Just a quick one as I've been getting a lot of questions about searching for accommodation on AirBnB but then contacting the owners direct for a better price etc.
Firstly, this isn't only about AirBnB. It also works with Booking.com, HomeAway.com and any other page where B and B's, small private hotels or apartments are advertised on behalf of the owners. Primarily, these sites are merely a portal for the owners to reach a wider audience from which to rent our their rooms. In many cases, these accommodations have their own individual site that wouldn't normally get as much traffic - It would get lost in Google noise. These owner occupied sites obviously don't carry any hefty add-ons or fees like the 'catch all' sites do, previously described, and both the owners and the stayers would prefer not to pat these fees. Bypassing suits everyone apart from the portals themselves but hey, who cares? My money needs to go as far as possible and if using them for my own end is more beneficial, then who am I to worry about slightly decreasing their massive profit margin ... although I do appreciate their existence, and to be frank, it only works whereby the properties themselves are traceable on Google in their own right ... Which is why I strongly advocate that owners of holiday rental properties label them accordingly. If a property is listed as 'Lyon 3 bedder', it obviously isn't going to be too easy to track down 'off site', but if it's called 'Lyonnaise Blue Haven 3' it will show up on search engines and you can start the process. I have always advocated building up a relationship with your hosts anyway, and this is merely a logical prelude to that. Often, especially with smaller independent hotels, they are offering the same price as the booking agencies anyway, but you might get extra add-ons like a bottle of wine in the room, flowers, chocolates, airport pick-ups or a deal with a local eatery, as has happened with us on many occasions. By way of an example, just the last two bookings made by Old School Traveller have saved $100 per night over 5 nights in London, and a whopping $1500 for a week in Switzerland. It really is worth considering, It doesn't always work but it really is worth at least checking out. The Plum Guide in London is a fantastic site for finding wonderful apartments but their fees are astronomically high. I use them to find where I want to stay and then contact the owners directly. If their fees were lower, I may not .....
Secondly, once a dialogue has been struck up with the owners directly, you can negotiate an even better price by paying in cash. Many countries struggle with tax and Government levies etc, and property owners would obviously prefer to bypass the system completely. Now, I appreciate that this might offend some of those with high morals but this can make many properties previously out of budget very affordable indeed and my money needs to go as far as possible. None of us like paying more for the same thing and it can mean huge savings and is definitely worth considering, especially if you're visiting cash strapped countries like Greece, Italy and Spain.
I have many other ways of saving and spending money whilst away so be sure to check in again, and I will always be happy to write a quick post that hopefully, will explain any questions you might have. If you are still unsure about any of the points raised, please feel free to raise them in the comments box below and I will answer as quickly as I can.