The Coronavirus pandemic has caused many companies and organizations to cancel events and shut down operations in efforts to contain the outbreak. As many individuals decide to self-quarantine and avoid travel, Airbnb and its hosts are feeling the effects in the form of decreased booking.
According to CNN, the short-term booking company is now expanding its extenuating circumstances policy and offering customers a penalty-free cancellation option for those who choose to cancel their stay. The penalty-free cancelation policy guarantees a refund on canceled bookings.
Airbnb gives its hosts the ability to choose one of six cancellation policies. However, the company holds veto power via its extenuating circumstances policy, which now includes COVID-19 related cancellations. Under these new guidelines, customers may cancel their booking and request a refund within 14 days of the cancellation. Hosts and guests have the option to cancel without facing a penalty for bookings made before March 14 that have a check-in date from March 14 through April 14.
International group purchasing organization, HostGPO, released a letter to Airbnb urging the company to reconsider their extenuating circumstances policy. HostGPO states that the new policy will be “absolutely devastating to hosts, many of whom will lose a whole month’s revenue due to nothing more than paranoia.”
Despite HostGPO’s letter, Airbnb decided to continue to enforce its extenuating circumstances policy. According to Black Enterprise, Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky is positive that Airbnb’s future is bright and the travel industry is here to stay.
“Travel always bounces back,” he wrote in a memo to his employees. “It is one of the most resilient industries in the world.”