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Airbnb's customers keep complaining about the costs compared to hotels. The company seems to be listening.

Ana Altchek   

Airbnb's customers keep complaining about the costs compared to hotels. The company seems to be listening.
  • Airbnb's customers have complained about rising costs due to extra cleaning fees.
  • The CEO addressed the pricing complaints and announced initiatives to improve the pricing structure.

When Airbnb started, CEO Brian Chesky said its tagline "was a cheap, affordable alternative to a hotel" — but customers aren't finding it so cheap anymore.

Customers have complained on social media about the rising cost of Airbnb due to booking costs and cleaning fees. One user recently posted on X, formerly Twitter, that they were charged more than their stay-in cleaning fees.

"You have to clean the place yourself AND pay for cleaning fee, you've got a deal with the host one-on-one, and prices are no longer cheaper than hotels," another user posted on Reddit. "What is the actual point of Airbnb anymore?"

The CEO addressed the shifting perception of Airbnb's costs in the company's first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday and announced initiatives to improve the pricing structure.

"A year and a half ago, we noticed that, you know, there was a lot of concern about Airbnb prices increasing," Chesky said.

He said one initiative to increase transparency around prices was the added option to view the total price of a listing before taxes. Before booking, users can see the full breakdown of service fees, discounts, and taxes.

According to Chesky, the added feature has led customers to choose the best total value.

Airbnb also created a tool for hosts to compare listings with other hosts on the site to help out people whose places just weren't getting booked. The new map gives them access to the average prices of similar booked or unbooked listings. It can be used any time a host sets or updates their price. According to the CEO, two million hosts now use the compare listing.

And it's also started to change behavior in the host community — the CEO said 300,000 of them have since removed or lowered their cleaning fees, something that users have loved to gripe about.

Chesky also said Airbnb started offering monthly and weekly discounts for guests with longer stays. The CEO said the discount options make a big difference because nearly half of the nights booked are for stays that last a week or longer. Now, over two-thirds of hosts offer a monthly or weekly discount, Chesky said.

Supply is also growing faster than demand, he said. The CEO said while hotel prices are up year-over-year, Airbnb listing prices are down from where they were a year ago.

"I think that trend line is going to continue, given all of our efforts," Chesky said.

Airbnb announced its most profitable first quarter to date on Wednesday, with 133 million nights and experiences booked and a net income of $264 million. Airbnb saw an 18% increase in revenue reaching $2.1 billion.

Second-quarter projections indicated that travel spending will slow before it peaks in the third quarter.


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