over what we were looking to pay.

After 2 days of doing tons of research, I messaged 3 hosts. All properties had prices of over 6500 Euros for our one-month stay. And that was the price with a discount for a month’s stay already included. All hosts replied within hours and they returned with a price that was at least half of the initial listed price. Incredible, right? From all three, there was this place in San Vito di Cadore which had 3 bedrooms, a huge living with a kitchen, 2 modern bathrooms, and a huge terrace overlooking the forest and the mountains. Sara, the host of the place, gave me exactly the price I asked for just by saying: “If you don’t ask - you don’t get! We can accommodate your request.”. I couldn’t believe it. I got a 4100 Euro discount just by asking. Here is my discussion with Sara, directly from Airbnb, and some photos of the place where we stayed.

I mixed multiple negotiating techniques in my message. First, I explained exactly who will be staying in the place and why we want to stay there. We are serious travelers with 5-star profiles on Airbnb and I wanted the host to understand that and to build some trust. The very next thing, I praised her place and I meant it: “It is beautiful.”. People want to hear good words about them and will make them soften. Just after that, I mentioned a lower budget and started the negotiations. I gave a price that was lower than our actual budget because I expected to go back and forth a little bit. After telling the host my price, I tried to pull back a little bit by showing that I was not desperate for the deal: “I thought to write you, maybe it would work for you as we book a long period”. At the same time, I was sure to highlight what they get: the place would be booked for one entire month and they don’t have to deal with multiple guests and doing additional cleaning.

Summing up, the template for such a negotiation message on Airbnb would be the following:

“Hi [Host Name]! I found your place looking for a place to stay for [exact period] with [who is coming with you] and [what you are looking to do in that area]. It is beautiful! However, it is over our budget of [put a number that is 90% of your budget]. However, I thought to write you maybe it would work for you as we [highlight the advantages for the host]. Looking forward to hearing from you!”

I have been using this message for about 2 years now and it gives me a very good deal almost every single time we are looking to book a longer stay on Airbnb. I usually get at least a 30% discount with this message for a one-month stay. If the hosts come back with a price that is higher than my offered price, I reply with the number that matches 100% of my budget trying to get there. I just reply with a simple message like “What do you think about [the budget amount]?”.

Tip 2: Get a discount for using just a part of the place

We are not advocates of staying in shared places and we are always looking to book an entire place. Many times we find accommodations that have more rooms than we need and they have a higher price because of that. In such cases, I message the host and explain that we cannot pay the price they are asking because we’re just two people. I usually manage to get a discount between 30-40% of the listed price in such situations. It depends on multiple things such as the high season period, how many accommodations are available, or the period that we’re staying.

By far, the best deal I got with this negotiation technique was during our one-month trip in Iceland, in October 2020. We were looking for a house, near Myvatn, were to stay for 5 nights to explore the surroundings and to relax a bit on our road trip around Iceland. It’s a place where it is difficult to find a good place because the number of accommodations is limited and in that specific area of Iceland good accommodations are booked fast. However, we were not in the high season period and there were little to no tourists traveling Iceland at that particular time. The house that we were looking at had 4 bedrooms and was 200 square meters - a huge house for what we needed and it was listed at a little over 400 Euros per night. Our budget was a total of 600 Euros for 5 nights. I managed to get 100 Euros per night! And we had the entire house just for the two of us. Looking back, I believe I could have got a lower price but I was at the beginning of my Airbnb negotiations.

Here is the original message that I sent the host and the reply.

Conversation with host on Airbnb - Myvatn, Iceland
Conversation with host on Airbnb - Myvatn, Iceland

Again, I was using a technique similar to the one described before, but this time instead of highlighting a longer stay, I was emphasizing that we are just two persons. I explained exactly who was coming and how long we intended to stay: “I want to come with my wife and stay in the area for 5 nights.”. Then, I highlighted that the place was too big for the two of us and that we would use just a part of it. I don’t say that the listed price is too high, instead, I prefer to let the host come to this conclusion by herself. This way, they are willing to give us a better price. In the end, I put my request for a discount: “Is it possible to give us a discount?”. The very next day, I got an offer of 100 Euros/night for a place that was listed at over 400 Euros per night. We stayed there for 5 nights which turned out to be a price discount of 1500 Euro on the listed price on Airbnb. The place was stunning: a modern house with huge windows in the middle of a lava field, sparkling clean, and a very well-equipped kitchen. Probably one of the most beautiful accommodations we stayed at. Bonus: we were able to see the Northern Lights straight from the warmth of the house without having to get outside in the cold.

