$35 cleaning fee? Is this a new normal?

Old Jun 2, 2023, 8:15 pm
  #16  
 
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Many hotels are not cleaning daily now but I do understand it's easier for them. But, I've had AirBnB stays that had a $150 cleaning fee. I was visiting my mom who was terminal and we wanted a house where my brother, sister, and nieces could also visit. I also used two places that allowed outside patio smoking because my mom was still smoking. It would have been a lot more difficult for her to go down a hall and possibly stairs at a hotel. I just wanted it to be easy for her. So, there are definite reasons to have a rental like this over a hotel. AirBnB does let you see Total Cost up front now and I believe you can search on it as well. My issue was that the first place required checkout by 10 am (earlier than most hotels). They texted me around 9 pm the night before departure with additional instructions. They wanted me to wash and dry the towels and sheets. They wanted me to collect all trash, take it to the outside cans and then carry those cans to the curb. There were a few other things that I believe the cleaning fee should have covered. To top it off, there was a category 4 hurricane that caused me to cut my trip short.

We had planned on getting one of the MANY cheap hotels in the area for Wed-Sat since half the family was leaving Wednesday. The rental knew this because we had asked about extending because all the hotels were booked due to the storm. I'm not sure that last part would have been any different with a hotel but we certainly wouldn't be trying to get up early to do all this extra stuff. I had planned on getting up when I absolutely needed to because I had a long drive ahead. I ended up texting them saying I did everything except take the bins to the curb because they'd probably be blown away anyway. For story closure, I ended up dropping my mom back at her apartment in Plant City because it had a generator, she lived on the 6th floor, and it was a senior housing complex. My boyfriend and I ended up driving to Chattanooga and working from our hotel room till Saturday and then drove back to St. Louis. We went back a month later.

All that being said, I'm glad I had the option to relax and visit with my mom before she passed away. One of the homes even had a small pool so the kids had fun and my mom felt like they were visiting her while she sat outside. Most other times, a hotel is just easier. The days of hosts actually caring about what they present is gone. Or maybe not gone, but there are a LOT of just pure money makers now.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 2:37 am
  #17  
 
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I own a vacation rental in Hawaii and good luck finding any cleaner, be it a cleaning company or a single self-employed cleaner who charges less than $180 for a one bedroom condo. I used to use a commercial company who had a large operation in my building and they charged me $200 plus an annual linen fee (they supply linens) of $500. When they raised their prices to $265 per clean, I found an independent cleaner as I couldn't justify raising my prices to renters by that much plus their quality had gone downhill. Now, I have to buy all my own linens (plus spare sets) and I pay my cleaner now $180 plus laundry costs, which is $20 minimum and often more if people use every single towel in the place plus extra beach towels. So I charge guests a $200 cleaning fee and if they leave the place a mess or there is more than two loads of laundry, I eat the extra cleaning costs. Add to that my costs to buy new linens regularly plus laundry detergent, bleach, and other supplies left for guests such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, dish soap, trash bags, toilet paper, paper towels and more. Towels and sheets regularly get tossed because of stains that just won't come out (makeup on towels and pillowcases, and self-tanner or oil on sheets are the worst). So that $200 cleaning fee that I charge you never covers my actual costs for cleaning and I pay my cleaner the same $200 whether you stay one night or 30 nights. I don't make one cent off the cleaning fee and in fact, lose money on it.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface
I own a vacation rental in Hawaii and good luck finding any cleaner, be it a cleaning company or a single self-employed cleaner who charges less than $180 for a one bedroom condo. I used to use a commercial company who had a large operation in my building and they charged me $200 plus an annual linen fee (they supply linens) of $500. When they raised their prices to $265 per clean, I found an independent cleaner as I couldn't justify raising my prices to renters by that much plus their quality had gone downhill. Now, I have to buy all my own linens (plus spare sets) and I pay my cleaner now $180 plus laundry costs, which is $20 minimum and often more if people use every single towel in the place plus extra beach towels. So I charge guests a $200 cleaning fee and if they leave the place a mess or there is more than two loads of laundry, I eat the extra cleaning costs. Add to that my costs to buy new linens regularly plus laundry detergent, bleach, and other supplies left for guests such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, dish soap, trash bags, toilet paper, paper towels and more. Towels and sheets regularly get tossed because of stains that just won't come out (makeup on towels and pillowcases, and self-tanner or oil on sheets are the worst). So that $200 cleaning fee that I charge you never covers my actual costs for cleaning and I pay my cleaner the same $200 whether you stay one night or 30 nights. I don't make one cent off the cleaning fee and in fact, lose money on it.
I think you should raise your rates if you're not charging enough to Make your business profitable. And excessive cleaning charge is offensive. Personally I am fine with 150 to $200 on some sort of beach rental but when I was staying at a dive house in the bad part of Tampa, it did seem excessive to me. And the biggest slap in the face is then demanding that I do a bunch of the cleaning myself. I do tend to pick up after myself but I will certainly didn't expect to have to get up early just to get laundry through two cycles.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 1:50 pm
  #19  
 
