Airbnb Guests Like The Cleaning Fees And Chore Lists, Think Hotels Are A Scam

Complaining about Airbnb on social media is almost de rigueur. There’s so much to criticize about what Airbnb has turned into, which is light years from where the service began. But defenders of Airbnb seem to be having their day. Here’s a single tweet that has been viewed two and a half million times basically saying why would anyone ever stay in a hotel when there’s Airbnb?

I have to wonder, where are you staying that doesn’t have TVs with streaming capabilities, and who does their laundry on a business trip or weekend getaway?

A lot of hotels do have refrigerators and microwaves. That’s standard in many brands. Extended stay brands often have laundry rooms and even full kitchens.

If you’re booking an Airbnb you absolutely must read all of the details of a listing, and all of the reviews, to figure out what you’re getting. So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to say that if you’re considering a hotel you should think about what features you’d want and book a property accordingly.

Airbnb and similar has use cases:

  • Staying with a large group, need common space and multiple bedrooms
  • Staying somewhere without a lot of hotels – say, the beach town where my cousin lives an hour outside of Brisbane or maybe Martha’s Vineyard

Those conditions make Airbnb worth the hassle of scams, chores and fees. What I was reminded, not just from this tweet but from its comments, is that there’s a whole subculture of people who just hate hotels and love the idea of staying in a rented home or apartment, and are passionate enough to warp the reality of hotels to conform to their preference model.

Hotels, meanwhile, squander the differentiation they do offer against homesharing by cutting back on on-property services (restaurant hours, room service), eliminating daily housekeeping, and charging less than transparent add-on fees (resort and destination fees, fake environmental fees, fees for property taxes and even for lightbulbs).

Since hotels have been undermining their unique selling proposition, someone needs to build a startup:

  • Like Airbnb
  • Where all of the rentals are in one building, centrally located
  • You can check in at all hours, because they have staff there waiting for you
  • You can get your room cleaned every day, and there’s no extra charge for it
  • With a restaurant, bar, and even food delivery on premises

The problem is that this would be pitched as WeWork meets Airbnb and nobody would fund it. Then again maybe they would.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What I would like to see on the AirBnB / VRBO front is an option to do the cleaning myself and save those fees. I think a lot of places deter weekend renters when the cleaning fee is almost equal to another night’s rate.

    What’s a load of towels and sheets and a squirt of Cascade to spend the weekend in the mountains with that panacea of a microwave, streaming services and a washer/dryer?

  2. > Those conditions make Airbnb worth the hassle of scams, chores and fees.

    We’ll agree to disagree on that one, and you haven’t discussed the chronic buck-passing / ghosting ./ stonewalling Airbnb reverts to when a guest encounters a problematic host or vice versa. Hotels are deteriorating right and left in the US but at least someone’s responsible. I don’t do Airbnb for that reason alone.

  3. What you describe is very similar to the Residence Inn concept, studio to 2-bedroom apartments.
    This concept could be improved to have a few bigger 3/4-bedroom apartments.

    Some people love Airbnb and praise them. It’s perfect. In order to satisfy everybody you need to have a variety of choices out there.

    For me, Airbnb only makes sense when you have to stay with your whole family in the same place for a while so you can get settled in a home and bring the family life vibe with you.

  4. I believe Gary’s ideal accommodation is called….a hotel in 2016. Before “resort fees,” pre-pandemic.

  5. @ Gary — We ony stay in suites, so I have no idea what these people are complaining about.

  6. Greater up-front price transparency on AirBnb’s part would help a lot. The number of times a price initially appears reasonable, then doubles (or more!) when you click on it and all the exorbitant fees are piled in is incredibly frustrating.

    And I realize I’m doubling down on an oft-repeated complaint, but paying a significant cleaning fee and then, only AFTER you’re committed, being presented a list of cleaning tasks you must complete to avoid being charged even more is a seriously shady scam,

  7. Also, that’s a VERY misleading clickbait headline, Mr. Leff. Absolutely zero indication in the article itself that anyone actually LIKES cleaning fees and chore lists.

