Anger and disbelief as Airbnb is encourages people to donate money to its hosts

The coronavirus crisis has been awful for lots of people: businesses have shut, jobs have been lost and careers put on hold.

One industry which has been particularly impacted is travel. During the biggest time of the year for tourism, the world has ground to a standstill.

But in the latest edition of “please, read the room” Airbnb has come under fire for appearing to ask people if they’d like to donate money to their “favourite” Airbnb hosts.

That’s right, one of the world’s biggest holiday let companies is essentially asking for donations for hosts, also known as “landlords”.

So what happened?

A screengrab from a marketing email which appears to be from Airbnb has gone viral. The email asks if the recipient would like to send a “kindness card” to one of their favourite Airbnb hosts.

According to Airbnb’s website, “kindness cards” can contain a nice message or feedback, but there’s also the option of sending money.

Eligible guests can send personalized kindness cards to hosts they’ve given four or five-star ratings, with the option to add a financial contribution. Airbnb will charge no fee, and 100% of your contribution goes directly to the host.

Of course lots of people have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, including Airbnb hosts. But it’s safe to say that people haven’t reacted well to the idea that Airbnb hosts, who presumably have enough resources to own property, should be the beneficiaries of donations from the people who rent them.

The idea has, to put it mildly, gone down like a lead balloon.

We contacted Airbnb to see if they had anything to add, or a response to this angry reaction. They said:

“We’ve heard from many guests that want to support hosts during this difficult time and our new e-cards allow them to share messages of support with hosts that may have welcomed them into their home. There is also the option for a voluntary financial contribution, with no charges from Airbnb, that goes directly to the hosts, more than half of whom say they rely on the additional income from hosting to afford their home.”
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