Connect with us

Latest

Airbnb has a plan to fix cleaning fees

Avatar photo

Published

on

Pretty much everyone hates Airbnb cleaning fees — those pesky charges tacked on to your vacation rental bill that supposedly cover the costs to get the place ready for the next visitors. Travelers don’t like the expense, and hosts don’t like charging them, either.

Dennis Shirshikov, an Airbnb host who owns a rental property in upstate New York, says cleaning fees are the most common complaint he gets from customers.

“We are strongly considering cutting them off,” he says.

And Shirshikov might get his way. Airbnb is set to roll out big changes that won’t end cleaning fees but could make them more transparent for customers and incentivize hosts to reduce or forgo them altogether.

WHAT AIRBNB CLEANING FEES ARE AND WHAT THEY COST

Airbnb cleaning fees are a one-time charge pocketed by hosts to cover costs such as doing laundry or scrubbing toilets between guest stays. They’re separate from the base price and are in addition to service fees or charges for optional add-ons.

A June 2022 NerdWallet analysis of 1,000 U.S. Airbnb reservations with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023 found that the median cleaning fee per listing for a one-night stay was $75.

But cleaning fees vary widely. An Airbnb spokesperson told NerdWallet that cleaning fees are on average less than 10% of the total reservation cost at properties that charge them. Meanwhile, NerdWallet’s analysis found that cleaning fees amounted to about 25% of the total price paid. In fact, almost 40% of listings had cleaning fees from 20% to 29.9% of list price.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

And on a few listings, cleaning fees were higher than the nightly rate.

WHY AIRBNB CLEANING FEES ARE SO IRRITATING — AND AIRBNB’S PLAN TO FIX IT

Besides the cost, Airbnb cleaning fees can feel especially brutal simply given their presentation. Airbnb’s search page displays the nightly rate on most interfaces in big, bold lettering, masking the total price. So the total price, presented in lightly colored lettering, can be easy to overlook.

To add to the confusion, nightly rates often don’t correlate with total price anyway. One listing with a $40 nightly rate could total $90 because of a $40 cleaning fee and $10 service fee. Another listing with a $60 nightly rate could turn out cheaper — $73 total — if it has a $13 service fee and no cleaning fee. A traveler with a $50 budget might be seduced by the $40 listing, only to owe more than if they had booked the $60 listing.

But that’s set to change in December when Airbnb plans to roll out a toggle so travelers can opt for search results to display total price, including all fees . Users who don’t toggle the total price display will still see nightly rates only.

The company in November 2022 also adjusted its search algorithm to rank listings by the best total price rather than simply accounting for the nightly rate, which may sway hosts to lower or remove cleaning fees.

WHAT IF THERE WERE NO CLEANING FEES?

A minority of listings don’t charge cleaning fees. Airbnb says 45% of listings worldwide don’t charge those fees. Yet only 15% of the available listings in NerdWallet’s analysis didn’t have a cleaning fee. The disparity is partly because NerdWallet looked at only U.S. listings, while Airbnb’s number is based on listings worldwide, where the fees are less common.

Shirshikov says he’d prefer to list a final price that includes the cleaning fee for two reasons. First, he suspects guest satisfaction would increase, and second, he thinks guests would leave the place cleaner.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Airbnb has warned hosts that cleaning fees can backfire by creating unrealistic expectations of how much guests will offer to help at checkout.

“With a higher (cleaning) fee, guests may expect to just walk away from your space at checkout as they would a hotel room,” according to a memo posted to Airbnb’s website before the cleaning changes kicked in.

That’s exactly what Shirshikov has experienced.

“If they pay a cleaning fee, they sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months,” he says, adding that he has returned to find food all over the floor and drinks spilled on the beds.

IF EVERYONE HATES AIRBNB CLEANING FEES, WHY STILL CHARGE THEM?

For hosts who clean the rentals themselves, the money might cover the cost of cleaning supplies. Often, that money is simply passed on to professional housekeeping services who handle the cleaning.

Sébastien Long , the founder and CEO of Texas-based short-term rental company Lodgeur, says he believes the average cleaning fee of $75 is quite low.

Considering staff wages, supplies and replacement items, Long says he estimates it costs roughly $22 to turn over a hotel room. If Airbnb hosts outsource the work, Long estimates, it could cost $175 to clean a two-bedroom apartment, including $100 for the cleaning company, $50 for laundry services and $25 for supplies, such as coffee or mini toiletry bottles.

The cleaning costs for Airbnb hosts are often higher than those for hotels because they likely can’t take advantage of economies of scale. For example, hotels have commercial-size laundry machines. Plus, listings are typically spread out geographically, so there’s the inefficiency of traveling miles between properties. And short-term rentals typically are much larger and have more space to clean (such as kitchens) than hotel rooms.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

But other hosts use the fees simply as a way to squeeze more money out of travelers, clearly overcharging for cleaning fees, which is a practice Airbnb warns against.

“Aim to use the cleaning fee to cover the expense of cleaning – not to make additional money,” according to a 2021 memo from Airbnb to hosts .

And then there are the hosts who charge cleaning fees and still ask guests to clean up after themselves. That, too, will likely end soon. Along with more transparent cleaning fees, Airbnb said it also plans to require hosts to post the cleaning requirements on the listing before guests book. Guests will also be able to leave feedback on the checkout process.

Airbnb also clarified that checkout requests should be reasonable. At your next Airbnb stay, if the host is amenable to the changes, you might not have to vacuum or strip the beds. The only things you’ll have to do are turn off the lights, throw away the trash and lock the door.

For now, though, Shirshikov says he’s sticking with charging cleaning fees because he’s uncertain whether users will turn on the toggle.

“I’d want to see how many people actively turn on the full price display,” he says. “Unless guests use it, it won’t mean much for how we do pricing.”

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sally French is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: sfrench@nerdwallet.com.

METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet conducted an analysis of 1,000 Airbnb listings (including taxes and fees) with check-in dates in 2022 or 2023. The analysis looked at base prices as well as other fees like cleaning fees for one-, seven- and 30-night stays, also broken down by bookings made three days, four weeks and 47 weeks in advance. Data was gathered for 10 regions around the U.S., and it covered properties with a maximum capacity of two guests versus six guests.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

NerdWallet. (June 2022). “Airbnb Pricing Statistics: 2022.” nerdwallet.com/article/travel/airbnb-pricing-statistics

RELATED LINK:

NerdWallet: Airbnb cleaning fees can be brutal. Here’s how to cope https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-airbnb-cleaning-fees-brutal

Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading