Would You Use Airbnb in a Disaster? Airbnb is Planning on It!

airbnb During disasters, many people and families become displaced until they can return to their homes.  Whether it be due to lack of power, a bad water supply, or dangerous conditions, displaced people need a place to stay.  Red Cross shelters often pick up the slack here as the designated short-term shelters.  However, Airbnb, a web-based housing marketplace, is betting on the generosity and kindness of ordinary citizens to help those affected by a disaster.  The company wants to empower citizens to take action through its platform.

Airbnb announced today that they will formally support hosts and guests in need during disasters.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Airbnb stepped up to the plate to offer fee-free rentals in disaster affected communities.  The company established a dedicated landing page that allowed hosts to offer their apartments for free.  All this was hacked together in the wee-hours of the disaster and resulted in the rental of over 1,400 free or discounted properties during the Hurricane.

These hacks are now permanent.  Airbnb modified its system to allow these features to be easily deployed within 30 minutes of being notified.  According to its blog, Airbnb will:

  • "Allow local residents with extra space to host those in need.
  • Allow existing hosts to donate their rooms for free to those in need.
  • Make all Airbnb bookings in areas affected by a natural disaster fee-free.
  • Email hosts in the affected area, asking them if they are able to help.
  • Connect guests to hosts that have space to offer in the affected area via a dynamic landing page.
  • Provide Airbnb’s 24/7 customer support, Trust & Safety tools, Host Guarantee and other services regularly available to Airbnb hosts.
  • Provide general disaster response information to guests and hosts."

This undoubtedly shakes up the existing model of government/non-profit sheltering dependence.  Is this something your organization would promote?  Plan for?  Develop partnerships around?

Airbnb also made this great promo video!