My name is Aisling and I manage our global Community Support Team. Over the past three months, we have been hit by an unprecedented wave of challenges due to the spread of COVID-19.
My job is to ensure that you and the rest of our community have the support you need, especially at this difficult time and make sure we have the resources in place to do so. However, at a time where support is needed even more than ever, our team has been faced with some of the hardest challenges we’ve ever experienced.
In light of this, I wanted to share some of these experiences with you and most importantly what we’ve been doing about it and what we are currently working on.
Sudden and unprecedented volume of calls
As you may know, we have offices and support centers in locations across the world, but we rely on all of them to help with the volume of support we receive. The challenges we’ve seen here are:
What’ve we done:
As the virus spread, all of our internal offices were required to shut down quite abruptly and all of our teams had to change to a work from home mode.
What’ve we done:
Where are we now
We’ve done a lot in a short period of time, but as you can imagine we are still working through our backlog.
We also launched a new initiative that temporarily redeploys Airbnb staff to the Community Support team to help us more quickly meet your needs. Things are moving rapidly and so we hope you see a difference in response time very shortly.
I am incredibly proud of how our teams have rallied together in such a short amount of time to serve our community and we are all working around the clock to continue to support you.
I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for all of you with these unprecedented changes. We are here to listen and support you as much as we can. Please continue to share your feedback here in the Community Center and also through the listening sessions, I've been receiving regular updates from the community team. I will keep you posted with further updates.
Thank you for your support and patience while we get our team back on track and adjust to this new world.
@Aisling Thank you for sharing your experience publicly, and for all the hard work your team is doing under what must be incredibly difficult circumstances.
As you have probably noticed, a lot of people - especially hosts - have turned to the community center for help with urgent and time-sensitive concerns - not all of them pertaining to Covid-19 cancellations - but would have greatly benefited from interacting with of a member of your team who is able to relay some information that might cut down on your incoming call volume. If you have moment, here a few questions that the host community can greatly benefit from having a direct answer to:
1. Despite the need for social distancing, hosts are still having persistent problems with unauthorized parties, and find it urgently necessary to terminate bookings when guests have violated both house rules and health protocol. @Sean433 in Toronto reports here that, due to being unable to reach AIrbnb for assistance in canceling a booking in-progress, he could not resolve a dangerous situation in his property and remove the guests. ref: https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Guest-threw-a-party-during-Corona-Virus-Police-Called-Airbn...
When hosts are unable to reach an Airbnb rep in an emergency like this, what procedure can you advise them to follow in terminating a booking that has already begun?
2. Dozens of hosts have been devastated by Airbnb's decision to override their cancellation policies under the Extenuating Circumstances clause for bookings up to April 14. Hosts who have suffered swift and severe losses want to know if Airbnb intends to continue fostering a policy that forces hosts to act as their guests' de facto trip-cancellation insurance, or if Extenuating Circumstances will ultimately be replaced by a policy that honors the terms of the host-guest contract and encourages guests to purchase insurance?
3. Many people are asking about how to handle cancellations for bookings beginning after April 14. When can we expect an update on how these will be affected?
4. More broadly, would you be willing to allow members of your team to interact directly with the Community Center regularly? The silence at the other end of the line has left most of the contributors here with the impression that Airbnb does not care about hosts and is only willing to communicate in polished corporate-speak rather than engage with their real concerns. I've been personally welcomed by many of your German and American colleagues at several events, and know that among them are a lot of bright, passionate people working in Airbnb who would be very adept at repairing some of the trust that has been lost. The investment hosts have in Airbnb is often an emotional one - their own homes are involved here - and it's important to them to feel that they're being heard here and not just shouting into an echo chamber.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this, and stay safe!
Totally agree that Airbnb needs to deal with reservations made starting April 15. Not sure why they chose that cut off date when this virus is just ramping up. I was supposed to go to Oaxaca for a month April 15 and paid in advance and now the host does not want to reimburse me because it was a nonrefundable reservation that I made back in December. I contacted Airbnb who said they would eventually get back to me but time is ticking and I feel that it would be irresponsible to go to a country where the virus is just ramping up. I also live in Southern California where we are under lockdown and told not to leave our cities never mind our state. I hope we can get some help because April 15 is less than three weeks away and this will have any impact on many people’s reservations. I am surprised that Airbnb has not dealt with the border issue as the US Mexico border was closed to all but essential services last week. Flights are also being canceled at a rapid pace so it may even be impossible for many people to get to the destinations they have already paid for. I feel bad for the hosts but this is not the fault of the guests either.
