In a call today, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky apologized to its hosts/suppliers for abruptly canceling March bookings in response to COVID-19 with no notice to its host community. “I’m sorry that we didn’t consult you as partners,” said Chesky. “We want to fix this.”
However Airbnb also announced it will allow guests to receive full refunds for trips starting on or before May 31 that were booked prior to March 14 as the company continues to struggle through the coronavirus’ impact on the travel industry.
Along with the apology, Chesky announced four actions Airbnb is taking to provide relief for its hosts/suppliers.
1. $250M Host Relief Fund
Airbnb has created a $250 million USD Host Relief Fund to pay hosts for reservations that Airbnb canceled with no notice, saying, “Airbnb will pay 25% of what you would’ve received for a cancellation based on your cancellation policy.” According to the Airbnb community page, here is how it works:
For a reservation to be eligible under our extenuating circumstances policy, it must have been booked on or before March 14 with a check-in between March 14 and May 31, 2020. If a reservation is covered:
- Guests will be able to cancel for a full refund for COVID-19-related circumstances.
- From our $250 million USD Host Relief Fund, Airbnb will pay 25% of what you would’ve received for a cancellation based on your cancellation policy. For example, if you would normally receive $400 USD through your cancellation policy, we’ll pay you 25% of that—or $100 USD.
- We’ll send an email with more details in early April to hosts who are getting a payout. Future payments from the fund will be made on a monthly basis to hosts with qualifying cancellations.
- This policy will also apply retroactively, including any cancellations you may have had since March 14.
For reservations booked on or before March 14 with a check-in after May 31, we recognize there may still be uncertainty. In the coming weeks, we’ll be asking hosts and guests to revisit these reservations and choose to either cancel or re-commit to the reservation.
Finally, for any reservations booked after March 14, your cancellation policy will be in effect as usual and COVID-19-related extenuating circumstances will not apply.
You may be wondering about the importance of March 14. In response to the WHO declaring the disease a global pandemic, that’s the date we announced coverage under our extenuating circumstances policy for situations related to COVID-19.
2. $10M Superhost Relief Grants
This Superhost Relief fund started with Airbnb employees and provides grants, up to $5K.
“Because communities support each other in times like these, Airbnb’s employees have donated $1 million from their own pockets to kickstart a fund for hosts struggling to make ends meet. Airbnb’s founders are also personally contributing $9 million. We’re here to help you weather the storm, and we’ll get through it together. If you meet the eligibility criteria, we’ll invite you to apply and start sending out grants in late April 2020.”
3. Guests will be able to send Hosts a Personal Contribution
Starting in April, Airbnb is creating a way for previous guests to send financial help to hosts. They can send hosts a note and attach a contribution if they would like to show appreciation for hospitality and help out hosts they’ve stayed with in the past.
“Just a few weeks ago, our global community was bringing more than 2 million people together every day. Collectively, you’ve made many millions of people feel at home. And thousands of them have told us how grateful they are for your flexibility—so we’re making it easy for them to help. We’ll reach out to guests who’ve stayed with you recently and left 5-star reviews to ask if they want to send a note and a contribution in connection with a previous reservation. You will receive 100% of any guest contributions.”
4. For US hosts, Provisions in the government stimulus bill
Language in the CARES act that allows hosts to take advantage of relief through small business loans and grants.
“This is just a start,” Chesky added, saying that Airbnb is working on “building a number of new programs, new ways to drive demand to you to help you build your business.”
For example, he said that a team is looking at travel insurance options.