As an Airbnb host, you’ve likely toyed a lot with finding your average nightly rate “sweet spot.” It’s a bit like impersonating Goldilocks: You’ve got to find a rate that’s not too high, not too low, but just right. And, as part of your rate, you’ll need to include a cleaning fee… But what’s a “fair” Airbnb cleaning fee? And how can you ensure your “fair” fee isn’t scaring off guests?
How much should you charge?
Good question. In the age of Covid, chances are that guests are more willing to accept “higher” cleaning fees than ever before. That said, there are still plenty who will balk at the sight of what they deem “excessive” costs.
To figure out your magic cleaning fee number, here’s what we suggest:
At a minimum, know exactly how much you’re going to charge. Make sure that however you decide to divvy it up – be it across a guest’s stay or publicized entirely in the cleaning fee – that you’re going to get enough to cover your costs. Base this amount on your actual MaidThis cleaning fee or based on quotes from vacation rental-specific cleaning companies. Don’t look at regular residential cleaning fees to decide on your Airbnb cleaning fee. They’re not the same (and shouldn’t be).
Also, keep in mind that this shouldn’t be a place where you’re trying to make an extra buck or two. Charge only what you need to cover your Airbnb cleaning costs.
Then, look at what your competitors are listing for their cleaning fees. You might be surprised to see how much they fluctuate from listing to listing. You might also discern that other hosts are wrapping up some of their cleaning fees into their nightly rates.
Finally, make a decision about how you want to publicize your cleaning fee. It’s as simple as that.
How do you avoid losing potential guests because of a “too high” Airbnb cleaning fee?
Efficient and effective cleaning is very much a subjective viewpoint. Folks who may travel less often or who don’t understand the costs associated with ensuring turnovers are extensive from stay to stay may be turned off by a high cleaning fee – especially one that may exceed the cost of their entire stay.
So how do you combat this? By getting smart about how you publicize (or don’t publicize) your cleaning fee.
Option 1: Put your cleaning fee front and center.
Whether you’re cleaning up yourself or paying a professional service like MaidThis to turn over your vacation rental, the most obvious option is to include your cleaning fee – all of it – in the specified place in your listing.
There’s one definitive downside to this: Depending on how “expensive” your Airbnb cleaning fee is perceived to be, you run the risk of losing some potential guests.
All that said, it’s still a common move for hosts to add full cleaning fees to their listings.
Option 2: Add part (or all) of your cleaning fee into your average nightly rate.
Instead of blatantly mentioning your cleaning fee, you could opt to spread it out across your guests’ stays.
This obviously makes your nightly rate go up a bit, but it also keeps less experienced (or “stingy”) guests from having a heart attack at your clean-up price tag. Assuming your average nightly rate is still within range of your closest competitors in terms of similar stays near you and throughout the larger area, this little trick should come off without a hitch.
The best way to ensure you’re still bringing in enough money to actually cover your cleaning costs is to require a minimum stay. This way, you can split some (or all) of your cleaning fee across multiple nights, ultimately lowering the overall perceived cost by guests. When you have guests who are staying for a single night, it can be more challenging to ensure you’re getting enough money from their booking to cover the cost of a turnover – especially if you’re not doing it yourself. (If you’re renting out a room, this may matter less. If you’re renting out an entire home, this is where you can get into more trouble and end up spending money out of your own pocket.)
By including at least part of what you intend to charge for cleaning in the actual fee space provided, you help them understand that you do take cleaning seriously. This is true even if it’s a small amount (under $50).
Deciding how much to charge for your cleaning fee is a bit like a game – while ensuring you cover costs to turn over your vacation rental you have to also ensure you’re not scaring off potential guests. Do a little research and get smart with your advertising, and ultimately ensure your cleaning costs are covered after every check-out.