About two weeks ago, I joined AirBnb, motivated by both losing my job, and having a one bedroom guest house I’d recently updated. I think it’ll be a competitive rental, with all new appliances, extras, like a top of the line espresso machine, hot tub, tempur pedic mattress and other nice furnishings, etc. I started renting it for $35, which was considerably below what I intend to charge for it. The lowest standalone apartments with one bedroom tend to go for $55-$75, and that’s generally the low end/low furnishings, no pull out sofas to make suitable for 4 guests. I also included a $50 cleaning fee. I quickly got lots of interest, and have the place 75% booked for the next month, despite having only one review as of yesterday. My suspicion/hope is that I could potentially rent the place for $100 per night, once I figure things out/have the reviews. In any case, it’s a discount.
Today, my second guest, who booked for three days, asked if it was okay if she did a great job cleaning and I waived the cleaning fee. I feel kind of stuck, because I do need excellent reviews at this point. But also kind of annoyed. I want to know what’s standard here, and if I should acquiesce/change things going forward.
My motivation was that it’s a lot of work getting the place ready each time. There’s considerable indoor and outdoor space, a lot of laundry, a lot of restocking, etc- two rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, I’m sure people are aware of the labor that can go into it. Even if she leaves the place immaculate, I still have to do laundry, check that everything was done to my standard, mop, restock, clean windows, etc. And it’s a lot less work for me if I don’t have to do that as often. I’d rather encourage longer-term stays.
She mentioned that hotels don’t charge a cleaning fee, and that if she leaves the place clean, I should have no objection. But that’s just not true. Hotels do charge a cleaning fee. They’re just able to deal with it more economically and equitably than I am. They hire cleaners on low salaries, whereas I’d have to pay at least $25 per hour, they have industrial washer/dryers that make all the linens a lot more economical/fast, they clean rooms every day, whether people are checking out or staying an extra night, so there’s a more reliable amount of labor, spread evenly among every guest, they have smaller, more standardized rooms, and streamlined processes. That’s different in every way from the AirBnb cleaning model, I think. It just seems fairer to myself and the guests that they only pay one time for the labor that has to be done when they leave, no matter whether they stay a day or a month.
She’s already getting a really good deal, but I’m feeling pressured by the fact that I need her review. So… does this normally happen? Do hosts not often charge cleaning fees? Should I pay her back the money AirBnB gave me for the cleaning, even though she already agreed to it? Figure out another way to encourage long-term guests? What would you do in the current situation?