In a bid to reconcile with a very disgruntled Airbnb community, the CEO Brian Cheeky streamed a live apology from his home. He went on to reveal a strategy to financially assist hosts in weathering this COVID-19 storm.
Feeling the pressure after the World Health Organisation declared the situation a pandemic, Airbnb allowed guests to receive full refunds, including fees, leaving hosts with empty calendars and empty wallets.
He went on to apologise for this rash decision claiming that it was made out of public health and safety, and, after reading countless disheartened comments left by Airbnb hosts, he came up with 4 ways to help make amends.
Airbnbs four actions to help hosts
- $250 Million to be paid back to hosts impacted by cancellations
- $5000 grants to long term Superhosts
- Previous guests can offer support and donate
- Airbnb to work with governments for financial assistance
So what does this mean for hosts?
$250 Million to be paid back to hosts
At the height of the pandemic, Airbnb announced that any booking made before March 14 with a check-in date between March 14 and May 31 would receive a full refund and override all hosts cancellation policies.
Due to this, hosts were left with no income, an empty calendar, and no way of paying their mortgages.
The $250 million dollar payout will see Airbnb pay hosts 25% of what they would have received had their cancellation policy taken effect.
For example, if you would normally receive $400 through your cancellation policy, Airbnb will pay you 25% of that which amounts to $100.
Bookings that don’t qualify for the new policy
- Airbnb Luxe listings
- Luxury Retreats
- Domestic Bookings in Mainland China
For reservations booked before March 14 with a check-in date after May 31, Airbnb is asking all hosts to contact their guests and to either confirm the booking or cancel it.
And for any bookings made after March 14, your own cancellation policy will remain and the extenuating circumstances policy will no longer apply.
$10 Million in Superhost relief funds
In an effort to help their most loyal hosts, employees at Airbnb decided to start a fund and donate their own money. The fund took off and they managed to raise an impressive $1 million.
Following their own employees’ example, the three Airbnb founders collectively donated the remaining $9 million bringing the total to $10 million.
Starting in April the fund will be divided into $5000 grants and paid out to Superhosts that rent out their own home and to long term Airbnb experience operators. This will be used to help cover the cost of their mortgages and their loss of income.
To qualify for the grant your Airbnb must meet the following criteria
- Your Airbnb is within your primary or secondary residence and has no more than 2 active listings.
- You must show that Airbnb is your primary source of income
- Have a verified ID with Airbnb
- Maintained Superhost for at least 1 year
- Have lost a large percentage of income due to COVID-19
Airbnb will invite eligible hosts to apply for the grant in late April 2020. If your application is approved you will receive a grant of up to $5000 within 3 business days directly into your usual payout account.
Previous Guests can offer support and donate
During these unprecedented times, hosts have been working hard offering guests greater flexibility and kindness while they are displaced or in need of somewhere to self-isolate.
Because of this, Airbnb has been contacted by many guests wanting to give back to their hosts in the form of support and donations.
So, rolling out in April, Airbnb is giving guests a platform to send their support to their hosts that looked after them during the crisis.
This will come as a welcome helping hand to struggling hosts and is a great way for the Airbnb community to come together and support one another.
Working with the government for host assistance
Airbnb has secured new legislation in the US that allows hosts to take advantage of government assistance.
Within the support package, hosts can apply for:
- Small business grants – Which includes short term rentals
- Small business loans – Low interest
- Unemployment benefits – For loss of income
In a recent meeting with congress, Airbnb also asked for rental tax exemptions to go from the current 14 day stays to be pushed out to 60-day stays. This comes as half the nights currently booked on the platform are now 30+ day stays.
While these initiatives are only available in the US for now, Chesky assures us that they are working closely with governments all around the world to try and secure similar assistance packages.
Light at the end of the tunnel
To conclude the live broadcast, Chesky went on to say that he is committed to rebuilding the partnership between Airbnb and hosts. He believes that in working together we are all at our strongest and absolute best.
He went on to say that all humans have a fundamental need to travel and that no matter how long this goes on for, all storms will end and everyone will be waiting to get out of their homes and explore the world.
And in his final words, he said that this crisis has been a wake-up call that Airbnb needs to work closer with hosts. And to remember that travel will be back and when it is, we look forward to welcoming millions of guests again.
Click to see the full live stream and for more info.