Why Airbnb Isn’t Worth All These Fees, According to Reddit

Last summer, I booked a secluded, moody Airbnb in the Washington countryside and spent a few days relaxing in a country where everything looked and felt just like I did in the scene from Twilight . So when I needed a place to sleep in Portland, Maine last month, I turned to Airbnb for another enjoyable experience. But after calculating the cost of an affordable rental about six weeks before the trip, I started comparing prices with hotels – just in case. And much to my surprise, this is the first time in many years that I have booked a hotel through Airbnb.

Airbnbs have become more expensive

I’m far from the first to notice that the prices of hotels and Airbnbs are much closer than they used to be. In 2020, TripSavvy found nine cities where a hotel would be cheaper than Airbnb , including Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago. And according to a report from bus and train booking site Wanderu , the pandemic has further shifted the pricing paradigm between hotels and Airbnbs.

Even when the cost of living seems reasonable, fees can actually go up – sticker shock at checkout seems to be the most visible reason people are ditching Airbnbs in favor of traditional accommodations. As the Washington Post reported this summer, Airbnb is scrutinizing fees following a backlash to a viral tweet with a screenshot of a $ 99 listing per night, which ended up at $ 413.95 over two nights after fees and taxes were added at checkout. order.

However, reports from the Washington Post and TravelFreak concluded that Airbnb prices are still generally lower than hotel prices, but even so, that doesn’t mean the two experiences are of equal value.

To find out if hotels or Airbnb are the most profitable vacation investments, we looked at what the good people on Reddit have to say about Airbnb’s fees – from the perspective of both hosts and travelers.

First person presenter

For the most part, r / Airbnb hosts agree that fees have increased significantly for both their guests and themselves. @ TrickyAndroid says, “I DEFINITELY [sic] noticed how expensive this has become … I love helping the little guy and renting from people, but it just doesn’t make sense financially anymore. It sucks because I am the owner and I had to cut the price a lot to stay competitive. “

@ Sprinkles111 agrees that since a person who occasionally lists their home on Airbnb “increases the fees … especially for guests,” it’s “almost not worth the inconvenience.” I always use Airbnb when I travel, but on my last trip I used hotels because the difference in cost in that city was about $ 20 per night more for a hotel, but the hotels were PLEASANT [sic] and Airbnbs were average. ” So yes, you can save a little on Airbnb, but the price difference may not be worth the difference in comfort (given that Airbnb guests often have to clean up after themselves or miss out on little amenities that hotels provide as a course).

@ Jkrozar adds more information on how the numbers are allocated to the landlord: “As the landlord of a 23-acre cottage, I made about $ 45,000 [in 2020] and spent almost $ 5,000 on utilities, mortgages, taxes (real estate and room), renovation, snow / lawn and jacuzzi cleaning and maintenance, furniture refurbishment or renovation, membership fees, local travel advertisements and supplies. “

Confirming this, @ Joygboro , who said he was a host and guest for more than three years in 2020, claims that Airbnb raised the fees they charge hosts. While they think Airbnb is the best deal “if you just need a place to sleep and shower and are willing to make a shared space” or share expenses with the group, they also looked into the guest’s expenses and were “baffled”. why didn’t they choose the hotel. “

User @Threevestimesacharm says that even traveling with five kids, “it was cheaper (half) to pay for two rooms and parking in the city center than it was for Airbnb after cleaning fees, extra persons, etc.” and that hotels can be a better option for families because of perks such as free breakfast, gyms, and schedule flexibility.

Even with the rise in commissions, the difference between hotels and Airbnbs is often small, and your decision is influenced by other value considerations. The final price will depend on a number of factors, including location, specific Airbnb host or hotel chain, length of stay, who is traveling, and what amenities are guaranteed.

Why the rise in prices?

As with any service in the hospitality industry, Airbnb costs vary based on demand. But the reasons for the skyrocketing commissions over the past few years have led to a lot of anecdotal speculation about r / Airbnb (note that many of these messages preceded the pandemic). Reddit user @ kagko says he has been exclusively using Airbnb since 2013, but they believe the fees have become “prohibitive” for the following reasons (reduced for clarity):

Moving to a five-star mentality [for the hosts] … It seems like if the hosts don’t have five stars, they are not visible [to the guests]. This shift made it so that every location had to be 100% perfect, that is, more expensive.

Commissions are high and not included in the price list. So many times I have found a place I liked, prepared to book and then was shocked by the final cost when fees were added, forcing me to cancel my booking.

Increased costs on long journeys. I do many four day trips with my family. It doesn’t make sense to use Airbnb for this purpose because cleaning and maintenance fees will increase the cost, so you can spend an extra night at the hotel as well.

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to see the final net present value, which includes all taxes and fees, during your initial rental search. You will need to navigate to the individual listing, enter dates and number of guests, and find a clear breakdown of the additional costs before you click “reserve.”

If you don’t like what you see, you can discuss rates with your Airbnb host. Here’s our guide on how to get it right.

Bottom line

Even though Airbnbs are generally cheaper than hotels, the difference is much smaller than it used to be; Of course, the difference in cost is not so great as to unambiguously declare one option more economical than the other. It all comes down to what you value: For a shorter stay where reliability and flexibility are all you need, invest in a hotel. For a more personal, “live like a local” experience, you might still want to use Airbnb. But double-check the amenities, see if it’s worth it, book early and try to negotiate a price.

Ultimately making the right choice will require a little research into your specific situation. I think you need to work if you want to enjoy this vacation.


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