We look at nine strategies to find killer deals on Airbnb when renting apartments in Colombia. You can easily save money compared to hotels or hostels.
I have stayed over 1,500 nights at Airbnbs all over the world including in Colombia. In this article based on my experiences, I provide nine strategies to find killer deals on Airbnb in Colombia.
About the Author
My name is Daniel Rusteen and I am a location-independent digital nomad having lived in 50+ cities exclusively sleeping in Airbnbs (1,500+ nights) while remotely managing Airbnb properties and helping Airbnb hosts to be successful.
I come from the days before the Airbnb you know today. I started working at Airbnb in 2013. I remember countless conversations with residents of San Francisco, the headquarters of Airbnb, who had no idea about the company even when it was valued at over $10 billion and 7 years old.
In the eight years that have passed since I first heard of Airbnb, I’ve become one of the world’s best at everything Airbnb:
- Worked at Airbnb from 2013-2016
- Wrote a best-selling book on Airbnb
- Founded an Airbnb property management company
- Slept over 1,500 nights in Airbnb properties, as a guest
- Am an Airbnb Superhost
- Creator of a popular Airbnb blog for Airbnb hosts
While I love Airbnb, one of the downsides is that renting on a short-term basis like this is expensive. Don’t fret. In this article I provide proven strategies to save money on your next Airbnb rental – read more to find out how to find killer deals on Airbnb in Colombia.
Why Use Airbnb Compared to a Hotel or Hostel?
For me, it’s all about the experience. From communicating with the host before making a reservation, to the check-in process, to the neighborhood, you are sure to add to the uniqueness, for better or worse, of your vacation rather than staying in a manufactured experience of a hotel.
Airbnb is normally cheaper. While hotels don’t prefer weekly or monthly stays, an Airbnb host does. The longer you stay, the cheaper it gets per night. It’s not uncommon to reserve an entire home Airbnb for cheaper than a private room at a hostel for a month.
If you’re a cook, like me, then Airbnb is your only option. In my experience, hostel kitchens are disgusting and hotels don’t have kitchens.
With Airbnb there are normally fewer rules and more privacy. I remember once having trouble bringing my friend to my hotel while in Medellín at 7 pm in the evening. No guests allowed!
How to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
Here are my nine proven strategies to find killer deals on Airbnb in Colombia:
1. Book in Advance
This sounds obvious. But if you have the convenience to book three or more months in advance, you are more likely to find a great deal, as many new Airbnb hosts don’t know what they’re doing with pricing and the best deals will be booked up first.
If you’re one of the first reservations before a host understands that they are undercharging compared to the market, you can find a nice discounted Airbnb for little extra work with some planning ahead.
2. Book Within 7-10 Days Before Your Reservation
Airbnb hosts can lower their prices when they have availability within the next 10 days. And if you can wait until just a few days before arrival, you’ll can sometimes find deals up to 50 percent discount.
However, this strategy comes with two big caveats. First, you cannot be picky with regards to location. Second, if you’re traveling to a popular city in a popular month (or during a popular event like Feria de las Flores in Medellín), you may not find any worthy Airbnbs available.
3. Consider the Neighborhood
Do a search online for ‘best neighborhoods [city]’ to find the best neighborhoods. For example, we have an article about the best neighborhoods in Medellín.
Then, search on Airbnb for listings just outside of the desirable area. If you’re willing to walk 20-minutes, it can save you up to 40 percent.
Alert: another caveat. Be sure to note the topography of the area. A 20-minute walk in flat Laureles turns into an intense exercise if you’re in Castropol.
For example, Parque Lleras is a popular nightlife area in Medellín. I decided to stay about a 15-minute walk from Parque Lleras. However, this involved walking uphill to an elevation about 500 feet (150 meters) higher than Parque Lleras.
Also, in Medellín in Colombia keep in mind it is helpful to be near a Medellín metro station to enable getting around the city cheaply.
4. Use as Few Filters as Possible
I only ever use the following filters: dates, number of guests, type of place (ie bedroom or entire home), and price.
Once you start selecting additional filters, you are making the assumption that all the Airbnb hosts who have the amenities you’re selecting for have selected them in the Airbnb system.
This isn’t always true. Even for something as simple as the number of beds, many hosts select fewer beds than are actually available.
By not selecting additional filters, find some hosts who are being contacted less because they’re not being shown to guests who’ve added additional filters.
5. Get a Week or Month Discount
I find that weekly discounts are in the 10-20 percent range. And monthly discounts can be as high as 60 percent.
Some hosts really value longer stays due to personal preference or city regulations. If you can extend your vacation, the costs may be offset by the savings on your accommodation.
6. Look for a New Airbnb Listing.
New listings want to get bookings and often offer a discount or provide a special discount. You can easily identify one by looking for this ‘New’ logo within the search results.
However, there can be risk with new listings, which don’t have reviews. The best way to guarantee a positive experience is to book a listing with at least five reviews.
7. Consider Poorly Reviewed Airbnbs
Read the reviews and understand what the guest is reviewing. Sometimes you will find out they didn’t get along with the host, but the property is fine. These hosts are more likely to give you an additional discount.
8. Go to Page 15 of Search Results.
Any search on Airbnb can return up to 15 pages of results. Similar to Google search results, that 15th page is hardly ever visited.
These hosts on that 15th page generally are more eager to accept a booking. Use my custom message below to maximize your chance of getting a discount as hosts don’t like when you ask directly for a discount.