    Be more honest.

  8. Choices are not just Airbnb vs. Hotel. I am in the vacation rental business and have been for almost 30 years. All of my reservations are direct. We have a strong local site that is based on the old version of VRBO and Air. We, the owners, pay to advertise on that site rather than all the random charges that are attached to rentals using Air or VRBO as a middleman. They are in fact rental homes that are run by the owner or manager. You know: the people you will call if a pipe springs a leak in the middle of the night. What on earth can Air do for you when something goes wrong?

  9. If I’m traveling for leisure I want someone else to do the cleaning.

    Airbnb’s advantage is for long term stays, 1-4 weeks at a time. Otherwise hard pass.

  10. I think Gary’s assessment of what “many” hotels have nowadays is skewed by the types of properties he stays at and perhaps the destinations as well. Many places I go to don’t have any hotels with those amenities, while others do.

    I stay at hotels, motels, Airbnb, independent apartment/house rentals…it all just depends on the situation and destination. Anyone who claims that a particular type of accommodation either always sucks or is always perfect, either doesn’t travel much or has an agenda.

    It seems like all property types have gone downhill especially post-pandemic.

  11. Pre pandemic I stayed at about 5 to 6 Air BnB (or VRBO) per year.
    This year it will be 3

    I also stay at boutique motels and corporate hotels. And resorts
    Was at Hyatt Regency Chicago last week

    I’ve only had a problem with AirBnB twice in over 15 years.
    Once in Sedona AZ
    The other in Buenos Aires.

    Both had a list of chores, and a cleaning fee if we didn’t complete the list.
    We did the chores and were charged anyway
    So now we just don’t do the chores ever

    One other time in Florida the owner had a list of 1 million rules.
    They didn’t bother us but I told her she’s not the right type of person to run a rental

    I wrote a scathing review and complained and both listings disappeared

    That said, I only rent places with many (typically 40 plus) verified reviews

    Of note
    A ton of Air BnB are exactly what Gary wants, especially in the big markets
    Entire apartment buildings of only rentals with 24 hr check in etc.
    You can tell because the owner will have a corporate name and a website

    In addition
    The many (most?) AirBnBnow have electronic locks so no host needed

    I am fine in a hotel when I’m by myself on business

    But with family?
    4 hotel rooms adds up fast, especially with the “resort fees” and “amenity fees” and “parking fees” and all the other fees hotels are adding these days.
    And then you have nowhere to be together except the lobby or a bar or a restaurant

    It’s always possible that a listing will go wrong
    But I’ll tell you what:
    I’ve been bumped from my hotel due to them overselling (twice) and this has never happened to me at an AirBnB.

    AirBnB perfect? Nope.
    But hotels are no better

  12. I never, ever travel with extended groups of people (only with wife or occationally work) and I like the feeling of staying in a hotel, so I’ve never used Airbnb and don’t intend to. While I agree on Gary’s criticism of hotels playing games with housekeeping and so forth post-pandemic, I don’t thinkt that the problem is all over the place (at least not yet). I stay at a lot of different chain hotels all over the US and a vast majority don’t have any ”scam fees”, and offers both breakfast and daily housekeeping (as long as you request it). For me, post-pandemic, I’ve mostly booked highly rated, newer limited service properties such as Hampton Inns, HGI, Holiday inn Express, Springhill Suites etc and been very satisfied. Nice, spacious rooms, mostly good service, functioning breakfast, no added fees, etc 🙂

  13. It seems like everyone wants to charge more to provide less. What ever happened to full service? Back in the 70’s and 80’s most hotels had restraunts, room service ,they cleaned the room on a daily basis and more. And the rates were around $50 per night. This whole idea of provide less for more money, well as Gary suggests, maybe it is time for someone to offer that again and take business away from these other options.

  14. @Ryan — “I stay at hotels, motels, Airbnb, independent apartment/house rentals…it all just depends on the situation and destination. Anyone who claims that a particular type of accommodation either always sucks or is always perfect, either doesn’t travel much or has an agenda.”

