The Perfect Place for the Perfect Price: How to Hack AirBnB

by Nick Waterhouse

I have rented AirBnB properties in many different cities all over the world. From wine country abodes in Sonoma to party pads with infinity pools (see above image taken earlier this year) in Thailand, AirBnB has proved a legitimate and affordable way to have all of the amenities of a true home while traveling. Best of all, I have never paid the full listing price for a rental on AirBnB. Whenever I share this fact with other travelers, they are surprised at how easy it can be to rent a great place for less.  Learning the process below will help you find a phenomenal place for an affordable price while helping renters fill vacancies and further develop this amazing community.

Here are 5 items to help easily secure your next cheap rental on AirBnb:

1) Contact hosts as close to arrival date as possible

When looking for the perfect AirBnB property, make sure arrival dates and the number of guests are set correctly as this will filter out the unwanted places and places that aren’t available for the dates of your stay. It is vital for the bargaining process to contact hosts as close to your stay as you are comfortable in doing. This puts pressure on the host to fill the vacant property and also ensures that someone else won’t come along and want to book the property for the full price.

2) Bargain Smartly

Obviously, hosts are going to be hesitant to drop the price for their property for no reason. To begin a conversation, mention that the property and reviews look great but that it is currently out of your price range. Then say how much you would like to spend and ask if the owner has any other properties in that price range. The email will look something like this:

Hello [Insert Host Name]!

I hope all is well!  My name is __________  ( a fellow AirBnB’er) and I will be in [City Name] on Sunday to relax and get work done after a long stint of traveling. Your place looks perfect but it is a bit out of my price range at the moment.

I wanted to reach out and ask you if you had any other properties available during this time that are cheaper/smaller or if you had any suggestions as to where to stay locally. I am looking to spend about $xx USD a night and would only need one bedroom. If your property I am contacting you about remains available, would you be able to lower the price for me? I am a great guest and leave great reviews on AirBnb 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read my message and I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Best Regards,

AirBnB has a great feature that saves the first e-mail you use to contact a seller so for all other available properties, you can contact the host with one click. Don’t be afraid to lowball the original price of the listing and be honest with yourself about your true budget. Always say that the price you mentioned is the maximum you can pay. If the host has another property in your price range, then great! If not, more times than not they will lower their price to meet your needs and fill the vacant property.

3) Use reviews as leverage

As you can see in the template above, I mentioned that I am an experienced AirBnB’er who always leaves great reviews. This will encourage a host to give you the property for your asking price as they know you will leave a positive review in exchange. AirBnB reviews are treated just like any other e-commerce site and positive reviews greatly increase the rental chances of a property. Using a positive review as a bargaining chip can go a long way.

4) Look for great places with no reviews

If you find a new property or a place that seems great with little or no reviews, contact these properties first. Hosts will be much more likely to rent their property for a cheaper price if they are new to AirBnb and want to start generating some reviews and income. The e-mail template above will still work fine but feel free to lower your initial asking price if the place has no reviews.

5) Don’t skip unusually large properties

If a host is offering a very large place, there is a good chance it is rarely rented on AirBnb. Most couples, solo-travelers or families wouldn’t think about contacting a host who is renting an 8 bedroom house. I have been very successful in renting larger places for myself or a very small group. Use the e-mail template above but I would make sure to tell the host that they are welcome to lock x-amount of bedrooms that would not be used. This puts the host at ease by ensuring that you will not be bringing more people than originally mentioned.

These 5 simple tactics have worked wonders for me throughout my travels. Contact as many properties as you can to better your chances to finding that perfect place. Don’t forget that hosts also leave reviews on their guests – so be polite, leave the place spotless and write a kind, constructive and thorough review of the property. Safe travels my friends!

Have you tried these tactics out? Let me know by sharing your story below.


Nick Waterhouse is the founder of AirBuds, Ltd. and BackpackingWithaBusiness.com. When not starting new projects, he is exploring far-off lands or making music with his friends. Feel free to contact him at BackpackingWithaBusiness@gmail.com.

Dialing Up Success From Abroad: Tips from ZipDial CEO, Valerie Wagoner

Nick’s note:

Mikell Hazlehurst is an avid traveler and just finished an MBA exchange program at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. Mikell wrote an in-depth research paper on barriers of entry and strategies of success for expat entrepreneurs in Bangalore. Mikell interviewed Valarie Wagoner, CEO of the mobile marketing platform ZipDial. Soon after this interview, ZipDial was acquired by Twitter. Below is a condensed version of Mikell’s research paper including Valarie Wagoner’s ideas on starting successful companies abroad.

Enjoy!


by Mikell Hazlehurst

The amount of aspiring entrepreneurs in places like Silicon Valley is staggering, and a face-to-face meeting with a successful startup CEO would never happen without personal ties (and even that is a stretch). By placing yourself in a small startup ecosystem and adding to the equation that you have “being an expat” in common, I believe that chances of getting the support you need from the local expat community drastically increases.

Regardless of who you are or what you’re doing, the likelihood of success ultimately depends upon your strength of character and an unwavering attitude of persistence. Strategic adaptability is essential for an entrepreneur coming to India to start a business, and the expat entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who can “Think Local”.