Side Note: If you are looking to hunt the Aurora, make sure you stay warm and check the following article.

How To Stay Warm While Photo Shooting The Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights (a.k.a. Aurora Borealis) is such an amazing experience, and I am sure that you don't want to let the cold weather ruin it.
How To Stay Warm While Photo Shooting The Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

Tip 3: Ask for a discount when you book on short notice

Many times we travel in high season or in places where accommodations are harder to find. As we don’t make plans in advance, we usually book accommodations just a few days before. I use this as an advantage and try to get a better deal out of it. If a place is not booked for the next days then it is unlikely for the host to have it booked on short notice.

In August 2021, my wife and I were looking to go for 10 days in Algarve, Portugal. We found an amazing place with a beautiful view which was available for our dates. I wrote to the host right away, asking for a discount. Again, this place was one bedroom larger than what we needed and we were looking to book it just 3 days away from the date we were on.

Conversation with host on Airbnb - Host in Portugal
Conversation with host on Airbnb - Host in Portugal

I started the message by showing my admiration for the place: “You’ve got an amazing place! Wow!”. The accommodation was a stunning apartment overlooking the ocean. Then, I explained who was coming and how long we were staying. I think this is probably one of the most important things to do when asking for a discount and building trust. After that, I used a negation to challenge the host to give us a discount: “Probably not, but it never hurts asking.”. I noticed that such messages make people more willing to give you a discount because they want to show you how generous they are and that your affirmations are not correct. Every negotiation has some psychology involved and in the end, it is about convincing the other person to give you a better deal. Just after that, at the end of the message I asked for the discount: “Since we are just 2 people, is it possible for you to give us a discount?”. The response came back in just 2 hours: “Thank you so much for your kind contact! Yes! Why not, give you a special discount of - 15%?”. I got a 15% right away just by sending the right message that took me 2 minutes to write.

Tip 4: Never book before checking for a discount

Since Airbnb has a way for me to ask for a discount before booking accommodation, why leave money on the table? Thus, I always message the host to ask for a discount even if I don’t have any specific reasons to give. I use a short message such as: “Hello! I am looking to come and stay at your place with [who is coming with you]. I like your place and I would love to stay there. Do you think you could help us with a small discount? I would really appreciate it! Thank you in advance!”.

Most of the time the hosts get back with a discount of a few bucks or a small percentage 5-10%. It’s not much, but it adds up when you travel frequently. I believe the reason I manage to get a discount on Airbnb most of the time is that Airbnb hosts are running the place as a side business and every guest they have represents additional money in their pocket. As long as they are not losing money, they are fine and they don’t keep an exact track of the returns.

Tip 5: Be honest when asking for a discount on Airbnb

Everything that I say when I negotiate a price, we respect 100%. If we negotiate to use a single bedroom we do just that and we make sure to leave everything sparkling clean as an appreciation for the favor. Also, when I praise a place for being beautiful or having a special something, I mean it. I don’t just say that it is beautiful for the sake of getting a discount, but because I truly believe that. Last but not least, we treat every place that we stay on Airbnb just as it would be our home - we are guests and we do our best every single time to respect all the house rules and clean after ourselves before leaving.

Perfect Rating on Airbnb
Perfect Rating on Airbnb

I use one of the following messages to highlight what I like about the place. “You have such an amazing place and I would love to be able to stay there for [how many days] with [who is coming with you].” Or better, when the accommodation is truly stunning: “Wow! Your place is so beautiful! Probably one of the best stays you can find in [location where you are going to].”.

I hope these tips help you to get a better deal on Airbnb on your next trip. If you have any thoughts to share, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

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