Airbnb’s $250 million News and Superhost Relief Fund

Dear hosts, this episode is going to feel like the movie Groundhog Day. And it isn’t because you have one more day of curfew and you’ve seen everything on Netflix (including the latest season of Casa de Papel in one binge-watch). Oh, wait–that was Javier and I. Nevermind. Nope, it’s because one more time Airbnb just changed its COVID 19 Extenuating Cancellation Policy. On March 31st, Brian Chesky got on a live stream video and spoke to the hosting community about the changes to their COVID-19 policy and much more. So today’s episode is Airbnb’s $250 million News and Superhost Relief Fund.

The reason you’re getting this latest update from me now is because Brian Chesky had another video conference update on April 9th, and I wanted to make sure I was sharing everything with you.

Global Listening Sessions:

Airbnb has been doing global listening sessions for the last few weeks, where hosts share personal stories, offer suggestions and ask questions. I believe they will continue with these global listening sessions,

Here is a link if you want to find out all about it.

March 31st Airbnb Brian Chesky Livestream:

On March 31st Brian Chesky spoke to hosts for 15 minutes via a live stream: In this video, Brian spoke about how they started over 12 years ago when they used to do meetups with hosts and how connected they used to feel and the better decisions they used to make.

Brian spoke about how borders are closed, planes are grounded, travel has stopped, hotels are down to 10% occupancy, and how COVID-19 is harder than anything else in the past.Then he went on to explain why Airbnb decided on their extenuating policy. On March 11th the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, Airbnb felt that they didn’t want to pressure guests to travel and place themselves into unsafe situations.

They knew it would have significant consequences on our livelihood, but for Airbnb, this decision was not a business decision but was based on protecting public health.

Airbnb knows that we’re partners and that they made decisions without consulting us. Very true. Because they know we hosts are struggling they have decided on taking the following actions:

  • $250 million dollars to hosts to help cover the cost of COVID-19 cancellations.
  • A $10 million dollar Superhost Relief Fund, which since then has grown to $17 million dollars.
  • An easier way for previous guests to send financial support to us hosts.
  • And for United States hosts, we will be able to get help from the recent US Government’s COVID-19 Stimulus bill. 

Let me go into detail about each one of these initiatives and what you need to do right now.

$250 million dollars to hosts to help cover the cost of COVID-19 cancellations:

When a guest cancels an accommodation reservation due to a COVID-19 related circumstance, with a check-in between March 14 and May 31, Airbnb will pay 25% of what we would normally receive depending on our cancellation policy.

This is their example: If you would normally receive $400 USD through your cancellation policy, Airbnb will pay you 25% of that—or $100 USD.

Hosts, Airbnb is paying this 25%–not the guests.

The 25% applies retroactively to all COVID-19 cancellations between March 14th and May 31st.

When are we getting a payout, I have no idea because per Airbnb’s website they’re stating that we will receive an email in early April with more details. As of Easter Sunday I haven’t received anything.

But inside the March 31st update they also extended their extenuating COVID-19 policy to May 31st. Before, it was April 14th. Now it’s May 31st. Be aware.

“Airbnb’s Extenuating circumstances policy and the coronavirus (COVID-19)” Updated April 9th:

Reservations for stays made on or before March 14th, 2020 with a check-in date between March 14, 2020, and May 31, 2020, are covered and maybe canceled before check-in.

Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status.

Airbnb will either refund or issue a travel credit that includes all service fees for covered cancellations. In order to cancel under the policy, you will be required to attest to the facts of and/or provide supporting documentation for your extenuating circumstance.

The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020.  If a reservation has already begun (the check-in has passed) this extenuating circumstance does not apply.

Another change in their April 9th policy is: Cancellations will be handled according to the extenuating circumstances coverage in effect at the time of submission, and reservations that were already canceled will not be reconsidered

That line is new. How do I know? Because I have copies of the old policy since I was teaching a webinar all about Airbnb’s cancellation policy. I’m going to explain the importance of this change in a minute.

What You Need to Do:

Go back to all your reservations and cancellations for March and April 2020.

