Under pressure, Airbnb adjusts pricing model across EU

Following a call from the European Commission and European Union consumer authorities to align its terms and conditions with EU consumer rules and to improve pricing transparency, Airbnb has initiated several changes to its services.

The home-sharing giant now will present the total price of bookings, including extra fees such as service and cleaning charges. When it is not possible to calculate the final price in advance, the company said it would clearly inform the consumer that additional fees might apply.

In addition, Airbnb has committed to clearly identifying whether an offer is made by a private host or by a professional because the consumer protection rules are different for each. 

The company has until the end of 2018 to make these changes on all EU language versions of its website.

“The online players have revolutionized the way we travel, find accommodation and experience our holidays,” Vera Jourova, European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said in a statement. “But they also need to fully comply with the rules and take responsibility when things go bad. But EU consumers enjoy rights both offline and online. I welcome Airbnb’s willingness to do the necessary changes to ensure full transparency and understanding of what consumers pay for. This action is part of a larger push for stronger protection of consumers online. That’s why we proposed reinforced consumer rules under the ‘New Deal for Consumers’ a few months ago.” 

Airbnb presented the changes to its terms of services and the way it presents information on prices during a meeting with the European Commission and EU consumer authorities. When calling for the changes in July, Jourova argued consumers should be able to “easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g., on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner.” 

The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network carried out an assessment of Airbnb's business practices under the coordination of the Norwegian Consumer Authority. The authorities called upon Airbnb to propose detailed solutions on how to bring its conduct in compliance with EU consumer legislation by the end of August. The European Commission facilitated this action.