Travel and hospitality responds to Ukraine crisis

Worldwide: The editorial team at IHM [publisher of ShortTermRentalz] highlight the charitable efforts of travel and hospitality companies in response to the Ukraine invasion. 

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict, now in its eighth day at the time of writing, is devastating. Ukraine is facing a humanitarian crisis with at least one million civilians having already fled the country. The United Nations predicts 12 million people living inside Ukraine will require protection and aid, and more than four million refugees will need assistance in the coming months.

In response to the crisis, numerous travel and hospitality businesses have pledged to help. Operators such as trainline Eurostar and airline Wizz Air have pledged thousands of free seats to Ukrainian refugees. OTAs such as Booking.com have also donated to charities supporting on the ground. Glenn Fogel, CEO and president of Booking Holdings, said: “Booking Holdings recently donated $1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist with their aid efforts, and we will be matching every employee donation across Booking Holdings and our brands. As the situation evolves, we will continue to explore more ways to support the Ukrainian people.”

Whereas journeys into Ukraine and particularly Russia are halted, accommodation providers will play a vital role in housing international charity associations and journalists over the coming weeks and months. The editorial team at IHM will continue to report on the news as it develops.

Charitable efforts of travel and hospitality companies

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, a number of companies in the travel and hospitality sectors are stepping up to help those fleeing the conflict in the country.

• Airbnb has pledged to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine through its non-profit organisation Airbnb.org, with stays being funded by Airbnb, donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, and host donations through Airbnb.org. The company has previously worked to provide free, temporary housing to refugees in Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and other regions.

• Hopper is planning to free up $50,000 USD through its in-app credit system to individuals who are leaving Ukraine and require temporary accommodations in neighbouring countries. The booking credit will be available for individuals who have been residing in Ukraine and are seeking assistance with stays in Europe, either at hotels or home rentals. Refugees seeking accommodation assistance should fill out the intake form here.

• Guest house and holiday rental network, Gîtes de France, has relaunched its Initiatives platform to collect funds for those in need of help in Ukraine. One hundred per cent of the donations collected will be allocated to a charity / humanitarian organisation on the ground – donations can be made here.

• NUMA Group, a short-term rental / hotel technology provider and driver of the “commercial living” asset class, is offering accommodation to refugees free of charge at its locations in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, and Prague.

The group is also supporting German industry initiative Everybedhelps – initiated by Nena Apartments’ CEO Florian Wichelmann – along with ADAPT Apartments Berlin GmbHipartment GmbHlimehome, Livinghotels, Primestar GroupSTAYERY., The Circus Hostel and Vilhelm7 Berlin Residences. To get involved, contact request@everybedhelps.com or visit gut.org, a non-profit working group of betterplace.org, that is in direct contact with refugees.

• Rentals to Rescue is a new initiative being launched by the podcast partners at Hospitality.FM, involving operators, vendors and guests of the US short-term rental industry. The initiative is seeking to raise funds to provide accommodation in neighbouring countries for Ukrainian refugees. Learn more and support at the GoFundMe page.

• Alternative accommodation marketplace HomeToGo has launched its Ukraine Relief page, which provides resources for those looking for shelter, those who can offer temporary housing and those who have additional resources to offer. There’s information available for GermanyPolandUK and the US. HomeToGo will also donate and double all contributions made by its team directly to organisations providing relief to Ukraine amid the humanitarian crisis.

• Marketing agency Stay the Night in partnership with BudgetTraveller has launched a hospitality campaign to help Ukrainian refugees seek accommodation. The campaign – called “Hospitality for Ukraine” – is calling on hotels, hostels, and other accommodation providers to welcome Ukrainian refugees. Companies can register to join a database which will be published on a dedicated global directory and shared with relevant organisations supporting refugees on the ground.

• Hospitality cloud management company Mews is supporting the international community in three ways. 1) Matching donations which it will top up with €100,000 to People in NeedUkrainian Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen. 2) Introducing automatic time off and salary advances for employees who need to arrange assistance for their families. 3) Allowing employees to volunteer on projects, in tech or in another field.

• Hospitality and tourism consulting firm, PKF hospitality group has launched “Hospitality Helps”, a campaign calling on hotels to host refugees from Ukraine. A corresponding online booking platform is now active, where hotel owners and operators can enter free capacities and refugees can book. PKF is seeking rooms specifically in Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

• Digital guest guidebook Touch Stay – which has team members in Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine – is guiding its community to donate directly to the accounts set up by the Bank of Ukraine to support either the Armed Forces or the humanitarian efforts. It is supporting the “Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians Affected by Russia’s Aggression”, an account opened by The National Bank of Ukraine [NBU] for charitable contributions to help Ukrainians affected by Russian aggression.

• Private members’ club Soho House is supporting UNICEF and Cook For Ukraine – a global food and drink campaign set up by Instagram food influencer Clerkenwell Boy, which has already raised more than £40,000. Those wishing to get involved and donate can order ‘invisible pierogies’ – a Ukrainian speciality – from Soho House menus in March.

Sircle Collection is offering free hotel rooms with breakfast, accommodating between one to four people for up to five nights, at Sir Hotels and Max Brown Hotels in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Vienna. Room requests can be submitted here.

• Helsinki-based corporate housing provider and serviced apartment brand, Forenom, is working in partnership with the #FinlandForUkraine organisation to provide free emergency housing solutions to Ukrainian refugees in Sweden, Norway and Finland, worth up to €100,000. Read more and request emergency accommodation at this link.

Refugees and asylum seekers fleeing Ukraine who are in need of immediate support can get connected to available resources from the UN Refugee Agency.