Airbnb and its subsidiary HotelTonight are canceling all reservations booked in the Washington, DC metro area during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the company said in a statement shared by Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit.
All reservations during the inauguration week will be canceled. Biden’s inauguration is next Wednesday.
“Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, DC, we are announcing that Airbnb will be canceling reservations in the Washington, DC metro area during inauguration week. “Airbnb said in the statement. “Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, DC area from being reserved during this time by blocking those reservations.”
Airbnb added that the decision was informed by contributions from its host community, in addition to officials in Washington, DC; DC Metro Police; and members of Congress this week.
“In particular, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan (of Maryland) and Governor Northam (of Virginia) have made it clear that visitors should not travel to the DC metro area for the grand opening,” Airbnb said.
The move comes as the company has been made aware of new information that armed militias and hate groups are trying to move to disrupt the inauguration, he said in the statement.
Airbnb continues to ban on its platform those involved in the Capitol riot last week.
“We have identified many individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity on Capitol Hill, and they have been banned from the Airbnb platform,” Airbnb said.
The company will provide a full refund for any canceled reservations and will directly refund guests any money they would have earned from such reservations.
There are exceptions for long-term stays and stays for medical care, Breit told USA TODAY.
The blanket cancellations also largely undo the Airbnb “Capitol Safety Plan” rolled out on Monday.
USA TODAY has also reached out to Vrbo, another major vacation rental platform, for feedback on its groundbreaking plans.
What do hotels do?
While Airbnb took drastic action, other hotels in the area were keeping their security plans close to the vest after the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which will also host the swearing-in ceremony for Biden and vice. -President-elect Kamala Harris.
Some Hilton properties, including Capital Hilton, are located near the White House and other sites. Nigel Glennie, spokesperson for Hilton, said these locations can be gathering points for celebrations and events, including protests.
“It won’t surprise you that our DC hotels are constantly reviewing their safety and security procedures,” said Glennie.
“We don’t go into the details of our security posture publicly, but the preparation is always well informed and aware of current events,” said Glennie. “The teams at these hotels are very experienced and have a long history of successful management at major public events.”
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the vast majority of which are franchised, puts the safety of guests and employees first, Rob Myers, spokesperson for Wyndham, told USA TODAY.
“We have provided our hotels with additional safety measures to consider, and we encourage them to follow the advice of local authorities,” Myers said.
Hyatt emphasizes COVID-19 mandates, which are enforced on hotel property. Most of the rioters wore no masks on Wednesday.
“Guests who are unwilling to comply with the policy will be asked to vacate the premises or may be given the option of remaining in their room for the duration of their visit,” said Stephen Snart, spokesperson for Hyatt.
Canceling Airbnb reservations is different from hotels that do the same. here’s why
The measures hotels take to ensure the safety of guests and employees are less stringent than what Airbnb has done. But Airbnb’s ability to reverse a blanket cancellation on bookings has different implications than a hotel company doing the same.
“Airnbnb is fundamentally different from a hotel in that they are just a platform, they are not public spaces, they do not have employees and they do not have the type of service the hotel debt, ”David Sherwyn, professor of hospitality human resources and law and director of the Cornell University Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor & Employment Relations, told USA TODAY in a statement.
Sherwyn added that Airbnb also does not have security personnel at its properties and the company insures its suppliers. So if something goes wrong, the potential cost is high for the business.
“In Washington, providers who don’t share their home but rent the entire home are limited to a certain number of days per year,” Sherwyn said. “The cost to Airbnb is lost revenue and reduced risk. The cost to hotels is their place in the economy, the compensation of their employees and their duties to their guests who must be in town.”