The revolution will be on a website for a midcentury modern bungalow, CNBC reports. After Airbnb hosts complained that they’re getting nothing from the federal relief package (calling it a “publicity stunt”), and little from Airbnb’s own $250 million relief package in the form of 25 percent cancellation fees, the forgotten men and women of America have united and forged their own paths by building their own direct booking websites. The report comes on the heels of news that Airbnb will lay off a quarter of its workforce.
Among their leaders is a man with 250 properties in the U.K. and speaks of “rebalancing the power dynamic,” presumably, wresting power back from Airbnb and the guest proles. Another dreams of regaining their “sense of identity,” telling CNBC: “With our website, we sacrifice free exposure and free marketing for more freedom.” A third, who’s received frequent unspecified “complaints,” will not be cowed by threats of refunds for dissatisfied customers.
Mutiny against Airbnb’s cut of the stay and a no-compromise cancellation fee for sight-unseen rentals may appeal to turnkey landlords, and guests might get a slightly better deal on prices. But it’s unclear where customer service and conflict resolution would fit into the vision in a crisis scenario like the one Airbnb is currently dealing with. The company has lately been torn between compensating all parties, quelling an uproar from guests who’ve been miffed that they haven’t been able to get refunds for pandemic cancellations in a timely fashion without having to submit documentation (for example, sending a screenshot of a government website, which is reportedly stressful for some people).
At the moment, full-time hosts take solace in the belief that guests will emerge from quarantine anxious for summer retreats. In early April, the Financial Times reported on full-time Airbnb hosts who are “fighting back”—among them, a man who’d otherwise make tens of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue—by lowering prices or catering to a burgeoning longer-term rental market. After banishing house parties last month, Airbnb now advertises “monthly stays” on its homepage, including an over-$7,000 one-bedroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
And then there’s the non-host class of folks who’ve been complaining about Airbnb for years. For these people, Airbnb has made rent unaffordable for a long time. Welcome to the club, landlords.