Airbnb to end its cleaning fee shakedown

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I for one am delighted to have heard the news this week that Airbnb are introducing new changes to end the horrendous Airbnb cleaning fee shakedown. This has no doubt bugged so many other Digital Nomads. Even worse than the cleaning fee, are the lengthy checkout cleaning checklists, which Airbnb are also promising to cease.

Airbnb Total Price Display

As of December 2022, Airbnb will be enabling a new way to search and view properties by “total price.” This will mean that a user can choose to view a property price, inclusive of cleaning fees and taxes. How many times have you been hoodwinked into booking a property that prima facie costs $200 a week, only to find that it actually costs $350 by the time all of the various fees have been thrown in for good measure? Well, hopefully this should end in December.

I like to know what price I am signing up for before I get to checkout. In the UK, unlike American consumers, we are used to a “set price” with no added extras. We don’t expect to get to the checkout and suddenly find ourselves with extra charges to pay. When visiting NYC earlier this year, I frequently felt shocked when I got to the part where I pay the bill, only to find that sales tax and state tax had been thrown on top. And then, there’s the tip too! Booking an Airbnb feels a lot like this. But not for long!

Hurrah for Airbnb. Not only are they finally creating a transparent pricing system, but they are showing that they are flexible, responsive and above all else – they are listening to their customers.

You can read Airbnb’s latest press release on the topic of Airbnb cleaning fees here.

What is a reasonable Airbnb cleaning fee?

So, what is a reasonable cleaning fee for an Airbnb stay? It seems that there is still quite a bit of difference between cleaning charges levied, even within the same country and city. I assume Airbnb provides guidance to hosts, but it strikes me that there is still a lot of room for manoeuvre if hosts wanted to make some extra cash.

Here’s hoping that the new “total price” function, will show out the hosts that are overcharging for cleaning!

Airbnb cleaning checkout procedures

How many of us have had to give up a large chunk of our last day of holiday in an Airbnb in order to fulfil the cleaning checklist’s supplied to us by an over-zealous Airbnb host? The day before we check out of an Airbnb, I dread opening up the checkout instructions page.

Sometimes, it’s fairly reasonable. Recycling, emptying the bins and fridge, I even don’t mind stripping the linen from the beds. But there are times when it’s more prescriptive. Suddenly, hosts are demanding that we hoover, clean the floor or scrub the bathrooms.

Leave the property as you find it

Long checklists are one thing, but in my view, the pinnacle of taking the pee, are the hosts who simply say, “please leave the property as clean as you found it.” Hang on, you want me to clean the property to a professional standard? I’m supposed to give up the last day of my holiday, don my marigolds, channel my inner Mrs Hinch and get scrubbing?

Recently, we rented an Airbnb for one month. With the intention of “leaving the property as we found it,” we did just that. We cleaned for four hours. The terrace was mopped, the linen was stripped, the fridge was cleaned inside and out. I even deployed my best chalet girl cleaning tips and polished the watermarks off the taps.

As we cleaned, we both kept muttering to each other “Didn’t we pay a cleaning fee?” We had indeed paid a cleaning fee, and yet here we were people pleasing to the maximum. Fearful of the wrath and judgement of some anonymous Airbnb host, or even worse, a bad review.

Imagine how much we scoffed when two weeks later we received a guest review on Airbnb from this host. I gleefully opened it, expecting to receive societal approval for my high levels of cleanliness. What did we get? “Nice guests. But didn’t leave the place clean enough for the cleaner.”

Thankfully, Airbnb has also vowed to put an end to unreasonable checking out procedures. I’m not quite sure how they will police this, but if I get a ridiculous check out list after December 2022, I shall be exercising my rights to issuing a strongly worded letter.

What else could Airbnb do to improve customer experience?

Airbnb are an impressive company. As shown by their recent announcement on cleaning fees, they are willing to flex and move as needed. But what else could they do to improve customer experience?

Here are some of our ideas:

  1. Report “Catfishing” Button: Have you ever been catfished by an Airbnb listing? A wide angled camera has strategically made the rooms look bigger than they are, or perhaps the photos are a few years old. Imagine if Airbnb had a “report catfishing” button? One click of a button and you’d be refunded and hot footing it out to another apartment faster than a toupee in a Tornado.
  2. Service Fees: Hopefully this one will be swept up in the new “total price” function, but we would still like to know exactly why guests pay service fees? Airbnb charges a service fee to hosts, presumably this is supposed to come out of the revenue that the host makes from the nightly fee. Are hosts just transferring their service fee onto guests?
  3. Improved Search Functions: Is it just us, or is it impossible to search on Airbnb for a place with outdoor space? If I want a patio, terrace or garden, why do I need to comb through millions of listings to find it! Secondly, wifi! Yes, we can search for wifi, but what about being able to search for Wifi based on the speed? For Digital Nomads, this is super important.


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