CINCINNATI — While they may not be planning a trip to Ukraine, many people are booking Airbnbs in the country to provide aid in whatever ways they can.
According to Airbnb, more than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine from around the world — a majority of bookings coming from Americans. Ryan Messer, a host in Cincinnati, said he's reached out to several hosts to book properties in Ukraine. He said it is a way for his money to go directly into the hands of those in need.
“The beauty about this Airbnb thing is it gives them a stream of income to help them rebuild once this horrific war is over," Messer said.
People are encouraged to search properties in Ukraine and see what is available for bookings.
"You should really just click to see ‘check availability.’ That way you can see what the soonest date is because that's when they actually will get paid," Messer said.
Airbnb said the movement that started on social media has generated nearly $2 million, with the company waiving all reservation fees.
“We're also ensuring that the hosts who are receiving the support can get 100% of the proceeds," said Airbnb spokesperson Liz Fusco. "There's a real emotional connection that's happening between those who are giving and those who are receiving and certainly in a moment that is so gut-wrenching."
Messer said he's doing everything he can to help.
“I’m getting on there each and every day to find another person who I can help,” Messer said.
Some are warning that scammers could set up fake accounts to profit off of people's empathy. Anyone who wants to help is encouraged to examine every listing carefully. Read reviews to make sure the host is legitimate and has been operating for some time.
Experts say anyone wanting to donate should do their homework before giving money online to other causes, encouraging people to check the Better Business Bureau or local chambers of commerce to ensure a group is a legitimate non-profit organization.