I debated for years over this decision. I hate paying cleaning fees when I travel and haven’t wanted to contribute to that trend. The way I saw it, and still do to a certain extent, the guesthouses and vacation rentals need to remain competitive with the hotels and this is hard to do when we stray from the standard pricing structure so significantly. But guesthouses and vacation rentals are different than hotels. So it does stand to reason that we can have a different pricing structure. But I want to attract the hotel customers to my place and worry that cleaning fees might deter them from staying with me.
Another factor that comes into play for me is that the 1-night stays are rough. I’ve considered requiring 2-night minimums, but that would leave a lot of vacant nights on my calendar. I like filling those gaps, even if it means I have to clean for 3 hours. After all, if you divide the night’s stay by the number of hours it takes to clean, that’s a pretty good hourly rate for a fairly easy task.
In the late fall of 2016, after many 1-night stays in a row and after I came really close to selling my guesthouse because of the constant cleaning, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did. I charge a small $30 fee, which doesn’t seem to have hurt my bookings, and I can now afford to hire cleaning people. When a cleaning person can’t make it, I don’t mind cleaning for those 1-night stays because I’m making an extra $30. And when the cleaning people are available to clean, I don’t worry about dipping into my funds to pay them since the money is now earmarked for them.
Another benefit to the cleaning fee is that it may push people to stay one more night to spread out that fee. That’s how my mind works, so I’m hoping it does for others. I’ll be analyzing my average night stay at the end of this year and will edit this blog entry with the specifics. Currently my average night stay each year for the last 9 years before charging the cleaning fee is 2.0 nights/stay in 2008, 2.3 in 2009, 2.2 in 2010, 2.4 in 2011, 3.0 in 2012, 2.4 in 2013, 2.6 in 2014, 2.3 in 2015 and 2.5 on 2016.
One thing to keep in mind when charging a cleaning fee is that guests can no longer be asked to do any cleaning before they check out, but honestly that shouldn’t be done anyway if you want to stay competitive with the hotels and have happy guests. And don’t be surprised if people don’t clean up quite so much after you start charging them the cleaning fee. I haven’t seen a difference, but I’m only charging $30. I suspect that for fees over $100, it might be more noticeable.
How do you feel about charging cleaning fees? How do you feel about paying cleaning fees?