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Because that’s what it costs to hire cleaners who do an acceptable job of cleaning.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 2:02 pm
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by stef315
I think you should raise your rates if you're not charging enough to Make your business profitable. And excessive cleaning charge is offensive. Personally I am fine with 150 to $200 on some sort of beach rental but when I was staying at a dive house in the bad part of Tampa, it did seem excessive to me. And the biggest slap in the face is then demanding that I do a bunch of the cleaning myself. I do tend to pick up after myself but I will certainly didn't expect to have to get up early just to get laundry through two cycles.
Raising my rates punishes those who stay longer than a few days, which is most of my guests. As I said in my post, it costs me $200 whether you stay two nights or twenty nights. They charge by the clean. So I should raise my rates by $100/night to cover short stays? Or $50/night to cover a week stay? If I do that, anyone who stays longer is getting penalized. What is so offensive about charging an appropriate nightly rate plus the actual cost of cleaning? Why should I artificially raise my rates when I can be totally transparent about the actual cleaning charge?

And I have never, ever asked a guest to do anything beyond taking out the trash (about 10 steps to the trash room) before they leave. In fact, when guests tell me they will clean up or do laundry, I tell them that is what their cleaning fee is for and that I pay my cleaners the same whether they are there for 10 minutes or three hours (unless guests have trashed the room). They charge by the clean and they are going to do the laundry anyway as we need to know it was actually washed. If I have paid a cleaning fee at a rental, I am not about to do any cleaning beyond leaving things tidy and taking out the trash.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 2:29 pm
  #21  
 
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Maybe raise your rates if you dollars to cover some of it then? Or possibly have a minimum stay. Like I said, for a beach location I don't think 150 to 200 is too excessive especially since most people will stay a week or more. But if it's really that important to get the few extra dollars on cleaning fees then I feel your rate must be too low. I understand you're trying to be competitive with other properties but this goes along with what we all complain about with hidden fees like bag fees, resort fees, etc. But yes, I know it shows the cleaning fees the before booking. 🙂
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 2:43 pm
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by stef315
Maybe raise your rates if you dollars to cover some of it then? Or possibly have a minimum stay. Like I said, for a beach location I don't think 150 to 200 is too excessive especially since most people will stay a week or more. But if it's really that important to get the few extra dollars on cleaning fees then I feel your rate must be too low. I understand you're trying to be competitive with other properties but this goes along with what we all complain about with hidden fees like bag fees, resort fees, etc. But yes, I know it shows the cleaning fees the before booking. 🙂
I think you misunderstood me. Nowhere did I complain that it was "that important to get the few extra dollars on cleaning fees". I am not trying to make money on cleaning fees so I am not sure where you got that impression. My post was in response to the thread title "$35 cleaning fee? Is this the new normal?" and that the OP thought it was ridiculous for a one night stay. I, and others who own rental properties, posted about why our cleaning fees are what they are. I charge guests exactly what I pay my cleaners for cleaning. I don't know how you transformed that into me complaining about what I pay or that I want to make money off of it by charging guests more. That is the cost for cleaning where my property is so that is what I have to pay and I pass that same amount along to guests, not a penny more. Nowhere did I say I was unhappy about it or that I am trying to "get the few extra dollars on cleaning fees". And trust me, my rates are not too low.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 3:01 pm
  #23  
 
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I'm honestly sorry you think that because maybe you misunderstood me. When you have a business you have a give and take on what rates to charge to make a profit. A hotel charges rates that include cleaning fees so there is no reason why your rates can't be built to include part of the cleaning fees. I feel it would be less of a turn off and I am saying that as a customer.

