Airbnb is as concerned about potential outbreaks of more violence and unrest during Inauguration Week like the rest of the United States after witnessing right-wingers storm Congress last week. On Wednesday, the company announced that it would block and cancel any and all reservations for Washington, D.C., rentals in the metro area. "Additionally," the company stated, "we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, D.C. area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations." The company's CEO Brian Chesky confirmed the news on Twitter.
If you're someone who had already made a reservation in the area and have just received the news, Airbnb says that you will receive a full refund. Airbnb hosts, too, will be reimbursed for the canceled reservations. The company says that decision was made after consulting Washington, D.C. officials, Metro Police, and Members of Congress. On top of that, Airbnb has received feedback from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser as well as Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan and Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam.
"We are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration," the company added.
Certain members get banned — Airbnb also notes that it received information from local law enforcement authorities about specific members being involved in "criminal activity" on January 6, the day riots began at the Capitol. "Through this work," the company states, "we have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform."
As New York Magazine reports, some Airbnb hosts have already named and shamed their guests who, they realized later, had joined the riots against the government.
Sensible move — The decision to cancel reservations and refund guests, as well as hosts, is going to cost Airbnb a precious dollar. But it's a significantly impressive business decision as it prioritizes people's safety over profit.
In the past, we've discussed the many problems coming out of Airbnb: tone-deaf calls for donations during the COVID-19 pandemic that only backfired on the company, how long it took Airbnb to address the issue of partying during the coronavirus, lawsuits from giants like IBM, and other quagmires. But by doing away with reservations for the inauguration, Airbnb is taking a bold and necessary step in the middle of political chaos, even if it means it will lose money.