Airbnb Will Make Cleaning Fees More Transparent for Travelers

Mr. Thomas, who has managed Airbnbs for about seven years and is now opening his first hotel, said he paid about 90 percent of his cleaning fee to cleaners. Cleaners are required to use a higher level of attention to detail in Airbnbs, he said, compared with cleaning hotel rooms, and in a tighter turnaround. “You have between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and everything has to be done and perfect,” he said. “The cleaners are our eyes and ears. They’re my lifeblood.”

Corey Friedman, an Airbnb property manager in Miami, echoed that sentiment.

“Hotels are built very different, they’re built to turn over quickly; they don’t need to go under the bed or a space behind a dresser. Hotels do that because they want a quick cleaning service,” said Mr. Friedman, who worked in luxury hotels until starting a management company. “For me, it takes a full day to really make sure our units are ready for the guests.”

Mr. Friedman said transparency about fees is always best.

“Will it turn people off? Absolutely, but at least now there’s a way they can see these things,” he said. “You never want to start with a bad taste in somebody’s mouth before they get to your property.”

Part of Airbnb’s new policy includes guidance on “reasonable” requests for checkout. Requests that fall under safety, health and energy efficiency — including taking out the trash, turning off the lights and locking the door — are considered reasonable. Stripping the bed, doing the laundry and vacuuming before departure, however, do not. Checkout requests must be presented to guests before booking.

Airbnb started as an affordable alternative to hotels, and at the onset of the pandemic, outperformed hotels in 27 global markets, according to one industry report. But the platform typically buries the fees until the users begin booking. Cleaning and service fees can range from zero to hundreds of dollars depending on a mix of mandatory and optional host-applied fees. Occupancy taxes and, in some countries, a value added tax, can also add up. Since 2019, the fee transparency has been in place for listings in much of Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and South Korea.

Among active Airbnb listings globally, 45 percent do not charge a cleaning fee, the company said. For listings that do charge a cleaning fee, the fee on average is less than 10 percent of the total reservation cost, the company said.

When Amanda Meeks, a travel blogger and content creator, and her husband decided to get married in New Orleans last year with close family and friends, they decided to rent an Airbnb for the entire group. What started as a $3,500 listing for five nights more than doubled to $7,200 once she had reached checkout.