Airbnb Takes Aim at Wild Chore Lists and Cleaning Fees With Sweeping Changes
CEO BRIAN CHESKY ROLLED OUT MORE THAN 50 CHANGES TO ADDRESS “WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE ABOUT AIRBNB.”
Airbnb is cleaning up its cleanup requirements for pissed-off guests. The company, which helps property owners turn their homes into short-term accommodations, announced more than 50 new features and changes in anticipation of summer travel. More transparent pricing, new payment plans, and enhanced maps are part of the upgrade. But perhaps the biggest change is on the hotly debated "chore lists" imposed by many Airbnb hosts on their guests before checkout.
Customers will now be able to see ahead of time if they'll be responsible for taking out the trash, running loads of laundry, or washing dishes before they bounce and can rate their host's chore policy, as well.
Travelers originally flocked to the booking platform because of its unique offerings: the chance to mingle with locals and deeper discounts on accomadations compared to more expensive hotels. As Airbnb gained popularity, prices began to increase, according to CNN. Some Airbnb users began dragging hosts on social media for imposing housekeeping duties during their stays.
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"How did Airbnb dupe us into staying in someone's second home, trying to cook a meal with one plastic knife and a microwave, having to do chores before we leave, they get to review us??? and it costs the same as a hotel," wrote Twitter user @eligoldstone.
TikTok user @Melworit explained in a viral video that she saw a listing for a property she was interested in staying at through Airbnb, but the host's guidelines included notes such as "removing garbage, removing bed linen, starting the dishwasher and a load of laundry."
That didn't sit well with her. "If I'm paying $229 a night to stay somewhere plus a $125 cleaning fee, I'm not doing any laundry," she stated. "I know it's like one load of laundry and it'll take me two minutes to do, but it's the principle that really bothers me."
Other guests are outraged with getting poor ratings from hosts for not keeping their temporary home tidy—even though a hefty cleaning fee is included in the price.
Twitter user @Drakkofire explained that he once paid the equivalent of $441 for his accommodations, including the cleaning fee, but that the host gave him a bad review "because I left a plate and two cups in the sink from my breakfast."
"He left a very bad review for not washing the dishes… then why charging cleaning fees?" he continued. "If you expect me to clean, don't charge me."
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Due to the potential for bad reviews, house rules have become a source of anxiety for some Airbnb guests. A Reddit thread elaborated on one user's trepidation during their stay because their host indicated that there was a lawnmower they were "welcome to use" and that they were worried about being "penalized/charged/poorly reviewed for 'neglecting' the lawn if I don't do it."
Cleaning fees aren't mandatory, but The Wall Street Journal analyzed data supplied by AirDNA and found that nearly 85 percent of short-term rental listings have a cleaning fee. And those cleaning fees "increased an average of 9.8 percent from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, and an additional 6.6 percent by the first quarter of 2022," as a result of increase COVID-19 sanitary protocols.
Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO, agrees that some hosts' checkout procedures have gotten out of hand. And Airbnb's new features seeks to mediate some of these complaints by providing checkout instructions in the profile of the listing.
He explained that "all checkout instructions can be viewed on the listing page before you book," so guests can make more informed decisions about where they stay based on any potential workloads involved.
"Checking out of Airbnbs can be a pain due to unreasonable checkout tasks," he tweeted on May 3. "Starting today, you can provide feedback on any checkout tasks in the review flow, and we'll remove listings with repeated low checkout ratings."