Friday, September 25, 2015

Big Savings with Airbnb! Top 5 Booking Tips

I recently finished a two week cross-country road trip starting from Vancouver and ending in Toronto. I decided to go through the US because I had not seen much of the interior US and I thought gas and accommodations would be cheaper (even with a weak Canadian dollar of about 70 cents to the US dollar).

Gas did end up being cheaper, even with the US exchange rate. One of the biggest savings came from staying at the many Airbnb’s available along my route. Since the US has more populated city centers than in Canada it wasn’t hard to find an affordable Airbnb at each destination. Also, with more Airbnbs to choose from at each destination, the competition usually kept the prices lower. It helps if you have a vehicle and are able to travel to the Airbnb since lower prices are usually available outside of the city centers. Airbnb’s website provides a price filter which helps you find the cheapest places to stay around your destination.

Another important note when using Airbnb is that you should book your stay a few days in advance, since your booking requires the host’s approval. It’s important to keep an up-to-date profile (on Facebook or Airbnb). There are however “instant books”, which do not require a host’s approval. With “instant books” you get the room booking as soon as you submit your payment information.

I always stayed in a place with a few reviews (the more the better), always with a score of at least 4 stars out of 5. This will also factor into the price, since places with great reviews may charge a slight premium over rooms with no review history.

The most expensive Airbnb I booked was just outside of Yellowstone National Park. This area had few Airbnbs to choose from and because of the park’s popularity the hosts were able to charge a premium. The cheapest Airbnb I booked on my trip was in Chicago. I booked a room just outside of the Chicago city center which saved tens of dollars a night. I was still able to access downtown via the subway.

To sum up my 5 Airbnb user tips:
  1. Keep an up-to-date profile (either through Facebook or Airbnb). This will help your hosts get to know you and therefore accept your booking request. The more information you give them the better, so be sure to send them a friendly message about yourself and your trip. As you stay at more Airbnbs you will also be reviewed as a guest, good guest reviews will help your future booking requests.
  2. Choose a high population destination. More people usually equates to more high quality Airbnbs and lower prices.
  3. Have a car. If you can get to Airbnbs slightly outside of city centers you can usually save more.
  4. Book in advance. Unless you’re booking with an “instant book”, you’ll have to book a day or two in advance to give your host a chance to review your profile and to accept your booking request.
  5. Check the review. Be sure to book accommodations with a few reviews (the more the better), with a score of at least 4 out of 5 stars. If there are no reviews it may be cheaper, however you run the risk of having a creepy host or accommodations that do not match the description.
Here's a video with more Airbnb booking tips: