Can Airbnb Recover From Its Own Housing Crisis?

In just over a month, the Internet has delivered a double whammy to a hot Web startup that has not only threatened its business model, but has severely tested its reputation.

Things were going great for high-flying Airbnb, described as a "social bed and breakfast marketplace" that connects potential renters with housing owners. Then an owner blogged that a person she rented to through the site vandalized her home. With that news all over the Internet, the company's initial response was pretty tepid—kind of ironic because Airbnb is essentially a social platform, run by Web-savvy people that should know to have an airtight crisis plan.

In fact, the response was right up there with the FAQ that appears on its Web site:

Q; Will someone steal my grand piano?
A: Highly unlikely. Grand pianos weigh thousands of pounds and do not fit through doors.

However, Airbnb began to get its act together this week, issuing an unconditional apology and offering a $50,000 guarantee against damages to hosts' properties. The crisis, however, exposes Airbnb as a site with a model like Craigslist, which has had some doozy situations arise thanks to the criminal activities of some of its users.

It will be interesting to follow what Airbnb does post-crisis to repair both its business model and its reputation. Any suggestions?

Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

prmeasurement2015-180x150Join PR News at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago on Nov. 18 for the Measurement Conference, where you'll learn how to focus on measurable media relations, social media reputation-enhancing and crisis management programs that clearly affect your organization's bottom line.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.