    Bingo. And what works great in Miami doesn’t work well at all in, say, Tahiti. Everyplace is different, and you’d be wise to consider all the options each time you travel. The only thing that has MATERIALLY changed in recent years is that airbnb has (on-average) gotten more expensive and more annoying, which isn’t surprising as it exits its start up phase. This means airbnb is less likely to be the best option, but it still can be the best option in certain places.

  15. I’m a Marriott titanium and an Airbnb host who has stayed in 20 Airbnbs this year, with more to come. With a family of 4, Airbnbs beat hotels every time. Nothing a hotel can offer is worth a second bedroom and a kitchen. We’ve been traveling full time the last two months, never had a host request a list of cleaning tasks so I don’t know where these listings are that people are complaining about. (My listings I ask that people not leave trash throughout the house, but we take out the garbage. If that’s unreasonable then people are just pigs, but if they don’t do that it’s not like I can do anything about it. ) Sure some of our stays have been a little quirky or missing an amenity, but I’ve had that in hotels as well, and then you have to reach out to corporate vs one host or Airbnb rep. And the fees are listed upfront, as long as you put in your party size and dates correctly. Yes, Airbnb support sucks, no argument. So does Marriott.

  16. “never had a host request a list of cleaning tasks so I don’t know where these listings are that people are complaining about”

    Janelle, they’re on pretty much every rental property on AirBnb and VRBO at this point. The fact that you haven’t seen them verges on miraculous.

  17. Gary, Gary, Gary … this anti-Abnb bent of yours has grown sooooo tiresome. Facts: (1) You cannot generalize or stereotype this. There are crummy hotels, and there are crummy Airbnbs – no oine format tends to generally be better or generally be worse; and (2) some pluses or minuses are TYPICALLY (not always) inherent to each format. I generally prefer to stay in Airbnbs, but as I write this I am in a Hilton because this particular city doesn’t offer a good Abnb option. To itemize some of what I think are generally true broad statements: (1) If you like to have someone change your sheets, take out your trash, and bring you fresh towels daily, go with a hotel (but in the post-Covid world you may have to specially request that); (2) if you do not like waiting on elevators or dealing with parking garages or paying exorbitant valet charges, you are more apt to find that in an Airbnb (tho there are Abnb high rises as well, with all those features, for better or worse); (3) if you want more space to spread out, generally speaking, big advantage to Abnb – ditto private outdoor space; (4) if (big, big, BIG factor for me) you hate hearing the sound of slamming hotel doors while you are trying to sleep, screaming children running in the halls, jibber-jabbering guests and housekeeping staff in the hallways, footsteps from the room above, or loud tv / arguing / lovemaking noise in an adjoining room, advantage Airbnb; (5) if you want an on-property bar and restaurant, or room service food (and can handle or pass on to your employer the pricing of those), advantage hotel; (6) if you want personal touches, like free snacks, fresh flowers, at-your-fingertips guides to local restaurants and attractions, free water and sometimes even alcoholic beverages in a full – sized fridge in a full – sized kitchen, those are more likely to be found at a mid-priced Abnb than a mid-priced hotel; (7) if you want your surroundings to be roughly the same, whether you are in Denver or Des Moines, Manhattan or Milwaukee, as opposed to unique surroundings that are different in every city, you should probably stick with chain hotels.

  18. @Janelle, I agree. The cleaning issue is the exception that proves the norm. I have a 300+ unique Abnb stays under my belt, and I would estimate that, of those 1 in 20 or so have asked that i do anything at all cleaning-related upon departure. For those that have, the list is usually (1) take any smelly trash out to a garbage bin on the curb and (2) put any dirty dishes (which btw a hotel does not even offer, usually, since there is no kitchen) in the dishwasher and start it. Every once in a great while there’s a more burdensome request, like stripping linens from a bed, or starting a load of towels in the wash. If I feel like it and I have the time, I may do those. If I don’t, I have yet to have anyone leave me a bad review for it, or do anything else adverse. This “cleaning issue” is largely fake news imo.

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