The CEO of Airbnb sent an e-mail to hosts this week apologizing for announcing a cancellation policy change without consulting them first and outlining how the company is supporting them during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the letter, Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder, addressed the “extenuating circumstances” policy updated earlier this month that allowed guests to cancel and receive a full refund.
“[W]hile 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,” Chesky wrote. “We have heard from you and we know we could have been better partners.”
Read the letter that Airbnb e-mailed to its hosts:
What a devastating couple of months this has been for all of us. Like many of you, I wake up every day distanced from friends and co-workers, wondering what the world has in store. As I see the news every day, my heart goes out to all the countries, communities, and families that are being overwhelmed by the scale and impact of this crisis.
Amidst all this, the global travel industry has come to a halt. Airlines are grounded and borders are closed. Most of us—including our guests—are on government advised lockdowns, unable to leave our homes. Travel as we know it is almost impossible.
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.
Here are some actions we are taking to help you navigate the crisis.
We will pay $250 million to hosts to help cover the cost of COVID-19 cancellations
When a guest cancels an accommodation reservation due to a COVID-19 related circumstance, with a check-in between March 14 and May 31, 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 this period. This cost will be covered entirely by Airbnb. These payments will begin to be issued 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. You can go to airbnb.com/250msupport for more details.
We are creating a $10 million Superhost Relief Fund
This is designed for Superhosts who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage, plus long-tenured Experience hosts trying to make ends meet. Our employees started this fund with $1 million in donations out of their own pockets, and Joe, Nate and I are personally contributing the remaining $9 million. Starting in April, hosts can apply for grants for up to $5,000 that don’t need to be paid back. You can go to airbnb.com/superhostrelief for more details.
We are making it easy for your previous guests to send financial support directly to you
We have heard from countless guests who are incredibly grateful for the flexibility of Airbnb hosts and are interested in supporting you financially. We are creating a way for guests to send a note along with a contribution to any of the hosts who they’ve previously stayed with. We expect this to go live in April. We know that even a little goes a long way during this challenging time.
We have worked together to secure support for hosts in the US Government’s recent COVID-19 Stimulus Bill
This legislation now allows for US hosts to take advantage of many relief measures, including small business grants, small business loans, and unemployment assistance. A huge thank you for the more than 105,000 calls and emails you made to members of Congress.
We are also working on other initiatives and we will provide more detail in the coming weeks. These include actively working with experts and epidemiologists on cleanliness standards to keep you and your guests safe, trip insurance for you and your guests, and programs to deliver demand to help rebuild your business.
My commitment to you is to rebuild our partnership. When we are working together, we are at our strongest and absolute best. I’ve seen an example of this happen recently in our combined efforts to offer housing for medical responders on the front lines. Together we are helping to house over 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders by providing housing to them for free or with a subsidy. Over 40,000 of you have already raised your hands to help. Visit airbnb.com/covid19relief to join them.
Trust is the foundation of a partnership, and it is built over time. 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.