Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has revealed plans to pay as much as £200m to hosts with homes listed on its platform to help cover the costs of Covid-19 related cancellations.
According to the Guardian, it comes after an outcry from Airbnb hosts over a cancellation policy which allows guests to claim a full refund if they cancel their booking before 31 May.
Chesky said that on 11 March, when the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, the company was faced with a “dilemma”. He said if Airbnb allowed guests to cancel and receive a refund, it could have “significant consequences on [the hosts] livelihood”.
He stressed that the company couldn’t have guests and hosts feel pressured to put themselves into “unsafe situations and create an additional public health hazard”.
Chesky said: “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, in an apology message Chesky stated that if a guest cancels an accommodation reservation due to a “Covid-19-related circumstance”, with a check-in before 31 May, Airbnb will now pay hosts 25% of what they would normally receive through their cancellation policy.
Additionally, Chesky said Airbnb is creating a £8m ‘Superhost Relief Fund which is designed for hosts who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage, plus long-tenured experience hosts “trying to make ends meet”.
Chesky added: “However, while I believe we did the right thing in prioritising 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.”