The Community Centre is just the tip of the hosting iceberg, less than 5% of Airbnb users are active in the various language forms of the CC.
Just on the English CC board we are aware that Airbnb in the past week has blocked the booking calendars of the following fine hosts.
Lisa 723……………………Superhost…….365 reviews
Nathalie-et- Gilles0...Superhost.…….143 reviews
Ricardo85………………..Superhost ……..83 reviews
What was their sin, they refused to agree and sign up to Airbnb's ECP with regard to COVID-19 because, they felt the terms of the ECP were unachievable and unenforceable! These are hosts with integrity, the backbone of Airbnb! They could have simply agreed and kept on doing whatever they do. But they didn't, they took a stand against a completely ridiculous policy and their future reservations have now been compromised. The whole thing is obviously a sham because all they need to do to open their booking calendars again is, sign an agreement to the ECP terms.
But the worst part of this whole affair is, one arm of the company do not know what another arm is doing! Hosts are being compelled to make decisions on conflicting information! A request for clarification of the ECP by @Lisa723 got this response from the head of Global Hosting @Catherine-Powell ......
This response, although written back in November 2020 clearly states that everything that is made available to a guest must be washed and sanitised between guests. This is obviously a big ask, to wash and sanitize the entire property between bookings. This is exactly why many hosts chose not to tick the ECP requirement box, it is simply too big a task, but the head of global hosting has said.....that is what is required!
But low and behold another version of the ECP has popped up, once again thanks to the great work by @Lisa723
This has gone too far, Those great hosts I have mentioned above who probably represent less than .001% of the company's total hosts have been screwed because of conflicting information.
All we ask is for the company to be fair, we just want competent personnel to fill decision making positions. It doesn't matter a dime to them.....but it's our livelihood.
It doesn't look good at all that the team responsible for publishing policies has to be told by senior management (done so only because of host feedback) that they need to publicly announce changes to policies which the company has stated that significant penalties may be applied if the policy is breached.
@Catherine-Powell "but we didn’t clearly communicate those changes to our community. Thank you for providing feedback so we can improve the way we communicate in the future, especially around ever-evolving products and programs. "
Mr. Chesky said almost the same thing word for word in his video a year ago re leaving hosts out of the loop re the COVID cancellations.
Airbnb has been changing their
products and programmes without notifying hosts of such for years now. And for years, hosts have been providing feedback as to how disrespectful this is.
And for years, this is responded to by Airbnb in exactly the way you have responded here.
What part of 'placating words are not a substitute for action' eludes this company ?
Every time those placating words, followed by no change, are proferred, they become more and more offensive.
Thank you Catherine for your response to this thread of mine and another by @Lisa723 that deals in an incidental way with Covid-19 and the ECP. It is gratifying for us to know you are keeping abreast of discussions here. I could have come to you in the form of a ‘DM’ but what is being talked about here effects every host in the community and the entire community needs to know where they stand, and I felt publicly is the best way to do that.
Thanks also for your clarification of the company’s ECP definitions, however, the thrust of both these threads of Lisa’s and mine was not the current interpretation of the ECP!
The issues we have are as follows.
1/........Last year you introduced a set of guidelines, (no they weren’t guidelines, they were definitions) regarding hosting cleaning regimes, and hosts were required to agree to those definitions in order to continue to accept Airbnb reservations. You stated those hosts who did not comply would have their booking calendars blocked. One of those definitions was that the entire contents of a listed property were to be cleaned and ‘sanitized’, (I will come to more about that later) between each guest stay. The interpretation was not just what guests had actually used but, anything which they had actual access to, to in your words, ‘prevent cross contamination’!
Many professional hosts felt this was unachievable, they either did not have the required equipment or personnel to fulfill that ECP definition requirement. ON THAT BASIS they chose not to agree to the terms and conditions as stated. Now, as you have reinforced here in your response to the CC, that requirement to clean and sanitize the entire contents of the property to prevent ‘cross contamination’ is no longer a definition of the ECP….and current viewing of the ECP document backs that up. The definition is now amended to, as you say, ‘anything a guest has used during their stay’! Can you appreciate the substantial difference between to two requirements?
Catherine these are Airbnb’s finest and most ethical hosts, the ones who have made Airbnb great. They could have simply chosen to agree to whatever was thrust in front of them and kept on doing what they were doing….after all Airbnb are not policing the ECP by any verification via the guest review process! They are just taking everyone’s word for it that compliance is happening. Many of these fine, ethical, professional hosts would have been pleased to agree to the current ECP definitions…..but they were not aware of the change or just when that change came in.
