7 tips for hosting people who have fled a crisis
If you’ve hosted through Airbnb before, you’ve probably spent many hours thinking about how to make your guests feel welcomed in your space.
When you host emergency stays through Airbnb.org, you may also be considering how to welcome guests who may be experiencing trauma.
People who have left their homes in search of safety, sometimes with little warning, may have a different set of concerns and expectations than leisure travellers. That’s one of the reasons why Airbnb.org partners with nonprofits specialising in support for people fleeing conflict and natural disasters. These organisations sometimes provide wraparound services during your guests’ stay.
Airbnb.org offers specially trained customer support for you and your guests if complex issues arise. It also supports guests regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity or how they identify.
Tips for arranging your space
It’s hard to overestimate the value of a comfortable, safe and private space to a family who has been through traumatic experiences. Many have not had access to a kitchen where they can cook, or a living room where they can gather, since they left their homes.
Here are a few steps you can take to make your space more welcoming:
- Foster a sense of warmth and comfort in your space to help people relax. Clean bedding and towels, basic toiletries and kitchen essentials can help people feel like they can settle in, even if they’re only staying for a few days.
- Some guests may be anxious about their personal safety. Try to make sure driveways and entryways are well-lit. Make sure all the locks, blinds and curtains work. Let them know if they should expect to hear loud noises such as airplanes flying directly overhead or rubbish collectors approaching the house in the early morning.
- People experiencing trauma and transition may have a hard time remembering information. 'You can’t think straight; you can’t process,' said one guest who had been evacuated during a major fire in California. 'It’s overwhelming to the point where you just don’t even know how to do things, and it almost shuts you down.' Visual aids can help your guests. You can offer a printout with your listing’s address and a map of the neighbourhood your guests can consult whenever they need to.
- If you and your guests don’t share a common language, seek out local nonprofits or businesses that might offer resources translated into a language the guest knows. If a caseworker from one of Airbnb.org’s nonprofit partners is assisting your guests, they may also be able to help.
Tips for talking to your guests
For many Hosts, making personal connections with guests is one of the biggest rewards of hosting. Here are a few things to remember when you’re communicating with guests who may have recently experienced trauma.
- Transparency and consistency are very important. Give guests notice beforehand if anyone comes to perform maintenance in or around the house, and let them know in advance if you will need to stop by.
- When you chat with your guests, try to focus on questions about their stay rather than the crisis they’ve just experienced. Mary, who hosted several people fleeing Ukraine, said, 'I asked general questions such as "Where are you coming from?" and "How was your journey?"' Your guests will let you know if they want to talk more about their experience, she added. By respecting their privacy, you’re giving them the space to regroup and recharge.
- Take your cues from your guests about how they’d like to engage with you. Some may want to stay close to their families. Others may reach out, asking you to help them build connections in the community.
Your support makes a difference
Thank you for your willingness to offer your space, your time and your kindness. If you’d like more information on how to prepare for emergency stays, you’ll find articles and videos in Airbnb.org’s hosting guide in the Resource Centre.
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