TikTok's Viral Airbnb Hack Explains How To Book A Room For A Fraction Of The Price

Once upon a time, booking an Airbnb was one of the more economical options when it came to travel accommodations. More often than not, you got to stay in a well-maintained room or condo for under $100 a night — and if you were lucky, you may even have gotten an entire home for a reasonable price. But in recent years, Airbnb prices have gone up significantly, with its CFO Dave Stephenson noting that the daily rate of an average rental is 36% higher compared to 2019.

"I think the benefit that we've had is that even while [rates] are higher, we're providing great value," he said in an investor call in February 2023 (via The Points Guy). "The [rates] on Airbnb still can provide a great location, maybe a fully stocked kitchen, a washer and dryer, all the reasons why you might want to stay at Airbnb versus other alternatives."

To be fair, staying in an Airbnb has its perks. Most rentals have stoves and a well-equipped kitchen, so you get to prep your meals instead of ordering expensive hotel room service. The nicer ones also have extra amenities at your disposal, like private pools, hot tubs, and multi-car parking. You have to pay a pretty penny, though. But luckily, a TikToker let everyone in on a hack to save you on future bookings, helping you stretch your travel budget further. Apparently, it's as easy as negotiating with Airbnb hosts.

Contact your former Airbnb hosts

In a viral TikTok video, travel content creator Anna, who also hosts vegan group trips, shared an Airbnb booking hack that she claims has "saved her thousands of dollars." As someone who has stayed in countless Airbnbs in the past, she says she makes sure to save the contact details of the host so she can call them up at a later time and negotiate on rates for subsequent stays.

"Some of these people, I kid you not, have like 30 properties, and they would so much rather rent it to somebody they know," she noted. "Every time I'm going somewhere, I go through my Rolodex... And I'm like, 'Hey, it's Anna. I stayed in your Airbnb on [location and date], absolutely loved it. [I'm] coming to [insert new location], [and] I was wondering if you have anything during this time?'" Anna added that she always scores discounts on her bookings, even as much as 50%, especially if it's last-minute or off-season. "Whatever the list price, whatever the price they give me, I say, 'hey, can I pay you 70% of that if I pay you in cash?'" she added. "I've even done 50%. It has never not worked for me."

The downside of this is booking directly with the host means you won't be protected by the privacy and security policies of Airbnb. But if you've had a pleasant stay at their property in the past, it may be worth giving a shot.

You can also try booking an Airbnb for longer

If you're not comfortable with the idea of booking a property outside of Airbnb (that's fair), you can save on your stay by booking a longer stay. According to a NerdWallet analysis, a 7-day stay at an "entire home" listing is 32% cheaper than a shorter stay. You can even save more if you book the place for a month. The study found that you get to save as much as 46% on the nightly rate.

Another trick is to wait about a month before your trip before booking an Airbnb. A MarketWatch study discovered that many rentals are at their cheapest when you book them four weeks prior to your stay. In fact, booking them four weeks in advance is more affordable than when you book them about a year before your trip. Unsurprisingly, the prices go up when you book at the last minute.

The study also pointed out that the price fluctuation is due to Airbnb's built-in dynamic pricing setup, so this may not be the case for all properties. The rates change depending on factors like the demand (like when Taylor Swift or BTS are in town, probably), the season, and the amenities. So on your next Airbnb stay, try booking at least a week-long stay — and secure it a month in advance.