Last week Airbnb announced that it would cancel all short-term reservations in the Washington, D.C. area in the days ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. After the violence on Capitol Hill and the Mayor of D.C. calling on visitors to stay away, Airbnb cites feedback from hosts and public officials in making the decision.
Long-term reservations that have already been booked in the Washington, D.C. metro area are not affected. The company is refunding all canceled reservations in full. The money the hosts would have earned from the canceled reservations is also being refunded by Airbnb. The concern over safety and threats of violence reported by law enforcement and intelligence agencies motivated this decision. Yesterday a blog post from the company explained the reasons for the cancelations. The same decision was made for reservations with HotelTonight.
Airbnb’s work continues to be informed by inputs from our local host community as well as Washington, D.C. officials, Metro Police and Members of Congress throughout this week. In particular, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration. Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.
We are continuing our work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community. As we’ve learned through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity at the United States Capitol on January 6, we’ve investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb. Through this work, we have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform.
Airbnb is a company that associates itself with others trying to keep up with the demands of the woke. The company has already said it will not make donations to Republicans who voted against the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. This move is their way of denying anyone that may be identified as a member of a hate group from securing a room in the area. They say anyone determined to be connected with a hate group will find their reservation canceled and they will be banned from Airbnb. Also, “individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity” at the Capitol will be permanently banned. That may take a while to figure out, though, since the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are still working on making that determination and caution that investigations will likely last for months. What about the threats of violence being received in all fifty states now? State capitols across the country are on high alert and taking extra security precautions as Biden’s inauguration approaches. Are they putting the same policy in place in every state?
Other hotels are making their own decisions in the D.C. area. Is there really any way of determining if a guest is one who plans to join in on any organized violence? Other than the morons that dressed in attention-grabbing costumes or in deliberately provocative hoodies, most of the rioters looked like your next-door neighbor.
Thomas Penny, president of Donohoe Hospitality Services, which operates 12 DC-area hotels, told CNN Business that people involved in the Capitol events stayed at some of his hotels. But he said his hotels don’t know who exactly was involved in the insurrection.
Penny said that his hotels dealt with a few “issues,” but that by and large guests were peaceful last week. He declined to elaborate on what the issues were. He said that his hotels near the Capitol will remain boarded up as a security precaution until after the inauguration, but they will be open for business.
“We require is that folks are respectful our team and follow the guidelines of our hotels,” Penny said. “As long as they do that, they’re respectful of our people and they follow our guidelines, we’re here to welcome everybody.”
Several hotel chains including Hilton and Marriott said they would remain open during inauguration week with security plans in place.
A hotel labor union calls on hotels to close, citing a need to protect staff and also the public.
Airbnb’s political action committee donated $866,519 to candidates and political parties in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, which monitors campaign finance donations. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was the biggest recipient of Airbnb donations.
Meanwhile, a hotel labor union representing 7,200 hotel workers in the Washington area, called for hotel closures in the area to protect staff and the public.
“Given the danger and fluidity of this situation, the best way to guarantee the safety of hotel workers and District residents is to keep these groups out of the city and out of its hotels,“ said John Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 25. ”But the threat has not dissipated, as we continue to hear reports of armed, far-right militias planning to threaten Washington in the days ahead.”
Airbnb stock hit an all-time high yesterday. Did their policy announcement have anything to do with that? Maybe. It likely is also because of an FEC disclosure that an investment firm owns more than 10% of its common shares. That likely spurred confidence with investors.
Regardless of whether today’s move in the stock is sentiment supporting the company’s position, this week’s gains have vaulted Airbnb’s market capitalization to over $100 billion for the first time.
Airbnb investors may also be bolstered by an SEC filing from Monday showing that respected investment management firm T. Rowe Price Associates (NASDAQ: TROW) owns more than 10% of Airbnb common shares. Where there are buyers, there are also sellers, but seeing professional financial firm ownership alongside an investment sometimes gives investors more confidence.
The stock’s initial public offering happened a little more than a month ago. Shares of Airbnb are up almost 20% this week. There was a bump of 9% yesterday. The stock is now at a record level.