Airbnb Hawaii

Airbnb Hawaii Getting The Message | Visitors Hate Fees

Hawaii visitors hate all extra fees, especially hidden ones that aren’t reflected in the price offered at first glance. This was acknowledged recently by Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, who called it a “huge problem.” And we concur it is. Part of the problem appears to be improving, while another part is not.

On checking more than 100 rentals in Hawaii today, it appeared to us that cleaning fees on Airbnb Hawaii condos may have dropped somewhat in the past few months. There’s a wide range charged, but we found them ranging from zero to as much as $100 or more per night. And it depends, of course, on whether you’re talking about a one-bedroom condo or a massive Hawaii vacation home rental.

BOH editor Rob said that on looking for a Honolulu vacation rental recently on Airbnb, the nightly rates became nearly irrelevant. The reason is that there was so much variability in ancillary fees, especially for cleaning.  In the end, Rob ended up abandoning the Airbnb search and instead found and booked one of the (perhaps rare) hotels that had no added fees. This is just what Airbnb seems to be concerned about, and is undoubtedly reflected in their ratio of bookings to website visits.

Airbnb Hawaii cleaning fees seem to be correcting.

Brian Chesky said, “Actually, I’d like a customer to never see a cleaning fee. So we do want hosts to be able to say I need to add this fixed cost, but when you go to Airbnb in the future, I’d like you to see taxes and ideally nothing else, and that’s where we want to get to.”

Let us say, Chesky; you still have a long way to go.

Mystery Airbnb service charges in Hawaii still sting.

Airbnb plans to wrap every charge into one total price that guests can see on the map of available properties. That’s good. We found today that “service fees” can amount to 15% or more of the nightly rate. Airbnb says of that fee, “This helps us run our platform and offer services like 24/7 support on your trip.” Ouch.

Airbnb: owners can pay for cleaning, but we’ll keep charging our service fees.

Maybe it’s just us, but the whole fee ecosystem of Airbnb seems faulty. When you stay at a hotel, you pay the price. They may have their ridiculous fees, namely resort fees. But those, too, are fast falling out of favor. See Hawaii Hotel Picks | Up to 50% Hidden Fees and Taxes. Guests expect to pay only for the rental and the exorbitant taxes. Nothing more.

Airbnb is moving in that direction by allowing guests to see the total price.

That we like. Airbnb suggests that most rentals don’t even charge a cleaning fee now, although what we find in Hawaii is the exact opposite. Most do charge a cleaning fee; it’s just that those fees have recently plummeted.

Airbnb fees make the nightly rate somewhat irrelevant.

We have been switched off by Airbnb because, for all but long stays, the cleaning fees and ridiculous service fees make the nightly rate almost irrelevant. Airbnb says they know this to be the case, and others, like us, can quickly drop off the site without completing bookings for this very reason.

Chesky said that we should expect big changes to pricing coming up. But in that, he may have only meant cleaning fees. Honestly, guests don’t care what you call them or who gets them. They are tired of all fees.


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19 thoughts on “Airbnb Hawaii Getting The Message | Visitors Hate Fees”

  1. not just Hawaii airbnb but airbnb in general we recently paid high extra fees for 2 weeks in Hawaii and 2 months ago a 2 week stay in Oregon came with a $500 dollar booking fee along with all the other fees. the extra charges with airbnb come close to doubling the nightly rate and its not unique to Hawaii they rob you everywhere, maybe back to staying in hotels

  2. #1-I own an Inn in Utah. I was thinking of going onto Airbnb but when my room was posted the guests pays @$20.00 more per night for the same room that is not in Airbnb so my guest pays @$20.00 More for the privilege of booking a room on Airbnb. I erased my info from their site.
    #2- Think about the extra fees for cleaning, parking, cleaning the house, doing laundry. Why are you staying there!!
    #3- if people are gullible enough to pay these fess and then complain about then, that’s their fault.
    I Refuse to use Airbnb or Airbnb. I look on the sites to find a place to say then Google the place to deal directly with them..

  3. Let’s be clear about what the traveler is tired of paying: The host is forced to part with 3% of his overall payment from the guest which goes to Airbnb for platform web-hosting fees. The guest has to pay between 12 to 15% booking fee. So Chesky is making 18% off of the guests and hosts. So in other words, Chesky is the greedy one. He makes money off the backs of hosts and guests by simply creating a website. A better approach: Go to the host’s personal website and save on booking fees. It’s a win-win for the guest and host: No booking fees and cheaper rates. All of my guests pay higher rates on Airbnb because Brian Chesky needs to take his cut. Not to mention Airbnb guests IMO treat my condo like a hotel, not like my home; hence, ^ prices.

  4. Two related reasons why Airbnb hosts charge significant cleaning fees:
    1. In 2020, Airbnb issued an extremely detailed 38-page Cleaning Handbook. which hosts are required to agree to in order to maintain their listings on the site. Following the step-by-step protocol takes several hours, even for a small vacation rental unit. The policy was designed for use during the height of the Covid pandemic, and it has not bee modified or discontinued.
    2. It is extremely hard to find competent and reliable cleaning help – harder than finding a plumber, carpenter, or electrician. Cleaners can and do charge top rates that the cleaning fee paid by the Airbnb guest may not even cover.

  5. Aloha, thanks for the thought provoking article. We’ve owned this vacation rental condo on Maui for 23 years and have seen lots of changes. I believe AIRBNB and VRBO started charging huge fees several years ago, when they figured out they could. Now guests complain and the companies are blaming owners, saying it’s the cleaning fee. It’s the much higher service fee. Our cleaners charge is $200, to clean, do laundry and for supplies. I charge the guest $160. I’d like to include in price, but it doesn’t work.

  6. The reason you’re confused is you are trying to dissect this too much. Just consider the cleaning fee an expense, no different than any other fixed expense. Hosts don’t attempt to divide their cable bill among each of their guests, do they? Neither should they attempt to divide their cleaning costs.

    If hosts feel compelled to approximate how much to raise rates to compensate for no cleaning fee, they should just take the cleaning fee and divide it by the average stay duration. For instance, if the cleaning fee is $250 and the average stay is 5 nights, add $50 to the nightly price and leave it at that. Shorter stay guests will effectively pay less for cleaning, longer stay guests will pay more, and it will all average out in the end.

    1. Please read my post about your assumption that hotels don’t charge for cleaning. Employee costs are recovered by hotels by putting a nightly cleaning rate into the room cost. They then charge resort fees, parking fees, etc. STVR owners typically don’t have employees. They use independent contractors, so you are implying that owners should eat those costs or charge a nightly rate? What you are not understanding is that the cost for cleaning is a fixed cost whether it’s 3 days or 7 days. Charging less for a three day stay hoping that one has enough 7 day guests to offset the short-term guests is a bad business decision.

    2. It sounds nice, but it doesn’t work. Not all hosts will do that. Then, the price for one show as $200 per night, the other will show as $230 per night, so the guest will gravitate to the $200 per night. In AIRBB, the guest won’t see the cleaning fee until the very end of the transaction, by which time they will cancel out and go back or just pay and be done with it. It’s very upsetting.
      Appreciate the chance to vent, BOH. 🌺

    3. Not just Airbnb, but VRBO and Vacasa all have ridiculous fees. And Vacasa takes 31+% of the rental charges for their management fees.

  7. I can guarantee you that prices for short-term rentals will not drop. What I think will happen is that with this new display of the total price including cleaning, hosts will just drop their cleaning fee and incorporate it into their rate. There never should have been a cleaning fee to begin with; it is just a business expense. As long as all hosts do that, no one will need to have a cleaning fee, but no one should delude themselves into thinking that visitors will pay any less.

    1. In your post, you are assuming that hotels don’t incorporate their cleaning costs into the nightly rate. That would be a mistaken assumption. The average per night cleaning rate, based on an employee taking ~1 hour to clean,change linen, clean linen and re-supply a room would be ~$25-35/night. For a full apartment/condo, the cleaning requirements are much more than a hotel. That cleaning requirement is a fixed cost to an outside contractor. When you hire a contractor for a re-hab job on your home, don’t you pay that contractor for drive time, incidentals and cleaning up after the day’s job? Whether the STVR host charges a flat fee or incorporates a per-night cleaning rate, this is a legitimate expense charged to the renter

  8. I’m a bit confused by this article. Cleaning fees are a fixed cost no matter how long the stay. If those fees are prorated and included in the nightly rate, some guests staying only three nights would see a higher nightly cost if cleaning is absorbed into the rate. So, a seven day stay for a $140 cleaning fee would pay $20/night while the three day would have ~50/night. No hotel would have variable rates based on length of stay. Why would Air bnb owners be required to do such?

  9. Further, these “camper/RVs” listed on Airbnb provide bogus general excise and transient accommodation registration numbers. As Airbnb owners typically are paid the 17.962% taxes, how many of these camper owners are submitting the taxes appropriately?

    Oh, and by the way, camper/RV owners are charging cleaning fees of $75 to $250 per night!!

  10. As a Housekeeper on Maui for multiple Airbnb’s I will say it would be great if “cleaning” became an owners fee. Of course they will just wrap it into the nightly rate. I get tired of hearing guests say, “well I paid that cleaning fee so I don’t have to pick up”. It’s about 50/50. We have had units so bad that pictures need to be taken and emails sent. This takes time, all while another guest is usually in the air on arrival. We truly appreciate the guest that took out the garbage and pulled sheets and towels for us. It saves time and helps us to focus on the next guest such as we did for them.
    I am not sure this is a solution but the owners I know take better care of us than the one’s that are silent and their guests seem to as well.

    1. When I was growing up, our family rented a cottage for 2 to 3 weeks every summer. My mom had us clean the cottage thoroughly before we left. Her logic was, the owners did not have to let us come back the following summer, so don’t be a slob. (I am sure the owner of the Hawaii condo we rent is also pleased we very rarely use the AC. Granted, we stay at an elevation of 500 feet and there are good crosswinds. Just enjoy the fresh air whereas we can’t do that in Michigan in the winter.)

  11. How much real research have you done regarding cleaning fees, particularly on Kauai?

    Outclean fees are NOT dropping. If anything, they are rising, what with the shortage of labor and cleaners commonly asking $40+ per hour for their work.

    If Airbnb refused to include outclean fees in the totals quoted, you would see daily rates go up by the equivalent amount in rental fees.

    I do notice more and more “camper/RV” rentals being listed on Airbnb, with very small print, if any, about local laws that apply to camping and sleeping on Kauai. While some renters obtain camping permits for County and State parks, most appear to think that “free camping” is allowed on Kauai, and you will find them spread out at beach parking lots. Not Nice!

    1. My husband and I make around $20-$25 per hour once all of our supplies are accounted for, starter kits, who do you think pays for those?, our insurance and our taxes. I’m not complaining but there isn’t a lot of people willingly to clean up after a guest.
      We do enjoy the hours and the flexibility. Which is why we went into the business. I do agree the fee isn’t going anywhere but absorbed into the total cost.

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