Airbnb’s Chesky is game to share safety information with rivals


Airbnb willing to share information on dangerous and banned listings with rival short-term rental providers to help protect users from violent crime. — AP Photo

Airbnb Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky says he is "absolutely” willing to share information on dangerous listings with rival short-term rental providers in order to help protect users from violent crime.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV Tuesday, Chesky said Airbnb was already liaising with other platforms about party house listings, but that the companies could "of course go further” to include properties they’ve deemed to be dangerous.

If implemented, such cooperation would see Airbnb, Expedia Group Inc.’s Vrbo and other rental companies disclosing information on properties they’ve banned after violent crimes have occurred there, to prevent the listing from popping up on another platform.

"Anything we can do to be able to help people feel like Airbnb is a safe community,” is something the company wants to prioritise, Chesky said in the interview.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported a series of stories about violent crimes occurring inside Airbnb properties, including the mysterious death of Lauren Kassirer. The 35-year-old New York City high school teacher was found naked, bruised and unconscious inside an Airbnb property on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in 2018.

After Kassirer’s death, Airbnb permanently banned the villa she had rented – and its host – from ever listing on the platform again. However, Airbnb didn’t warn other short-term rental providers about the listing and it was only after the story was published that Expedia became aware of what happened and also removed the listing from its platform.

In June, the two rivals agreed to start sharing information on repeat party house offenders after Covid-19 closed down bars and nightclubs and promoters began booking homes on the platforms to host events with live DJs and bottle service. The parties frustrated neighbors, spread the virus and in some cases resulted in fatal shootings.

The companies launched a Community Integrity Program to prevent repeat offenders who are delisted on one platform from just shifting to another. "One platform alone can’t solve this problem,” the companies said at the time. "It requires an industry wide effort.”

Future of Travel

In the interview, Chesky also spoke about the future of travel, and said the flexibility of remote work that employees now enjoy is changing how trips will look in the next few years.

"This is the worst technology will ever be in our lifetime – it’s only going to improve,” he said. "The world is going to continue to get more flexible, people are going to continue to have more options, and we’re going to start to live in a world where all you have to believe is that people don’t go back to the office five days a week and some business travel is curbed.”

Chesky expects three-day weekends to become more common and that rental stays will get longer. About half of Airbnb’s bookings are for more than a week, and one-fifth are for a month or longer, he said.

Despite topping Wall Street analysts’ estimates for second-quarter bookings, the company said in August that third-quarter bookings will fall short of 2019 levels as the delta variant weighs on wary travelers.

Even with virus concerns, Chesky sees travel, living and working blending together, ultimately giving employees more autonomy.

"The reason travel isn’t going back to the way it was is because the world is not going back to the way it was,” he said. "We used to live in one place, work in another and travel to a third place. Now all those places are one place, and that place can be wherever we want.” – Bloomberg

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