02/19/2014 10:36 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2014

How to Negotiate For Your Next Family Vacation Rental

Over the next few months, families are planning their school vacation getaways to escape the cold weather and spend some time together, and likely looking ahead at their summer travel plans. Given the increased prices during these key travel windows, however, it can be quite costly for families to plan a trip for the whole clan.

As a father of two boys, we often travel during their school vacations, and I wanted to share my insight as someone who has worked in the travel industry for more than 10 years on the best ways to negotiate the price of your next vacation home. Not only do websites like represent significant savings (and extra space!) as compared with hotel rooms, you can score some even better deals if you plan accordingly.

Here are my top tips for negotiating the most affordable rate possible for your next vacation rental:

1. Take Advantage of Last-Minute Deals
Keep in mind that property owners are often more willing to negotiate for a last minute rental than for one that's still a few months away. So, consider looking now for a quick getaway this month, and you might find a property owner that's willing to offer you a lower rate so their rental home doesn't sit unoccupied.

2. Investigate Off-Season Pricing
Remember that off-season rentals are more negotiable than peak season. In New England, for example, the peak season is really only ten weeks of summer. And in desirable locations, property owners are unlikely to negotiate very much during peak travel season -- but you can certainly try! Or consider booking now for a trip in Mexico in, say, June when the off-season begins. And chances are you'll be able to get a better weekly rate on that family villa in Italy this October than you would in the height of summer.

3. Be Kind & Courteous to the Homeowner
Make sure to be gentle in how you approach the negotiation. Saying, "I love your house, but it's a little more than we were hoping to spend" is different than "We want the first week in August, and we're contacting multiple properties. We'll stay wherever we get the cheapest rate." Many property owners don't HAVE to rent their house at all, and they may prefer to leave it unoccupied than rent to someone who has been unpleasant or rude.

Have you successfully negotiated a great price for your vacation rental before? Or if you own homes that you rent out, how would you recommend negotiating a deal?