San Francisco, Calif. (July 11, 2013) - Airbnb Founder and Chief Technology Officer Nathan Blecharczyk joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor David Chiu and members of the BayShare sharing economy coalition to launch a new tool that will enable the Airbnb community to quickly deliver housing assistance to displaced residents following a disaster. Inspired by the Airbnb community’s work to donate housing to victims of Superstorm Sandy, the tool will help provide free emergency housing to families in need in cities in every part of the world.
“After Superstorm Sandy, members of the Airbnb community wanted to help displaced families in their city find shelter. Our system wasn’t set up to support free emergency housing, so we worked to make the necessary changes to help our community support people in need,” said Blecharczyk. “This work and the amazing outpouring of generosity from our community inspired us to build this tool. In a crisis, finding housing can be one of the toughest challenges. With 300,000 properties across the globe listed on Airbnb, we now have the infrastructure in place to help at a moment’s notice.
”Prior to Superstorm Sandy, the Airbnb website was not capable of listing properties for free or waiving standard fees. Making emergency housing available at no cost to Sandy victims required the Airbnb team to fundamentally redesign its booking and payment systems to accept no-cost, fee-free listing for a defined period of time in a defined geographic region.
To standardize this tool and ensure it could be quickly deployed anywhere in the world, the Airbnb team developed new processes to quickly identify and isolate regions affected by a natural disaster and allow no-cost, fee-free listings in those regions. Airbnb also consulted with the San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management and IDEO and created a global tool that can be activated in 30 minutes or less and 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.
"Sharing economy companies like Airbnb are helping families make ends meet, giving tourists a new way to see our incredible city and bringing new jobs and opportunities to San Francisco," said Mayor Lee. "I applaud Airbnb's innovative work to help bring communities together after a disaster, because we know it is not a matter of if, but when the next earthquake strikes our city, and when it does, the better we prepare ourselves, the faster our City willrecover."
"In working with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management to create SF72—a new, local preparedness initiative—it has been invaluable to collaborate with companies like Airbnb that are proactively designing simple ways for citizens to connect with each other and share resources as a means to build prepared communities," said IDEO Project Lead Kate Lydon.
When this tool is activated, all Airbnb listings in the affected areas will be fee-free and Airbnb will not receive any revenue from these transactions or recoup booking fees.
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world, online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries. And with world class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.