Airbnb furious that people can cancel stays for free during COVID-19 outbreak
The Airbnb home-sharing service allows guests to cancel for free due to “extenuating circumstances” of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, but hoarding hosts are unhappy with it.
You may have seen a video circling the internet (we’ve embedded it below) of a supposed Airbnb host complaining that “we have FIRE bubbling through our veins” and “are collectively OUTRAGES. Because the hosts lose their shiny shirts due to cancellations. related to coronavirus travel restrictions and shelter-in-place orders. The video appears to be a fake; it’s just too perfect with the perfect technical rhetoric, soul patch and overdone delivery.
But the situation he describes is correct. Airbnb allowed customers to cancel for free in an announcement last week. “In response to the extraordinary events and global travel disruption caused by COVID-19, today we are announcing an update to coverage under Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy,” the company said, allowing anyone to cancel free of charge for bookings made before March 14, or with check-in dates before April 14. “Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy allows hosts and travelers to cancel qualifying bookings without charge or penalty. “
The sudden collapse of AirBNB was, rightfully, the funniest fucking thing I saw play out in the last month. pic.twitter.com/RxBTKLC8gC
– Berndam RX-46-2 from Ilhan (@taintberner) March 23, 2020
KPIX reports that this has economically proven Airbnb hosts, many of whom gave up their careers to become full-time Airbnbs, and were not consulted on the coronavirus-specific policy change. “Basically they cut our hands off,” host Alba Jones, manager of Airbnb properties in East Bay, statewide and Mexico, said Business Insider (subscription required). “We did not have a say on the matter.”
But the conflict is a sweet schadenfreude for all those who argue that Airbnb has eliminated the housing stock from cities. We do not have current data for San Francisco, but other cities around the world find rents are collapsing as unwanted Airbnb apartments return to the normal native rental market.
For its part, Airbnb promises a form of help to these neglected hosts. “We understand this announcement will impact hosts around the world, many of whom depend on the savings they generate on Airbnb,” the company said in a statement to KPIX. “We will be working in the days and weeks to come to identify tools and initiatives to support our hosts in these very difficult times. “
Airbnb is committed to the well-being of our hosts, guests and employees. Today, we sent a letter to federal lawmakers asking them to consider measures to financially support our host community, half of which depends on their Airbnb income to pay the bills.https://t.co/dCNwhIL5Kd
– Nathan Blecharczyk (@nathanblec) March 17, 2020
But Business Insider adds that they are hoping the money will come in the form of a government bailout, not their own money. The publication says Airbnb recently lobbied Congress to “offer loans and tax breaks to property managers of short-term rental properties.” It seems like a foolish use of the bailout money for anyone who is not currently an Airbnb host, but would avoid the liability of Airbnb, which lost money last year and is taking an even bigger hit this year. . Bloomberg reports that they probably delay their IPO, which was already supposed to be made public.
Related: San Francisco hotels offer up to 8,500 rooms and count for homeless people and healthcare workers [SFist]