Airbnb is making amends to hosts after its unilateral decision to allow guests to get full refunds on cancellations. The decision caused a major uproar among hosts who bore the financial costs of the cancellations.

Airbnb will offer $250 million for hosts impacted by Covid-19. The company will pay hosts 25% of what they would normally get through their cancellation policy if a guest cancels a reservation for check-in between March 14 and May 31.

Airbnb is also creating a $10 million fund for its superhosts and experience hosts. Hosts can apply for grants up to $5,000. Airbnb employees contributed $1 million to the fund, with the remaining $9 million coming from the company’s co-founders.

To conserve cash, Airbnb has suspended all marketing activities which will save $800 million this year, and its founders will not take a salary for the next six months and top executives will take a 50% pay cut, according to Reuters.

Airbnb is using its cash to strengthen relations, first with its guests and now with its hosts. The relief package may not fully satisfy some hosts. However, it is a grand gesture from Airbnb, which also tried to lobby Congress for tax breaks for its hosts last week. This is good corporate citizenship.

Business strategist Ana Andjelic noted that brands are going through “a crash course in social responsibility in real-time” and they will have to become “as much pro-social as they are pro-economic.” 

As Airbnb goes through this crisis that is decimating the entire travel industry, its actions, while not perfect nor always timely, shows its commitment to creating value for all its stakeholders. In this period of crisis, the company is solidifying its brand DNA and that is how brands are built for the long haul.

photo credit: airbnb

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