Well that was quick.
Last week I wrote this article about terrible host transgressions that incense guests so much that they swear to never stay with Airbnb again.
The noisy chatter on social media about Airbnb nightmare stories, which prompted my article, must have caught Airbnb’s attention as well.
Airbnb acted swiftly to address some of the most annoying traveller experiences:
Surprise fees - Right now (November 2022) Airbnb only displays total prices in countries that mandate it, such as Australia. You can see it for yourself by going to airbnb.com.au. Notice how pleasant it is to see total prices that include everything?
Well, Airbnb wants guests all over the world to have the same nice experience. Hosts who include various additional fees will no longer cause guests to see shifting prices.
From December 2022, Airbnb will start rolling out a feature that will allow travellers to toggle between base prices or total prices (before taxes).
The ‘before taxes’ part is disappointing, but I believe it will get fixed eventually. Taxes are really hard to solve programmatically. I think Airbnb wants to fix the problem of surprise fees so badly that they choose to leave out the hard part, in favour of releasing a near-complete fix early.
Obnoxious house rules - This is now firmly in Airbnb’s sight. They’re aware that ridiculous tasks that some guests are asked to perform, such as laundering bedding and linens at checkout, are damaging Airbnb’s brand.
But it’s not clear what Airbnb is going to do about it. My guess is that Airbnb will add tips in the hosting web or mobile app to discourage hosts from imposing annoying house rules.
Uncompetitive pricing - Airbnb knows that overpriced B&Bs will drive away guests and hit its bottom line, so it will alter its search algorithm to favour economically priced B&Bs.
Don’t worry though, Airbnb still made sure that the phrase ‘highest quality’ was included in its announcement. I still hold the opinion that getting as many bookings as possible is the most effective search ranking strategy.
Guests leaving the Airbnb platform in droves will only hurt us hosts, so it’s great to see Airbnb responding so quickly to such a serious matter.
You can read Airbnb's full announcement here.