Airbnb has sparked outrage with its recent request for guests to donate money to their previous hosts in the wake of landlords losing revenue in recent months.
The holiday rental company recently rolled out a new tool that encourages guests to send ‘kindness cards’ and cash donations to their former hosts, who it says have been ‘impacted by COVID-19’ due to their regular rent instalments vanishing as people have stopped travelling.
Unsurprisingly, this bold request irked many Airbnb guests who have since taken to social media to criticise the multi-billion dollar company for having the gall to ask them to help pay for someone else’s second home when they can’t even afford to pay their own rent.
In an email sent out to its guests, Airbnb said it’s never been more important to ‘reach out and support one another–even in small ways’, adding: ‘Like all of us, hosts on Airbnb are impacted by COVID-19, and many of them are unable to welcome guests.’
The email continued:
Today, we’re introducing a new way to connect with your favourite hosts. Now you can create personalised kindness cards that make it easy to send a message of appreciation or encouragement, with the option to add a contribution.
We hope these cards will make hosts smile, and bring a little joy your way.
Once you choose to ‘send a kindness card’, you’re then able to choose a host, pick the style of card, add a note and opt for how much you’d like to pay them. Further instructions can be found on Airbnb’s website.
The renting industry, in particular the behaviour of certain landlords and the steep – sometimes impossible – prices renters have been trying to pay while facing job uncertainty at levels never seen before, has come under fire in recent months.
Airbnb’s request couldn’t have come at a worst time. At best, it came across as tone-deaf. At worst, it came across as just another way for billionaires to get more money out of people at a time when millions are more worried about job security than they’ve ever been before.
Obviously then, people had something to say on the matter, with some of their responses shared below:
The move comes after Airbnb hosts called out the company, saying it had implemented cancellation policies at the onset of the global health crisis that cost them even more money.
In response, Airbnb said in March it would spend $250 million to reimburse hosts for guests’ cancellations that stemmed from shutdowns. It doesn’t seem this was enough to tide the hosts over though, with the company now asking former customers for help.
A spokesperson for Airbnb defended the move, telling the they rolled out the feature because they had ‘heard from many guests’ who ‘wanted to support hosts during this difficult time’.
‘Our new e-cards allow them to share messages of support with hosts that may have welcomed them into their home,’ the spokesperson continued. ‘There is also the option for a voluntary financial contribution.’
The spokesperson added that these donations ‘go directly to the hosts, more than half of whom say they rely on the additional income from hosting to afford their home’.
They stressed no extra charges would be added by the company, but for many this just isn’t good enough.