Why Airbnb isn’t worth all those fees, according to Reddit

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Last summer I booked a secluded, moody Airbnb in the Washington countryside and spent a few relaxing days in a country where everything looked and felt exactly like I was in a scene from dusk. So when I needed a place to sleep in Portland, Maine last month, I turned to Airbnb in search of another satisfying experience. But after looking at the costs of rentals available about six weeks into my trip, I started comparing prices to hotels, just in case. And to my surprise, I ended up booking a hotel on an Airbnb for the first time in years.

Airbnbs have become more expensive

I’m far from the first person to notice hotel costs and Airbnbs are much closer than before. In 2020, TripSavvy found nine cities where a hotel would actually be cheaper than Airbnb, including Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago. And according to a report from the bus and train booking site Wanderu, the pandemic has further changed the pricing paradigm between hotels and Airbnbs.

Even when the rate for a stay seems fair, the fees can really add up – the shock of the sticker at checkout seems to be the most notable reason people have ditched Airbnbs for traditional accommodation. As the Washington post reported this summer, Airbnb takes a closer look at the fees after the backlash of a viral tweet with a screenshot of a $ 99 / night listing that ended up totaling $ 413.95 for two nights after adding fees and taxes at checkout.

Even still, report in the Washington post and TravelFreak concluded that Airbnb prices always tend to be cheaper than hotel rates, but even if they are, that doesn’t mean both experiences deliver the same value.

To find out if hotels or Airbnbs offer the best return on vacation investment, we looked to find out what the right people Reddit say about Airbnb fees, from the perspective of hosts and travelers alike.

The host POV

For the most part, the hosts on r / Airbnb agree that the costs have increased considerably, both for their guests and for themselves. User @TrickyAndroid said “I DEFINITELY [sic] noticed how expensive it is … I like helping “the little guy” and renting to people, but it gets to the point where it doesn’t make financial sense anymore. It sucks because I’m a host and had to drop my price drastically to stay competitive.

User @sprinkle111 agrees that as someone who occasionally puts their own home on Airbnb, “the fees have gone up … especially for customers” and that it “is hardly worth the inconvenience.” I always use Airbnb when I travel but on my last trip I used hotels because the cost difference in this city was about $ 20 / night more for a hotel, but the hotels were OK [sic] and Airbnbs were average. So yes, you can save a bit on an Airbnb, but the price difference may not be worth the difference in comfort (as Airbnb guests often have to clean up after themselves or miss out on small amenities provided by hotels. . Classes).

User @jkrozar adds a little more information on the breakdown of the numbers for a host: “As a host of a 23 acre cabin, I received about $ 45,000 [in 2020] and spent all but $ 5,000 on utilities, mortgage, taxes (real estate and room), repairs, snow / lawn and hot tub cleaning and maintenance, furniture upgrade or repair, membership fees, advertisements in local tourism publications and supplies.

Save this, user @Joygboro, who in 2020 said they have been a host and guest for more than three years, says Airbnb has increased the fees they collect from hosts. While they think Airbnb is a better deal “if you just need a place to sleep and shower and are willing to share a space” or share the costs with a group, they also looked at a client’s costs and were “puzzled as to why they didn’t choose a hotel” instead.

User @Threevestimescharme says that even when traveling with five children, “it was cheaper (half [the] price) to pay for two rooms and parking in the city center rather than an Airbnb after cleaning costs, additional person costs, etc. and that hotels can be a better deal for families due to perks such as free breakfasts, exercise rooms, and flexible schedules.

Even with rising fees, the difference between hotels and Airbnbs is often narrow, with other valuable considerations influencing your decision. The final cost depends on several factors including location, Airbnb host or hotel chain, length of stay, people traveling, and what amenities you want to guarantee.

Why the price increases?

Like any service in the hospitality industry, Airbnb costs fluctuate with demand. But the reasons for the sharp increase in fees in recent years have led to much anecdotal speculation about r / Airbnb (note that many of these messages predate the pandemic). Reddit user @kagko says they’ve been using Airbnb exclusively since 2013, but think the fees have now become “prohibitive” for the following reasons (condensed for clarity):

A shift towards a “five star” mentality [for hosts]… It seems that if the hosts do not have five stars, they are not visible [to guests]. This change made every place to be 100% perfect, that is, more expensive.

Charges are high and are not included in the list price. So many times I have found a place I love, prepared to book and then was shocked at the final cost once the fee was added which forced me to abandon my reservation.

Rising costs for longer trips. I do a lot of four day trips with my family. There’s no point in using Airbnb for this purpose as the cleaning and service charges will add to the cost, so you might as well get an extra night at the hotel.

Unfortunately, during your initial rental search there is currently no way to see the final net cost which includes all taxes and fees. You will need to go to the individual listing, enter your dates and the number of guests and find the clear breakdown of additional charges before pressing ‘book’.

If you don’t like what you see, you can negotiate rates with your Airbnb host. Here is our guide to do it correctly.

At the end of the line

Even though Airbnbs are generally cheaper than hotels, the difference is much smaller than before; Admittedly, the cost disparity is not drastic enough to uniformly declare one option more economical than the other. It comes down to what you enjoy: For a shorter stay where you just need reliability and flexibility, splurge on a hotel. For a more personal, “live like a local” experience, you may still want to stay with Airbnb. But check out the amenities, figure out if the fees are worth it, book well in advance, and try to negotiate the price.

Ultimately, the right choice will involve a bit of research into your specific situation. I guess you have to work if you want to enjoy this vacation.

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