Response and Summary of Airbnb CEO Talk of Coronavirus

n the past two days, I’ve been emailed three times by Airbnb asking to join the first responder’s program. This is not ok. Airbnb, you are not allowed to ignore me when it comes to decisions that matter to me as a host, but when you want something from me to bug me with emails. One email is sufficient, do not follow up with me three times. 

To start the conversation, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, apologized to Airbnb hosts around the world. He recognized him and his company’s lack of actions over words as it relates to their repeating that Airbnb hosts are their partners.


Chesky identified four actions the company will be putting into action immediately as a result of their actions related to coronavirus.

Action #1: Paying Airbnb Hosts $250 Million For Cancelled Reservations

On March 17, 2020, in my Coronavirus versus Airbnb: How To Win video I proposed a one-third split related to cancellations due to coronavirus. The guest, the host, and Airbnb each take a 33% hit for this unique situation. Even though I have a flexible cancelation policy and promote this as the best cancellation policy, I did not think it was fair of Airbnb to override pre-existing cancelation policies.


Well, to account for making these big decisions without any input from the host community, Airbnb will pay these hosts 25% of what they’d normally receive.*


Chesky said, “guests with reservations booked on or before March 14th will still be able to cancel and receive the standard refund or travel credit, but when the guest cancels one of these reservations due to COVID-19, we will pay you 25% of what you’d normally receive through your cancellation policy.”


This applies retroactively to all cancellations you’ve had since March 14th.


For any reservations booked after March 14th, your cancelation policy will stay as-is.


Action #2: $10 Million Superhost Relief Fund

For Airbnb Superhosts* and long-tenured Experience Hosts, Airbnb is offering grants of up to $5,000. This is only available for Home Hosts who need help with the mortgage.


The neat thing about the fund is that it was started by the Airbnb employees, which I think is super cool, who raised $1 million. The founders have contributed the remaining $9 million.


Click here for details on the Superhost Relief Fund.


Action #3: Allowing Guests To Send Financial Support Direct To Hosts

This is bizarre. How many guests are actually going to send money to a prior Airbnb host, especially now when most people are hurting for money? Answer: not many.


Even if they do, a $20 payment here and there wouldn’t move the needle at all. Maybe a nice gesture but resources probably spend more efficiently elsewhere.


Airbnb is creating a tool that will allow prior guests to send financial support directly to hosts if the host chooses to receive it.


No further details were provided, but this tool should go live in April.


Action #4: Covid-19 Stimulus Bill Support, US-only

The United States has passed some potentially relevant legislation for gig workers to include Airbnb hosts.


Chesky said, “this legislation allows hosts in the US to take advantage of the relief measures. For example, you will now be available for small business grants. You will be available for small business loans and unemployment assistance.” This means that Airbnb hosts are considered small businesses and that’s a good thing for economic relief.


Chesky mentioned similar actions in other countries without giving specifics.


Conclusion: A Word On Behalf Of The Host Community

Chesky ended by saying something that I love: “Things are never quite as bad or as good as they seem.”


We’re stronger together and we know how much we both need each other. But, in times of stress, our true colors shine through. We appreciate this announcement and the initiatives that Airbnb has started to implement.


Moving forward, please treat us more as partners rather than address our needs later. Again, I’ll reiterate that I’m not envious of Airbnb’s position, but I fear these decisions were hasty. Airbnb has to answer to numerous parties: guests, hosts, and investors. Big decisions like these need input from all three as they affect all three. Clearly, you’ve gotten yourself into trouble with one of these groups, I hope not all three.