Are you considering bypassing the hotel or resort experience for your summer vacation and opting for a summer home rental instead? Home rental networks are on the rise and have never been easier to use, thanks to the increased web presence and sites like VacationHomeRentals.com, Airbnb, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com.
However, just because travel agents and middlemen are being squeezed out does not mean that you are getting the best deal possible. You can negotiate with a vacation rental owner to receive an even better deal by following these steps:
Outline Your Goals – Know what you are negotiating for, and what you are willing to give up in return, if anything. Are you willing to stay longer or at different times for an improved nightly rate? Are certain amenities important to you? Can you handle a larger up-front deposit for a rate discount? Have all of your negotiating points and strategy planned out in advance, and you will know when you should walk away from a deal.
Do Your Homework – Research your rental options in the area, and make a list of your preferred choices. Get the best understanding you can of the booking market during your preferred time — is it peak season, are there festivals or events drawing unusual crowds, or are there other hurdles to occupancy?
Keep your vacation times flexible if possible. If you can offer a stay that is complementary to the rental’s typical business, you have tremendous leverage. Do not be afraid to use that leverage, but do not lead with it. Give the rental owner the impression that you are doing them a favor by altering your plans.
Be Courteous – Nobody likes doing business with an obnoxious negotiator. Say that the offering does not exactly fit your time and budget needs, and you were wondering if a certain counteroffer could be met. Keep your counteroffers reasonable, and do not mention that you have other options. Rental owners already know that, and they do not like to be reminded of it.
Book Early or Book Late – As strange as it may sound, you can have leverage on both ends of the timeline. Booking early can give you the best combination of price and selection. However, if you are willing to gamble on availability, last-minute deals can be found for most destinations. They may not be in the exact location you want or have all the amenities you want, but the savings are significant.
However, if you go this route, be prepared to find a hotel if you have to, and realize when it is too late to do anything based on an area you are visiting (part of your “homework” above).
Sell Yourself as an “Easy” Customer – Rental owners love “easy” customers who simply enjoy their time, are respectful of their rental property, throw no parties, and cause no problems. If you fit into that category, find subtle ways to let them know that you are low maintenance.
On the other hand, if your family really does not fit that mold, don’t misrepresent yourself. Rowdy kids or uncontrolled pets will earn you a reputation you do not want for future rentals. Find a rental that is a bit more tolerant, and be prepared to pay extra.
Congratulations! You have successfully negotiated a great deal for your vacation rental. Now it is up to you to follow through.
Be a good and respectful guest, follow all the house rules, and leave everything in the same condition you found it in, if not better. If you had an excellent experience, do not forget to refer others to the rental — and let your host know that you will be referring them to others. You may receive a similarly good deal, or even a better one, the next time you stay there.
If you want more credit, check out our list of travel credit card offers to earn rewards on your vacation.