Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Airbnb is sorry. Really, really sorry.

Airbnb CEO just blogged a much awaited response to what we (in the tech community) call #ransackgate (the unfortunate story of one of their customers who was ransacked) recently. As someone who dabbles in words, I found their blog post today a great start on their road to recovery.

As I’d outlined in my post yesterday, there was a ton of back-and-forth over the past week, between Airbnb co-founders, CEO (Brian Chesky), investors and EJ (whose house was recently ransacked). As I’d outlined, the original blog post that Brian published on TechCrunch was quite a yarn.

I concluded that they need closure on the case, and an intense customer service makeover to move forward. Today’s response goes far in that direction:

“Over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go.”

Wow! a real apology. Kudos there.

With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure.

But we weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we’re dealing with the consequences. In working with the San Francisco Police Department, we are happy to say a suspect is now in custody.

Moving forward: to assuage customer concerns and irate customers, they’ve instituted a $50K guarantee retroactively. Wow! that sounds really hard to manage but is probably really good news for folks like EJ.

To EJ, and all the other hosts who have had bad experiences, we know you deserve better from us.

We want to make it right. On August 15th, we will be implementing a $50,000 Airbnb Guarantee, protecting the property of hosts from damage by Airbnb guests who book reservations through our website.

We will extend this program to EJ and any other hosts who may have reported such property damage while renting on Airbnb in the past.

As I’d said in yesterday’s post, they would also have to make it easier for you to get help (something they sorely lacked from the two incidents we just saw recently) in the event of such a catastrophe. And, they now assure you of a 24 hour customer hotline.

24-Hour Customer Hotline (Nice!)

Beginning next week, we will have operators and customer support staff ready to provide around the clock phone and email support for anything big or small.

2x Customer Support Team

Since last month we have more than doubled our Customer Support team from forty-two to eighty-eight people, and will be bringing on a 10-year veteran from eBay as our Director of Customer Support next week.

Dedicated Trust & Safety Department

Airbnb now has an in-house task force devoted to the manual review of suspicious activity. This team will also build new security features based on community feedback.

Contact the CEO (Nice!)

If you can’t get a hold of anyone or if you just want to contact me, email brian.chesky@airbnb.com.

There’s still no closure on the EJ case (but that’s gonna take a while), but they seem to have done the right thing by instituting the guarantee that should take care of folks like her, fessing up, apologizing, assuaging potential customers’ concerns, earning some goodwill and halting the PR trainwreck that all of us had to witness.

Filed under: Social PR

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