If Airbnb’s mission of creating a world where everyone can belong is what attracted you to becoming an Airbnb host, you might want to consider joining the Airbnb Open Homes program, if you haven’t done so yet. It’s a great initiative and, according to Airbnb’s data, it has helped over 100,000 people with free and discounted stays.
If you’re skeptical about signing up and view it as merely a clever PR marketing campaign, know that many hosts struggle with this thought too. Hopefully, this article will shed more light on questions you might have and show the true value of this Airbnb offering.
Airbnb’s Open Homes program was started with the ambitious goal of helping those in need of temporary housing. While this program focuses on refugees and people forced to evacuate during an emergency, it has also helped frontline workers. Launched in 2017, it gives Airbnb hosts the option of making their property available to people in need of housing on a temporary basis. These stays include:
More recently, Airbnb also introduced Airbnb.org, a nonprofit organization that helps with housing provision in times of crisis. This is a separate and independent entity from Airbnb, Inc., but it uses Airbnb, Inc.’s tech and other resources to run charitable programs like Airbnb Open Homes.
If you’re confused, the Open Homes program is basically becoming Airbnb.org Open Homes. Basically, the platform decided to let its new nonprofit organization power this long-running program.
Eligible guests who can request to book listings that participate in this program include:
Nonprofit partners may also request to book your place on behalf of these groups. That said, you can indicate whether you prefer to accommodate people impacted by a disaster (and frontline workers fighting to help them) or make your space available to asylum seekers and refugees. The platform will then prioritize booking requests accordingly.
As a safety measure, Airbnb or one of its partner organizations will first review the candidates in need. This means that Airbnb.org (or one of the select organizations that they partner with) will confirm the identity of the guest and if they qualify.
Also, keep in mind that before approving a booking request, you have the opportunity to reach out to the potential guest (or nonprofit partner making the booking on their behalf) and ask a few extra questions. In other words, instant booking won’t be allowed.
If you plan on making your space available to COVID-19 responders, keep in mind that they will need to have access to the entire listing. In light of public safety, no other residents may be present.
As added safety measures, hosts and guests will need to use a detailed cleaning checklist. Hosts may also welcome a new reservation only 72 hours after the COVID-19 healthcare worker has checked out.
To participate in the program, you can use your existing Airbnb account with its Airbnb listing. All you need to do is visit airbnb.org/get-involved and follow the prompts.
After you’ve made your listing available on Open Homes and Airbnb, you’ll have a shared calendar which means that double-bookings won’t be an issue. However, it’s still a good idea to invest in a third-party software solution, like iGMS, that offers a channel manager. This is even more important if you plan on listing your property on other third-party sites or running a separate business website.
The default option is to offer your Airbnb listing free of charge. However, you also have the option of offering it at a discounted rate (or the full price).
To help Airbnb hosts and guests, the platform has waived all Airbnb service fees for stays booked via this initiative. Hosts will also receive AirCover protection for free. This will include $1 million in liability insurance and $3 million in damage protection, but keep in mind that there are some exclusions and limitations that can apply.
By supporting Airbnb.org, you’ll also get a badge that you can proudly display on your profile and listings. While it doesn’t offer any monetary value or let you appear higher in the search results, it’s great exposure.
In addition to offering a roof over your guests’ heads, an Airbnb host also needs to offer a few essential amenities. These include:
Nonprofit partners will in many cases provide other essentials such as food or transportation. If it’s a refugee or asylum seeker, they might help with long-term housing or access to healthcare.
As an Airbnb host, you can also offer extra assistance like guidance on how local resources work. This will help refugees to get familiar with their new surroundings. If you’re unsure, you can reach out to the caseworker who will be able to offer practical suggestions.
Understand that this experience is often overwhelming. This means that if you won’t be offering an entire listing, keep their privacy in mind.
If you’re not in a position to offer free stays to those in need of emergency housing but would still like to make a difference, you can also become a recurring donor to Airbnb.org. This way you can set up your account so that a set percentage of each payout will get donated.
To do this, click “Donations” found under “Payments and Payouts”.
By doing this, you’ll also earn the badge. What’s more, if you qualify for income tax in the US, these donations will qualify as tax-deductible expenses.
Should you join Airbnb Open Homes? Hosting travelers from around the world is a rewarding experience, and housing vulnerable people is even more so. That said, the choice to make your home available to impacted communities, like the victims of Hurricane Sandy, is entirely up to you.
Not all hosts are in a position to do so as they rely on every booking to support their own families. However, if you can afford either to offer a free stay from time to time or donate a percentage of your payouts, know that it can make a massive difference in someone else’s life when they need it most.
Owning an Airbnb can present many challenges and, as a host, you will need to find smart solutions to overcome them. One of the best ways to overcome these challenges is automating daily tasks by utilizing vacation rental software, such as iGMS.
iGMS helps hosts and property managers take their rental businesses to the next level. Harnessing automation functionality, you’ll be able to:
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