The coronavirus epidemic crippled the apartment rental business within Airbnb. Thousands of owners in the Czech Republic who used to offer their apartments for short-term rent are suffering now. And nobody knows what the future will hold. It is impossible to predict how long the borders will be closed and traveling limited.
According to estimations, thousands of apartments are being used for renting via Airbnb in Prague alone. Now that the Czech Republic banned the entry of foreigners into the country as well as the operation of accommodation facilities, this industry practically came to a halt. The apartment owners remained without income and the companies that offered turnkey management of Airbnb flats are also in trouble.
The situation abroad is no less dramatic, as reservations are being canceled in bulk. Airbnb doesn't disclose specific figures, but according to AirDNA analysis, for example, the numbers in Beijing dropped by 96% and in Rome by 41% in the first week of March. As coronavirus spreads further in Europe and the US, a similar decline is expected in other countries.
Elena Jakubovič, the founder of Y&T Luxury Property, also mentions a decline in interest in Airbnb accommodation in the Czech Republic. "The panic has already begun. Airbnb apartment owners were the first to feel it, having experienced a rapid decline in demand. This segment was a big hit a few years ago, but has been struggling with obstruction for some time," she described in an interview for LP-Life.cz
According to her, the popularity of Airbnb began to affect the entire market. "People usually tried to rent their own housing for a short time, then they bought another apartment and pledged their own or their parents' apartment. Then they bought another one and yet another… The result was the effect of a real estate snowball, which in today's situation turns into a real estate avalanche," says Elena Jakubovic, adding that it will be very difficult to combat this situation. Especially after the world pandemic.
It is expected that the coronavirus and restrictions on tourism in Prague will result in an increased number of owners who want to rent their apartments long term. According to Y&T Luxury Property figures, the number of properties for rent already increased by 16%. And the longer the quarantine and travel ban will be in place, the more this trend will continue.
The ultimate effects of the coronavirus on the economy, tourism and the property market are impossible to estimate at this point. But one thing is obvious - the losses will be counted in billions of crowns. The seriousness of the situation is also evidenced by the steps taken by Airbnb itself. The company is quickly changing their reservation cancellation policy due to the coronavirus, allowing the guests to cancel their booking free of charge.
Full refund for guests who made a reservation before 14 March 2020 for a stay in the time period between 14 March and 14 April 2020. Airbnb will also refund all service charges to guests as well as hosts, and cancelling a reservation from the side of the guest will not affect their Superhost status. In this case, the process will be automated.
For bookings made after 14.3. 2020 or for stays with a date of arrival after 14 April 2020, the standard cancellation policy of the host applies.
In countries where accommodation services are not yet limited, people still use Airbnb. But a tension has appeared between the hosts and the guests. There are an increasing number of cases of people taking away supplies of toilet paper, toiletries and food. Due to that, visitors sometimes have to bring their own necessities and they're not excited about it.