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Anyone who has been in, or who has known people in, the military understands that it requires sacrifice. While it may be an impossible task to pay that sacrifice back to vets, many businesses across America try with military discounts. When it comes to travel, sometimes the various discounts and incentives can be hard to keep track of— and not just for the military. So as a company that supports the troops, this guide to vacation rentals for veterans and active military should help a little.
Does Airbnb Have a Military Discount?
As the biggest name in the vacation rental market, the oversimplified answer to ‘does Airbnb have a discount for military personnel’ is: no they do not.
Perhaps the biggest issue preventing Airbnb from providing a military discount is not the desire but rather the scale of their business. Airbnb is very much an international phenomenon. At their last measure, Airbnb offered vacation rentals in 191 countries and just about 100,000 cities. While it is an American company, the logistics of giving a discount exclusively to American military would be difficult. This is especially true for any veterans planning on traveling internationally. Meanwhile, the implications of providing a global military discount gets tricky politically, economically, and logistically.
The other problem facing Airbnb providing military discounts is that the company themselves do not set any of the prices. The host controls every rental and accommodation and they are the ones to determine the cost of their home. Airbnb would be unable to enforce all hosts to uphold a military price break. This could cause tension with rental owners as it conflicts with their income and potentially with some people’s personal beliefs.
What Company Does Offer a Military Discount?
The problems facing Airbnb are shared by many of the other biggest vacation rentals sites on the web. The sheer number of rentals, their worldwide locations, and price-by-owner format make it hard to offer military discounts.
However, there are exceptions. Perhaps the company most vocal about its armed forces policy is Wyndham Vacation Rentals. While the vacation rental branch of the Wyndham Destinations brand is relatively new, the Wyndham name has long been a leader in the travel space. Founded in Dallas in the early 80s, Wyndham has a history of offering discounts to the military, professional pastors, and others.
One of the advantages Wyndham Vacation Rentals has over other companies is that the vast majority of their vacation rental capital is in the United States. Most of these are in top vacation destinations like beach and ski resort towns. Depending on the location, Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers up to 25% off for military members and their families. Currently, some of their offers include a 25% discount on rentals in Gulf Shores (Alabama’s best beach), 20% off in Hilton Head, and 20% off in notable mountain towns like Vail, Colorado and Park City, Utah.
It should be noted that for these rentals through Wyndham, a valid military ID is required. Also while there are huge potential savings, there aren’t any additional booking privileges — meaning every accommodation on Wyndham Vacation Rentals is booked on a first-come-first-served basis.
New Priceline and Defense Department Sponsored Site
Earlier this year, the Defense Department and Priceline partnered up to create American Forces Travel, a travel website designed specifically to help military families find discounts and savings. The site is not reserved exclusively for accommodations, however — their aim is to also provide savings on car rentals, flights, and even cruises. When American Forces Travel first launched their business, they announced to expect to save military members an average of $240 per person per vacation.
Those savings sound ideal but it seems that these projections are not that straightforward. In an article written for military.com by Amy Bushatz, a military spouse, she researched a trip from her home in Anchorage, Alaska to San Francisco. She found that across the board (hotels, flights, and car rentals), the Defense Department’s new website did not provide any significant savings. In fact, in many instances, she found that other aggregator websites actually produced better prices for general citizens than American Forces Travel did for military families.
While the idea behind American Forces Travel is a good one, it may not be up to snuff yet. Representatives have ensured that as the site grows and matures, the discounts will continue to grow in quantity and quality.
Any Other Methods of Finding Discounts?
There are other sites worth looking through. We recommend the Armed Forces Vacation Club, The Military Wallet, and Veterans Holidays.
When it comes to booking with big name vacation rental services it can never hurt to contact a host prior to booking. It may be surprising the number of people eager to provide some kind of discount on their rental, especially if you let them know you’re a veteran or currently serving in the military.