America is ready to travel: According to a recent study released by AirDNA, which tracks the performance data of ten million AirBNB and Vrbo listings, demand for short term rentals is up 18% in October from the same period in 2019. And bookings are already soaring for the upcoming holidays. The demand for short-term rentals over Thanksgiving is 38% higher than it was in 2019, and 85% higher than 2020. The lesson: If you’re dreaming of a trip, you may want to book now — you can pursue vacation site Vrbo’s more than two million listings here — but, there’s no reason to overpay. Here we share six pro tips for landing a sweet vacation home, without spending too much.
Consider a new listing
In general, many newer listings on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo may have lower prices, to entice renters. On Vrbo, for example, new hosts offer discounts, which are searchable through a filter, to boost visibility on their listing, says Alison Kwong, a senior public relations manager at Vrbo, who adds that “travelers can filter for homes that offer discounts for longer stays” as well. If you’re worried about a new listing not having any reviews, communicate directly with the host and ask for live videos of spaces, photographs and more. For its part, Vrbo offers a Book with Confidence Guarantee, which protects renters from last minute cancellations or fraudulent listings; Airbnb has a refund policy.
Book your travel further in advance than you’d think …
Generally, the weeks after Labor Day are slower in the short-term rental industry, but that was not the case this year, notes Kwong. “This year has been an anomaly because we’re still seeing high demand for Vrbo vacation homes well into the off-season this fall compared to typical years,” she says. People were already booking houses for over Christmas in July, and demand for vacation homes in December is 15% higher than it was in 2019. As a result, if you want to secure a deal, book well in advance to ensure that you have as many options as possible before the affordable rental stock gets booked by other vacationers.
Ready to travel? You can peruse Vrbo’s listings here.
…Or at the very last minute
If you haven’t booked your travel yet, don’t despair. Renters may be more willing to strike a deal with you if it’s Monday, and their property hasn’t yet been booked for the upcoming weekend. Consider sending a message to the host through the listing to ask for a discount — think about starting with 20% — if you can snatch up the property on days when it would otherwise lie dormant.
Book a house in the next town over from a popular vacation area
Unless you plan on walking or taking public transportation, you can generally find deals if you search just a few miles outside of a popular destination area — you’ll be using your car to get to attractions anyway. Or consider trying out an emerging destination such as Emory, Texas or Smithville, Montana, where there are still deals to be had — and plenty to do for all sorts of travelers.
Those with flexible dates can usually find the best deals, and some listings cost hundreds of dollars more during the high season, on holiday weekends or during area events than they do during regular times. “The prime season when travelers usually hit lakes and beaches is between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but temperatures can still be warm and sunny in these destinations well into the fall,” notes Kwong.
Go during the week (psst: you boss might not have to know)
Millions of Americans are still working from home, and that gives them the opportunity to snag a better deal on a vacation home rental. Rates during the week tend to be significantly cheaper than over weekends, although that is not always the case, especially if there is an event happening in the area during the time you want to book — for example, a concert or major sporting event.
“Hosts set their own rates and a variety of factors go into how they set them,” Kwong says. Often then, the best way to get a deal is to ask for one.
Ready to travel? You can peruse VRBO’s listings here.