Airbnb has put aside $250 million to help cover the cost of covid-19 cancellations and is launching a relief fund for hosts who are ‘struggling to make ends meet’.
The move was announced by CEO Brian Chesky.
Airbnb will pay hosts 25% of what they would normally receive through their cancellation policy for check-in dates between March 14 and May 31. Payments will begin in April.
Guests with reservations booked on or before March 14 will still be able to cancel and receive a standard refund or travel credit equivalent for 100% of what they paid.
In addition, Airbnb is creating a $10 million Superhost Relief Fund, for ‘superhosts’ and long-tenured ‘experience’ hosts who are struggling to make ends meet. From next month, hosts can apply for grants of up to $5,000 that don’t need to be paid back.
“Our employees started this fund with $1 million in donations out of their own pockets, and [co-founders] Joe [Gebbia], Nate [Blecharczyk] and I are personally contributing the remaining $9 million,” Chesky said.
Airbnb is also ‘creating a way for guests to send a note along with a contribution to any of the hosts who they’ve previously stayed with’, which is expected to go live in April.
In his message, Chesky said: “On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, we were faced with a dilemma. If we allowed guests to cancel and receive a refund, we knew it could have significant consequences on your livelihood.
“But we couldn’t have guests and hosts feel pressured to put themselves into unsafe situations and create an additional public health hazard. We determined that we had to allow your guests to cancel and receive a full refund — including all our fees. Please know this decision was not a business decision, but based on protecting public health.
“However, while I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I’m sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you—like partners should.
“We have heard from you and we know we could have been better partners.
“Although it may not have felt like it, we are partners. When your business suffers, our business suffers. We know that right now many of you are struggling, and what you need are actions from us to help, not just words.”