Here’s how the coronavirus imp

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Here’s how the coronavirus impacts on Airbnb industry

With much uncertainty around the coronavirus, here’s a look at cancellations, costs and impact of the pandemic on the Airbnb industry.

Here’s how the coronavirus imp

Photo: Adobe Stock

There’s no denying that these are crazy times for us all, but it seems that the travel sector has been especially hard-hit with enforced travel bans quite literally changing the hospitality industry overnight. 

Since the entry of Airbnb into the South African market, many South Africans have taken the opportunity to turn their primary residence into a side hustle or have invested in a second property for some extra, passive income opportunities.

As an example of the extent of Airbnb’s success and scope, consider this: From 1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018, host and guest activity on Airbnb generated an estimated R8.7 billion in economic impact in South Africa.

Other than that, it also created around 22,000 jobs supported across the broader South Africa economy.

Industry impact of coronavirus on Airbnb industry

With so much uncertainty around the current pandemic, many local hosts are wondering how the upcoming weeks will impact them, their properties and their businesses. 

We hope to help with a summary of some things to consider for both travellers and hosts, currently affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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For the travellers

Understandably, you’re probably feeling very uncertain about your future travel plans. Don’t worry, us too.

Airbnb makes special mention of the fact that cancellation policies are set by the hosts and can vary. At times like these, flexible cancellation policies are extra important to take note of, and new updates make it that much easier to search for places with flexible policies for proposed travel plans.

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For the hosts

Airbnb’s “extenuating circumstances policy” gives guests and hosts the option to cancel their bookings without charges if they’re impacted by things, such as serious injury, illness or natural disasters, travel restrictions, and other unforeseen events.

In light of recent global developments, this policy has been extended to cover all reservations booked on or before 14 March 2020 and with a check-in date between 14 March and 14 April. Updates are expected as the situation progresses and hosts are encouraged to keep checking the website for more details.

If a guest cancels through this extenuating circumstances policy, Airbnb has promised to notify you and automatically unblock the dates on your calendar so you can then host other guests, and also won’t collect any fees for the cancelled reservation.

“Safe hosting” obviously has knock-on effects for the community at large. If you’re concerned about a guest coming from an infected area, feel free to cancel online and rest assured knowing that under these circumstances, your reservation qualifies for cancellation without charge, and your guest will also get a full refund. 

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Practical to-dos to be sure you’re prioritising as a host:

The below tips are a few practical to-dos for making sure you’re covering all you possibly can from a property or host perspective during these trying times. Ask yourself:

  • What measures have you put in place at your establishment regarding hygiene and safety? 
  • Has your staff been educated on precautions?
  • What is your policy on cancellations?
  • Will you be selling at a lower rate for the upcoming months to accommodate the local market? 
  • Have you made a clear statement on social platforms as well as your website if you are remaining open and still welcoming guests?
  • Have you thought of creating specials and packages, to help target the local market who can still travel for business and leisure in the upcoming weeks and months?
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Cancellations and current impact on Airbnb

The latest on the Airbnb website claims that reservations for stays, intended travel and Airbnb Experiences, which were made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date between 14 March and 14 April, are covered by the previously mentioned “extenuating circumstances policy” and can be cancelled prior to the check-in date.

Within these parameters, guests are also able to claim a full refund, and hosts can also cancel without charge or impacting their own “superhost” status.

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