Ukraine Airbnb Donation Bookings Going Bad, Some May Even Help Russians

Some of the money being donated to Airbnb hosts, by making bookings in Ukraine that Americans don’t intend to use, may actually be going to professional real estate investors including companies headquartered in Russia.

That’s the point Dennis Schaal makes about the effort many have been undertaking to get support directly in the hands of Ukranians.

When this first began I worried,

  • That bookings could crowd out Ukranians fleeing their homes desperately needing a place to stay, emphasizing how important it was to let hosts know you’re not using the home and that they should re-list it elsewhere.

  • That there’d now be fake Ukranian listings added to the site, so check that there’s a deep history of reviews for the host’s property your considering booking. Some of the scammers may be Russian.

  • That this wasn’t the most effective form of charity, not clearly going to the people most in need, and suggested and effort to help get supplies to Ukranian refugees.

Airbnb shows the first name of a property’s host, but you have to click through further to see the number of properties they’re listing. If it’s 10, 20, 30 or more that may not be an individual owner. In the U.S. I found owners of several Marriott hotels listing their rooms through the platform.

I’m not against this effort at all – just consider focusing any giving you do on hosts with individual listings and numerous reviews (though that alone isn’t a guarantee against scams) and consider not making this your only charitable effort.

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. @Jonathan … but but we are the saviors of the world – how are we gonna feel good about ourselves? Remember the WMD … oh, never mind, them were brown people!

  2. What a stupid idea in the first place. Social media has become a disaster when it comes to “movements” to raise money. There are plenty of easy ways to help and donate. Still can’t get over how dumb the general public is. Although I’ll give credit to those who have big hearts. The heart and mind don’t always work together …

  3. I signed up to host Airbnb 5 years ago but never listed. Yesterday, I tried listing something in Kyiv but took it off immediately. It is easy for scammers. The people who may need money are the people fleeing, not the people staying. However, later, the people staying may get their houses flattened because that is the Russian method of combat, to flatten houses with artillery, never fighting house to house.

  4. i find it highly unethical if Airbnb is still taking its share as a commission. He is just promoting this to make money using the Ukrainian situation. I still don’t understand why people don’t just donate the money directly, instead of using a random website like airbnb. To me, it seems so pointless.

  5. Always thought this was a stupid idea. Millions of refugees need basic supplies like food, water, clothes, shelter. The $200 you spend on a “room” could be benefiting dozens of people instead of a single Airbnb owner who may not share it and may even be Russian!

    The better course is to give to a recognized relief agency. It is not as “sexy” but it will do a heckofalot more good. And you get the tax write off (donate even more if you don’t want it)

  6. Want to help? Poland has well over 1 million refugees, almost 1.5 million. The Polish Red Cross is one of the organizations helping. Or fly over there (Poland) and hand out cash. That’s who needs money, those refugees in a converted school cafeteria in Poland.

  7. What must be done? Or rather what should have been done? The answer is simple: NATO expansion towards Russian borders must stop and agreement with Russia on future of European security reached. I understand how painful it is for American Ego but this is the only solution possible.

  8. OK, I just finished with the ice bucket over my head and I’m finishing up the Tide Pod now. So now you want me to go out to airbnb and send money to people who I cannot verify.

    Of course this is a scam. There are people everywhere waiting for every opportunity like this now they’re $1.9 million ahead.

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