San Francisco-based vacation rental company Airbnb has had its stays all over the globe but their business only seemed to hit a new low in the post-pandemic era. Customers complaining about high add-on fees like the cleaning charges added to Airbnb’s troubles prompting it to announce a new update to its website and app.
Why were people complaining? While Airbnb is yet to go mainstream in India, people elsewhere used to prefer it over hotels as a cheaper option, thanks to the low nightly rates shown on their website.
While some added taxes are expected once the stay is over, users grew agitated with the hidden costs coming out in the final bill, particularly the high cleaning fee. This definitely added to the company's bad PR.
What changes with the Total Price option? In a move to be more transparent towards its users, Airbnb has introduced a Total Price toggle that would display the cumulative cost while the users are looking for rental options.
Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, took to his Twitter to announce the new changes saying, “I’ve heard you loud and clear—you feel like prices aren’t transparent and checkout tasks are a pain. That’s why we’re making 4 changes.”
What are the four changes?
1- The first change is the total price option. Apart from cleaning fees, the full price breakdown would also include service fees, discounts, and taxes (although it's not specified if all taxes would be visible).
2- Chesky adds that Airbnb would also be prioritising “total price (instead of nightly price) in our search ranking algorithm.” In other words, the best homes with the best total prices would rank higher on search engines. This goes in tandem with Airbnb’s core philosophy of providing affordable alternatives to hotels.
3- Other changes include enabling the rental hosts to set more competitive prices.
4- Users are now asked to not engage in “unreasonable checkout tasks, such as stripping the beds, doing the laundry, and vacuuming.” Chesky adds, “But we think it’s reasonable to turn off the lights, throw food in the trash, and lock the doors—just as you would when leaving your own home.”
People are not happy: While some people are praising the changes that Chesky introduced, others are still complaining about the fact that the total price would be "total" in the real sense only if Airbnb begins including taxes in the pricing. That would make the pricing truly transparent.
I respect Airbnb a lot but this is bad product design for two reasons.— Gokul ⚡️ (@gokulns) November 7, 2022
- You are still excluding taxes. People care about what goes out of their wallet. They don't care whether it's tax or to the host.
- You should make this opt-in by default.🤷♂️
Leaving taxes out, maybe. But the problem is that they use "taxes and fees" under one heading. They are hiding their ridiculous fees under the guise of taxes.— Greg (@keeplivin78) November 7, 2022
Others have also pointed out how this is actually not a new change for some countries within the European Union (EU) where it is mandated by law to show full prices including the taxes.
❔Did you know?❔#EuropeanUnion regulations will now protect users when booking /renting on @Airbnb— European Movement Ireland (@emireland) July 25, 2019
Improvements will include
➡️being able to trust the total price in the results page
➡️having access to an online dispute resolution platform.
Read more at https://t.co/FTaERgYuIP pic.twitter.com/h5addkEUwf
as you well know, showing full prices (incl. tax) is already the law in the EU, and airbnb does that in the EU. now you're rolling out a shittier, opt-in version of this to the RoW who are unfortunate enough to lack EU consumer protections. this sucks man!https://t.co/sqIywicB6F— fred (@abadgame) November 7, 2022
And what about defaulters? Then, there are reactions about hoping to report further cases of exorbitantly high cleaning fees if charged even after these changes.
The changes are to be introduced in December and only then would customers be able to decide how transparent Airbnb will be with them.