How's your accounting? Your recordkeeping? Perfect? That's fantastic, because this will make it easier

If it isn't perfect then you have a bit of work to do… I use Google sheets, but you can use Excel but have some record keeping  In my Google sheets I have the guest’s name, dates, reservation ID, amount, country, and a bit more information…

Go and see when the reservation happened and when the cancellation was made.

If the reservation was made before March 14th:

With cancellations before March 14th, you're entitled to your money according to your cancelation policy.

If your guest received more money than they were entitled to, I’m sorry to say that NOW because of the new change on the Extenuating policy you can’t fight Airbnb for your money.

Yes, this line reservations that were already canceled will not be reconsidered. This line prohibits your ability to request any money due back to you. I’m sorry, dear hosts, as this is a new change in their policy.

Cancelations between March 14th and May 31st:

You will receive 25% of what you would've received based on your cancelation policy. Remember, it’s 25% of your cancellation policy and not 25% of your reservation. That’s a big difference.

Reservation and cancellations made AFTER March 14th:

Your cancellation policy will be in effect. And you will receive the money you’re entitled to UNLESS you or your guest gets COVID-19.

Airbnb doesn’t specify what will happen if you or your guest gets sick.

Reservation Before March 14th, check-in AFTER May 31:

Airbnb is asking hosts and guests to revisit these reservations and choose to either cancel or re-commit to the reservation. (If someone can explain that to me please do, ‘cause I have no idea.)

I contacted all of my guests for my reservations in May and June because I’m about to host Travel Nurses and wanted to clear my calendar. I’ll tell you all about this in a future episode.

You have a bit of work to do, but what else are you doing besides binge-watching Netflix and counting days? What I want is for you to have all the numbers ready for whenever Airbnb decides to start doing the payouts. That 25% adds up. Do your numbers.

Airbnb’s Superhost Relief Fund

Employees of Airbnb started the Superhost Relief fund to help out Superhosts who rent out their home and need help paying their rent or mortgage. They donated $1 million from their own pockets, then the founders contributed $9 million and as of the time of this recording an additional $7 million has been added from investors.

These are grants up to $5,000 that you don’t need to pay back, but you might need to pay taxes.

You also need to qualify.

To qualify, hosts who offer a place to stay must:

  • You’re not eligible if you have no more than two active listings at different addresses.  However, if you have two listings at the same address you’re still considered eligible. So if you rent three different bedrooms in your own house, you’re good.
  • Have a verified identity
  • Have been a Superhost four times in your lifetime as a host. It doesn’t have to be four consecutive times.
  • Have lost a significant percentage of their earnings due to COVID-19.
  • Show a reliance on Airbnb as a vital source of income.

How do you get an invitation?

Per Airbnb’s website.

Starting on April 10, 2020, a specialized team at Airbnb will be inviting eligible Superhosts and hosts of experiences to apply for a relief grant via email. We'll start by inviting our most long-standing Superhosts who are in the greatest financial need by looking at the earnings decline from this year to last. This same team will evaluate applications and get in touch with hosts to let them know whether their applications are approved. All invitations will be sent out by May 15, 2020.

An easier way for previous guests to send financial support to hosts:

Episode 23 was  Rebuilding an Island Paradise: Jennifer and Crispin’s Story Fellow host Jennifer talks about how her beautiful home in Dominica was devastated by Hurricane Maria and how guests booked her place even though they weren’t coming to stay because they wanted to financially help out with the rebuild.

I doubt any guest sent money to the Hilton Hotel during Hurricane Maria because they love the place that much.

Well, Airbnb is creating a way for guests to send a note along with a contribution to help us out. Airbnb expects this feature to go live sometime in April.

US Government’s recent COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Due to Airbnb and over 105,000 hosts, calls and emails to members of Congress, US hosts can participate in the many relief measures, including small business grants, loans, and unemployment assistance.

Additional Initiatives:

Airbnb will continue to roll out initiatives and programs. During their last live stream on April 9th, they announced Online Experiences. This is where you can create an online experience for people to enjoy from the comfort of their homes. They already have experiences like Meet the Dogs of Chernobyl, Family Baking and Wine class with a cool wine expert. You know that the Wine class is going to be super popular right now.

Dear hosts, will this be Airbnb’s last change to their extenuating cancelation policy? Stay tuned…

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