When I stay at a hotel I do not make much of a mess at all but yet I have seen the messes people make. A long long time ago when I was in college I did some cleaning at a budget hotel. There was a big difference in the time it took for me to clean one room over another. The hotel still paid me an hourly rate but did not charge those guests less or more. When I leave a hotel I know this and know that they're paying less for my cleaning but that does not bother me. As a customer, it does bother me when an Airbnb or similar charges me a large cleaning fee and also has me do cleaning. It might be fair for you to charge that but it does make me less likely to stay in a place like that over a hotel. I am just being honest with how it looks from the customer point of view and that if your business needs those fees to be profitable than perhaps raising the rate is a better option.
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 3:22 pm
  #24  
 
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Originally Posted by stef315
I'm honestly sorry you think that because maybe you misunderstood me. When you have a business you have a give and take on what rates to charge to make a profit. A hotel charges rates that include cleaning fees so there is no reason why your rates can't be built to include part of the cleaning fees. I feel it would be less of a turn off and I am saying that as a customer.

When I stay at a hotel I do not make much of a mess at all but yet I have seen the messes people make. A long long time ago when I was in college I did some cleaning at a budget hotel. There was a big difference in the time it took for me to clean one room over another. The hotel still paid me an hourly rate but did not charge those guests less or more. When I leave a hotel I know this and know that they're paying less for my cleaning but that does not bother me. As a customer, it does bother me when an Airbnb or similar charges me a large cleaning fee and also has me do cleaning. It might be fair for you to charge that but it does make me less likely to stay in a place like that over a hotel. I am just being honest with how it looks from the customer point of view and that if your business needs those fees to be profitable than perhaps raising the rate is a better option.
I explained why. I pay $200 for cleaning regardless of whether a guest stays one night or 20 nights. Raising rates to cover that for every length of stay means those guests staying longer are paying more than they should. I believe in transparency so I am not going to gouge my longer staying guests. The cost is the cost and I am not going to hide it in higher nightly rates. Besides, if the net cost to the guest ends up the same anyway, I much prefer to be open and honest about what they are paying for rather than artificially raising my rates so people can make informed choices. I would be ripping of those longer staying guests if I raised my nightly rates to even out the cleaning costs as they would be subsidizing the shorter bookings. How is that ethical?

I am not a hotel. Vacation rental owners do not have a stable of cleaning staff on the payroll every day. We pay for a cleaning service, whether that is one person or a commercial agency and they charge by the clean, at least where I am. To compare a privately owned vacation rental to a hotel with cleaners on staff that are paid for a full shift regardless of how many rooms that are turned over that day is ridiculous.
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Last edited by Finkface; Jun 3, 2023 at 3:29 pm
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 8:26 pm
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Well, I guess this is why stays are swinging the other way. Keep on and good luck!
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Old Jun 3, 2023, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by stef315
Well, I guess this is why stays are swinging the other way. Keep on and good luck!
Who said stays were swinging the other way??? I am 100% booked and turn away booking requests every week from past guests who contact me because I am booked up a year or more in advance. I don't know where you get your ideas. This thread is about cleaning fees, which is what we were discussing.
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Old Jun 4, 2023, 12:26 am
  #27  
 
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Alrighty. Great job!
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 4:31 am
  #28  
 
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Seems that property owners are getting most of the flak for this...

I've got a chalet listed on Vrbo. It's been online for 25+ years... used to be Holiday Rentals, which got bought out by HomeAway, which got bought out by Vrbo... which is now part of Expedia. 25 years ago a lot of rentals came through magazine inquiries. 7+ nights was normal. These days you have an automated system as people was instant confirmations and no interaction. They also stay as short as 2-3 nights (though I set a 3 night minimum). Holiday Rentals used to make money from owner listings... Vrbo now charge us AND tags on a semi-hidden "service fee" to the renter.

