Supporting Ukraine: Over 61,000 people book Airbnb stays in Ukraine just to help hosts

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Airbnb and other new economy companies are leaning in to help Ukrainians during the Russian invasion.

Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

This story is part War in UkraineCNET’s coverage of events there and the wider effects on the world.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues impact more Ukrainians, some American companies are thinking outside the box to help those affected by the fighting. In addition to monetary contributions and the severing of economic ties with Russia, the companies also provide free shelter and services.

Airbnb users are also getting creative: Thousands of members have booked stays in Ukraine — with no intention of going — to quickly transfer cash to residents in need.

To help those fleeing violence, Tesla is allowing owners of any model of electric vehicle to use its Supercharger stations near Ukrainian borders in Hungary and Poland. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla also activated StarlinkSpaceX’s satellite internet service, to ensure Ukrainians have reliable internet access.

T-Mobile, Verizon and other carriers reduced or waived charges for calls to Ukraine, with some including local calls made within the country.

Here are some of the companies that provide services to Ukrainians in need and ways you can help support their efforts.

Airbnb opens “virtual” reservations

On their own, some Airbnb users are booking rentals in Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine, not to visit, but to quickly provide locals with much-needed financial assistance.

Thursday, British event planner Mario DiMaggio tweeted that he and his wife booked a week at an Airbnb residence in Kyiv “just as a way to put money directly into the hands of Kyiv residents.”

“Of course we won’t be visiting,” he told the host in a written exchange. “It’s just so you can receive money. We wish we could do more to help you and the people of Kyiv.”

Another Twitter user wrote that he shared the idea of ​​virtual booking in Ukraine and “24 hours later, hundreds of people are booking AirBnBs in Ukraine as a way to send immediate financial aid to people in hard-hit areas.”

According to to the Airbnb website, there are over 300 homestays across Ukraine – most in Kyiv, with a few in Lviv and Odessa. Almost all rent for less than $50 (US) a night. More than 61,000 people booked virtual stays on March 2 and 3, according to an Airbnb representative, generating more than $2 million in donations.

Although Airbnb does not oversee the campaign, it waives all guest and host fees in Ukraine. “We are so touched by the inspiring generosity of our community at this time of crisis,” the rep said.

Travel expert Simon Calder warned that the well-intentioned campaign could attract scammers.

“If I was a Russian scammer, I would set up fake Airbnbs in Kyiv and Odessa as fast as possible to profit from these noble intentions,” Calder said. tweeted.

Last week, Airbnb announced it provided 100,000 Ukrainian refugees with free housing and allowed members provide housing for Ukrainian refugees for free or with a significant discount.

“The greatest need we have is for more people to be able to offer their homes in neighboring countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. , in a press release.

The non-profit wing of the room rental company, Airbnb.orgpartners with nonprofit organizations to screen hosts and refugees, and also offers $1 million in liability insurance, $1 million in damage protection, and other services.

People interested in opening their home for a few days or a few weeks can get more details at Airbnb.org.

Etsy buyers order digital downloads

The online craft market has no rides to offer or places to stay, but it eliminates fees for Ukraine-based sellers.

“Many sellers are facing tremendous financial hardship due to the turmoil,” said Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy. said in a statement Monday. “To ease some of the burden, we are waiving current balances owed to Etsy by all sellers in Ukraine, which includes listing fees, transaction fees, advertising fees and more.”

The effort, which includes Etsy sites Depop and Reverb, is a contribution of about $4 million, Silverman said.

Some Etsy sellers donate a portion of the profits from Ukrainian themed products to non-profit organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

etsy screenshot

Etsy buyers would purchase digital downloads from Ukrainian artists unable to produce physical works during the crisis.

Etsy

Etsy shoppers would also buy digital downloads from artisans based in Ukraine – illustrations, clip art, crochet patterns, and even coloring book pages – that allow them to earn money without having to produce anything physical.

The offers are not checked for possible scammers, but a weaver based in southeastern Ukraine Recount CNN that strangers have ordered digital postcards from him and that some have even bought physical items but said not to worry about sending them.

“I never thought that so many people who don’t know me would love to help me and my family,” she told the outlet.

Uber offers free rides

In the United States, people can use the Uber app to give the International Rescue Committee direct donations, which the rideshare company says will match up to $1 million.

To help refugees fleeing the conflict, Uber is also offering unlimited free rides from the Ukrainian-Polish border to the cities of Lublin in central Poland and Rzeszow in the southeast. Uber users in Hrebenne, Dolhobyczow and other Polish border towns can enter special codes to get a free ride to or from checkpoints.

The company also provides free transport for staff at the migrant reception center and for the delivery of donated goods to various warehouses across Poland.

Although it temporarily suspended services in Ukraine when the invasion began, Uber said it was assessing ridesharing city by city and offering advance payments to drivers in the war-torn country.

The company is also working to enable Ukrainian refugees to become Uber drivers in neighboring countries where it operates, it said in a statement.

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