Airbnb is encouraging users to make donations to its “hosts” who’ve been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis — sparking outrage Tuesday over the “tone deaf” appeal.
A Twitter user in London posted a screenshot of an email, in which the short-term rental company said that “hosts on Airbnb are impacted by COVID-19, and many of them are unable to welcome guests.”
“Now you can created personalized kindness cards that make it easy to send a message of appreciation or encouragement, with the option to add a contribution,” the message adds.
Recipient @olenskae tweeted, alongside the screenshot: “Airbnb has lost its f–king head. Why would I donate to my host? I can’t even afford one house.”
“I got that email this morning and couldn’t believe how tone deaf it was,” added @Su_Barrett.
User @jayney_mack added: “Jesus… As an Airbnb host (of one property where I live in a rural area, not a greedy bastard buying them up), if one my guests got this email I would be morto! We’re all struggling but I don’t want a f–king handout from guests who are also struggling!”
The pandemic left privately held Airbnb poised to lose $1 billion through the end of June, with layoffs possible, the Wall Street Journal reported in April.
In a statement to SFGATE, which first reported on the “kindness cards” appeal, an Airbnb spokesperson said the online business had “heard from many Airbnb guests who were interested in supporting and reconnecting with past hosts.”
“In the spirit of rekindling connections, we developed a new feature that allows guests to send virtual cards with messages of support and encouragement to hosts who provided excellent hospitality,” the spokesperson added.
“If they wish, guests have the option to add a voluntary financial contribution.”