Airbnb to launch cleaning protocol

Airbnb will roll out in May the Enhanced Cleaning Initiative — the first standardised protocol for sanitisation and cleaning in the home-sharing industry.

Guests will be able to search for homes certified under the programme, which have met expert-backed guidelines and cleaning procedures.

Homes of hosts who adhere to and perform the recommended level of cleaning will be listed under a special collection on the Airbnb website

Experts contributing to the programme include Vivek Murthy, former surgeon-general of the US, who helmed the country’s responses to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks, and employees from hospitality and medical hygiene companies, including Ecolab.

The programme will also incorporate published standards of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

As part of the programme, hosts will receive detailed cleaning guidelines that recommend the use of disinfectants approved by authorities and protective gear. Hosts are required to enforce a 24-hour buffer between guest stays.

All hosts will be encouraged to adhere with detailed guidelines on cleaning each room in their homes. Those who adhere to and perform the recommended level of cleaning will have their homes placed under a special collection on the Airbnb website.

Hosts who are not able to commit to the enhanced cleaning protocol can opt into a separate Booking Buffer feature, also backed by experts. This feature stipulates that homes must be kept empty for a buffer period between stays. Currently, the default buffer period is set at 72 hours.

Even under this separate label, hosts are urged to follow cleanliness guidelines from local governments and the CDC.

The initiative reflects the home-sharing company’s recognition that the future of travel will be tied very much to health, safety and prevention, said the company in a press statement on April 27.

Airbnb also hopes the cleanliness standards can provide reassurance to governments as they weigh whether to reopen their destinations to travellers.

Reservation trends have led the home-sharing giant to believe in the recovery of the home-sharing industry and travel as a whole. A recent Airbnb survey showed that 92 per cent of hosts wanted to host as often as before Covid-19, or more often, after the pandemic wanes.

As at late-March 2020, the number of bookings on the home-sharing platform with an arrival date of at least six months later were found to be higher compared to the same period last year, noted Airbnb.

The home-sharing giant also said that most guests have been satisfied with the cleanliness of the Airbnb homes they stayed in, and this cleaning initiative is a continuation of that. As of March 31, 94 per cent of reviews showed a cleanliness rating of four to five stars, said Airbnb.

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