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Airbnb plans $250M payout for hosts who lost money amid pandemic

Airbnb plans $250M payout for hosts who lost money amid pandemic
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Airbnb plans to provide a $250 million payout for hosts who lost money as guests canceled their stays because of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Monday.

Airbnb’s CEO and Head of Community Brian Chesky emailed hosts to say the company plans to pay them 25 percent of what they would normally receive through its cancellation policy. The payment will apply retroactively to cancellations with a check-in date between March 14 and May 31.  

Chesky wrote that the payments will begin next month. 

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The company also plans to formulate a $10 million Superhost Relief Fund to help some hosts pay their rent or mortgage. Employees gathered $1 million for the fund, and Chesky along with co-founders Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia will funnel the other $9 million.

After the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the coronavirus as a pandemic, Airbnb decided to provide full refunds or credit to guests who made reservations before or on March 14 and couldn’t travel because of the virus. 

“We couldn’t have guests and hosts feel pressured to put themselves into unsafe situations and create an additional public health hazard,” Chesky wrote, adding “Please know this decision was not a business decision, but based on protecting public health.”

Some hosts complained to the company about the decision, Chesky indicated.

“While I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I’m sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you—like partners should,” he said. “We have heard from you and we know we could have been better partners.”

The company, which had planned to go public this year, had at least $2 billion of cash earlier this year and is considering raising more money from investors, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News

Chesky also mentioned to hosts in his email that the company successfully lobbied Congress to allow U.S. hosts to apply for federal aid with small business relief programs and unemployment insurance in the latest stimulus bill.