August 1, 2011

AirBnB Responds

Brian Chesky, AirBnB CEO:

“Last month, the home of a San Francisco host named EJ was tragically vandalized by a guest. The damage was so bad that her life was turned upside down. When we learned of this our hearts sank. We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go”

(Via Silicon Alley Insider.)

Short version: they’re implementing a $50,000 guarantee to hosts who rent out their home through AirBnB, and extending that guarrantee, retroactively, to the woman whose apartment was ransacked by her AirBnB guest.

Looks like the AirBnB guys figured out the Tylenol strategy: when you have a PR disaster on your hands, don’t go defensive. Play offense by apologizing first and asking forgiveness second, then make your harmed customers whole. Better late than never.

Still … would you rent your home to a stranger, site unseen, who had contracted for the rental through a web site? We’ve done so (as renters) for a summer vacation lakeside property and been very pleased with the results, but we weren’t the ones taking a big risk.