As the extent of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine becomes more evident with every horrific image beamed across our screens, vacation rental owners around the world are opening their homes and hearts to refugees.
Key players in the industry have found creative ways to show their support and solidarity with ordinary Ukrainians in the besieged country.
With the conflict now in its third week, more than 2,8 million Ukrainians are believed to have fled the country since the Russian invasion in what has become Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since WWII. This number is expected to rise to 5 million, according to European Union officials.
If you’re a vacation rental owner wanting to offer your support in the form of emergency stays, resources or donations, here is a list of some of the key initiatives in the vacation rental industry.
People around the world, including celebrities, have booked Airbnb properties in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Lviv without any intention of staying there. The bookings are an attempt to funnel money and provide rooms for refugees, journalists and aid workers in the country. By March 12th, nearly 500,000 nights had been booked in Ukraine.
Two weeks after the conflict started on February 24th, more than 21,500 Airbnb hosts have agreed to offer their homes to refugees fleeing Ukraine, including 14,000 across Europe and 4,000 in the U.S.
Airbnb has raised more than $36 million from donors, employees, hosts and users to support Ukrainians in need.
Other online travel agencies (OTAs) have also taken action to support Ukrainianian refugees.
Booking.com has suspended operations in Russia and Belarus. Glenn Fogel, CEO and president of Booking Holdings, told Shortrentalz.com the company has recently donated $1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist with their aid efforts, and that they would match every employee donation across Booking Holdings and their brands.
Actions to support refugees in other countries include NUMA Group, a short-term rental/hotel technology provider, which offers accommodation to refugees free of charge at its locations in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, and Prague.
In Germany, Everybedhelps is coordinating efforts in the vacation rental sector to offer temporary stays to refugees. To get involved, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit gut.org, a non-profit working group of betterplace.org, that is in direct contact with the refugees.
Alternative accommodation marketplace HomeToGo has published Ukraine Relief Pages in Poland, Germany, the UK and the U.S. listing resources for those looking for shelter and those who can offer temporary housing or other resources.
Fundraising and donations
In France, the guesthouse and vacation rental network, Gîtes de France, is using its Initiatives platform to collect funds for refugees in Ukraine. One hundred percent of the donations collected will be allocated to a humanitarian organization operating on the ground
Rentals to Rescue is another initiative started by podcast Hospitality.FM, involving operators, vendors and guests of the U.S. short-term rental industry. They raise funds for temporary stays in neighboring countries for Ukrainian refugees.
Digital guest guidebook Touch Stay – which has team members in Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine – is asking its community to donate directly to the accounts set up by the Bank of Ukraine to support either the Armed Forces or the humanitarian efforts.
Travel booking app Hopper is providing $50,000 worth in booking credit for Ukrainians fleeing the country. Ukrainians can fill out the application here, and each individual will receive $150 worth in Carrot Cash, the app’s rewards currency, to purchase accommodations.
At Lodgify we have collected donations of first aid and other essential items, such as food, clothing and toiletries, to send to Ukraine via charitable organizations working with the Ukrainian consulate.
How can you help?
If you’d like to offer your support to Ukrainian refugees, whether it is by offering free or reduced stays or donating funds or other items, get in touch with any of the organizations above.
For a comprehensive list of initiatives and charitable efforts in the travel and hospitality sector, read this report in Short Term Rentalz.
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