Airbnb will improve transparency around pricing

Dado Ruvic / reuters

Booking a stay through Airbnb can be a chore for a few reasons. Chief among those is the fact it's not always easy to tell at a glance how much you'll pay for your vacation rental, since the cleaning fee or security deposit may not appear until after you click on a listing. However, Airbnb is at last set to make pricing a bit more transparent.

CEO Brian Chesky wrote on Twitter that, starting next month, the company will offer the option to see the full price of a stay in search results, and on the map, price filter and listings pages. You'll still be able to see a breakdown of the full price, including Airbnb's service fee and any discounts. Moreover, Chesky says Airbnb will prioritize total price rather than nightly price in its ranking algorithm. "The highest quality homes with the best total prices will rank higher in search results," Chesky said.

This is by and large a positive move, since the per-night prices shown in search results don't tell the whole story. Hosts may charge different cleaning fees or even fees for extra guests that aren't immediately apparent. Showing (almost) the full price upfront should make it easier for folks to compare listings while reducing sticker shock at checkout.

There is one drawback, though. The price that you see in search results and on the map still doesn't include taxes. It would be helpful to see that at the jump as well, particularly given that many hotel booking sites show the full price with taxes included in search results. "Our thinking was that since prices in the US are typically displayed pre-tax, that we should go with this convention," Chesky wrote.

Elsewhere, Chesky said that Airbnb will offer hosts more pricing and discount tools. He noted that hosts want a clearer understanding of the full price users pay and what they should charge to help them stay competitive. Chesky added that users shouldn't have to undertake "unreasonable" checkout tasks like vacuuming or stripping the bedding. He noted that simple actions like turning off lights, chucking food in the trash and locking doors are reasonable, and that hosts should communicate those kinds of checkout requests before a booking is made.