Airbnb Fees - Airbnb Tackles Fees
Photo by Kelcie Papp on Unsplash - Airbnb experience in Europe - Lisbon, Portugal

So much of travel involves price comparisons, yet trying to compare pricing quickly is rarely as easy as one might hope. Easy is rarely the word, amirite?

In a world of “lowest lead price” gets eyeballs, travelers often have no idea if their well-intentioned comparisons accurately reflect the total price for a stay. For far too long, Airbnb hasn’t even been neutral on this — they’ve only trended worse

Lead in prices were progressively becoming further removed from reality, as new fee features popped up. A “$100 a night” stay would often end up over $200, by the time platform service fees, cleaning fees, and a myriad of others were added, post fact.

Following the airline world, which has gotten better at noting some fares don’t include checked bags, or seat selections from the start, Airbnb is set to tackle fees after a long review of its fee structure, and more so, how they display prices.

Airbnb Tackles Fees

Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, asserted that the cleaning fees were “never intentionally designed,” which is somewhat an abbreviated way of saying that they never assumed hosts would use these fees to totally “game” their listings, earning additional money for rentals.

Unfortunately, many hosts have added outsized cleaning fees, impacting the total price you pay for accommodation, especially for short stays.

Understanding The Culture Of (Travel) Fees

So, the first vital question, is why additional fees are such a ubiquitous component of travel pricing? Across travel, and not specifically Airbnb, fees comes down to two very important concepts:

  • Search Engines and Search (Price Ranking) – Getting your listing to rank higher.
  • Commissions Paid – Most hotel fees (resort fees) go directly to the hotel property cutting out any commission payments to online travel agencies (OTA’s) or Travel Agents.

Airbnb Cleaning Fees – Very Similar to Hotel Resort Fees

While thankfully, resort fees are not part of the equation for Airbnb, in essence, cleaning fees are the Airbnb equivalent of hotel resort fees. This is especially true when reviewing the price per night for a stay, since you often do not see the fees until check-out or when you’re ready to complete of a reservation.

What an awful surprise!

You can give a slight nod to the fact that at least a “cleaning fee” is for something specific and understandable, like cleaning. In contrast, many hotel resort fees include unnecessary services and are often not wanted by consumers.

Examples include free local phone calls, a notary service, or a daily newspaper. Or, shall we say, these items should really already be included in the (per night) pricing for a hotel stay. I guess it’s better, but still bad?

Fees As a Profit Center

For those that can’t get enough narrative about fees, be sure to check out (paywall) this brilliant Wall Street Journal Article from September 2022, Welcome to Your Airbnb, the Cleaning Fees Are $143 and You’ll Still Have to Wash the Linens.

The short story is that just like hotel resort fees, Airbnb cleaning fees are used as a profit center above and beyond the fee charged. These fees cover the cost of the (cleaning) services and include a (profit center) markup for the host.

It’s definitely not philanthropy for the cleaning industry.

Airbnb Fees: Not A “Tech” Obstacle

Skift recently shared a very interesting article about these fees, pointing out several items that involve the methodology used by Airbnb in defining these fees.

One of the most interesting comments was that “It wouldn’t be an overly difficult technical issue for Airbnb to show the total charges in initial search results.” Ironically, the EU already requires transparency of fees.

This leaves us with a clear understanding that the way that Airbnb fees are displayed in search results has historically been a business decision and not a technical issue. It’s a choice that was allowed to run, perhaps until things went “too” wild.

These fees should legitimately cover costs for cleaning and not be used as a profit center for hosts. If hosts desire higher rates for stays, they should focus on the value proposition of the listing while pricing it accordingly.

Airbnb Says Changes Are On The Way

In the coming weeks and months, Airbnb will test different ways to display prices based on the review that started more than a year ago. Unfortunately, providing tips to hosts and suggesting that cleaning fees not be added or be reasonable has not been enough to discourage above-average cleaning fees.

According to Brian Chesky, the founder and CEO of Airbnb, the platform has been listening to users about their experiences and complaints.

Why that took a year to tell them something we could’ve told them in 5 minutes, is an exercise in corporate bureaucracy.

The new hope is that a combination of added “upfront” transparency on pricing and also a prioritization of listings with lower fees will become commonplace as part of the renting process for Airbnb.

Treating guests as valuable customers begins with the search and pricing experience. Nobody wants to feel “tricked” or “ripped off” after they’ve fallen in love with a place.

It seems that at long last, Airbnb is giving customers what they want, and realizing that encouraging transparency and awarding more transparent hosts can only be positive.

We also know that Digital Nomads love Airbnb, and it is amazing to “hop around” to different properties while avoiding excessive cleaning fees for short stays. Especially since the impact of per-stay fees is more “painful” when only staying at a property for a few days.

One more reason to consider Airbnb, especially when you can “Pay Yourself Back” on Airbnb Until December 31, 2022 using Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. You’re missing the fact that Airbnb is leaving out a key part – taxes will not be included in the new “total” pricing. Other major sites show taxes in the search results page: Expedia shows a total price with everything in small print below the pre-tax nightly price; IHG and Marriott both have a checkbox to change all the rates to include taxes/fees as well.

    Airbnb is calling the amount shown on the search results screen a “Total” without even an asterisk and clicking on the word total shows the rate breakdown of that but still doesn’t show taxes or have a disclaimer to let people know that taxes are not included.

    It’s deception and I won’t be shocked if at least one state AG files a false advertising C&D / lawsuit against them for it.

  2. The Airbnb app has started to act in a random manner incorrect addresses emailing no longer registered addresses showing incorrect locations repeatedly asking for example TV screen size and not updating changed to the listing, the same applies to payment information I’ve been using the app for over 10 years and then I get a message that they need my bank details I’m very cautious these messages are genuine. I’ve also had a cancellation from someone who claimed they couldn’t get into the property when I was at the property waiting fur them

  3. airbnb seem to forget that thier market depends on owners listing. owners are smart, they will find another way, owners can also walk. there are other listing sites out there. i have a listing in israel. i only get a small amount of requests from airbnb and decline just as many because i have a reservation from another sorce.
    and i am a one man show, one listing to bring in a few extra bucks. i charge the correct amount for the area 380nis ( OUR SMALL POOL APARTMENT IN HAR ADAR) and only take a cleaning fee on check out. your going to be hard pressed to find a hotel ofering well stocked kitchen two bedrooms living room pool jaccusi and sauna. for that price.
    IMHO AIRBNB NEEDS TO START LOOKING AFTER ITS PROPERTY OWNERS, we are not hotels its our home. guests get something we get something, when things get nocked out of kilter… well look at it this way, when airbnb changed its cancelation policy i changed mine from flexible to firm. ying yang guys…..

  4. cleaning fees should be baked into the nightly costs of the room. It is a cost of doing business. Should Marriott put a maid service fee on their room rate and an extra kicker for the doorman?

    1. Our cost to the cleaner is $120.75, we charge guests $120. Our daily rate is $150. A one night stay would, after other expenses, be a loss. We have two bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living area, back yard, deck and can sleep 7 total. The local hotels are between $110 and $213 for a one bedroom that can at the most sleep 4, with most at 2.

      Stop being a socialist and let the market decide what is more valuable to them.

  5. 1) How do you find good deals on Airbnb?
    2) What are some tips for negotiating with Airbnb hosts?
    3) How do you make sure you don’t get scammed on Airbnb?

  6. Many of the big travel bloggers have given up on Airbnb. As a company, they and their “hosts” appear overly greedy. They also do very little to help anyone who has a problem with a host.

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