Airbnb makes cleaning fees more transparent with total price searches - The Washington Post

2022-11-27 02:40:15 By : Ms. sabrina Liu

One of Airbnb’s most-derided features — fees that can cause rental prices on the platform to balloon from the figures initially shown in search results — will be hidden no more, the company said Monday.

Starting in December, Airbnb said, it will begin offering users the option to show the total price of a listing up front, including cleaning fees and service fees, but not taxes. The total will also be shown on the map, filter and listing page. The company said it will make the move in countries that don’t already have price display requirements. Gold Print Balloons

Airbnb makes cleaning fees more transparent with total price searches - The Washington Post

The company also said it is telling hosts that any requests for visitors who are checking out should be reasonable and clear to guests before they book. Many users have taken to social media to complain of a laundry list of tasks they have to complete before leaving, likening the experience to being assigned chores. Comedians have also been poking fun at the practice.

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

Airbnb is taking a closer look at fees after a social media backlash

Airbnb will prioritize the total price — instead of nightly price — in its algorithm that determines search ranking. That means homes with the highest quality and best total prices will rank higher if there are similar options in the same area. “Highest quality” refers to “a number of factors, including reviews,” spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco said in an email.

A short video demonstrating the update shows a toggle that says “Display total price.” When switched on, the price of a listing changes from $165 a night to $1,212 (before taxes) for a six-night stay. There’s an option to break the price down further to see fees and discounts.

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.

“We started as an affordable alternative to hotels, and affordability is especially important today,” Chesky wrote on Twitter.

“Guests should not have to do unreasonable checkout tasks such as stripping the beds, doing the laundry, or vacuuming when leaving their Airbnb,” the company said in its news release. “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.”

It wasn’t clear how or if Airbnb would enforce that guidance to hosts. For now, if a request isn’t clear to a guest before they book, the company will work with the host to “address the feedback,” the Airbnb spokeswoman said.

The exact timeline for the rollout of the new pricing display has not been announced.

No one likes resort fees. Now Biden wants to crack down on them.

The move comes amid a broader crackdown of often-hidden fees by the Biden administration. In September, the Department of Transportation said it was proposing a rule to force airlines to disclose certain fees with fare and schedule information. The Federal Trade Commission said last month that it was seeking comments on the harms caused by “junk fees” — described as “unnecessary, unavoidable, or surprise charges that inflate costs while adding little to no value” — as the department explores a new rule on the subject.

Airbnb says that among active listings across the globe, 45 percent don’t charge a cleaning fee. For those that do, the company said, the fee is on average less than 10 percent of the total cost.

Listings in many countries — including those in the European Economic Area, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and Korea — already show the total cost, including fees and any occupancy tax, the company said.

While many users on social media lauded the changes, several still questioned why the more-transparent display wasn’t just a default feature rather than a switch that needed to be turned on or off. Several asked why taxes weren’t included in the new total price.

In a tweet, Chesky said the company’s thinking was to follow the typical U.S. convention of showing pre-tax prices. He asked users if they thought the total should be after tax. The response was overwhelmingly in favor.

“This is so, so close to being transparent and trustworthy, but with pre-tax prices I still feel like you try to fool me,” one Twitter user said.

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Airbnb makes cleaning fees more transparent with total price searches - The Washington Post

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