Unfortunately cleaning costs are fixed, and whereas I would be happy to (in fact, used to) absorb this into the overall rate: it penalises those who stay a long time and yet setting minimum 5-7 nights doesn't work today.

Here's the thing: I define a cleaning fee and a daily rate, but I would be happy for Vrbo to combine this. My intention is NOT to "be a greedy property owner and grab more for cleaning", as some have alluded to here, but to input an accurate cost structure that includes zero markup for cleaning portion. Platforms like VRBO can totally work out how much a daily rate is based on # of days searched, the daily rate + average daily cleaning cost. VRBO likely doesn't do this because they want to be opaque and buy into the whole ancillary fee nonsense. It's not the owners. Don't forget they now tag on a booking fee too, which didn't exist back in the day.

I hate non-upfront fees as much as any other. I note that Vrbo does give a total now, in smaller and non-bold numbers (deliberate no doubt, and typical). I would prefer they just give a single clear total, and order accordingly if sorting by price.

It's worse that Vrbo doesn't even label it a cleaning fee... they say "host fees" which implies greed: even though on the owners portal, it's clearly marked as a cleaning fee.

I think the anger towards ancillary fees is directed at the wrong people...
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Last edited by tparker1997; Jul 10, 2023 at 4:38 am
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 12:25 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by tparker1997
Seems that property owners are getting most of the flak for this...

I've got a chalet listed on Vrbo. It's been online for 25+ years... used to be Holiday Rentals, which got bought out by HomeAway, which got bought out by Vrbo... which is now part of Expedia. 25 years ago a lot of rentals came through magazine inquiries. 7+ nights was normal. These days you have an automated system as people was instant confirmations and no interaction. They also stay as short as 2-3 nights (though I set a 3 night minimum). Holiday Rentals used to make money from owner listings... Vrbo now charge us AND tags on a semi-hidden "service fee" to the renter.

Unfortunately cleaning costs are fixed, and whereas I would be happy to (in fact, used to) absorb this into the overall rate: it penalises those who stay a long time and yet setting minimum 5-7 nights doesn't work today.

Here's the thing: I define a cleaning fee and a daily rate, but I would be happy for Vrbo to combine this. My intention is NOT to "be a greedy property owner and grab more for cleaning", as some have alluded to here, but to input an accurate cost structure that includes zero markup for cleaning portion. Platforms like VRBO can totally work out how much a daily rate is based on # of days searched, the daily rate + average daily cleaning cost. VRBO likely doesn't do this because they want to be opaque and buy into the whole ancillary fee nonsense. It's not the owners. Don't forget they now tag on a booking fee too, which didn't exist back in the day.

I hate non-upfront fees as much as any other. I note that Vrbo does give a total now, in smaller and non-bold numbers (deliberate no doubt, and typical). I would prefer they just give a single clear total, and order accordingly if sorting by price.

It's worse that Vrbo doesn't even label it a cleaning fee... they say "host fees" which implies greed: even though on the owners portal, it's clearly marked as a cleaning fee.

I think the anger towards ancillary fees is directed at the wrong people...
I don't think people are greedy for charging a cleaning fee but it does rub me a little when I stay a week and get charged $190 for cleaning. It's especially bad when they then demand I do a bunch of the cleaning myself while still being gone by 10 am. I do find it funny that hosts keep repeating that cleaning is a "fixed cost". Aren't there a lot of fixed costs? Those get calculated when determining the rate that is charged whether you are a chalet or a hotel. Perception is key and hosts are pretty stubborn about not listening to what customers say. If it looks greedy to a customer, than it is greedy to them. If you don't want to penalize long-term rentals than give a discount. You can go about this in a way that appears negative to one group or a way that appears positive to another group. I've been forced to attend some customer service "trainings". Our whole consulting group is watching them together. The guy presenting worked at a hair salon so a lot of things are not really applicable to us. However, he talks a lot about not using negative terms, policies, or practices. Saying or doing things in a positive way makes a big difference for the customer.
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 9:51 pm
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by stef315
Perception is key and hosts are pretty stubborn about not listening to what customers say. If it looks greedy to a customer, than it is greedy to them.
This may well be true - and it's a problem. But we've all watched restaurant TV shows: sometimes they suck, and sometimes the customer clearly isn't always right. It's hard to please all.

