Airbnb’s latest attempt to help some of its struggling hosts amid the coronavirus pandemic has customers up in arms.
The short-term rental platform recently debuted a new feature called “kindness cards,” which allows guests to send personalized e-cards along with monetary contributions directly to hosts they’ve stayed with through the platform before. The move comes during a time where landlords have been rapidly losing out on revenue due to COVID-19.
“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 explains on its website. “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, customers were insulted by the tone-deaf request — as they too have been hit hard financially by fallout from the pandemic — and quickly took to social media to share their feelings on the matter.
“Airbnb has lost its f****** head,” one wrote on Twitter. “Why would I donate to my host? I can’t even afford one house.”
“Airbnb asked me to send a ‘kindness card’ to the host who made my female friends so uncomfortable they didn’t want to spend a minute alone inside the apartment in case he came back,” shared another.
“Daily reminder that there is a housing crisis and @Airbnb are out here acting like landlords are charities,” added another.
In a statement to the Independent, Airbnb said the move was in response to “many guests” who reached out and asked for ways to “support hosts during this difficult time.”
“Our new e-cards allow them to share messages of support with hosts that may have welcomed them into their home,” a spokesperson said. “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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