Travel and hospitality responds to Ukraine crisis

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Travel and hospitality respond to Ukraine crisis

[Credit: Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash]

Here’s an overview of the travel and hospitality companies responding 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 stepped up to support. 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.orgwith 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 Groupa 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.

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 Germany, Poland, UK and the USHomeToGo 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 Need, Ukrainian 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.

• The team at Avvio, an AI powered hotel booking engine, are raising money for Ukrainian civilians by walking the equivalent distance from Limerick to Kyiv. Donations can be made via the group’s Just Giving page here.

• Zoku is supporting the Hospitality Helps initiative by PKF and the Everybedhelps campaign by Nena Apartments, opening its Vienna property to Ukrainian refugees in need of free and temporary accommodation.

Co-Liv, a non-profit association of co-living professionals, has set up a database to collect information from European communities and co-living providers about the kind of support they can offer. This can range from accommodation, food, transportation, jobs, clothes, and more. The form, available to fill out here, will then be shared publicly with those in need.

• 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.

• CEO Patrick Landman at hotel management company Xotels has arranged for five mini-vans to drive from Sitges and Barcelona to the Ukraine border in Hungary. He is looking for accommodation in Spain to house refugees, and has requested those willing to help to message here with how long accommodation can be provided for and the number of people. Xotels is also working with Olive Tree School to collect emergency supplies for Ukrainian civilians, and will drop these off at the Polish embassy at Barcelona every week for distribution.

Pandox is offering refugee support in the hotels which the company operates in co-operation with aid organisations. Some of its employees have also volunteered to offer refugee accommodation in their own homes. A financial contribution has been made to UNICEF Sweden for direct support to children.

Famous Hostels has set up an initiative where supporters can reserve a bed or a room in any of the association’s hostels and transfer it to a refugee in need. Some hostels are offering free accommodation and others at a heavy discount. Further information about sponsoring a bed or room can be found here.

Cloudbeds is supporting its Ukrainian team members and their families by providing funds for: accommodation and food (in case of relocation), as well as  job security and continued payroll. The team is also offering mental health support through preferred partners and internal support network. In show of solidarity with Ukraine, the company has suspended all operations and services in Russia and with Russian-based companies.

Central London Alliance is supporting Integrity International Trust (IIT) and its established charitable Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, with Disasters Emergency Community (DEC) as a beneficiary. DEC are in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries providing food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Donations can be made here.

• A collective of UK hospitality industry representatives have launched Lunch4Ukraine in order to raise £100,000 for people affected by displacement and conflict in Ukraine. An in-person event hosted by JW Marriott Grosvenor House London on 5 April, funds raised will go towards the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine appeal. Lunch4Ukraine is supported by UKHospitality, The Master Innholders, The Caterer, Gold Key Media, Custard Communications, Hospitality Action and the Institute of Hospitality. Tickets can be purchased here.

• Snizhana Yesaulenko, director of The Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester, is raising £25,000 to support field kitchens set up in Kyiv. The kitchens are run by volunteers to provide hot meals for hospitals, soldiers, and civilians. Money is being raised through various initiatives at The Gresham, including 100 rooms available at a discounted price of £50 (code UKRAINEAPPEAL), a raffle to win a stay for two in a luxury apartment at the property, and optional donations as part of the booking process. Donations can also be made at Yesaulenko’s JustGiving page here.

• Open Door, a webinar hosted by Jonathan Humphries of HoCoSo, Jon Hazan of Atlas Events, and Chris Mumford of Cervus Leadership Consulting, has raised awareness of industry projects supporting refugees and identified how others can help and contribute. Further information about panellists and key findings here.

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

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