We've all been there: Hunting for a great Airbnb, finally finding that five-star rental for a bargain, and heading to check out … only to find that a massive cleaning fee nearly doubles the price.
These host-set fees can be one of the most aggravating aspects of the homesharing platform – and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky knows it. In response to growing criticism from Airbnb users this week, Chesky called addressing cleaning fees “one of my top priorities.” Skift first caught Chesky's remarks.
You are correct – the cleaning fees were never intentionally designed, which is why we're now playing catch up. This is one of my top priorities – we are redesigning how pricing on Airbnb works
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) October 10, 2022
Airbnb has taken big steps over the years to evolve with the times and address travelers' concerns. They've launched a top-rated tier of properties called Airbnb Plus, overhauled their search platform, and beefed up Airbnb cancellation policies throughout the pandemic.
It's clear that tackling cleaning fees is the next frontier for Airbnb. And while Airbnb generally does a better job at disclosing these fees at checkout than hotels with their dreaded “resort fees,” it can lead to an even bigger sticker shock.
Cleaning fees on Airbnb are set individually by each property owner, typically a flat fee whether you stay for a full week or just one night. Along with the service fees Airbnb itself collects, they can add up fast. And while there are no independent studies out there to back it up, cleaning fees seem to have grown coming out of the pandemic – perhaps as an easy path for owners to charge more for rentals without upping nightly rates.
Social media has been buzzing in recent months with angry accounts and screenshots, showing exorbitant cleaning fees that approach (or exceed) $200. The Wall Street Journal recently channeled that anger, including an account from a traveler who paid a $375 cleaning fee on top of the $299 nightly rate for an Airbnb in Sedona – and still was required to do several chores at the property.
Airbnb discloses the all-in price in some of the initial results, including all cleaning and service fees. But that's not the price that shows up on Airbnb's map of properties. And when users set a filter for their target price range, it's only including the nightly rate – not fees.
Fixing some of these discrepancies should be easy for Airbnb so they can give travelers an instant, accurate look at their full costs for each rental. Airbnb launched an internal review of all its fees more than a year ago – and while it planned to deliver recommendations by last December, that deadline came and went without a peep.
So exactly what Chesky has planned to crack down on runaway cleaning fees remains up in the air. In follow-ups with disgruntled customers, Chesky laid out a few options, including:
- Tweaking how pricing and fees are displayed for more transparency (including a possible toggle to display the all-in cost)
- A new variable system for cleaning fees, with lower fees for shorter stays
- Working closer with Airbnb hosts to limit cleaning fees in the first place
Whatever shape it takes, this reform is long overdue.
Cleaning fees on Airbnb have been a thorn in travelers' sides for too long. Finally, it seems Airbnb is taking it seriously.
We're anxious to see how Airbnb tackles this growing issue. While more transparency about these fees on the front-end is a must, the platform needs to limit these fees in the first place.