Hosts Are Upset With Airbnb After COVID-19 Refund Policy Forces Funds Out Of Their Pocket
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Airbnb is facing some heat from hosts who are angry about the company’s recent policy changes. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Airbnb ensured all guests would be refunded for their reservations. The problem is that the hosts are responsible for paying the refunds, not Airbnb, leaving many hosts angered that the company should refund guests with their own money.
Airbnb’s policy, last updated, March 14, says that hosts and guests can cancel reservations with no charge or penalty across the world. “This policy now applies to existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates between March 14, 2020, and April 14, 2020.”
Many Airbnb hosts rely on their rental income through the platform to support themselves financially. These refunds could become a huge burden on hosts and their families. Airbnb acknowledged this concern in a statement.
“We will be working in the days and weeks ahead to identify tools and initiatives to support our hosts during these very challenging times,” the announcement reads. “Many of us are hosts ourselves and we understand this is a difficult time. We have worked to find a balance between supporting hosts and protecting the well-being of our community and we will find additional ways to help our hosts. It’s also important to note that Airbnb will not collect any fees or benefit in any way from any reservations canceled under this policy. We’re in this together.”
Michael Skiles, the CEO and co-founder of HostGPO Inc., which represents thousands of vacation rental operators, called Airbnb’s decision to fully refund guests “a disaster” for hosts.
“Spring is when many hosts count on earning enough to support themselves through slower months, but now we have hosts who are reporting huge losses of up to 80% of their monthly revenue and who are struggling to keep their homes,” Skiles told USA TODAY. “Many have started to lay off employees and cleaning teams with no other options.”