Airbnb has announced a new way it will support guests as they navigate the unexpected impact of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, via the launch of its Guest COVID Support Program.
The company is introducing the Program to provide relief to guests no longer able to proceed with their previously booked reservations due to unexpected travel disruptions caused by government mandates — such as border closures or mandatory extended quarantine requirements.
For guests in these situations who are unable to obtain full refunds under their Hosts’ cancellation policies, Airbnb will provide relief in the form of a travel coupon for 50 percent of the cost of the unrefunded portion of the reservation. The company is funding this program with US$20 million initially to help defray these financial impacts to guests, and ensure guests know that it is listening to their concerns.
This program is effective immediately, and applies retroactively to reservations that (1) have a check-in date on or after December 1, 2021 and (2) had to be cancelled by the guest due to border closures, government mandates and certain other Omicron-related travel restrictions not in effect at the time of booking. If guests had reservations for stays with check-in dates on or after December 1, and they had to cancel in advance of check-in due to unexpected travel disruptions caused by government mandates, they are eligible for relief under this program.
For example, if a traveler in October booked a stay in Manila with a check-in date for late December — and Manila’s restrictions on outside travel were announced after the date of booking but before the date of check-in — this program would retroactively apply. However, if a traveler books a stay in Manila today while the same travel restrictions are already in place, the program would not apply. Guests who believe their canceled reservations meet the program criteria should contact Airbnb’s 24/7 Community Support team.
This program is meant to support guests who have encountered extreme and unexpected government-mandated travel disruptions due to Omicron and through no fault of their own. Other circumstances such as a guest testing positive for COVID just prior to a reservation will still be covered by Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy and therefore will not be eligible under this new program. Additionally, extreme travel disruptions such as earthquakes, wildfires, etc. that are not related to COVID are also covered under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy.
“Since the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic in March 2020, Airbnb has continued to prioritize public health. Our guiding principle has been that people should not travel or host if they are sick with this virus,” shared Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
He continued, “We are grateful that our Host community as a whole has sought to offer guests greater flexibility — with almost two thirds of active listings globally now offering moderate or flexible cancellation policies. Travellers have been hit hard, particularly with sudden travel restrictions and border shutdowns. We understand that our guests are trying to navigate in a really dynamic environment, and so we’ll be stepping up our support for them.”