Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, apologized to vacation rental hosts for the company’s cancellation refund policy and laid out four initiatives of relief, including $250 million to offset refunds to help with the financial burden.
“I’m sorry we didn’t consult with you as partners. We want to fix this,” Chesky said in a 15-minute video message that included more than 6,000 participants. “I know this is an incredibly painful time (and) many of you are struggling.”
Here are the actions Airbnb is taking to provide relief for its hosts:
1. $250 Million USD Host Relief Fund
Airbnb has created a $250 million USD Host Relief Fund to help hosts and pay them for bookings that they canceled with no notice. Airbnb will pay 25% of what owners would’ve received for a cancellation based on their cancellation policy.
We should bear in mind that Airbnb included cancellations due to coronaviruses among the Causes of Force Majeure so guests were initially exempt from paying cancellation penalties to hosts.
Airbnb has created a community page to explain how this fund will work:
Reservations booked on or before March 14 with check-in between March 14 and May 31, 2020, are eligible under their extenuating circumstances policy. If a reservation is covered:
Guests will be able to cancel for a full refund for COVID-19-related circumstances.
Airbnb will pay 25% of what hosts would’ve received for a cancellation based on their cancellation policy. For example, if you would normally receive $400 USD through your cancellation policy, Airbnb will pay you $100 US (25% of that) with their Host relief fund.
Airbnb will email hosts in early April with more details on payouts. Future payments from the fund will be made on a monthly basis to hosts with qualifying cancellations.
Cancellations hosts have had since March 14 will be eligible as this policy will also apply retroactively.
Airbnb isn’t clear on what happens with reservations booked on or before March 14 with a check-in date after May 31 and has asked hosts and guests to revisit these bookings and choose to either cancel or re-commit to the reservation. However, any bookings made after March 14 won’t be covered under their extenuation circumstances policy and your cancellation policy will be in effect.
Airbnb’s employees have donated $1 million from their own pockets to start a fund for hosts struggling to make ends meet. Airbnb’s founders are also personally contributing $9 million.
Starting in April, hosts can apply for the Superhost relief fund and, if they meet the requirements, they will be able to receive a grant of up to $5,000 depending on their financial needs.
This grant is especially aimed at Superhosts (over a year old), who rent their primary or secondary residence, Airbnb being their main source of income, and for whom the Covid-19 has brought a hard economic blow.
Airbnb has confirmed that this grant comes with “no strings attached” – hosts will not have to repay it and will be able to use it in any way that suits them best.
3. Guests Can Send Hosts a Personal Contribution
Starting in April, travelers will also be able to help hosts financially if they want to show appreciation for hospitality and help out hosts they’ve stayed with in the past. You will receive 100% of any guest contributions.
4. For Us Hosts, Provisions in the Government Stimulus Bill
Airbnb is working on building a number of new programs, new ways to drive demand to vacation rental hosts to help you build your business. They’re working with businesses, nonprofits, and governments in some of the most impacted countries to ensure that we reach COVID-19 responders who need housing support. You can read more about it here.
5. “Open homes” and initiatives to help healthcare personnel
In case of not being able to provide accommodation, the platform has also opened a channel to make donations, which will be used to fight the Coronavirus, as well as to get free accommodation for professionals who are on the front line of battle.
Airbnb has acknowledged the challenges hosts face and is working to find a balance between supporting hosts and protecting the well-being of their community and we will find additional ways to help our hosts.
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