Airbnb is adopting new rate transparency

Photo (c) Giselle Flissak - Getty Images

It’s part of a set of improvements based on guest feedback

With the summer vacation season fast approaching, Airbnb has adopted a number of changes under the banner of “Airbnb Rooms,” including steps to improve rate transparency.

Anyone who has ever shopped for a rental has seen what may seem like a low rate on the Airbnb map, only to see the actual price is significantly higher once they click on it and all the fees are included. One trick hosts have used is to advertise a low nightly rate on the map and then charge a “cleaning fee” of $100 or more.

Under Airbnb’s new “Total Price Display” policy that goes away. 

“Guests can view the total price with fees, before taxes, across the entire app including in search results, price filter, maps, and listing pages,” the company said in a release.

In addition to the nightly rate, guests pay the cleaning fee, as well as a service fee to Airbnb and local taxes. Recently Forbes Advisor did a coast-to-coast survey of host-initiated fees and found that guests were facing an average of 36% in added fees on top of the nightly rates.

In other words, if someone agreed to spend $180-a-night for a beach house, another 36% in added fees would push the one-day total to nearly $245, and over $1,200 for a five-day stay. Under the new policy, guests will see that total in a clear and conspicuous manner.

On average, cleaning fees accounted for 11% of the subtotal, services fees another 15% and taxes were 10%. And while beach destinations in Florida had the highest cleaning-fee percentages in the U.S., Atlanta and Phoenix stays were running close to 50% in added charges.

New features include better transparency about the hosts 

Other changes include increased transparency about Airbnb hosts. After getting feedback that guests would like to know more about who they are staying with, Airbnb has developed a “Host Passport” that provides additional information about the host. The company has also increased a new category with over 1 million listings and added new privacy features.

“With Airbnb Rooms, we’re getting back to the idea that started it all - back to our founding ethos of sharing,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO. “Airbnb Rooms are often more affordable than hotels, and they’re the most authentic way to experience a city. This is the soul of Airbnb.” 

The package of changes provides more than 50 new features and upgrades, along with 25 improvements for hosts. Among the tools is one to help hosts set competitive prices, easily add weekly and monthly discounts, and compare their listings to similar ones in their area. 

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