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Airbnb knows you’re mad about surprise cleaning fees and it has a plan to fix the problem

November 7, 2022, 6:39 PM UTC
Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb.
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg—Getty Images

In an effort to combat hidden fees, Airbnb will soon let users search for lodging by the total cost, before taxes, instead of the nightly rate that excludes extra charges like cleaning fees.

The change, announced on Monday, follows a chorus of complaints by users that Airbnb’s search results misrepresented the costs of rentals.  

“I’ve heard you loud and clear—you feel like prices aren’t transparent and checkout tasks are a pain,” Airbnb’s chief executive, Brian Chesky, said on Twitter.

Last year, Airbnb declined to make any changes in response to criticism about hidden fees by saying that it leaves it up to hosts to set their prices while recommending that hosts keep cleaning fees affordable. Still Airbnb said it would conduct a comprehensive review of fees before making recommendations. 

The company had previously set a deadline for those recommendations to be made public by December of last year. But ultimately, they were delayed by nearly a year. 

To access the new feature showing total lodging costs, Airbnb users must toggle a switch on the service’s search tool. The total price will then be reflected in search results, as well as on the map, price filter, and listing page. 

The change, which the company said will appear next month, gives a price breakdown that will include Airbnb’s service fees, taxes, and any discounts. 

The company will also prioritize the total price versus the nightly rate in its search algorithm. And the “highest quality homes with the best total prices” will be ranked higher in search results, Chesky said. 

Airbnb users have also complained about hosts requiring them to complete a checklist of chores before checking out of their short-term rentals. In some cases, guests are also required to pay an additional cleaning fee that some have repeatedly mocked on social media as being excessive. 

Chesky now says that any checkout chores shouldn’t be “unreasonable,” and that they shouldn’t include tasks like stripping beds, doing laundry, or vacuuming. Meanwhile, turning off lights, throwing away food, and locking doors is reasonable and that all requests should be disclosed to guests before booking, he said. 

Additionally, in a move to help hosts set more competitive prices, Chesky said Airbnb will introduce new tools early next year that will help them better understand the final price that guests will pay and the prices they should charge to remain competitive. 

“We started as an affordable alternative to hotels, and affordability is especially important today,” Chesky said. “During this difficult economic time, we need to help our Hosts provide great value to you.” 

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