Some hotels may charge an extra fee for breakfast and other amenities, such as bike rental. Even if the guests don’t use these amenities, some resorts may impose unreasonable fees. A fee for cleaning your hotel room? This is almost unheard of.
Cleaning fees are standard for vacation rentals booked via websites such as Airbnb and Vrbo. These websites let owners decide whether or not to charge a cleaning fee and, if so how much.
2022 NerdWallet analysed 1,000 U.S. Airbnb reservations that had check-in dates in 2022 and 2023. It found that 84% of the listings had cleaning fees. 75 was the median cleaning fee for a stay of one night.
Even Airbnb hosts are not happy with the practice of charging cleaning charges. Some hosts claim that the cleaning fees are necessary to cover the high maintenance costs of their properties.
Cameron Dunlap, who runs Aussie Man Rentals, says that cleaning is 25% to 30% of my monthly fixed expenses. We don’t have enough storage to store multiple sets of towels and linens, so we don’t have an in-house laundry facility to do laundry quickly. Airbnb encourages us all to pay cleaners a living wage .”
Others, however, believe that guests are more likely to complain about cleaning fees than good reviews. Some guests complain that cleaning fees cause guests to leave properties in bad shape. Others claim that they are more likely than guests to treat properties like their own homes.
A host at Airbnb who lives in an upstate New York rental property, Dennis Shirshikov says that guests may leave their place looking dirty and worn out if they have to pay a cleaning fee.
Why do Americans choose to pay extra for vacation rentals?
NerdWallet conducted an online survey by The Harris Poll to find out how Americans feel about additional fees for vacation rentals. This included cleaning fees, amenity fees and taxes. 60% of Americans who have looked into vacation rentals in the past year prefer to see a single price, which includes all charges, to avoid having to pay additional fees such as cleaning fees.
31% of 2023 vacation rental customers prefer to see cleaning fees separate from the nightly rate. (9% said they were unsure how they preferred to see costs), NerWallet’s survey found.
Websites that rent out vacation homes are looking for new ways to charge cleaning fees
Airbnb introduced a toggle option to allow travelers who were looking for travel bookings to view the listing price, other than taxes, in December 2022. This toggle allows them to view the listing price on Airbnb’s listing pages, map filter, and listing pages. NerdWallet reached Airbnb and the company’s press team refused to reveal how many people had activated the toggle to show the final price.
While the changes won’t remove cleaning fees, it allows travelers to compare listings based upon the total price. Once guests reach the booking page, they are presented with a breakdown listing all line items.
Late last year, Airbnb also changed its search algorithm to rank listings based on the best total price and not just the nightly rate. To improve the visibility of the platform, this change eliminates any incentives that Airbnb offered hosts in the past to promote low nightly rates and high cleaning fees.
Customers can now filter properties by either nightly rate or total price. This includes service fees.
Why are vacation rentals charging cleaning fees?
Why charge cleaning fees if people don’t enjoy them? Why not advertise a vacation rental for $200 per night and charge a $50 cleaning fee?
Reasons for this may vary depending on who you ask.
Making prices fairer for longer stays
Cleaning fees are typically a one-time fee. The cleaning costs for guests staying three nights or seven nights are the same regardless of whether they are staying there for three or seven nights. A single cleaning fee may be more accurate than charging guests for additional nights.
NerdWallet’s 2022 analysis of Airbnb prices revealed that the nightly Airbnb rate for seven-night stays is 32% lower than for a one night stay. This was largely due to the effect of cleaning fees.
Airbnb allows hosts to charge lower cleaning fees for shorter stays (instead the usual fee for all stays), but it does not account for longer stays.
Attracting More Customers
There is also drip pricing where hosts only advertise a portion of the product’s cost and then reveal additional charges during the purchase process. A lower base rate might allow a traveler to discover a listing that they aren’t interested in, especially since hosts compete with other listings nearby and attempt to attract the attention of potential travelers who sort potential listings according to price.
These travelers wind up paying more than they intended when they find out about the cleaning fee. The practice of drip pricing may slow down as travelers make use of features such as total price display.
Looking for additional avenues to make a profit
The most simple reason is probably the best. Many in the vacation rental industry believe that hosts are using cleaning fees to make more money. Many believe that the problem is more prevalent at dedicated vacation rentals managed by property management companies than it was when individuals rented out spare rooms in their homes — which is what Airbnb started with.
Julie McIlwain is an independent contractor who cleans vacation rentals in Sonoma. She told NerdWallet in an email that cleaners sometimes don’t see the entire cleaning fee amount.
The cleaner could see $125 if you are being charged $200 for cleaning.
McIlwain stated that she pays expenses such as gas and cleaning supplies between properties out of her own pockets, although this is not always true for all operations.
Allyson Balou has been cleaning Airbnbs near Joshua Tree for three years and says there are misaligned expectations about Airbnbs’ costs. This includes guests looking for cheap accommodations as well as property owners who want to maximize their profits.
She says that owners want everything to go smoothly, while travelers don’t want cleaning fees to be paid or feel they are too expensive. They still want impeccable rentals .”
The Harris Poll conducted this survey online in the United States for NerdWallet between February 9 and 10, 2023 among 2,080 adults 18 years and older. 1,502 of these adults plan to travel in 2023 and have looked into vacation rentals. A Bayesian credible interval is used to measure the sampling precision of Harris online surveys. The sample data for this study is within +/-2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence limit. Lauren Nash, [email protected] can provide more information about the survey methodology including subgroup sample sizes and weighting variables.
Maximizing your Rewards
A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the best travel cards in 2023, as well as those that work best for: