Guest Service Fees - Advice Please

To quote Airbnb " we charge guests a service fee between 5% and 15% of the reservation subtotal. Guests see this fee on the checkout page before they book a reservation". My question (from The Husband…) is what does Air use to determine whether 5%, up to 15%?

The reason for our question is that we have had a sudden and sustained slump in bookings for our B&B; zilch since 22nd September, in contrast to being regularly full since we started in June, and could barely keep up! The Husband searched externally this morning and found that Air were slapping a 15% fee on when it came to booking, which could explain the sudden zilch in bookings; this pushed the cost up significantly, compared to what was initially offered.

I have taken on board the end of season parameter but the B&B down the road is full at the moment, and charges around what we have been until spotting this.

Any ideas/information gratefully received, with thanks.

@Joan. Sounds like you have lost your new host boost and are now confronted with needing to attract guests via your listing narrative and reviews, plus any marketing you can do through personal contact and/or social media.

As for the AirBNB fees, I thought that the higher percentage is used for shorter term and less expensive bookings while the lower percent is used for longer term rentals. No doubt, if I am wrong on this score, someone else will chime in soon.


I agree with @smtucker.

It’s probably a combination of moving into a lower season with less demand and the fact that you are no longer benefiting from the initial boost in the listing that Airbnb offers new hosts.

This is what Airbnb says about guest fees ‘Guest service fees are calculated using a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the reservation subtotal, the length of the reservation, and characteristics of the listing. In general, higher reservation subtotals have lower guest service fee percentages’.

I know you’ve seen the posts about and the ever helpful Pierre, it’s founder. I get a market report each morning that lets me know where I am in the search ranking. It’s no surprise that when my ranking fell, bookings came more slowly. None of us know how long the new host boost lasts. Also, the busier you are the more bookings you get. As has been pointed out you will have to work harder in the slow season to get bookings. I just turned on price tips for the first time in months. I got a booking yesterday for last night but my next one isn’t until November. My ranking is up though and I hope being back in the top of the first page will help.

Two words. Seasonal slowdown.

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Thank you for the input. I have taken the expected seasonal slowdown into account, together with (now…) the new host boost. Where I’m still struggling is with the increase in service fees; is this the end of the new host boost??! And yes, we have smartbnb helping with daily reports.

I’ve done a back-of-a-fag packet audit, and it might be worth putting some parameters in. For our most popular listing, a suite of two double rooms and shared en-suite, we have had 435 views in the last 30 days. We have an overall rating of 4.9, with 91% 5* reviews out of a total of 35. I’ve done an external search for 1,2,3 and 4 person stays in the suite, and we are still coming up at or near the top of each search this morning, although this doesn’t tally with smartbnb. Close though! However, the guest service fee is higher than I recall on previous looks, and is pushing the overall potential booking much higher than one would initially expect. It would certainly put me off.

With regard to length of stay, most of our bookings have been for one or two nights, with only one for two weeks in the suite. Our other longer stays have been in a separate listing.

Apologies if I’m being inarticulate with all of this; I have our Dear Leader’s, Theresa May, head cold, and can’t think straight.

Many thanks. A really useful pointer. I’ll keep you posted on the result.

I think I basically count on them charging about 15% to the guest. That’s nearly always been the case. I think guests are used to service fees. That’s not the reason for the slowdown in all likelihood. It’s the lull between the summer season and the holidays. As you host you will get used to the slowdown patterns and begin to plan for them.

I’ve had a brief look at past bookings as recommended, and I feel quite sick. Fees charged to guests in the past bear no relevance to what I have seen being asked of guests today. We’re going to audit/spreadsheet in order to have hard evidence to hand and call (Dublin) tomorrow. Himself is looking at this in depth at the moment, on the train home. His current verdict is that this is making it uneconomic, both for us and for potential guests. I’ve spoken to several friends today, who all have local seasonal businesses of one sort or another, and no one is experiencing such a slowdown yet. More seasoned folk are really surprised, with expectations of a good flow until after the half term holiday, then a lull until the Christmas period.

This is fascinating and I look forward to hearing what you find out.

Where do you even see the fee charged to guests? I only see the fee charged to the Host.

Courtesy of K9’s expertise above! Really so helpful and we’ll be spread sheeting tomorrow. Will post our findings as soon as poss. Meanwhile, glass in hand…

When I go to the reservations page and click on “print confirmation” I see the Airbnb fee that I paid. I don’t see the Airbnb fee that the guest paid.

This is all very interesting, thank you @Joan. I too have been shocked at the guest fees when I’ve had to amend a booking or whatever. It makes it hard to price your listing and, like you say, wonder whether it’s all worth it.
It sounds like you’re getting lots of views (although personally I don’t trust that data) so this might be redundant advice, but do you update your calendar regularly? As in just viewing it, maybe blocking out a date and then unblocking it. As I understand it, activity on the calendar is part of the algorithm that determines your search ranking. Basically, you always want your calendar to show ‘updated today’.

You are correct. I’ll delete my post.

You are correct. I’ve seen the fees guests pay somewhere but that wasn’t it.

Sorry, I made a mistake. I’ve seen it somewhere but not there.

It used to be transparent in the early days. I sound like your granny reminiscing about the good old days. :rofl: but they hid it at some point and I swear there is a way to unlock it. I just can’t remember how.

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I think it’s on the guests booking confirmation but I’m not sure.

But I followed your advice to the letter, and up popped the guest service fees paid. Definitely.