After the COVID-19 pandemic obliterated Airbnb revenues across the globe, the short-term rental platform has begun asking guests to chip in by sending "kindness cards" that include cash donations to their former hosts who have seen billions of dollars in revenue vanish in recent months, as travel ground to a halt due to the pandemic.
The new tool appears to be another effort to assuage hosts' financial concerns, this time by soliciting contributions from former guests. Airbnb says 100% of the proceeds from kindness cards are given to the hosts.
But the tool has been met with swift backlash from renters, who say they're similarly struggling to save money amid the pandemic and question why it should be their responsibility to support landlords.
"Airbnb has lost its fing head," one person tweeted .
Hosts have directed their anger at Airbnb, claiming that the company implemented cancellation policies at the onset of COVID-19 that cost them even more money. Airbnb said in March that it would spend $250 million to reimburse hosts for guests' cancellations that stemmed from coronavirus shutdowns
The financial situation is especially dire for mega-hosts, some of whom bought up dozens of properties and built short-term rental empires that made up their main source of income (roughly one-third of Airbnb hosts have more than 25 properties, according to analytics site AirDNA ).
New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac riffed that the program is "like the mortgage-backed securities of the sharing economy."
"I'm not sure I will be contributing to the mortgage for anyone's second house at this time," another Twitter user wrote .
An Airbnb spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.