No action was taken at the time hosts were required to agree or ignore, but now months down the track with a vaccine rollout in full swing and better methods of Covid control in most countries, the company have chosen to block these core hosts properties from booking. Catherine, this is wrong, this is unjust!
What the company should have done to all those hosts who did not agree, rather than just blocking them 'out of the blue', send them a notification that said ….”As of *******date the definitions of the Covid ECP have been amended to reflect current best health advice with regard to infection control. Read your ECP, you have 14 days to either accept the current definitions or reject them. If you still chose to reject them Airbnb will reluctantly block your booking calendar from reservations without further notice”! That would have been fair Catherine, if you are going to make changes to company policy you must alert users to those changes, not penalize them months down the track because they are simply unaware!
I understand all these hosts need to do to unblock their calendars is to simply accept the current ECP terms but, they haven't because they were not aware of the change in policy. But that's not the point. The point is, this just reinforces the lack of proper and timely information between the company and it's hosts. You have turned a lot of fine hosts businesses upside down here, many of them either have left or will leave because of the way the company has handled this.
2/......Sanitizing is a buzz word at the moment, it conjours up thoughts of being seen to be properly clean. But sanitizing is only certified to be effective against bacteria, not viruses. The American government through the EPA does not certify Sanitizers for virus control. The correct term is Disinfecting. I bring this up Catherine because most of us are of the opinion that Airbnb’s primary motivation for bringing this ECP to the table is to protect itself from possible legal process if a case of Covid transmission could be linked back to an Airbnb listing. Other travel platforms have not seen the need to introduce similar measures and instead rely on local authorities for compliance, which is the more sensible approach because the threat posed by Covid-19 differs greatly between countries and jurisdictions, and the one size fits all approach is not the most prudent!
However if this is the path the company is going to enforce they should at least get the terminology correct. As things stand at the moment, if an infection is traced back to an Airbnb listing where the ECP has been agreed to, the host would have a strong legal case by simply saying….”I am doing as Airbnb instructed me to do, I am following their guidelines, they required me to Sanitize”
I would ask you to put to the development team that the use of the word Sanitizing should be replaced with the word disinfecting when stating company policy. This would then comply with the policy of the EPA.
Once again, thanks for your time and getting back to us Catherine.
Thanks for your reply on this subject.
Let’s not gloss over the fact that the relevant changes to the ECP apparently occurred before Sep 21, the date on the current handbook, and you sent your DM to me stating that all available dishes and linens must be washed on Nov 16. So this is not just a matter of failing to update hosts. It is a matter of active deception.
You may have been unaware of the change yourself, at the time. It’s bad enough that Airbnb’s internal communications are so faulty that this could happen, but your failure to inform yourself before making external representations is really inexcusable. As far as I am concerned you have lost all credibility.
@Catherine-Powell it is good to see AT LAST an official Airbnb response to this discussion. In the several threads I have been engaged in it more often feels like an echo-chamber. However, with respect, this focus on the minutiae of the cleaning protocol avoids the major issue that Airbnb seem not to want to discuss - and that is the inappropriateness of Airbnb coercing a global policy on hosts when the Covid situation is so very different in different locations. No other booking platforms are taking it upon themselves to bully their hosts in this way. I have always been an exemplary host (8 years) but Airbnb has totally lost me with this move. PLEASE respond.
Airbnb's one size fits all approach isn't limited to this issue. They seem to think that all hosts should have CO detectors, for instance, even if there is no possible source of CO on the property. More safety theatre.
But at least not listing a CO detector doesn't get one's calendar blocked.
Sarah, a bit off the topic but talking about 'one size fits all', I grew up in the small town of Kapunda just north of the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
During the 50's Doreen (not her real name) one of the local residents had a tough life, her husband spent more time in prison than out of it, she had two sons to support so, she took to the worlds oldest profession!
Since 1924 there has been a well known major mens tailoring company based in Warnambool in Victoria called 'Fletcher Jones'.
Everyone in business has to have a slogan, an advertising motto so, 'Doreen' called herself, 'Mrs Fletcher Jones'!
Would you like to guess why she called herself that Sarah?
Fletcher Jones slogan was......"No man is hard to fit"!!
Thanks for writing the post, and including me in the list of affected hosts. I actually agreed to the policies after the calendar blockage, because we should be able to start hosting soon, and the St. Lucian Ministry of Health accommodations operating requirements are very similar to Airbnb's policies.
My main problems with the guidelines are not the cleaning steps, because we've always cleaned thoroughly between guests, but the penalties for supposed breaches are egregious in my opinion, and subject to abuse by Airbnb. They will withhold payments from hosts and cancel stays on guests for policy violation. The policies do not mention how the breaches will be verified, nor does it say if guests are given refunds if the stay has to be terminated due to a breach.
