Airbnb CEO Wants to Make Airnbnb Affordable Again. Will It Work?

A new pricing tool will allow hosts to compare properties in their area

Airbnb guests arriving at their rental property
Airbnb guests who most likely just overpaid for a one-night, one-bedroom rental

Once upon a time, Airbnb was more affordable than most traditional accommodations (i.e. hotels). But, for a variety of reasons — inflation, increased demand and astronomical hidden fees, chief among them — those days are long gone.

Per a new report from Quartz, however, in light of user complaints outlining as much, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky hopes to change that.

The plan is to roll out a new host-facing pricing tool that will allow them to see how other rentals in the area are priced and how they shape up next to the more- and less-frequently booked listings, “in a bid to make pricing more competitive.” It will also reportedly make it easier for hosts to apply discounts and implement promotions.

“[T]he lowest price listings have the highest occupancy [in the U.S.],” co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told investors on a call. This change “will drive greater affordability and value for guests, and support overall bookings growth,” the company added in a shareholder letter. According to Quartz, the new initiative will also look at making long-term stays more affordable and re-prioritize single-room rentals over entire homes.

Airbnb’s New Features Include Fee Transparency and Launch of Airbnb Rooms
More than 50 upgrades will make it easier than ever to choose a vacation rental that’s perfect for your needs

That said, it’s unclear how hosts are feeling about said change, though if I were to guess, I’d say probably not good based on how many of them rely on Airbnb for income. After all, many hosts could make their listings cheaper by simply lowering the cleaning fee, which, for the uninitiated, is set by them, though have chosen not to. (According to short-term rental data and analytics company AirDNA, the average cleaning fee in the U.S. for a private/shared room on Airbnb in 2022 was $47 per stay, while the average fee for a house with five or more rooms was more like $333.)

It’s also unclear when these changes will officially take hold. In October of 2022, Chesky announced his intent to fix the fee structure and, more specifically, how they were displayed to the user 17 months after Airbnb Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell had launched a formal review into the matter. It wasn’t until last week when the company announced 50 new features, that the “total price display” finally debuted.

All of this to say: don’t expect to see any developments anytime in the immediate future.


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