A trend for booking Airbnb apartments in Ukraine in order to send money directly to locals has started among industry workers and travel fans alike.
After the idea for booking the platform’s rental apartments – which transfers money straight to the renter – circulated online yesterday, Airbnb announced that it would waive all fees for bookings in the country.
More than a million Ukrainians have already been displaced following Russia’s invasion of the country, with many overseas looking for ways to help.
Sarah Archer, UK sales manager for Beachcomber tours, wrote on Twitter: “Booked a weekend in Kyiv on [Airbnb].
“Pick closest date, random apartment run by an individual not a company, book, pay and send a message of support while telling them you’re a no show.”
Airbnb announced a few hours later that it would waive both host and guest fees for bookings in Ukraine.
Another Twitter user, Mario DiMaggio, wrote: “HOW TO HELP – just booked a Kyiv AirBnb for one week, simply as a means of getting money directly into the hands of residents.
“It’s really cheap and can make a small difference right now. Please share this idea.”
Users of the rental platform can leave a message of support as they book a room anywhere in Ukraine – often at very cheap per-night rates – in order to donate money directly to a local.
“I will book my imaginary week tomorrow morning, l am amazed by the discovery of these new ways of solidarity, and support, thanks to everyone for the idea!” commented follower Susanna Antico.
“I just booked five and a tour. Feels so good to connect with Ukrainians directly,” wrote @DominicaDailey.
“We appreciate the generosity of our community during this moment of crisis,” said an Airbnb spokesperson.
“Airbnb is also waiving all guest and host fees on all bookings in Ukraine at this time.”
Airbnb’s fees usually account for 3 to 15 per cent of a payment, but with these waived for Ukraine bookings, the owner will receive the full amount.
The platform has more than 300 listings across Ukraine. On Monday, it set up a dedicated hub to help people abroad host Ukrainian refugees in their spare rooms.
It’s worth noting that not all listings on Airbnb are owned by local residents – privately owned apartments and even big-brand hotel rooms can be listed on the platform.
Others on social media flagged concerns about verifying that listings are owned by Ukrainian locals, not by Russians or landlords abroad.
DiMaggio suggests finding a local’s name as the contact and messaging them before booking. Many users have received heartfelt replies from apartment owners in the country.
“When this hell ends, we, with bread and salt and open arms, are waiting for you to visit peaceful Odessa!” wrote one Airbnb host.