Airbnb Continues To Crack Down On High Cleaning Fees

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In December 2022, Airbnb introduced “Total Price Display” to increase price transparency by showing the total booking figure (not including taxes) on search pages. Prior to this guests would have only seen the cost per night, but would have to go to the check out page to see the true final figure, which included Airbnb’s cut and cleaning fees.

This move came after an overwhelming number complaints about high cleaning fees, sometimes ranging in the hundreds of dollars. In May 2023, they followed up by requiring that hosts itemize check out instructions on their listing, after complaints from guests being required to do a number of things that should ideally be covered by cleaning staff.

These two issues made the dreaded cleaning fee come into question as some hosts would charge more than $100 per night in cleaning, but still require that guests do unusual things like cleaning counter tops and stripping bed sheets. Some even required guests to wash their own sheets and even use their own money to purchase toilet paper to replenish rolls that were used.

Fast forward to 2024, and the passive move has started paying off. In their Q4 2023 earnings call, Airbnb said that nearly 40% of its hosts no longer list cleaning fees as a separate item. They also noted that the implementation of Total Price Display encouraged over 300,000+ hosts to either reduce or remove the cleaning fee category all together.

Airbnb also said that prices for one-bedroom rentals (including all fees less taxes) generally hovered at around $114 a night, which is down 2% compared to the previous year. They also noted that traditional hotel prices increased by 7% at an average of $149 per night, for the same comparison period.

Airbnb Luxe Punta Mita
Photo: Airbnb

While this is good news for guests, many smaller hosts are finding it hard to maintain low rates while keeping their cleaning fees at bay. Unlike hotels, hosts who manage just one or a handful of rentals do not have the economies of scale to spread the cost across multiple rooms like a traditional hotel does. To counter this issue, some hosts have set high minimum nightly stays in order to keep the cleaning costs at bay.

One might say that hosts will simply integrate the cleaning fee into the nightly rate, but at the same time they have to be careful to keep rates manageable so that potential guests don’t default to traditional hotels. This is very relevant as some hotel brands have expanded into renting out larger villa and condo-style homes to compete with brands like Airbnb and VRBO.

Many hosts are now asking that Airbnb revisit its service fee in order to give them more room to accommodate cleaning costs while keeping prices reasonable. Hopefully this is something the rental marketplace company can work on in the coming year. Let’s not forget that besides matching guests which cheap places to stay, the company’s foundation is also premised on helping hosts turn a profit on extra space.

[Featured Photo: Airbnb ]

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