I have developed a specific message I send to hosts which introduces myself as the perfect hassle-free guest while indirectly asking for a discount.
The idea is to make yourself seem like their ideal guest. These guests are rare and worth a discount.
Hi, I’m a prior Airbnb employee and experienced Airbnb guest with 1,100+ nights on Airbnb, a Superhost, non-smoker, and author of “Optimize YOUR Airbnb”. I’m reaching out to my top 3 Airbnbs in the area and will choose based on our conversation. If you look at my profile, I think you’ll see I’m an easy guest with a long history of giving 5-star reviews. If you can be flexible with your price, I would be grateful.
Update for your positive guest attributes. If you’re a new Airbnb guest maybe you will say “5 successful reservations”
9. Don’t Overvalue the Superhost Designation
Less than 3 percent of all Airbnb hosts are awarded the Superhost designation. A Superhost is an Airbnb host who has completed a minimum number of successful reservations with a 5-star review rating plus no cancellations.
While you’re more likely a hassle-free accommodation with a Superhost, there are plenty of fine hosts without this Superhost designation at a discounted rate.
Avoid Booking Crappy Airbnb Properties in Colombia
This actually can be harder than it seems. However, there are ways to filter out Airbnbs that do meet your expectations even when they are without reviews.
As I said above, “the best way to guarantee a positive experience with Airbnb is to book a listing with at least five reviews.”
First, check for very short reviews. Short reviews can mean the place was average, at best. If you don’t see an occasionally lengthy review from a very satisfied prior guest, that’s a red flag.
Second, look at the review ratings. There are six categories. Anything below a 4.7 puts the listing in the lower 50 percent of all listings.
Fourth, check out the host profile. Have they done the bare minimum or have they gone above and beyond to fill in their profile?
Lastly, ask about the specific location. I frequently use the following at the end of my message to hosts: “One question: can you tell me the exact location of your home?”
Beware that the host has the ability to move the map location on Airbnb anywhere they want. Literally, anywhere. This has happened to me more than once where I booked a place and it was an additional 10-minute walk from where I wanted. Most recently this happened to me in December when I booked an Airbnb in Envigado.
What to Do if you Booked a Terrible Airbnb in Colombia
I recommend that you take a bunch of photos and a video of the Airbnb upon check-in (and check-out).
You also should communicate with the host about anything that doesn’t seem right. For example, one property I rented, the stovetop was not functioning properly. I should have told the host about this right away so that when it broke a few days later, I was better protected from claims of misuse by the host.
In fact, Airbnb recommends the guest always contact the host first to allow the host the opportunity to fix the issue. If they’re unable or unwilling to fix it (or unresponsive), you can create a claim in the resolution center on Airbnb. You can access it through the trip details or the message thread. Sometimes you need to look for a button that says ‘request money’.
According to Airbnb’s website, situations that are generally eligible for a full refund fall under three categories: You weren’t able to access your rental, the listing is a misrepresentation of the actual property or the listing isn’t clean (or is unsafe).
Never cancel the Airbnb reservation. After the reservation has started this never is a good idea unless you don’t care about any kind of refund.
Other Things to Consider When Using Airbnb
Amenities. Specifically, ask about any amenities that are important to you. For me, kitchen amenities are very important and hardly ever known from descriptions of Airbnbs.
I ask the host if they have a fully equipped kitchen, as I normally cook my meals. Sometimes I’ll tell them what things I expect to have.
In my experience, some hosts are willing to purchase what they don’t have. You should ask if the host provides beach towels and chairs if near a beach. Or bikes, if you’re in a bike-able neighborhood.
Cancellation policy. While you never expect to cancel, if you’re deciding between two listings and one has a flexible (free cancellation within 24-hours) and the other has strict (free cancellation within 7 days) you might want to go with the more flexible Airbnb listing.
Also, a host who uses a flexible cancellation policy knows they have the best listing which will get rebooked in the unlikely event of a guest cancellation.
Sunlight. A balcony is great and can be found in many Airbnb apartments in Colombia. But a balcony with direct sunlight is better.
If you’re staying in a big city like Bogotá, you might open your window to see a brick wall three feet away in which case you’ll receive zero direct sunlight the entire day. But great for sleeping in.
Document everything. Airbnb is generally known to favor the guest over the host when it comes to claims of damage, this is a worthy protective measure.
You don’t want to be on the hook for something that you shouldn’t be. Upon entering the Airbnb, take a short video of all the rooms. While staying, I highly recommend communicating any issues, no matter how small with the host.
Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series
Medellin Guru now has a series of several articles about Airbnb in Colombia:
- 9 Strategies to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
- 15 Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
- 10 Airbnb Best Practices for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia
- 9 Tips to Attract Long-Term Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- 7 Strategies for Airbnb Slow Season in Colombia
- How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests in Colombia Before They Book
- 15 Ways to Increase Your Airbnb Search Rank In Colombia
- How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia? Is it Safe to Use Airbnb in Colombia?
- Airbnb Travel Itinerary for Your Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide
The Bottom Line: Strategies to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
Using the strategies above, you can find killer deals on Airbnb in Colombia with a little bit of research. In my experience, a strong guest profile does increase your chance of an accepted Airbnb reservation and a discount.
Be sure to fill in everything and confirm your ID by going to www.Airbnb.com/Verify before sending any requests.
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