Airbnb is taking on the worst features of hotels, without mirroring the things that make hotels attractive. Their cleaning fees are legendary, even while hosts give lists of chores for guests to complete (not just taking out the trash, doing the dishes, and washing the sheets but sometimes even mowing the lawn).
You can’t always rely on reviews to know what you’re going to get, or even that the place exists, and when Airbnb owners cancel on you or don’t deliver what’s expected the company doesn’t have your back.
Sometimes Airbnb – and competitors like Vrbo – are the best option like when renting a house with a whole family or in a town without hotels. But it seems like they’re working hard to kill that advantage, as evidenced by this listing which charges:
- Damage Waiver: you pay whether you damage the unit or not, and you won’t be charged for damage you cause if that damage is covered and you report it properly.
- Resort Fee: this is the most disingenuous fee that hotels charge, an extra cost for amenities that are part of the stay but somehow billed separately from the room.
- Booking Fee: this isn’t Airbnb’s charge for booking, this is a fee you pay to the unit owner in order to pay the unit owner a nightly fee in rent.
- Cleaning Fee: the cost of cleaning up after you, after you’ve already had to clean up after yourself (usually the cost of providing a service is included in the.. price)
- Service Fee: the money Airbnb gets paid for monetizing your eyeballs. Airbnb is a platform that gets consumers to visit looking for lodging, and homeowners to list their properties. Then Airbnb charges both renters and owners for letting them transact.
- Tax: One of the favorite ways of any local government to raise revenue is to bill out-of-towners, the money funds things local voters like while those voters don’t have to pay the cost.
In total the cost of this rental is more than double the rental cost of the unit for a two night stay.
It’s not clear what benefits or facilities the resort fee actually covers, perhaps it’s a condo in a community with a pool and sport court. Or maybe it’s a house in a community with a clubhouse, or you’re just paying for parking. Maybe it’s just near places you’d want to go.
It occurred to me that it could be one of the Marriott hotels that sell rooms through Airbnb, undercutting Marriott.com pricing. Or maybe it’s the fee for a property you book on Airbnb that actually exists?
Airbnb says it’s ‘working to fix’ how pricing works, and this is expected to take 17 months. But they don’t really have to do anything different other than move to the way they price on their Australia website which provides all-in costs when you search.
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
Saying that a tech company can’t just fix the tech behind pricing display has to be disingenuous, leading to the conclusion that this is all by design. When consumers search, Airbnb’s look cheaper than they are because fees aren’t included in the price they see. The price only goes up when you click through. That makes comparison shopping harder, and the guest experience far worse.