Is Airbnb still a thing?” asked my mom on the way home after dinner one evening. It was the night of my birthday, and we’d just celebrated over a couple of French 75s and freshly caught seafood, sitting along a canal in Annapolis, MD. Naturally, our festive moods and full bellies combined with our picturesque setting had us considering where we would host our next girls’ night (or weekend) out. We tossed around destinations like Las Vegas, Miami, and New York. Then, of course, we considered where we would stay during our trip and what it might cost us. 

Well, ‘Airbnb-ing’ a two-night stay in New York is definitely going to cost us a pretty penny,” I’d replied. From the time that I personally started booking vacation rentals through Airbnb during college (circa Spring Break, 2015, maybe?), I have experienced a gradual incline in the platform’s cleaning and service fees. I was most recently surprised to find that the additional fees almost doubled the cost of the daily rate.

Here's an image of us traveling cross country with our Red Heeler pup, named Sia!

Last year, my partner and I took a cross-country trip from Portland, OR, to Baltimore, MD, over the course of 5 days. We would drive 8 hours per day, resting overnight in a city of our choice, which we knew would, at the very least, be guaranteed to have great restaurants. As uncertified foodies, we love to travel on a budget while seeking the tastiest dining experiences we can find. We knew that we could not afford to stay at fancy vacation homes and eat well, so we sought other options.

Throughout our trip – we were on a very important mission to bring home our newly adopted Australian Cattle Dog (aka Red Heeler) puppy (ever seen Bingo on the popular kids’ show Bluey? She’s her, basically.) – we found that the cost to rent a room at a 3.5-4 star hotel through an online travel agency (OTA) booking service like was drastically less expensive. Unsurprisingly, we found that the cost to stay at one Airbnb location for multiple nights was considerably less than renting single-night stays at individual Airbnb properties along our travel route. We also discovered that daily rates varied from state to state, with each new booking having differing cleaning and service fees, sometimes resulting in a couple hundred dollars extra tacked on top of the base daily rate. 

We concluded that our best bet was to stick to budget-friendly hotels. Nightly rates were generally cheaper and included housekeeping as well as free breakfast, an added plus. We were a little disappointed because there are still certain aspects of Airbnb that we love, like the ability to rent a private home, the option to cook meals instead of eating out if needed, and the opportunity to explore a more local, less “touristy” neighborhood that we hadn’t visited before.

Before we write off the booking platform forever, I want to explore this idea of Airbnb being an option of the past further. Is Airbnb actually dying in popularity? Does the national pandemic of 2020 have anything to do with the heightened fees? Are certain cities offering better deals to attract guests again as ‘Work-from-home’ has become more of a norm? If you’ve been keeping up with Airbnb rates in our local Washington, DC, metropolitan area, for example, I am sure you’ve noticed the increase in listed daily rates firsthand. According to AirDNA, the average daily rates in the Waldorf, MD market have increased by 38% in the last year alone and are still on the rise. I decided to research further to analyze ways that Airbnb is striving to maintain its competitive edge in the hotel and hospitality industry. 


Looking to our Charles County Public Library online research databases, more specifically the Hospitality, Tourism, and Leisure Collection available through Gale, I sought out various reputable online resources for answers. Based on my research, it does seem that Airbnb is taking small, gradual steps to salvage its reputation and improve its public image. One of the major challenges the company faces with hosts is the service fees it administers for hosting property listings, as well as its financial penalties against hosts for booking cancellations.3 These fees seemingly get passed through to guests in the form of heightened daily rates, service fees, and/or cleaning fees. Below is a quick list summarizing my findings.

In order to provide better service to its hosts, Airbnb has provided the following solutions since 2020:

  • Prioritizing safety by limiting or canceling bookings in cities considered to be high-risk during political events or protests. (1)

  • Facilitating ‘mini-economies’ by supporting the hosts’ needs for cleaning and property management services. (2)

  • Implementing a $250 million fund to cover some of the cancellation costs and a $10 million relief fund for hosts impacted by the national pandemic or natural disasters. (3)

  • Prioritizing contracts with individuals or families renting a room or portion of their homes over properties listed by corporations. This will encourage fewer ‘tourist zones’ in otherwise residential areas, and municipalities will have less reason to regulate Airbnb hosts’ activity. (3,5)

In order to provide better service to its guests, Airbnb has provided the following solutions:

  • Offering Experience packages for 60+ key destinations like Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles, which include tours and activities. (4)

  • Expanding loyalty perks programs such as flight miles points through Delta Airlines for its Delta SkyMiles members. (4)

  • Launching and expanding its Business Travel feature to accommodate more corporate bookings through its partnership with Concur, a travel management software company. (4)

  • Offering more digital assets through its partnership with Detour, which produces audio travel podcasts. (4)

Sia checks out our view from our hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sia rests in teh shade after we enjoyed a free breakfast on the terrace provided by our hotel we booked through

Our trip cross-country was transformative in many ways. Traveling truly gives you the opportunity to refresh your perspective on life and to discover new people, places, and cultures. For this, I am thankful to have both private vacation home rentals and boutique hotel options available right in the palm of our hands. For now, at least, Airbnb and its competitors, like VRBO, still seem to be the most optimum solution for longer vacations – just be sure to pay attention to those hidden fees!

If you’d like to learn more about Airbnb and its formation and development, please check out the list of book titles related to the subject below. At the end of this blog, you will also find the footnotes list of CCPL’s online resources mentioned above, available through Gale.


A thorough and objective profile of this groundbreaking and unusual company covers its founders, meteoric rise, nagging troubles, and global popularity. 

-Description provided by Publisher

The world today is vastly different than it was even ten years ago, and it is due to the upstarts. In THE UPSTARTS, Brad Stone provides the rollicking narrative that shows how our latest–and perhaps greatest–technological wave was born.

-Description provided by Publisher

Are you interested in traveling cross-country sometime soon? Consider checking out these travel guides from the CCPL Travel collection:

(1) “Airbnb cites safety in D.C. cancellations.” Travel Weekly, vol. 80, no. 3, 18 Jan. 2021, p. 2. Gale OneFile: Hospitality and Tourism, Accessed 31 Aug. 2023.

(2) Griffith, Erin. “Airbnb Hosts Pinched as Guests Dwindle.” New York Times, 11 Mar. 2020, p. B1(L). Gale OneFile: Hospitality and Tourism, Accessed 31 Aug. 2023.

(3) Griffith, Erin. “Hosts Upset With Airbnb Try Rivals.” New York Times, 22 Feb. 2021, p. B1(L). Gale OneFile: Hospitality and Tourism, Accessed 31 Aug. 2023.

(4) King, Danny. “Airbnb expands its base with corporate stays, excursions.” Travel Weekly, vol. 75, no. 47, 21 Nov. 2016, pp. 6+. Gale OneFile: Hospitality and Tourism, Accessed 11 Sept. 2023.

(5) “New York City is restricting Airbnb.” The Economist, 7 Sept. 2023, p. NA. Gale OneFile: Hospitality and Tourism, Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.