Airbnb hosts try to lure bookings with $0 cleaning fee

  • Airbnb customers complained last year about cleaning fees being added after choosing a place to stay but before paying.
  • In November, the short-term rental giant began showing total prices per night to customers browsing.
  • Still, some hosts say explicitly advertising the $0 cleaning fee helps increase bookings.

Last year, Airbnb guests complained on TikTok, Twitter and Reddit about what they said were exorbitant cleaning fees.

Outraged guests have complained about hosts, saying they overcharge the usual fee for handing over a rental after a stay, as well as what they consider cumbersome and inappropriate. requests for pre-cash chores.

“It’s the principle that really bothers me” a TikTok user, @melworeit, says in a 50-second “rant” about a $700 two-night stay that required guests to start the dishwasher and a load of laundry detergent. The video attracted 550,000 views and 4,750 comments.

Airbnb guests felt even more aggrieved because cleaning fees were added after choosing a place to stay but before paying – sometimes finding it made their choice prohibitive.

Hosts, for their part, countered that an entire house takes longer to clean than, say, a hotel room. They added that housekeepers charge the same fee whether the stay is one night or one month. (The national rate is $64 for a one-bedroom rental and $116 for a three-bedroom rental, according to cleaning-rental startup TurnoverBnB.)

Still, guests’ concerns, conveyed through viral TikToks and tweets, made their way to the top of the organization. In November, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the company would change its nightly price displays to be more transparent. Now guests can choose to view the total cost of a stay, including cleaning fees.

More than two months after the change took effect, some Airbnb hosts told Insider they still see resentment lingering among travelers. Three hosts told Insider they responded by raising their nightly rates, waiving the cleaning fee, and then rolling out the $0 cleaning fee in the bold font that tops their listings. Hosts told Insider it seemed to drive interest in their rentals and even boost bookings during a tough time for some short-term rental owners.

Airbnb Listing Ad "Pets stay free!  Private Entrance - No Cleaning Fee"

The listing title for Lloyd’s Airbnb.

Dan Latu/Insider

Analyst firm AirDNA says owners of short-term rentals are facing a record glut of units nationwide, and the rate at which customers book vacations is set to increase. decrease slightly in 2023. It has become even more important to stand out among the competition to attract bookings.

Just seeing a headline that proclaims “$0 Cleaning Fee” can trick a traveler into thinking they’re getting a good deal, one host said.

It’s “the way the human mind works,” said Jon Edwards, 38, a ski condo owner in Utah.

“It’s a bit like a game of chicken”

Airbnb listing page with title "No cleaning fees!  Studio, Hot Tub, Pool, Ski Resort!"

Jon Edwards, an Airbnb host in Utah, said the promotion of no cleaning fees kept him booked.

Dan Latu/Insider

Edwards, who works in the airline industry, operates an Airbnb in ski destination Brian Head, Utah, a three-hour drive south of Salt Lake City. This winter, it’s built cleaning fees into its total price, bumping the nightly rate to $110 from $70. He then changed the title to his list to lead with “0$ cleaning fee.”

Last year, Edwards said its occupancy rate was around 90% during peak months. This year, he said, he has had a stronger than expected season, hovering between 60 and 70 percent occupancy each month. He had predicted a sharp decline from pandemic-spurred travel highs.

Edwards hasn’t changed what it pays its cleaners — $80 for a turnover — and attributes the bump to the psychology of giving customers less of a charge to be shocked at checkout.

Having a flat rate per night, he added, is “more like when you go to a hotel”.

Airbnb ad for a goat barn with a photo of two goats playing with the title "No cleaning fees!"

Melissa Hughes, an Airbnb host in Florida, has never had a cleaning fee, but always highlights it in the listing.

Dan Latu/Insider

Melissa Hughes has never charged cleaning fees at her goat farm in Tallahassee, Florida.

“I could never understand them,” she said. “It’s like going to a hotel and getting an extra cleaning fee.”

Hughes said his bookings were very slow during the summer. Many hosts were worried as the season approached about the lack of supply in the United States. Around the same time, hotels capitalized on guest dissatisfaction with cleaning fees and chores, launching ad campaigns or posting cheeky messages on social media. A Hilton ad showed a dismayed couple with a long list of rules, including ‘no whistling’ and ‘no cookies’.

After Hughes went three weeks without any bookings for one of his two One-bedroom cabins at $65 a night, she decided to add “no cleaning fee” to the title of her ad. Within a week, she said, her weekends were full again.

“Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it made a difference pretty quickly,” she told Insider.

Two blue chairs in a lush garden at dusk with a red barn door and soft lights

Hughes said the cleaning fee was an unwanted add-on for customers.

Courtesy of Melissa Dawn Hughes

This week Los Angeles host Jennifer Lloyd dropped her cleaning fee to $0, the news added to the column. on his list, and saw an immediate spike in interest. She charged $164 a night.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had 57 page views in one day,” she told Insider. (Lloyd said she’s tried lowering her cleaning fee before without the same heightened interest.)

Most customers search using the map view, which only shows a property’s total nightly rate, not the listing header touting the $0 cleaning fee, Lloyd said. .

Hosts who try this tactic hope that when a traveler clicks on the ad to see the no-cost claim is attractive enough to book, even if the rate is the same as nearby properties.

Lloyd said, “It’s kind of like a game of chicken.”

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