Airbnb Updates App To Show Travelers The Real Total Price
In a tweet on Monday, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky announced the company will make four changes to the app, including more transparent pricing. No stranger to customer complaints and recent negative press, Airbnb is responding to feedback by addressing several common concerns. Chesky indicated that the changes will come into effect next month.
When Airbnb launched in 2008, it quickly became a popular option for travelers looking for an alternative to hotels. What started as a way for people to rent out extra space in their homes grew rapidly as people and businesses capitalized on the opportunity to enter the short-term rental and vacation accommodation market. As the company has grown, so have prices and complaints, along with a negative impact on housing markets around the world.
Now, it seems the company’s leaders are working to make changes to help both guests and hosts better understand the pricing of properties. In Monday’s tweet, Chesky said, “ I’ve heard you loud and clear – you feel like prices aren’t transparent, and checkout tasks are a pain.” The four changes include more transparent pricing, changes to the algorithm, additional tools for hosts, and modifications to what hosts can ask guests to do at checkout.
More transparent pricing
Currently, when users search for properties, the listings show the price per night. Extra fees, including a cleaning fee, service fee, and occupancy taxes and fees, are not shown upfront, and if a user is trying to compare similar properties, they must add up the fees on their own. This makes it difficult to compare the true cost of an Airbnb stay across different listings.
These fees can add up significantly – a recent study by NerdWallet looked at cleaning fees across 1,000 current Airbnb listings in the U.S. and found that the average fee for a one-night stay is $75. The report showed that 34% of listings had a cleaning fee between 20% -30% of the cost of the list price.
With the new efforts towards more transparent pricing, users will soon be able to change the display setting to show the total price inclusive of the fees. It will not be the default setting, rather, users will need to opt-in through a toggle switch. With this feature turned on, the total price will be displayed in the search results, map, price filter, and listing page. Even with all these changes, the total price shown will still not be the actual price guests will end up paying because it will only display the pre-tax price.
Algorithm changes to reward good value stays
The change will likely be less noticeable to users upfront. However, it addresses concerns that the company has become increasingly expensive and has grown far from its roots as an affordable and more personable alternative to staying in a hotel.
Airbnb plans to tweak the algorithm so that, according to Chesky, “the highest quality homes with the best total prices will rank higher in search results.” The new algorithm will hopefully incentivize hosts to put their best foot forward when it comes to value for money.
New pricing and discount tools for hosts
In order to further incentivize hosts to become more competitive with pricing, Airbnb will provide tools that will allow them to more easily see the final out-of-pocket price their guests will be charged. There will also be new tools for hosts to offer discounts, making it easier to stay competitive with other listings.
Addressing unreasonable checkout tasks
Chesky’s final measure addresses feedback that guests are often asked to do unreasonable tasks at checkout when staying in an Airbnb. He commented that checkout tasks should be reasonable – like turning off lights and locking doors, and should not include chores like laundry and vacuuming. He also stated that any checkout requests should be clearly laid out in the property’s listing so that guests know what they are getting into before they book.