@Michelle--Misha-0 Hang tight, they'll probably change the policy again. You definitely don't want to come to Mexico on holiday right now- the govt. is handling it extremely irresponsibly, although some state governments are taking action. Oaxaca city is on strict lockdown. Most of the common people think it's no big deal. Big party going on just down the road from me tonight. The governor of the state of Puebla just announced publicly that poor people are immune from the virus, that only wealthy people get sick with it. The level of ignorance is really scary. We're going to be the COVID death capital of the planet here if they don't smarten up.
Thanks for this. I am still struggling to get those super host in Oaxaca to see common sense and cancel my reservation so I don’t half to pay for the entire month. If this is not an extenuating circumstance I don’t know what it is. Airbnb is being irresponsible by not extending the deadline. They need to take action now.
Actually I think it is a sensible approach as you can see from the original post, they are struggling under the deluge of inquiries and cancellations. @Michelle--Misha-0
Far better for them to have a shorter penalty free cancellation period to try and manage workloads.
If you need to cancel penalty free just wait until the period gets extended.
absolutely wait. I did not wait and cancelled as soon as our event was cancelled for covid-19. now that the policy has changed, the hosts refuse to reply to me and AirBnB is not responding to my request for refund either. Wait until the last minute unless you cannot stand the stress. Then realize you might not get a refund.
I just had the same thing happen to me. Apparently I was off by a day for being proactive and cancelling sooner vs waiting until a week before an event and a trip I knew I couldn't take (I cannot even get into Canada) and they are refusing to refund me. The host is hiding behind airbnb policy and airbnb is saying I missed it by one day by cancelling on April 30 when they updated their policy to cover my EXACT situation on May 1. Umm duh you extended the policy to cover my situation for a reason.... Given how graceful and helpful EVERY other company in the travel and hospitality business is being I'm appalled at Airbnb. I won't be using their services again in the future.
As a host who has lost 100% of my income and so far is being asked by Airbnb to cover 100% of the costs and honor full refunds I have to tell you I simply can not. I am offering my guests a 50% discount on a future booking if the book within one year. You may try the same. If no one has insurance as most hosts do not it should have been covered by airbnb or the guests. Everyone needs to share in the pain here unfortunately. Not just the hosts who have lost our income and still have costs of mortgage and rent. Especially in Mexico I guess the hosts there will get little relief from their government. Airbnb just offered a 25% revenue payback for all cancellations to hosts. so this would mean that a 50% future discount is only 25% out of theirr pocket. You may try that. Good Luck, stay well
Putting the refunds 100% on hosts has been not only painful financially, but has made us look like the bad guys if we can't afford to do it. I too have tried to offer credit toward future booking, but nobody wants that right now. They want their $$. Guests do not understand that Airbnb holds the $$ -- we don't get it until after the booking starts. They could have come up with some sort of backup $$ policy for hosts. More than the 25% of cancellations within their very narrow window. I'm so beyond frustrated by now. And of course I don't want anyone in my space if they are worried they might have been exposed. But ... not everyone can refund a full booking when it's unlikely the calendar will rebook.
In S.Korea, mid Feb when # of confirmed cases started spiking airlines began *officially* issuing full refunds at end of Feb for all bookings dates immediately AFTER the announcement for bookings till mid~end of March. Then in March, 1 week ~ 10 days prior to their respective cut off dates (each airline/hotel/resort/travel agency had different dates), it was extended to April. Right now within Asia, any sort of flight or hotel/resort booking for April dates are being processed and many are waiting for for it to be extended to cover May dates hoping it will be announced within the next 2 weeks. As soon as you have confirmation that the cutoff date has been extended, you need to secure PROOF (of a call or email) that you submitted a request for refund/cancellation before your reservation/booking starts - then even if they get to it later, it will be processed. At least, this has been the case in S.Korea and I'd assume be similar here too.