We don't share spaces with guests, and don't really have to interact with them, so there is a slimmer chance of such a claim, but it does seems like a great place for Airbnb to continue its money-grabbing ways that we've seen recently.
@Robin4 Thank you for keeping this issue up front, I can’t believe how they are ignoring us. What is also important to me is how inappropriate it is for Airbnb to enforce a global policy when the situation is so different around the world. If I had to agree to “I verify that I am implementing all required health protocols for my government area” I would have no problem with that. Do they really think it is their job to override local government rules and standards?
As you have said in another thread, the irony is that it is the best hosts that are refusing this unenforceable ritual and getting blocked (we are confident to get bookings through other channels) while the ‘deadwood’ hosts that they would like to be rid of just check the box and carry on.
Thanks for all the energy you put into this forum Rob, always a sensible voice standing up for us hosts!
Belinda, I want to try in every way I can to convince Airbnb that their strategy (although possibly well intentioned) is somewhat flawed, and not applicable to Australian hosts.
We have a great example today of how COVID is handled here in Australia.
Two weeks ago a resident doctor in the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane returned a positive Covid-19 test and immediately went into quarantine and the hospital was isolated. Since that test, 7 people in the greater Brisbane area have returned positive readings that are the result of community transmission from that doctor before being tested, and the greater Brisbane area has today been put into a 3 day lock-down. Schools are shut, face masks are compulsory, only essential work travel allowed and citizens only allowed to leave home to get essential supplies.
South Australia and Western Australia have immediately shut their borders to greater Brisbane, Victoria will imminently shut their border as well and NSW will put in place severe travel restrictions. These border closures will last for two weeks.
Within that 3 day lock-down period contact tracers via QR codes will have tracked down every possible exposure to this outbreak, It is possible that up to 5,000 people will be quarantined or in monitored home self isolation but, within that 3 days, this outbreak will be contained and there will be no further community transmission! We know this because each of our states have had to go through it and we get better at managing it each time it happens.
I had a two night reservation from a Brisbane couple for the 4th and 5th of April. That reservation is now being cancelled because the South Australian government has refused entry into SA for anyone travelling from Brisbane.........
Our authorities use worlds best practice in controlling the spread of Covid and I find far more credibility in the advice that is given to us here than I do in the advice from Airbnb. Our authorities sole motivation is to stop this outbreak, Airbnb's motivation is to keep the travel dollars rolling in while shielding themselves from an legal consequences.
There are many fine hosts here in Australia Belinda, we have more than our share of fresh air and because of our high standard of living we have a considerably better than average standard of cleanliness, judged on a world scale. My desire is to have Airbnb look positively on our contribution, not negatively and any way I can do that, I will!
It wouldn't matter if Australia was riddled with Covid, Airbnb's idiotic policy wouldn't make one jot of difference in any case. There is zero evidence that Covid is transmitted from surfaces. This whole policy is about the Reckitt Benckiser partnership and shoring up Airbnb's brand. I'd love to know where the money flows in that relationship, BTW.
If Airbnb is deriving any financial benefit from the RB partnership they need to disclose it.
I also read the "best practices" as a suggestion, not a requirement.
And like most of you here, I always sterlized high touch surfaces and super-cleaned the guest space, so that part was nothing new. And I've always had one day prep time between bookings.
As far as the stuff that's absurd to me, like wearing gloves to carry the clean laundry and make the bed, things no one would ever know whether I did or not, it may seem unethical to some, but I looked at not doing those things like most people look at little white lies, which most of us have told at some point in our lives. "Yes, Aunt Mildred, your new dress is lovely" (it's hideous and unflattering), "Sorry I'm late, I got stuck in traffic" (I was watching a movie and lost track of time).
Since no guest is going to contract COVID or any other disease from staying in my home, and since Airbnb obviously did this not because they care, but to appear virtuous ( it's all about guest protection- nothing anywhere about guests being responsible about not exposing their hosts to possible infection), I really don't feel any guilt about skipping the things which have no scientific basis and don't matter a whit. If I sneezed on the clean sheets I was carrying, I'd go get some clean ones. I can figure that out for myself. Because unlike Airbnb, I actually care about safety, not about the appearance of safety.
And when I start hosting again, I'm not personally concerned about guests trying to scam refunds over this policy, because I don't get those types of guests. But I see it as a legitimate concern for many hosts.
Airbnb had to do this to eliminate its responsibility in case some guests pick up Covid in an Airbnb accommodation. Of course, they can't control it but they can say "it is the host's fault, we told him he should clean and he agreed"
I am more worried about what @Sarah977 said in her last sentence. It came to my mind the moment I saw the protocol.