People Are Booking Airbnbs In Ukraine As Charity, But Maybe That’s Not A Good Idea?

People are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine as a way of doing direct charity. They have no intention of staying, they’re just using it as a way to send money to people with home rentals. On the one hand, these people are relatively prosperous (with real estate that presumably hasn’t been bombed out by Russian forces!) but on the other hand they’re seeing any business they had dry up. Some may be providing lodging to refugees free already, and this helps ease that burden.

Here’s Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution, Gilbert Ott of God Save The Points, and Miles for Family.

This is being promoting on social media by Airbnb’s CEO:

Some people in miles-land are suggesting using the Capital One Venture X $200 home rental credit they earn as part of the card’s initial bonus offer right now (ending March 14).

Ukranian refugees need a place to stay and this can easily take inventory off the market (restrict supply) and raise price.

  • It very much matters where you book. It seems like you’re want to know where people are fleeing to, and avoid booking those places (so you don’t take inventory, but also because those hosts may not need as much help as others)

  • When making a booking at least be certain to make very clear you won’t be coming – and suggest they re-list the inventory on another platform for the covered dates so that it’s still available.

Airbnb is offering 14 day stays to refugees and has waived fees in the country. Here’s a platform that’s connecting hosts and refugees. And here’s an opportunity to help get supplies to Ukranian refugees.

Maybe also do just a one night stay and the communicate directly with the host to minimize their fees for any additional dollars you’d like to send. This is one scenario where I guess I don’t mind paying the cleaning fees.

This probably isn’t the most effective form of charity. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see fake Ukranian listings added to the site now that this has become a thing, so check that there’s a deep history of reviews for the host’s property your considering booking.

There’s both civilian and military assistance that’s needed, and it’s not coming quickly enough. The World Bank and IMF describe themselves as ‘racing’ to get aid to the country in the ‘coming weeks and months’. The IMF isn’t actually considering aid until next week.

There are some reports that this apartment building was unoccupied (unfinished construction):

Nonetheless:

In the meantime, I suppose, one could place orders on Etsy from Ukranian sellers then cancel the order but let the seller know you don’t need your money back?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Large portions of the Russian internet have been shut down so they won’t be competing with the rest of the world for those rentals.

  2. Here is one problem with this. You don’t know if the owners of the rental units are actually local residents, or some large entity maybe from Russia.

    A ton of these rental units all over are owned by multi unit super owners.

  3. Thanks for your link to https://www.flexport.org/donate.

    I’ve already donated to the UNHCR for refugees. I’ve subscribed to the Kyiv Independent to keep the on-the-ground local journalists reporting to the outside world. The more we can assist, in numbers large or small, the stronger our united front will be.

  4. AMEX should add Kyiv Independent as a digital subscription option…
    I’d be there for >$20/mo no problem

  5. Data Point: Just booked a 7 night airbnb with my Venture X. The host asked me to modify it to a next day 1 night stay at the same price (because airbnb doesn’t pay until the stay is completed). I then was able to cancel the non-refundable stay.

  6. I’m in. And will let host know the booking is my way of sending financial support in their fight to protect and save their country.
    As Kimmie A says ” The more we can assist, in numbers large or small, the stronger our united front will be”.

  7. Re… M says: You become liable for the condition of the Airbnb upon “check out”.

    Interesting point. I booked an Airbnb apartment in Ukraine for March 7, and then cancelled it afterwards. The amount of the (one-day) stay was forfeited, so only the cleaning fee will be refunded.

  8. I agree this is probably not an efficient way to give.

    For one, Airbnb hosts and professional airbnb property managers are likely to be at least somewhat affluent.

    For another, not sure money is what’s needed at this stage. The media reports severe shortages of necessities (clean water, food, medicine, hygiene products etc.).

    An airbnb host is not equipped to acquire those and get them to people in need. Of course, charities have overhead as well. But they also got specific expertise in operating in war zones.

    It is the same with the direct donations of food or diapers made by people in Western Europe. Well-intended, sure. But a logistical nightmare to get them to those in need. Dependable charities do this better.

  9. We are Airbnb Superhosts and are well aware of potential scammers.

    We used the Superhost search filter to eliminate fake and/or newbie listings, and we booked a room in an apartment rather than a whole apartment because the host was more likely to need financial support than one who lists a whole apartment.

  10. @KoggerJ: It’s Kyiv in Ukrainian; Kiev in Russian. Which you use is now a political statement. But you knew that.

    I suggest that if people want to give money where it’s most likely to help the Ukrainians – give to a known charity with a track record in the region. Doctors without Borders, religious organizations already there – I only know HIAS and JDC, but I am sure the Orthodox Churches have relief organizations there – Red Cross types. Globalcharity.org has a 4-star rating with Charity Navigator, and has opened an Ukraine Crisis Emergency Relief Fund you can donate to. Not foolproof, but at least if they can’t get aid in, their other worthy projects will get the overflow.

  11. I booked a one night stay & communicated my intent to not stay. I was issued a refund without any communication. I do NOT want a refund, please use it for yourself or someone who needs help locally.

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