Online holiday rentals platform AirBnB has stepped into the cancellations chaos hitting the tourism sector with a 250 million dollar ‘pay back-fund’ to help harassed owners.
CEO Brian Chesky explains: “We will pay you 25% of what you would normally receive through your cancellation policy. This applies retroactively to all Covid-19 related cancellations” during the period March 14 to May 31.
The announcement redresses some of the shock felt by owners mid-March when Chesky announced ‘out of the blue’ that it was ‘extending its extenuating circumstances policy’ to ensure guests could cancel reservations without being charged’ (click here).
Hosts, who had not been consulted, suffered mini-meltdowns.
But now they too have their compensation package, with additional clauses for ‘superhosts – who rent out their homes and need help paying their rent or mortgage’ – and ‘Experience hosts’ (long-tenured owners ‘trying to make ends meet’). Both these will be able to access a relief fund offering them grants of up to 5000 dollars, “which don’t have to be paid back”.
“When your business suffers, our business suffers” said Chesky in his latest statement. “We know that right now many of you are struggling, and what you need are actions from us to help, not just words”.
It’s unclear whether other booking platforms are following suit, but in the maelstrom of economic uncertainty Airbnb’s gesture will certainly strike a chord.
“Trust is the foundation of a partnership, and it is built over time” concludes Chesky. “We know that we have some work to do in strengthening yours, but it’s our priority and we are committed to it. When travel comes back—and it will—we look forward to welcoming millions of guests together again”.