For a long time, Airbnb was successful, and became more so, because it was significantly cheaper than most hotels. However, as the company’s success has increased, so have the prices associated with staying at an Airbnb.
The following was posted on Twitter not long ago, and shows how the fees associated with staying at an Airbnb were more than the cost of the actual stay:
we gotta stop airbnb pic.twitter.com/RUVq3Gwv9i
— alexa (@mariokartdwi) May 17, 2021
I can’t say much for “service fees” (Airbnb sets those) or “occupancy taxes” (those are set at a city, county, state or country level) but that cleaning fee is indeed pretty high. I’ve heard several people say that when Airbnb made their “Enhanced Clean” protocols mandatory instead of voluntary, in October 2020, cleaning fees also went up. That would make sense to an extent, but for the cleaning fee to be $114 on a space that costs $99/night?
Anyway, @mariokartdwi’s tweet got 1.4k replies, was liked over 200k times, and was retweeted nearly 24k times. In fact, it got enough attention that Airbnb corporate took notice. They addressed it on their web page the next day.
The title of the piece was Fee Transparency on Airbnb, and it was their way to, as they said, “share how fees work, some background facts on the affordability, and what we’re doing to address guests directly in the coming months.”
They first explained how Airbnb hosts set their prices for their spaces. It makes sense that the size, location, guest capacity, amenities and other factors all play a role in how much is charged for the rental.
They explained that the hosts set cleaning fees, and included a link that showed how Airbnb has tips to help keep cleaning fees reasonable. They also mention that 45% of their hosts don’t charge a cleaning fee. According to the company, of those who do charge a fee for cleaning, the average cost is less than 15% of the total reservation (unless, apparently, you’re @mariokartdwi).
They mention that they “believe that Hosts having autonomy over their own pricing helps empower them to achieve success on our platform,” which is just corporate BS, but they also remind potential renters that they’re shown what the cleaning fee will be before they commit to renting. So there is that (read: don’t complain about something if you’re aware of, and agree to it).
In their “Moving Forward” section of the post, Airbnb says although they take pride in their transparency about fees, there’s always room for improvement from feedback. From the post:
Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s Global Head of Hosting, today assigned a team under her purview to focus on conducting a comprehensive review of our fees and making recommendations where appropriate — with the objective of making pricing even more transparent and easy for Hosts and guests to navigate. This process will include consultation with members of our community, including our Host Advisory Board.
They say their goal for the review and recommendations will be in place by December 15th.
Will this make any changes to the fees associated with Airbnb stays? My guess is probably not.
Hosts have no control over tax and occupancy fees, and only Airbnb has control over service fees. That leaves the cleaning fees. If someone is using a professional cleaning service to clean their place, that will cost more than doing it yourself, and that’ll be reflected in the cleaning fee. If a host such as @mariokartdwi’s thinks their own, personal cleaning is worth $114, they have the right to charge that much. But since a renter knows how much that fee is going to be before committing, it’s on them if they decide to rent a space or not. I suspect that’s the type of explanation Airbnb will offer, come December 15th.
Feature Photo (cropped): www.lakeland-furniture.co.uk
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary