Your Airbnb cleaning fee is a huge tool in your marketing kit. But most hosts don't even consider it as a way to attract more bookings. In this article, we'll talk about how you can use your cleaning fee to get more people looking at your listing and booking it for longer stays.
What is an Airbnb cleaning fee?
Hosts have the option of charging a cleaning fee to guests for their stays. This is a one-time, flat-rate cleaning fee per stay. Most hosts will just charge the guest whatever they have to pay a cleaning service to do the job. But we're going to show you that you can use this fee to actually get more people looking at your listing and even the booking your home for longer stays.
First, take a look at this breakdown of fees for an Airbnb stay. The cleaning fee is $165 for this stay.
What's the average cleaning fee an Airbnb?
The average cleaning fee for a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom home in the San Francisco Bay area is $150-$250 per stay. This can vary depending on the type of home, if pets are allowed, and the number of guests the home can accommodate. The cleaning fee will also depend on the cleaning service being used - whether that service is an independent contractor, service company or is the owner of the property.
Use our Cleaning Calculator to see what you should charge for your Airbnb cleaning fee.
What should I charge for cleaning?
First, you'll want to make sure that you've set your cleaning fee high enough that it covers the cost of the cleaning service you're hiring.
Suggested Article: How To Choose The Right Cleaning Company
But here's the fun part - and the real marketing strategy. Let's continue to use the example of the listing we showed above. The normal nightly rate for this property is $359. That's pretty high. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice property and it's appropriately priced. But at that price, the listing will be skipped over by a large number of people or guests just won't book long stays.
You can make the argument that the point of the higher price is to effectively deter irresponsible people from booking the unit. But that's making an unfair assumption that people with lower budgets will not take care of your home.
But this property sleeps up to 10 people including the sofa bed. If a group splits the fee ten ways, it's pretty darn affordable. You know who splits a hotel room ten ways? College students.
But let's get back on topic. If we were to lower the nightly rate for this listing by just 5% or about $18 a night, it brings our nightly rate to $289 per night after the Long Stay discount is also applied. Now $289 per night looks a lot better than $359 per night. Even with the Long Stay discount, the original nightly rate was still $305!
Now we don't lose that 5%. Instead, we add that to the cleaning fee. That's only an extra $18 x 4 nights = $72. Which brings the cleaning fee to $237. You can round that cleaning fee $240 or $250, whatever you like, it's still within the average range for the Bay Area :)
I know you're probably thinking that the cleaning fee is a flat-rate and not a nightly rate. So if the guests stay longer than 4 nights, we're losing money right? But this listing has set their Long Stay discount to kick in at 4 nights. Which tells me that they have trouble getting guests to book stays longer than 3 days. By lowering the nightly rate, the guest will most likely book four days and then think heck why not round up to 5 days. But if you're going to stay the whole week you may as well stay the weekend. That extends the stay to a full week!
That may be a bit of an optimistic scenario, but you get the idea: lowering the nightly rate makes the listing feel like a bargain so the guests will want to stay longer.
A Lower Booking Fee Lowers Your Competition
Another awesome benefit of your listing showing up at $289 instead of $359 is that you'll be seen as a great value. Once a guest sets their location, date and chooses the amenities they want in an Airbnb, they will most likely sort by price: low to high. Looking for great deals.
When we looked at the other homes on Airbnb that were under $300/night, they often came without great views, 2 bedrooms instead of 3 or the third bedroom was a sofa bed, only 1.5 baths instead of 2 full baths, or didn't have any outdoor spaces. And many weren't nearly as nice.
That's a HUGE benefit. Your listing is now the gold nugget amongst the dirt.
Airbnb Just Gave Hosts A Huge Marketing Tool
In response to the pandemic, Airbnb created an Enhanced Cleaning protocol. Airbnb hosts earn a badge on their listing if they commit to following these new steps to ensure their homes are ready for guests. But that also means you have a great excuse to increase your cleaning fee. So that means it makes total sense to take that extra $72 and add it to the original cleaning fee.
A higher cleaning fee will also show guests that the quality and thoroughness of the cleaning is much higher than other listings. It's the same old marketing principal, higher prices = higher quality.
Play around with the discount amount. Try 8%, 10% maybe even see what it looks like at 20% off the nightly rate. Compare your new listing price to other listings in your area. This will help you keep your feet on the ground.
You Will Get Amazing Reviews
The final cherry on top is the 5 star guest review. Your guests will feel like they got such a good deal that they will feel compelled to leave you a glowing review. This only pushes your listing and host profile even higher.
In Case You Wanted To Check My Math
The regular fee for this home is $359/night. The cleaning fee is $165 per stay. And this stay is 4 nights long - just enough to get the Long Stay Discount. What if we lowered the regular nightly rate by 5%?
$359 x 5% = $17.95 less per night.
That brings the new nightly rate to $359 - $17.95 = $341.05
It brings the total amount for the stay - before the Long Stay discount - to $341.05 x 4 nights = $1364.20.
Now we need to figure out the Long Stay discount rate. So we use the original fees, which in this case is $215 / $1434 = about 15%.
Now apply the 15% discount rate to the new booking amount $1364.20 x 15% = $204.63
That brings the total savings for this stay to $204.63 + ($17.95*4 nights) = $276.43
The new total, we're excluding the cleaning fees, taxes and everything else right now, is $1434 - $276.43 = $1157.57