Airbnb is receiving criticism online after encouraging customers to donate money to the their hosts.
An Airbnb user shared an email to Twitter Tuesday, in which the company unveiled a new feature designed to provide “encouragement” to struggling hosts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Like all of us, hosts on Airbnb are impacted by COVID-19, and many of them are unable to welcome guests,” the email begins. “Now more than ever, it’s important to reach out and support one another—even in small ways.”
The company goes on to introduce what it calls “kindness cards,” intended to “make it easy to send a message of appreciation or encouragement, with the option to add a contribution.”
“We hope these cards will make hosts smile, and bring a little joy your way,” the email reads.
The Twitter user who shared the email disagreed.
“Airbnb has lost its fucking head,” @olenskae said. “Why would I donate to my host? I can’t even afford one house.”
Other Twitter users piled on, mocking the company’s effort.
“I’m not sure I will be contributing to the mortgage for anyone’s second house at this time,” @BriannaWu wrote.
Many sarcastically asked who would think of the landlords during these trying times.
In a statement to Business Insider, Airbnb confirmed the new feature and stressed that providing monetary support to hosts is entirely voluntary.
“In the spirit of rekindling connections, we developed a new feature that allows guests to send virtual cards with messages of support and encouragement to hosts who provided excellent hospitality,” a spokesperson said. “If they wish, guests have the option to add a voluntary financial contribution.”
The company promised back in March to put $250 million towards reimbursing hosts for cancelations as a result of the coronavirus.