For instance, the ability to do business in India requires a willingness to turn constraints into opportunities. Valerie Wagoner, who is the CEO of ZipDial, spent a semester studying in Bangalore at the Indian Institute of Management. Originally hailing from California, Valerie’s Bangalore-based company was just listed on Fast Company magazine as the 8th most innovative company in the world, ranking just behind some of the world’s biggest brands like Nike and Google. Valerie actually gave one of her first demos for ZipDial on the IIMB campus at the N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL). She would go on to explain why starting ZipDial in India was the right move:

“A large, growing domestic market that is a solid foundation for expansion of a unique business model and technology into other emerging markets. Emerging markets in general have a huge amount of opportunity if an entrepreneur is willing to take a long term view and have the stamina to execute, and India is a great place to start for future expansion.”

I then wanted to know what advice Valerie would bestow upon a potential entrepreneur who is interested in starting their business abroad. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs have obtained knowledge the hard way, and it becomes of utmost importance to learn from their mistakes. Valerie was kind enough to share with me to “have a strategy to be global from early on. India is a large, important market, but you should think early about your long-term global expansion and how you build a solid foundation for that. Incorporate outside India, even if you are going to primarily build in India and sell to India. This will make future expansion outside of India more seamless. Raise more money than you think you need earlier than you think you need it (if you can). Do not take for granted the importance of high-quality finance and compliance team members (whether in-house or outsourced). You need to keep this in order from day one to avoid costly headaches later. And don’t underestimate. Be generous with employees about Employee Stock Options, and be ready to educate employees about how they work and why they are important.”

Shortly after returning from India, I found out that ZipDial had been acquired by Twitter. Valerie’s hard work had paid off, and I bet she ended up banking a lot more money because she was able to keep both her business and personal expenses at a minimum. I ended up interviewing several other expats and local VC’s for an article which was used for my final research paper in an independent study course at IIMB.

I spent countless hours running around the city of Bangalore trying to make my meetings on time. All of the entrepreneurs knew each other, and it was an interesting experience for sure. If you’re interested in trying your hand at starting a business abroad, I’d recommend looking into Bangalore for the low cost of living and high availability of cheap talent. One of the entrepreneurs I met with for this project has a company which specializes in finding startup jobs for expats in Bangalore. His name is Troy Erstling, and you can checkout his website at BrainGain.Co.

A 12-Hour Time Difference: How Traveling Helped Me Manage E-Mail

by Nick Waterhouse

We’ve all come to the conclusion that e-mail sucks. Everyone and their brother has figured out a “perfect” inbox management technique. From auto-responders to batch and unsubscribe programs such as Boomerang and Unroll.me, I’ve tried them all. Surprisingly, nothing has worked better for me than taking an extended trip through Southeast Asia.

I am not going to pretend I am some public figure who gets 1000s of e-mails a day, but, like a lot of you guys, I do receive 100s of daily e-mails even after religiously unsubscribing from junk. But with wanting to cover a lot of ground over the course of a year, I refused to let my inbox dictate my evenings. I took this trip to help rid some of the bad work habits I had at home, not reinforce them. Plus, my evenings are much better spent with a Beer Lao and new friends.

After being overseas for a few months, I am happy to say that the problem of managing my e-mail has solved itself without the use of any fancy techniques or tools. I used to be a big fan of auto-responders and used an e-mail template similar to one Tim Ferriss recommends but have recently steered away from this tactic for a few reasons.

First, auto-responders clog up inboxes. If someone doesn’t need something immediately, there is no need to clog up their inbox with a slightly pretentious “I’m too busy for you” response. Second, if something is actually urgent (medical emergency or death-in-the-family urgent) than someone wouldn’t be e-mailing anyways. Before traveling, I always make sure at least one close friend or relative has a way to reach me in case of emergency.

If I know I will check and respond to e-mail every 48 hours or so, an auto-responder is unnecessary. I think my lack of an immediate response can be a good reminder that e-mail shouldn’t require immediate attention. Plus, people get used to my typical response time and will stop worrying after a few exchanges. If I know there is a chance I won’t have any internet for more than 3 weekdays, I will use a very basic auto-responder including the date that I will be back on e-mail and always thanking the person writing for their patience. Or, a short “Sorry, I was having e-mail issues” usually replaces the need for an auto-responder. A little white lie won’t hurt anyone in this case.

Unless intentionally avoiding a wifi connection, you would be hard pressed to go 3 days in any country in the world without finding one. Over the last few months I have had a solid wifi connection on buses in Malaysia, jungles in Thailand and on a floating restaurant meters away from the oldest rainforest in the world. Although a constant connection can be a huge productivity killer, it is possible to find one if necessary.

I usually check, or batch, my e-mails in the mornings after breakfast. I am currently 12 hours ahead of EST and 15 hours ahead of PST, which is perfect for my e-mail schedule. During my morning e-mail session, I can see all of my (US based) e-mails from the day before. Any long and loopy e-mail chains have answered themselves and I am able to quickly delete or sort all of that day’s junk and ‘no response necessary’ e-mails.

After narrowing a full day’s response required e-mails down in a matter of minutes, I can efficiently and intelligently respond on my own time. There is not someone waiting for me to get back to them immediately so I always make sure my responses are thoughtful and accurate to avoid another e-mail on the matter. Once I am satisfied with my responses, I send all the e-mails at once before signing off – usually for the rest of the day.

I literally process hundreds of e-mails in one go rather than checking my inbox five – ten – twenty times throughout my workday as I did back home. On top of that, I usually maintain a 24-hour response time for all of my e-mails that I deem a response necessary.

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