Why I stopped making Airbnb guests do chores as a host – Business Insider

Why I stopped making Airbnb guests do chores as a host – Business Insider

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Melissa Forrest, a 33-year-old Airbnb superhost based in El Segundo, California, and the cofounder of Host Life. Insider has verified her business’ 2021 profit and 2022 sales revenue to date with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My husband, Zev, and I run an Airbnb business together and have taught hundreds of others how to do the same. We used savings to launch our first two Airbnbs in 2018 in Riverside, California, and we now run 10 Airbnbs in Southern California.
Our total earnings for 2021 were $407,216, and our total profit was $183,828. We now make about $35,000 in gross average revenue per month.
One thing we’ve learned over time is that hospitality should always come first. When we first started five years ago, we requested that guests did certain chores — like taking out the trash and removing linens from the beds and putting them on the floor — before checking out because we learned to do this from our mentor. 
Now, as we’ve grown as hosts, we don’t believe chores — small or large — should be requested from guests. 
Asking the guest to do chores such as mow the lawn or place all linens in the washer is unreasonable and ridiculous. The host is taking advantage of the situation. 
When guests are asked to do chores but aren’t even provided with the supplies needed to do them, such as detergent to do laundry or wash dishes, this is even more ridiculous. These hosts should be embarrassed.
The amount we pay our cleaner is different for every home. It ranges from $80 for a studio to $200 for a three-bedroom home. Our total cleaning fee goes directly to the cleaners.
It comes down to seeing what’s reasonable for the housecleaner to do in cleaning the home, and whether the guest creates something for the cleaner to do that takes up a lot more of their time to get the job done.
For example, taking out the trash is something we think is reasonable to include in the cleaner’s job and isn’t outside of the scope of work for them. However, if the guest leaves the sink filled with dirty pots and pans and every dish in the kitchen because they had a small get-together, now the cleaner needs to take extra time to get those dishes cleaned. So we have in our rules that if the house is left excessively dirty, we charge an extra cleaning fee on top of our standard cleaning fee.
We’ve only once charged an extra cleaning fee because of the amount of trash and unusually hard stains the guests left. The average extra fee we charge is about $50 — this usually covers an additional two hours of cleaning.
There’s a degree of respect and unspoken expectations between the host and the guest. A cleaning fee paid by the guest is expected to be paid by the host to a cleaner, whose job is to clean up after the guest that checked out and turn the unit over so that it’s in tip-top condition for the next guest. 
We’ve stayed at about 20 Airbnbs around the world, and we’ve never stayed at an Airbnb where the host doesn’t charge a cleaning fee. When we find a new cleaner for a property or have a new property that we give to a cleaner on our team, we always take into account what’s fair for the size of the property, the workload for the cleaner, and the living wages — this in turn should be a fair fee to the guest.
A recent article suggested some guests are considering hotels because of Airbnb cleaning fees and chore lists, but keep in mind that hotels and short-term rentals are completely different products. You can’t compare them. 
One could see pros and cons for each product type. An Airbnb home will have a full kitchen but charge a one-time cleaning fee. A hotel will have just a bed and not charge a cleaning fee, but may charge a daily resort fee. We don’t see the cleaning fee pushing away guests.
Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.
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