‘I will be happy to hug you in peacetime’: Airbnb users book $2 million in Ukrainian rooms in bid to offer aid

March 5, 2022, 10:25 PM UTC
Updated March 7, 2022, 6:19 PM UTC

Generous humans around the globe are rallying behind Ukrainians by booking Airbnb reservations with no intent to stay—a unique effort to get desperately needed funds into the hands of locals, according to Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky.

“In 48 hours, 61,406 nights have been booked in Ukraine,” Chesky tweeted Friday. “That’s $1.9M going to hosts in need.”

“Such a cool idea from our community,” he added. “Thank you.”

Users in the U.S., U.K. and Canada accounted for nearly three-quarters of total reservations, the San Francisco-based company said in an email, adding that it has temporarily waived guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine. 

Chesky has retweeted Airbnb users who have documented responses from grateful Ukrainians.

“Feeling helpless, I booked an @Airbnb in Kiev for a stay this week, knowing the money would go direct to someone there,” tweeted Kate Hutchinson, from Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday.

She included a screen capture of a conversation with the host, who said, “The world is not without good people. Now I have tears in my eyes and I cry with happiness in the first of these terrible days. Thank you very much. I will be happy to hug you when we meet in peacetime.”

Donor Cate Owen tweeted Thursday, “I just got a message back from my Airbnb host in Kyiv. I’m just going to be here in the corner, crying.”

That message, according to a screen capture she posted: “With all my heart I wish you a peaceful sky and prosperity.”

Airbnb said earlier this week it was offering free short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the Russian invasion and it will work with neighboring European states to provide long-term stays. Ukraine has more than 17,000 short-term rentals, according to data provided by market research firm AirDNA. 

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