I have been looking at vacation rental sites for the last few months, deciding which ones to list on Slow Europe, and have noticed that some agencies are now offering discount prices. I have also been talking to agencies and owners, booking our summer trip, and some have offered discounts when I asked. * I am keeping this post on the top of the blog home page as we add new information about discounts.
Create Your Own Sale – Ask For a Discount
In my years of booking vacation rentals I have found only a few situtations where you can expect a discount:
- If you are staying for more than a week. If the agency/owner does not offer you weekly cleaning they are saving money when you stay longer (unless the cleaning fee is extra) because they do not have to do the changeover day cleaning.
- If you are staying for more than a week and it is the low season. Many vacation rentals do not rent out much during the low season, especially countryside rentals. If you want to spend a month or two somewhere in Europe in the winter, you can usually get a discount on the already discounted off-season price.
- If are booking a larger vacation rental than your group needs. If there are two of you staying in a two-bedroom vacation rental ask for a discount since you will use less utilities and sheets/towels than a group of four.
- If you are booking at the last minute. With vacation rentals this is up to two months ahead. Most people book vacation rentals six months to a year ahead, so if a place is available two months before it is not likely to get booked.
In these troubled economic times, when many Americans are cutting back on European travel, it does not hurt to ask for a discount.
For our recent trip I asked for a discount for cottages in England and was offered a discount from an owner (if renting for 3 or more weeks) but not from the agencies I talked to. In general, England is not on sale this summer because the Brits are vacationing at home, so cottages are booked. For our apartment in Paris two agencies offered me a discount for a one week rental because I was booking at the last minute. Another agency would not offer any discount.
On our two month stay in the Cotswolds last winter, I negotiated a 20% discount with the owner on her already discounted off-season rate.
Some of the Vacation Rental Sales I Found
- Doorways is offering 10% – 25% discounts on select villas and apartments in Italy (a few on sale for Spain and France).
- Haven in Paris is offering last minute discounts of 5% – 15% but most are very last minute – for bookings in the next few weeks. But ask if they have any specials for the weeks you are booking. Context travel has a great article about this agency on their blog – Your Own Haven in Paris.
- Helpful Holidays has special offers of 25% off on some of their Southwest England cottages. England is very affordable this year, even without discounts, because the pound is low against the dollar. A cottage that costs £500/week was $1000/week last summer and is $700/week this summer – about a 30% discount.
- Interhome, with vacation rentals in most European countries, is offering good discounts:
- 33% last minute discount on many vacation rentals when booked 10 nights or less before arrival and for a stay of 1 week – Last Minute Special Offers – Vacation Home Rentals Interhome.
- Interhome USA/ResortQuest offers a 10% discount and waves the booking fee of $30 for all reservations booked between Apr 8 and Sept 30, 2009.
- Last February Interhome reduced prices due to the favorable exchange rate of USD versus Euro. The rentals are about 25% cheaper than last summer.
- Paris Perfect is offering a discount on some of their Paris apartments. Discount prices are noted on the price list.
- Rentvillas is offering a 10% discount on over 1000 of their villas in Europe (Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Portugal) for bookings made in March. Some villas are discounted 30%. The sale is not noted on their homepage but is shown in the price list for individual properties. I get their newsletter and they sent out an annoucement today. They also offer a “best price guarentee” which I do not see on their site but was announced in a newsletter. If you book a vacation rental but find a better price with another agency or with the owner, they will meet the price – but only if you notify them within 24 hours of booking. Rentvillas has a lot of listings and have been in business since 1984 – the original owner Suzanne Pidduck still runs the company – but their prices can be a bit high IMO, especially if looking for a place for two people.
These are just a few of the websites offering discounts. If you have any other examples, please post them in the comments.