Airbnb's New Donation Feature Is Facing Backlash on Twitter

Isabel Garcia
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Faced with unemployment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many people haven't been able to pay rent the past few months. So when Airbnb asked guests to send hosts an encouraging message...with an option to donate, people were just not having it.


In an email to customers this week, Airbnb began by saying how hosts have been impacted by the pandemic "like many of us," and that it's important to reach out and support each other. "Today, we're introducing a new way to connect with your favorite hosts," the email went on to say. "Now you can create personalized kindness cards that make it easy to send a message of appreciation or encouragement, with the option to add a contribution. We hope these cards will make hosts smile, and bring a little joy your way."

On Tuesday, Twitter user @olenskae shared a screenshot of Airbnb's email asking for a contribution to hosts, tweeting: "Airbnb has lost its fucking head. Why would I donate to my host? I can't even afford one house." The tweet drew many responses from people, dragging Airbnb for requesting donations to hosts. "I got that email this morning and couldn't believe how tone deaf it was," one person replied.

Even an Airbnb host felt secondhand embarrassment from Airbnb's email, replying: "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!"

Responding to the reaction, an Airbnb spokesperson told House Beautiful in a statement: “During this challenging time we heard from many 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. If they wish, guests have the option to add a voluntary financial contribution."

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