Airbnb hosts in Ukraine are being overwhelmed with bookings from people worldwide who do not plan to visit any time soon. The plan picked up momentum around March 2nd and 3rd when people had booked more than 61,000 nights in Ukraine. The campaign's goal was to funnel money to Ukrainians who needed financial assistance during the Russian invasion.
One apartment owner, Volodymyr Bondarenko, who rents out his apartment in Kyiv, has been exchanging messages with Airbnb guests about his rental. He sends a crying emoji or a praying hands emoji to thank those booking his place to stay. He received more than ten bookings one day and will use the money to help the Ukrainian people who need it.
Supporters continue to urge people to book rooms as close to check-in dates as possible, so hosts receive fees quickly. People are also leaving messages of support for their hosts. One message read, “I hope that you, and your lovely apartment, are safe and that this horrible war is over…and Ukraine is safe. I will come and see you one day, please count on it, and will stay with you when we visit.” The host responded with, “We will be glad to see you in the peaceful city of Kyiv and hug.” Olga Zviryanskaya is the host of the Airbnb and has been letting people with no way out of Kyiv stay in it while she and her children left for a region near Cherkasy. Olga stated that the messages from the renters are providing her comfort as she adjusts to the new reality.
People have also been donating to charitable organizations in Ukraine but have found that booking Airbnb is faster to send money and support the Ukrainian community. Airbnb has also waived the fees to buyers that it usually charges to ensure they get more money from each rental. The chief executive at Airbnb, Brian Chesky, stated that the company would suspend its operations in Russia and Belarus to sanction the countries helping Russia in the invasion. More than 350,000 people have visited the Airbnbs site to donate or become a host for refugees. From a global branding perspective, we think Airbnb provides a great example to other corporations worldwide that they can use their business in ways to help others in need. During this time, Airbnb doesn't care about the profit but the safety and well-being of those in Ukraine. Of course, these actions will also help Airbnb in the long run by building consumer trust and loyalty in its brand.