Your reply was great to read because it seems sincere and highlights what I see as a few misunderstandings:

I do find it funny that hosts keep repeating that cleaning is a "fixed cost". Aren't there a lot of fixed costs?
Actually no... not really. Most utilities are based on usage, as are some additional taxes. Certain costs occur even if empty: internet fees, essential maintenance, and some fixed taxes. Those are all factored in.

Cleaning is not fixed in an accounting sense, but it's a "cost of goods sold" and it's a fixed amount irrespective of length of stay. By contrast hotels offer daily housekeeping: it's a daily cost. They also handle this in-house for a very low cost per clean. I admit $190 sounds steep for a clean - and in my opinion this should not be marked up (any profits should be part of the base rental) - but obviously nobody knows for sure how owners are pricing this. On the other hand $190 can be plausible depending on location. How much would you charge to go out your way in the middle of nowhere and clean someone's property for several hours? In some countries / cities, a low amount is not worthwhile.

If you don't want to penalize long-term rentals than give a discount.
Here's the other problem: we can only do what the system allows. This is why I say the animosity would be better directed towards the likes of Vrbo or AirBNB.

For a $93 per night property... if I absorb a $100 cleaning fee (which is below cost BTW) we'd be looking at an additional $33 per night. For a one week stay that amounts to overcharging by $132. Whilst Vrbo does let you set a % discount after 7 days (so I can set a 12% discount in this case to even it out)... what about a 5 night stay? They will get overcharged $66. Or for a longer stay, that 12% discount becomes unfair on me.

Unless Vrbo provide the tools to calculate rates more accurately, we are at the mercy of what the platforms allow. What I've done above is actually the fairest for the consumer, even though at a glance it may seem "greedy".

It's especially bad when they then demand I do a bunch of the cleaning myself while still being gone by 10 am.
I must admit I'm on the fence here. I work in the service industry (unrelated to our holiday home), and high end segment at that. Clients pay and they demand service. If you pay a cleaning fee you expect cleaning. I totally get it.

Our housekeeper is someone local from a nearby village. It's a rural area. It may be a sophisticated country, but rural still means rural, and the lifestyle goes with it. Ideally I'd want someone who can not only clean, but prepare a small amenity kit for each booking, replenish supplies as necessary, have attention to detail. Heck I'd be happy to supply fresh milk and eggs in advance: it's a small cost but a nice gesture. But it stretches the limits of what one local lady can already handle. Of course there's a price for everything: but then see problem above.

We never defined what "cleaning" meant: she knows the end result is to have a clean home. Once in a while she'd complain about guests who made a huge mess, who didn't throw out the rubbish, or left LOTS of dishes in the sink or a fridge full of unused food. I'd send reassuring words, but my thoughts are "win some, lose some"... if you're a taxi driver, you can't always expect a distant fare. Ultimately she'd get the job done. (Of course, can double her pay but then again, see above).

I've talked about this with many Europeans though, and many of them have an understanding that guests should do basic cleaning. By this I mean emptying rubbish and cleaning dishes after meals. I don't mean cleaning toilets and mopping: that's for the housekeeper. By and large, most of our guests do this and have no problem with it. Very occasionally we do encounter slobs who think they're staying in a serviced apartment or hotel. (Rubbish is a large taxed bag which we provide and is used to dispose of non-recyclable household waste, maybe once every 4-5 days and deposited to a receptacle 400m up the hill on the way out of our village... it shouldn't be left to rot indoors).

The cleaning issue is definitely a cultural one, and there are differing expectations, even amongst Europeans. It's impossible to cater to everyone, but as the saying goes of course "When in Rome......"
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Last edited by tparker1997; Jul 11, 2023 at 5:14 am
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