Airbnb disables booking function over ‘Covid-19 retreats' criticism

07 April 2020 by
Airbnb disables booking function over ‘Covid-19 retreats' criticism

Airbnb has disabled its ‘instant book' function to stop non-key workers from booking properties following an investigation by the BBC.

The investigation found that properties were being listed by owners as "Covid-19 retreats" and that they could be booked by anyone, even though holiday accommodation should only be open to key workers.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: "We want hosts and guests to follow the rules and we have no tolerance for listings that ignore health or travel advisories. The government has set out clear guidance on the limited conditions under which necessary travel is permitted, and we have taken a number of steps to support these measures, including blocking private room bookings and switching off our 'instant book' function for whole properties.

"Hosts in the UK are also opening their homes to NHS and other healthcare providers as part of a global initiative that has seen more than 100,000 places to stay made available so far."

The group also said it is not allowing listings that could be interpreted as exploiting the pandemic, such as marketing around ‘escaping Covid-19', and that it has written to hosts about new guidance and regulations. A banner in the ‘host dashboard' on the site also reminds hosts to review the latest government guidance before accepting any new bookings.

Airbnb is also waiving all fees associated with stays for NHS and frontline healthcare professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company has said it will put approximately £200m towards covering the cost of Covid-19 cancellations for its hosts, who will be able to access 25% of what they would normally receive through their cancellation policy. It has also created an £8m Superhost Relief Fund.

Photo: Shutterstock

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