Ok so things aren’t looking pretty for airbnb right now. Following the shocking story of EJ’s vandalized home, Airbnb founder Brian Cheksy’s response on Techcrunch and another updated post from EJ, things have indeed blown out of control for the company with its happy, bright colors. As I read about the developments (or lack of them) online, I felt there were a few things, airbnb could do immediately, that might help.
Brian Cheksi stressed in his guest post that is a one-in-a-two-million-nights incident. This is true and so should their approach to handling it. If they enjoy the revenue that comes from those 2 million nights, then isn’t it reasonable to reach out to someone in their community who has suffered dearly from a few? EJ’s recovery from this will have many facets: she will need to heal emotionally, psychologically and build her entire life back. Financial compensation is the least Airbnb can do and they should do it right away. Diplomatic responses like “Once our host’s safety was secured, our attention moved to further strengthening our system.” just add fuel to the fire. Especially when EJ’s response to that has been crystal clear:
My safety was secured by my own efforts. I arranged alternate accommodations, in the safety of a friend’s home. I arranged and paid for my own transportation while dislocated (with Airbnb’s assurances that this expense would be compensated – which it has not been). I contacted the police, and insisted on a visit from CSI to dust for prints. I called a locksmith and had my locks changed.
- If you screwed up, be honest
There will be repercussions for airbnb after this incident but they are walking into a serious public backlash if they continue to cover up the story by making fluffy public statements and – Jeses Christ -trying to get the poor lady to shut up. I mean really? There is no need to make it into a “PR” issue. Just deal with it like you would as a human being: with compassion, with honest intentions and with the genuine desire to help resolve the problem at hand. Everything airbnb has done till now reeks of propaganda to please investors. This is the time to live the “community” aspect of “community marketplace” that you so proudly tout yourself to be. Some of the biggest names in technology are led by humble people who aren’t afraid to say ‘We screwed up‘
- Be transparent and communicate
Not the best time for airbnb to be diplomatic and vague (infact it hasn’t been a good time ever since customers found their voice and a place to express it). While it all sound nice and dandy on paper to see a future course of action – feature enhancements, more support staff blah blah – it still doesn’t address the issue at hand. In this moment airbnb should disclose what they know. “We’re working closely with the authorities” is not good enough when a distressed member is expressing her pain online. Airbnb should get specific: what have they done with regard to this specific case, who has been identified, what are the authorities saying exactly. The more vague they appear, the less they are likely to garner support. Also they should own this conversation and be the single source of all updates on their own blog. This will eliminate a lot of speculation.
Perhaps some skeptics will wonder if EJ’s story is really true? To which I can only quote one of the comments on her blogpost: ”Of all the things I could lie about, why would I choose this one?”
What are your views for dealing with a situation like this?
Image credit: One of the reasons social media interests me is that it offers companies the opportunity to foster real, genuine connections with its community, its extended family, if you may. And so this image to me represents just that: having each others’ back. Thank you Sean Flynn