Why I charge my Airbnb guests $250 in cleaning fees


Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

  • Kayla Laatz, 22, manages two Airbnbs at a beach resort in Kauai, Hawaii.
  • Laatz recently increased property cleaning fees from $200 to $250.
  • “We increased the fee for many reasons, including to pay our cleaner a better wage,” Laatz said.

This essay is based on an interview with Kayla Laatz, 22, who manages two Airbnbs in Kauai, Hawaii. It has been edited for length and clarity.

For the past year, I have been responsible for managing two Airbnb properties owned by my father in Kauai, Hawaii. This was my first time taking a job like this, but it appealed to me because later I want to own more homes and become a property manager for the vacation rental industry.

As manager, I help guests with check-in, arrange handyman and schedule cleaning between stays.

Currently both of the properties I manage are in a beach resort

The resort offers guests access to a private beach, pools with water slides and a lazy river. Both apartments that we rent on Airbnb have two bedrooms with two and a half bathrooms.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

Most of our clients are families and each of these apartments sleeps seven to eight people. Typically, guests book these properties for a minimum of a week, although we don’t have a minimum stay. Guests can stay one night if they wish.

Because our properties are in Hawaii, we find that there is never an off-season. We’re pretty busy year-round, and the average price for a one-night stay is $600.

Most guests are fairly tidy and respectful

However, there are a few guests a year who just don’t pick up, sometimes leaving the property damaged. I’ve dealt with broken doors, torn screen doors, fallen door handles, broken chairs, and scratches on wooden furniture.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

Sometimes guests will be honest about what happened, such as getting into a fight, and offer to pay for the damage. But luckily we have insurance, which comes in handy for broken items that guests don’t pay for.

We typically only have a 6 hour turnaround time between guests

Our accommodation is booked around the calendar and our cleaner spends all of the time between stays getting the accommodation ready for the next guest. We have used the same person for the last few years and have developed a good relationship with them.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

The task of cleaning and handing over these condos is not easy, so last year when I first started managing the properties I decided to increase our cleaning fee from $200 to $250 regardless of length of stay.

We’ve increased the fee for many reasons, including to cover the cost of consumables and replacing sheets or towels (which get stained with almost every use) and to give our cleaner a better wage.

Increasing our fees hasn’t reduced bookings all that much

When researching this, I noticed that other similar places charge between $150 and $200. Although our fee is a bit higher, I don’t feel bad about it. We initially attempted to see if this would discourage guests from booking our accommodations, but we have not received any complaints or bad reviews about this increased cleaning fee to date.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

For the most part I would say that increasing the fee didn’t decrease the number of bookings we received either. We’ve benefited from the post-COVID travel wave and have been kept busy.

Based on these two things, I don’t see any reason to lower this fee.

We use part of this increased fee for consumables

In some of our worst-case scenarios, we had to replace a large number of items after a guest checked out, including sheets, linens, cups, cooking utensils, and other items that were damaged or missing.

When we can, we try to buy supplies in bulk, whether it’s cleaning supplies or bed sheets.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

While we stock some items on-site (such as sheets and towels), other items require housekeeping staff to make every effort to travel to the store to purchase these items before the guest checks in. t look for offers; All we have to do is get what we can find to make sure the property is ready for the next guest.

I pay my cleaner a decent wage

Normally I only have two cleaners working on the two different apartments. My cleaners are paid $200 per item for each cleaning. Paying my cleaners a living wage was very important, especially as they work hours and days on the fly (based on when guests check out). My cleaners also drive to the property with their own vehicle and fuel and if it’s a last minute cleaning they drop everything to be there.

There’s also a higher cost of living in Kauai, so I think we’re happy to pay good people to do the work in order to receive excellent service, especially since a clean home is everything to a guest.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

When someone walks into a property, you want to make sure they’re happy with their first impression. When a cleaner skips cleaning the shower or does half the work to clean up the kitchen mess, guests will be unhappy. That would hurt our business more than a high cleaning fee.

I want cleaners I can trust

Not only do I want to work with a reliable cleaner, but it’s also important to have someone you can trust. Guests often leave behind items – from swimsuits to wedding rings – and because our cleaners are trustworthy, they always point this out to us and we can let guests know.

Our reputation means everything

A good rating and reputation means everything to us. Not just because I want to give guests a positive experience, but because the more good reviews you have on Airbnb, the more you can show up in search results on the platform, which can generate even more business.

Courtesy of Kayla Laatz

Having increased our cleaning prices a year ago, we are happy with the results and see no need to increase our prices further at this time. The only reason we would do that would be if our cleaner asked for a raise and we would then consider a change. But at the moment there is no reason for that.

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