Airbnb just announced a new set of standardized cleaning protocols for its hosts, and instituted a new rule that mandates 72 hours in between checkout of one guest and check-in for another if strict cleaning rules are not adhered to — acknowledging CDC guidelines about the airborne coronavirus lingering for several hours in enclosed spaces.
The home-sharing company is facing similar economic struggles to the hotel industry as much of the entire planet is more or less locked down. Starting in May, Airbnb announced that it will be requiring the 24-hour buffers between guests, and will be encouraging hosts to adhere to a strict set of cleaning procedures in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in their rentals.
"As governments handle the health crisis and begin to review restrictions in advance of reopening their communities for travel, at Airbnb we are working hard to support our community and prepare for the future of travel, focused on health and prevention," the company says in a statement. The company is launching new guidelines that "will include a learning and certification program to empower our host community," and this is to help aid hosts in recovering losses from the pandemic shutdown. This comes after an internal survey that found "92 percent of hosts around the world [who say] that they plan to host as often as before, or more often, once the pandemic is over."
The new, CDC-recommended, enhanced cleaning protocols will not be required for every host, but hosts who sign a pledge to adhere to them and take the necessary training will not have use the 72-hour buffer. All hosts will be required to wait 24 hours after a guest checks out to enter the premises — or to have cleaning people enter. This means that a minimum buffer between guests, with the enhanced cleaning being done, would be about 26 hours, or as long as it takes to clean the premises after the 24-hour waiting period is over.
Airbnb announced earlier this month that it had taken out a $1 billion loan from its investors in order to weather this year's pandemic storm — which includes relaxing cancelation restrictions for guests, which was something angered some hosts. The loan included $250 million to go toward a fund to reimburse lost revenue to affected hosts.
CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said at the time, "All of the actions we have taken over the last several weeks assure that Airbnb will emerge from the storm of the pandemic even stronger, regardless of how long the storm lasts."
It remains unclear, though, if Airbnb will be as badly impacted by the lockdown as the hotel industry as a whole. Customers may, for instance, perceive a private home as safer or cleaner than a hotel room which has had potentially higher turnover. And those with means who have wanted to escape major cities have likely given Airbnb hosts outside those cities a decent amount of business as they quarantine/isolate for weeks on end. But, as a privately held company, Airbnb has not released any of those figures for the last two months.
According to recent figures from the hotel industry at large, hotels across the country are down to about 23.4 percent occupancy, as CNN reports, meaning they are 75 percent vacant, on average.