Following a trend for booking Airbnb apartments in Ukraine in order to send money directly to locals, the platform has reported that more than 61,000 nights have been booked by its users.
The idea for booking rental apartments in Ukraine – in order to send money straight to the owner – circulated online last week, with Airbnb quickly announcing that it would waive all its fees for bookings in the country.
More than a million Ukrainians have already been displaced following Russia’s invasion of the country, with many overseas looking for ways to help.
A spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed that more than 61,000 nights had been booked in Ukraine on Wednesday and Thursday (2 and 3 March) alone, including 8,000 nights booked by UK users.
During the booking spree, UK customers were the second-biggest bookers after Americans, with Airbnb estimating that $1.9 million (£1.4m) had been transferred to Ukrainian hosts.
Early last week, the UK sales manager for Beachcomber tours, Sarah Archer, wrote on Twitter: “Booked a weekend in Kyiv on [Airbnb].
“Pick closest date, random apartment run by an individual not a company, book, pay and send a message of support while telling them you’re a no show.”
Another Twitter user, Mario DiMaggio, also called for users to book Ukrainian properties, writing: “HOW TO HELP – just booked a Kyiv AirBnb for one week, simply as a means of getting money directly into the hands of residents.
“It’s really cheap and can make a small difference right now. Please share this idea.”
Users of the popular apartment rental platform can leave a message of support as they book a room anywhere in Ukraine – often at very cheap per-night rates – with the idea being that their cash can help the local that owns the property.
“I will book my imaginary week tomorrow morning, l am amazed by the discovery of these new ways of solidarity, and support, thanks to everyone for the idea!” commented follower Susanna Antico.
“I just booked five and a tour. Feels so good to connect with Ukrainians directly,” wrote @DominicaDailey.
“We appreciate the generosity of our community during this moment of crisis,” said an Airbnb spokesperson.
“Airbnb is also waiving all guest and host fees on all bookings in Ukraine at this time.”
Airbnb’s fees usually account for 3 to 15 per cent of a payment, but with these waived for Ukraine bookings, the owner will receive the full amount.
The platform has more than 300 listings across Ukraine. On Monday, it set up a dedicated hub to help people abroad host Ukrainian refugees in their spare rooms.
It’s worth noting that not all listings on Airbnb are owned by local residents – privately owned apartments and even big-brand hotel rooms can be listed on the platform.
Others on social media flagged concerns about verifying that listings are owned by Ukrainian locals, not by Russians or landlords abroad.
DiMaggio suggests finding a local’s name as the contact and messaging them before booking. Many users have received heartfelt replies from apartment owners in the country.
“When this hell ends, we, with bread and salt and open arms, are waiting for you to visit peaceful Odessa!” wrote one Airbnb host.