Airbnb said to halt marketing spend to save US$800m, founders forgo pay

Online homestay marketplace Airbnb is reported to be halting its marketing activities and freeze hiring. The move is said to save Airbnb US$800 million this year, according to Reuters, which also reported that Airbnb's founders will forgo their salary for the next six months. Meanwhile, senior executives will also take a pay cut of 50%, it added.  Quoting Airbnb, Reuters also said that the company is "resilient and built to withstand tough times" and it is undergoing all efforts to strengthen the community and company. 

In a statement to Marketing, an Airbnb spokesperson said the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in unprecedented travel restrictions and other disruptions that have a direct impact on the travel and tourism sector and beyond. "We believe travel will adapt and recover in the long run. Our focus right now is on how we can best support our stakeholders as they are impacted by this pandemic, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which we operate," the spokesperson added. 

Most recently, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak concerning health of the public and communities, Airbnb has paused all Airbnb Experiences until 3 April 2020. Based on the guidance of governments and health experts regarding social distancing, the company looks to prioritise the safety of its hosts, guests, employees, and the communities in which it operates. Airbnb Experiences was launched in November 2016, and was part of the company's expansion from accommodation hosting to an end-to-end travel platform. According to Airbnb, its Experiences hosts have earned more than US$6 million to date globally, and has seen growth in APAC booked Experiences of around 14 times since January 2017.

In addition to pausing its offering, Airbnb will also be allowing hosts and guests to cancel eligible reservations with no charge or penalty. In response to the events and global disruption to travel caused by COVID-19, Airbnb updated its coverage and the new policy will apply to existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before 14 March 2020. According to Airbnb, the new policy applies to bookings of places to stay and Airbnb Experiences in every country and region around the world, with the exception of domestic travel in mainland China which is scheduled to return to normal rules on 1 April. In addition, the company will be working to identify tools and initiatives to support hosts during these challenging times.

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