On Saturday, Airbnb said those bookings brought in nearly $2 million (about $1.83 million).
The idea has spread across social media in recent days and it works like this: people book accommodations from abroad and then tell the hosts that the booking is just a gesture of solidarity and that they don’t intend to attend. Then the host checks in the guest and the payment is made within 24 hours. Airbnb is waiving all host and guest fees in Ukraine for the time being.
Volodymyr Bondarenko of Kyiv exchanges messages between air raid sirens with people who have booked his Airbnb apartment in the center of the Ukrainian capital. With emojis of hands interspersed with weeping emojis, he thanks those who book his apartment, even if they don’t intend to come. “More than a dozen reservations came in today,” Bondarenko told CNN. He says he wants to use the money to help others who need it right now.”
I hope you are safe
Ann-Margaret Daniel, from New York, saw the Airbnb show on social media and immediately booked a two-night stay in an apartment in a charming and historic neighborhood of Kyiv. The two bedroom apartment is almost completely booked out for the coming months. With her booked, Daniel added a message to the host: “I hope you and your lovely apartment are safe and that this terrible war ends soon,” the letter read. “I’ll come and see you one day.” Hostess Olga Zveryanskaya responded quickly. “We would be glad if we could meet you and hug you in peaceful Kyiv.” Zviryanskaya and her three children lived in the Ukrainian capital for many years. After the invasion of the Russian forces, she fled with her children and some belongings in a car to a city in the center of the country.
Every word of support counts.
Now Zviryanskaya allows people to stay in her apartment in Kyiv who cannot escape the city. Messages from strangers booking her Airbnb apartment give her comfort as she tries to adjust to the new reality. “We live, but we want to live as before,” she says. “It is very scary in Kyiv. Every word of support has value, not necessarily money.”
One day, when the conflict ends, Daniel from New York hopes to rebook Zveryanskaya’s apartment. Then plan to visit the apartment and the city.
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