More signs are beginning to point to a normal return to the hospitality industry. Since the start of the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been confronted with a wave of challenges. This has ranged from staffing shortages, to supply chain issues, rising prices, and other issues. However, many hospitality properties have noted that they have seen an uptick in travel and guest reservations in the last few months. This is great news for the industry. One of the largest businesses in the hospitality industry, Airbnb, recently made a major announcement that signals society is slowly beginning to move past COVID-19.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb was founded in 2008. It is essentially a collection of hosts who advertise their property on the website to potential guests who will be searching the website to look for a property while traveling. Airbnb doesn’t own any properties, so it is the main source of interaction between those looking for a place to offer for rent and those looking for a place to stay. Instead of staying at a hotel, guests will be receiving hospitality at someone’s home which makes Airbnb a part of the new sharing economy. The new sharing economy is a peer-to-peer focused way of exchanging goods and services between one another through an online platform such as Airbnb. Homes that people are opening can be found all over the world on Airbnb, so there is a wide range of choices. On the Airbnb website, potential guests will be able to find information like the property size, pricing information, and amenities offered just as if they were booking a reservation at a hotel.
Airbnb and COVID-19 Cancellation Policy
As of May 31, Airbnb announced that it is eliminating its cancellations without consequences related to COVID-19 with the only exception being domestic reservations in South Korea and mainland China. This falls under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy which explains how cancellations will be dealt with when unexpected events outside of the customer’s control arise. This policy had been active since March of 2020, and it allowed customers to cancel a booking if they or the host had tested positive for COVID-19. Cancellations in this manner gave guests a refund or travel credit choices, and hosts could cancel without a charge or negative impact on their Superhost status.
Airbnb released a statement about this decision that said the reason behind eliminating this policy was because of the great effort made by our health authorities and medical advancements across the world. With about 2/3s of the world receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and many countries adding plans about how to live with COVID-19, Airbnb stated that they felt now was an appropriate time to change this policy and no longer have it cover Covid. This is good news for hosts that were losing income because of this policy as this is an opportunity for their businesses to hopefully return to normal. However, Airbnb is now discussing a potential policy change to allow 72 hours to make a claim such as a complaint, and ask for a refund. The potential policy has stated that guests need to make the hosts aware of the claim first and first try to resolve it directly with them. But many hosts are saying they would become frustrated if this policy was enacted because they fear guests might look for any little issue to try and redeem some money.
Throughout the past 2 years, support groups for the host community have grown. One of these groups is Host2Host. Host2Host is a non-profit organization that preserves and enhances the interests of short-term rental hosts and the communities they are in. They are an organization started and focused in Portland, Oregon, but it is growing and membership is open to all. The goal of Host2Host is to serve as a unified voice for short-term rentals and to unite hosts with other nearby businesses that serve them and their guests. Their website is https://host2host.org/. Weekly coffees and meetups on Zoom allow hosts to share challenges, knowledge, and opportunities as well as emotional support.
InnStyle is Here for Your Health and Safety Needs
While COVID-19 cancellation policies will no longer be in effect with Airbnb, InnStyle still recommends having properties follow their health, cleaning, and sanitation procedures closely. Many guests will still book reservations at your property with the expectation that housekeeping will be putting forth a good effort to keep them safe from viruses and bacteria. InnStyle has a personal protection section on its website that includes hand sanitizer, antimicrobial linens, mattress encasements, etc. If you have questions about products that can help keep your property clean, please call InnStyle and talk to one of their account managers. They can be reached at 267-354-6020 or 800-877-4667. Their website is https://www.innstyle.com/.