Airbnb Dragged Online After Soliciting Donations for Hosts

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The COVID-19 pandemic ruined a lot of things in 2020, movies, outdoor concerts and of course, everyone's vacation plans. The slew of cancellations was especially hard on companies like Airbnb, which saw its revenues collapse earlier this year amid shutdowns brought on by the coronavirus.

Now, the short-term rental platform Airbnb is asking guests to send "kindness cards," that can include cash donations, to their former hosts.

"Today we're introducing a new way to connect with your favorite hosts. Now you can create personalized kindness cards that make it easy to send a message of appreciation or encouragement, with the option to add a contribution. We hope these cards will make hosts smile, and bring a little joy your way," a message from the company to customers read.

The tool is an effort to help many hosts who are dependent on revenue from their Airbnb rentals, after they've seen bookings in 2020 vanish.

"To show appreciation or encouragement, 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," the company's website states. "Airbnb will charge no fee, and 100% of your contribution goes directly to the host. The cards make it easy to reach out to a host who’s provided excellent service during a stay or an Airbnb Experience."

However, the idea was derided as tone deaf on Twitter, with many former guests appearing confused as to why they would be contributing money to hosts - especially as they too are struggling to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb is expected to lose $1 billion through the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Hosts haven't been especially happy with the company lately. Many blame Airbnb for cancellation policies implemented at the beginning of COVID-19 that shifted the burden unfairly to them and cost them significant sums of money. In March, the company agreed to spend $250 million to reimburse hosts for any cancellations by guests brought on by the pandemic.

Photo: Getty Images

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