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Airbnb’s New Health Protocols Include a 72-Hour “Booking Buffer” Between Stays

By Michelle Baran

Apr 30, 2020

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Airbnb hosts can let guests know about enhanced cleaning and sanitation measures that their properties have undergone in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb hosts can let guests know about enhanced cleaning and sanitation measures that their properties have undergone in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Vacation rentals offer privacy and fewer crowds, something travelers will likely be looking for in the age of coronavirus. Now they just need to ensure their homes are also safe and very clean.

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Airbnb hosts who want to assure guests that they are going above and beyond to create a safe and clean vacation rental environment in light of the coronavirus pandemic can enroll in a new “Cleaning Protocol” program that will allow guests to identify and book accommodations that have undergone enhanced sanitation measures.

The new initiative launches in May, and hosts who enroll will be provided with training and certification. The program will provide specific information on COVID-19 prevention, such as the use of masks and gloves by hosts or their cleaners, as well as how to clean the property with proper disinfectants.

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A 24-hour wait period before entering the home is also required, which Airbnb said was recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The wait period addresses the possibility of particles that may remain airborne for a few hours after guests or hosts have left the premises.

Airbnb said the new protocol is available to all hosts and that it is encouraging all hosts to commit to and adopt the enhanced cleaning practices.

The 72-hour “booking buffer”

Guests can search for properties based on whether they have adopted enhanced cleaning measures or the three-day booking buffer option.

If hosts are unable or unwilling to commit, they can opt into an alternative feature the company is calling a “booking buffer,” which creates a vacancy period between stays of 72 hours—no activity other than cleaning is to occur during that time. This option includes the same 24-hour wait period before entering.

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Airbnb acknowledged that while the risks in travel can “never be fully eliminated and the science is still evolving,” this initiative will enable hosts to show guests that they take cleanliness and preventing the spread of coronavirus seriously.

The platform’s vacation rentals offer a degree of privacy and the reduced crowds and turnover that travelers will likely be looking for as they navigate their “new comfort zone,” stated Greg Greeley, Airbnb’s president of homes.

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Airbnb partnered with former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Ecolab, a cleaning and hygiene technologies and services company, to develop its new cleaning and health guidelines.

Murthy stated that travelers should continue to observe physical distancing recommendations made by public health officials, but that this program indicates ways to create health- and science-based approaches for safe travel lodging and experiences. Said Murthy, “These approaches will continue to evolve as our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 grows.”

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As for booking Airbnbs in the age of coronavirus, the vacation rental company’s most recent change and cancellation policy states that reservations for stays and experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020, and May 31, 2020, can be canceled by guests for a full refund. During that mid-March to end of May window, hosts can also cancel without a charge or impact to their Superhost status (and Airbnb will refund all service fees). Reservations made on or before March 14 with a check-in date after May 31, 2020, as well as any reservations made after March 14, 2020, will not be covered unless the guest or host has contracted COVID-19. Otherwise, the host’s standard cancellation policy will apply.

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