Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said he hears you “loud and clear.”
Airbnb customers have been complaining in a growing crescendo about rising prices, onerous check-out tasks, and the lack of transparency about how they are displayed on the platform. Chesky addressed those concerns in a Twitter thread Monday, as well as in a company press release.
“You feel like prices aren’t transparent and checkout tasks are a pain,” he wrote. “We started as an affordable alternative to hotels, and affordability is especially important” during tough economic times, he added.
I’ve heard you loud and clear—you feel like prices aren’t transparent and checkout tasks are a pain. That’s why we’re making 4 changes:
1. Starting next month, you’ll be able to see the total price you’re paying up front. pic.twitter.com/58zodrzU3g
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) November 7, 2022
In September, the Wall Street Journal reported on guests who felt they were ruining their vacations spending so much time doing chores. Cleaning fees have gone up 44% in five years, per research firm AirDNA, the outlet noted.
The company plans to change the way search on the site works and show “total price” with “all fees before taxes,” (not quite the total, but it’s more information than just the price per night) in its listing search algorithms. When booking, you will be able to see “a full price breakdown that shows Airbnb’s service fee, discounts, and taxes,” Airbnb said.
The company also said it would address customer ire over checkout tasks, asking hosts to keep requests “reasonable,” have them available before booking, and that guests should not have to strip beds, laundry, or vacuum.
“But we think it’s reasonable to ask guests to turn off the lights, throw food in the trash, and lock the doors—just like they would when leaving their own home,” the company wrote.
Online, people have been discussing the cleaning fee and checkout chores issue for a few years. In a video posted in early 2021, for example, fashion blogger “Melissa M” posed the question, “Where do Airbnb owners get the audacity?”
$700 for two nights ≠ no chores lol
In the clip, she said she was looking to get away with her husband and found an Airbnb that she said was several hundred dollars for two nights. In the video, the creator showed a screenshot of the check-out duties, which included taking out the trash, (fine, she said) and stripping the bed (also fine) — and starting a load of laundry.
“If I am paying $229 a night to stay somewhere, plus a $125 cleaning fee, I am not doing any f— laundry. Full stop,” she said. “The principle of it really bothers me,” she added.
The video has over 60 thousand likes, and more than four thousand comments — it’s also gone viral more than once, the creator said. “This video is 8 months old and going viral again lol I stayed at a hotel and have only booked hotels since!” she wrote in a comment.
Whether or not Airbnbs have become more expensive than a hotel is not totally clear, and varies widely. Nerdwallet examined this issue in June and found that an Airbnb can be more expensive than hotels for shorter stays because of the platform’s discounts for long-term bookings and cleaning fees.
Airbnb is likely cheaper for larger groups, though its analysis only looked at “entire place” stays, Nerdwallet added.
Another look at prices in North American cities in 2020 found it varies widely by location. In Austin, for example, Airbnbs clocked in as more expensive than hotels.