The economic challenges created by the Wuhan Coronavirus as well as the panicked responses to it have hit millions of Americans and billions of people around the world with financial problems not seen at this scale in the modern era. People are suffering and often assigning blame to the reactions from political and business leaders. One such case is AirBNB whose CEO, Brian Chesky, announced last week they were changing the cancellation policy in a way that would put the full burden on their hosts.
One host in particular, possibly working with efforts to launch a class action suit against the company, made a video to alert Chesky and the world of his dismay. It was so passionate, so angry, some assumed it was a parody video. But it wasn’t. This is real outrage based on the real-world effects of the coronavirus and AirBNB’s decision.
How dare you cancel your AirBNB? pic.twitter.com/UzFI4ISgNP
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 22, 2020
The company made the right move to allow penalty-free cancellations in light of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, but many are saying the company should take on a larger portion of the economic hit that this will cause. Hosts have been complaining on social media about the decision which reneges on the company’s policy of allowing them to decide an appropriate cancellation policy.
It’s easy to be sympathetic to both sides. On one hand, this is a company that has been among those hit hardest by the damage done to the hospitality industry. Unlike hotels and other companies that offer accommodations, AirBNB does not have physical assets to leverage during times of crisis. They are currently considering a cash infusion to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, hosts are in a very precarious situation, especially those who rely on keeping their rooms filled in order to make a living. These are often small businesses acting as the only source of income for families. Hosts have invested time and energy into meeting the demands of both the company and their guests, and those investments are not paying off during the coronavirus crisis.
In many ways, the anger on display in this video is a representation of the frustration many are feeling as the coronavirus cripples the nation and the world. Now is a time for unity, but that’s not always easy when lives are being ruined.