In seven years, AirBnb has a served roughly 60,000,000 customers with ~2 million listings. How can this booming company keep up with such a high demand? AirBnb claims it has increased customer service as it has expanded while many others question the safety and quality of service. Is it possible to manage such a gigantic task of pleasing millions of people all over the world?
What does AirBnb do right now to protect customers?
- Airbnb has 24/7 call centers in a variety of languages and locations to deal with any concerns or disputes. Recently, they added experienced law enforcement and investigators to the team to track down unruly guests that trashed hosts’ homes. Some characterize this as an extreme length to ensure customer satisfaction.
- AirBnb verifies all hosts and customers to limit spam and makes it easy for hosts and guests to contact each other.
- There´s a trusted review system to hold all accountable for their actions.
- AirBnb states they give hosts free CO and smoke detectors, first aid kits and safety cards. Hosts are given a lot of resources to optimize safety in their homes for free.
- Payment is through a secure server. AirBnb takes pride in making all customers feel secure. Guests don´t fully pay until checking into the accommodation. AirBnb claims if there is an issue they can remedy the situation quickly.
Can a new company maintain quality service despite growing so quickly?
Some people are questioning AirBnb´s customer service, blaming rapid expansion is decreasing quality.
A host, Morgan Culture, ran into issues when a woman and her daughter came to stay with her in Los Angeles, CA. The guests were Chinese and spoke very little English. They had not talked to Culture about any special arrangements but upon arrival asked if her dogs could be put outside. Culture didn´t feel comfortable with the request and when she reached out to AirBnb to remedy the situation, it was far from a quick response. She called and e-mailed customer service several times in the course of three days. She dealt with five different associates in that time. By the time Culture received the final piece of correspondence, her guests were gone to their next destination.
As a guest, Arielle Moore arrived at her AirBnb and found the place in shambles. She described the place as, ¨miserable, ¨ with, ¨cockroaches, cold water, no wifi, power outages, loud parties and sexual harassment.” When she reached out to AirBnb customer service they refused to let her out of the cancellation policy, though the host had been deceitful in their profile and violated the terms of their agreement. The host only agreed to a 20% refund for a two month booking and AirBnb sided with the host. Moore says, ¨I´m not sure [Airbnb] cares.¨
Despite some bad experiences there are many, if not more, amazing stories of cultures colliding.
Sara Lindsay, an Australian, was traveling alone in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. She stayed with a family that picked her up from the bus station, even waiting an hour, despite her bus being late. She described her accommodation as, “immaculate” and, “There was a space up the top of the house that had a hammock and views of the ocean and sunset.” Her hosts repetitively told her, “as long as you are happy we are happy.” By the end of her stay she felt like family.
How can you optimize your safety when using Airbnb?
- As a guest, read descriptions carefully and create a clear dialogue with your host. Voice any concerns or special needs immediately.
- As a host, check in with your guest, make them feel welcome and clarify your concerns.
- Make sure you read all available reviews about people.
- Always get insurance! If you´re a host, house or rental insurance is important to protect your investment. If you´re a traveler, travel insurance is vital if you have an emergency.
- If there are any disputes or concerns, immediately contact AirBnb customer service and keep all correspondence.
- Check the laws in the city you are in. AirBnb has legal red tape they have to go through depending on the area, sometimes operating under questionable terms. Be aware of those concerns.
As Airbnb grows it’s a force to be reckoned with and the world is patiently waiting to see what else it has in store. Can it remedy its customer service flaws as it keeps expanding into more countries with more and more listings? We shall find out!
Many statistics were taken from the AirBnb website, it self.