Airbnb stays could get cheaper as boss pushes hosts to lower prices

‘We want prices to move and to be more competitive’ says CEO

Natalie Wilson
Thursday 09 May 2024 12:19 BST
Price comparison tools and listing verification systems are part of the May upgrades
Price comparison tools and listing verification systems are part of the May upgrades (Getty Images)

Staying in an Airbnb could get cheaper after the firm’s CEO said he wants prices to become more competitive when compared to hotel rates.

In recent years, the rising cost of cleaning fees and booking charges on the homestay platform have prompted customer complaints that Airbnb rentals often cost more than a hotel stay.

Now, CEO Brian Chesky, co-founder of the company in 2008, says Airbnb intends to improve the pricing structure of its accommodation.

“We want prices to move and to be more competitive vis-a-vis hotels – that is really important,” Chesky told Bloomberg.

On Wednesday, at the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Chesky announced the new initiatives to lower user costs.

“When we started Airbnb, our original tagline was ‘a cheap, affordable alternative to a hotel.’ And the majority – the primary reason people came to us is because it was a better value than a hotel. And we still think that’s a core value proposition that we have to offer,” the CEO said.

The new upgrades include a total cost price display to increase service fee transparency and show guests the full value breakdown of a booking before any discounts are applied.

Airbnb has already started offering long-stay guests weekly and monthly discounts on properties to encourage more affordable rentals and prompt more bookings.

A new price-comparing tool for hosts will also give dynamic insights into the average price of similar listings in their area when updating their property rates. Currently, this tool does not evaluate nearby hotel rates, but Airbnb encourages hosts “to look at rates for hotels in their area”.

As for cleaning fees, Chesky said 300,000 owners in the host community have lowered the cost of the post-stay service following backlash from guests or removed it altogether.

The platform is also rolling out an AI listing verification system to weed out fake listings by creating a confidence score based on Google Earth imagery.

Improved search filters, including the option to only view pet-friendly homes and browse by bed size, are among the 50 upgrades coming this May.

Chesky added: “We need to get our house in order.

“We need to make sure the listings are great, we’re providing great customer service and we’re affordable.”

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