People have been trying to find ways to help Ukraine and Ukrainians, to get money to them directly, and have come up with a brilliant way to do it: book an Airbnb.
Only Russia is facing sanctions, not Ukraine. The cell phone, SWIFT and credit card networks in Ukraine still work, which means they can access money sent to them. So people around the world have started booking rooms in Ukraine (homes, not hotels) to get money to people immediately. Those booking the rooms have no intention of travelling to Ukraine, but the money gets to people who need it. It’s brilliant.
Some people have found a novel way to get money to Ukrainians as their country is under attack from Russia: booking immediate Airbnb stays they don’t intend to use.
Sarah Brown, who lives in Salt Lake City, is one of those who got the ball rolling in a Facebook group for Airbnb hosts. She booked a stay in Kyiv.
Someone in the Facebook group noted that it was important to support Ukrainians in places other than Kyiv, so Brown booked two more stays in smaller cities, with plans for more.
Ekaterina Martiusheva is the host of the first apartment Brown booked in Ukraine.
Speaking to NPR from Kyiv, Martiusheva says the bookings mean a lot: “These days we do not have any income. We do not have any right to ask our country to help us, because all the country’s resources are for the war and for the victory.”
Airbnb hosts are paid 24 hours after a guest checks in, so people abroad are booking stays and letting hosts know that it’s a gesture of solidarity, and they don’t plan to appear.
The idea spread over the last few days, and Airbnb is waiving all host and guest fees in Ukraine for now.
Normally I wouldn’t praise a company, but this small gesture says and does a lot. Kudos.
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Martiusheva says the donations via Airbnb bookings have been valuable because of human connections. “It’s not just money, it’s the support and encouragement. We get these notes of people who are calling us brave, and it does feel great,” she says. “It’s just amazing, really.”
She has also been directing donors on Airbnb to contribute to a fund for the Ukrainian army as well.
It gets money to people who need it, and just as importantly, it lets people show support on an individual basis, not like the Red Cross which can feel impersonal.