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What to Charge for an Airbnb Cleaning Fee?

While we have noticed that during Covid-19, people have been more willing to pay higher cleaning fees for vacation rentals, it’s still important to make sure that your cleaning fee is appropriate for your listing and market.  Let’s talk about some things to think about as you come up with the right number.

What’s in a Cleaning Fee?

Technically speaking, the cleaning fee is supposed to cover things like:

  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning products
  • Laundry and linens
  • Labor of the cleaner

You don’t have to charge a cleaning fee, but for the vast majority of vacation rental listings, it’s a given: there’s no reason for you to bear that cost on your own when you can share it with your guests.

Dos

Make sure your costs are covered

When you use a cleaning service (like us) you know precisely what you’re going to pay for a cleaning, whether a guest has stayed one night or ten nights.  Make sure that you are charging appropriately.  That may mean requiring a minimum stay.

Your research

Do a search for a listing like yours in your area and find out what your competitors are charging.  That should help you calibrate the number you’ve come up with on your own.

Donts

Try to make extra bucks on the cleaning fee  

The vacation rental market is savvier than ever and guests can see when a cleaning fee that is higher than they expect is actually “shadow nightly cost.”  Unless you price otherwise, the cleaning fee on many vacation rental platforms (including Airbnb) isn’t included in the nightly rate that a guest is searching for, so if it’s a significant addition to what they were expecting as a bottom-line price, they may:

  • Get angry and abandon the booking
  • Write you and ask for a discount
  • Raise their expectations for cleanliness 

Undervalue your time  

While people might say that it’s “cheaper to do it myself” this doesn’t really account for the other things you need to do in a given day or the fact that you probably didn’t get into vacation rentals so you could increase the amount of cleaning in your life.  What your time is worth and what the market is willing to pay for a cleaning fee often doesn’t match up.  Consider hiring professionals who actually love to clean and spend their days doing so.

Forget Guest Expectations

Whether we like it or not, once guests pays cleaning fees, they have hotel-level standards upon checkin and if there is the slightest thing out of order in the cleanliness department you’ll not only see it reflected on your ratings but you’ll hear about it in the public comments.  Cleanliness (or lack thereof) is the very first thing a guest experiences.

This article originally appeared in The Guest Book newsletter.

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