Skift Take

Last-minute Airbnb bookings are not impossible. You just need to know how to navigate the system.

Updated February 28, 2023

Looking for a last-minute place to stay? Whether you’re organizing a spontaneous vacation or your travel plans have changed unexpectedly, finding accommodation is probably the first thing on your mind. The good news is that booking somewhere both affordable and available can be fuss free. 

Spare rooms, quirky cabins, luxurious apartments – Airbnb offers a huge range of rentals all over the world. Its revenue makes it clear: Travelers love choice, especially when they don’t have to pay a premium to get it. This could explain why the company has bounced back more quickly than competitors and Expedia in the wake of COVID-19. However, the amount of choice on Airbnb – combined with a booking process that can be time-consuming – mean many people head straight for hotels when they need somewhere at short notice. 

Those people are missing out. It’s easy to book a last-minute getaway with Airbnb when you know where and how to look. 

Filter Your Results

‘Last minute’ can mean different things to different people. Whether you’re booking somewhere a couple of days in advance or scrambling for a same-day rental, Airbnb makes it straightforward to find a place that’s available for your chosen dates. 

Hosts tell the platform how much notice they need before welcoming a new guest, so Airbnb automatically filters out those who aren’t happy to accept same-day bookings. It will also filter out places if the cut-off time for checking in has passed. Simply choose your check-in and check-out dates using the search tool and explore the range of results. 

Turn on ‘Instant Booking’

Airbnb is all about flexibility. In 2021, it launched a feature that lets users search for properties within a 12-month date range. But what if you don’t have a year to play with? What if you don’t even have a day?

Enter the platform’s instant booking feature. If you select this filter when you’re searching for rentals, this handy tool will make sure you only see places that you can book straight away without having to contact the host first. This means you won’t have to wait for your booking to be confirmed; reserve your dates and you’ll receive an email with all the necessary details such as the listing address and check-in information. 

Check For Rentals That Are Business Travel Ready

Business travelers have been comparatively slow to adopt Airbnb as their booking platform of choice, but now the company’s popularity among corporate clients is booming. Part of this is thanks to its Business Travel Ready accreditation, highlighting properties that meet a set of criteria that makes them suitable for people traveling for work. 

As well as essentials such as a work space and reliable internet, these homes all offer self-check-in around the clock. It won’t matter if your meeting overruns or your flight is delayed; you’ll be able to enter the property at any time that suits you, removing the worry of being locked out of your accommodation with nothing but an overnight bag and expensive laptop. 

Hotel Alternatives

Whether you’re looking for last-minute deals or you need a fast alternative to a reservation that’s fallen through, there are many reasons why you might want to book somewhere at short notice. If you’re happy with a hotel room, the app HotelTonight – as its name suggests – shows you hotels with same-day availability in your chosen city. 

But for something a little more off the beaten track, and potentially less expensive, it’s perfectly possible to find an Airbnb at the eleventh hour by being smart with your search filters. Bon voyage. 


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Tags: airbnb, brands explained, business travel

Photo credit: Airbnb wants to attract more last-minute business travelers. Airbnb

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