Why I’m Not Recommending Airbnb Accommodation Right Now

Recently I was asked for some Airbnb accommodation recommendations on Instagram and I found myself face-to-face with a topic I’ve been dancing around for a while. Do I really want to recommend Airbnb accommodation right now?

I really don’t. In this article, I’m going to be explaining why I’m not recommending Airbnb accommodation right now and answering a couple of questions I received about it.

The Current Issues with Airbnb

I never paid much attention to Airbnb. In the past, I’ve stayed in a handful of Airbnb properties with friends, but I’ve always been acutely aware of the fact that Airbnb could not possibly thoroughly check every single host and property from a safety perspective.

This was recently brought to light in the media and confirmed why I shouldn’t be recommending Airbnb accommodation to anyone right now. Your safety is my top priority and the sheer notion of hush money and a team set up specifically to deal with huge issues is a roll of the dice that I am not comfortable with.

I’m not talking about small household issues like a broken kettle, as much as I wish that I was. I’m talking about Airbnb paying millions to a tourist raped at knifepoint in NYC. The perpetrator of the crime made copies of a key and hid them.

If we take a look at the Bloomberg report, we can see just how horrific this situation actually is. When talking to the New York Post, Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said, “In sexual assault cases, in the settlements we’ve reached, survivors can speak freely about their experiences. This includes the NYC case.” I have to question why the need for secrecy, a team and no transparency on the types of crimes or numbers of violent attacks if that is the case, personally.

While this claim from Airbnb is interesting, part of the settlement agreement in this case in particular was that the victim could not discuss the settlement “or imply responsibility or liability”. Does that equate to the freedom to speak out about a life-changing attack? Or does it stand to silence a victim regarding Airbnb’s failing safety measures?

While this attack involved someone who had access to a key creating their own, there have been situations in which the host has been the perpetrator and situations in which the guest has. Back in October of 2011, two American tourists were raped by their host in Barcelona. Does it not speak volumes that these atrocious things are still happening and effective measures to tackle them with transparency around them are not in place? 

Airbnb has claimed that only 0.1% of bookings involve a safety issue, but that’s 0.1% of millions of bookings every year. It isn’t a small number. With millions of bookings annually, we would be looking at thousands of cases.

In my opinion, if this safety issue is as large as it appears to be, the very notion of Airbnb crumbles. Those inside of Airbnb refer to their safety team as a “black box”. As someone who has experienced what it’s like to be sexually assaulted and recognises the trauma that comes with it, I could never knowingly recommend a company that hides a team with that purpose.

I would advise spending some time researching some of the court cases and forming your own opinion on this topic if it interests you. I decided to have a quick look on Glassdoor and even found former “Trust and Safety Investigators” talking about how Airbnb does not care about safety. While there’s no way of verifying those comments, their presence is concerning. Some accuse Airbnb of failing to fix the safety issues they did raise.

If we look at the current safety process of the Airbnb website, we can see that they “use predictive analytics and machine learning” to “flag and investigate suspicious activity”. They also acknowledge that “no screening system is perfect”, but that they check “hosts against regulatory, terrorist and saction watchlists”. Is this actually enough?

My Current Thoughts on Recommending Airbnb

Knowing all of this, how could I possibly recommend Airbnb accommodation to anyone taking the time to read this blog? I want you all to have amazing experiences while travelling. I thrive on trying to help you get the most out of your adventures and I could never knowingly risk putting any of you at risk, no matter how small that risk might be.

That’s why I’m not recommending Airbnb accommodation right now. If things become more transparent in the future, that might change.

I would love to know how you feel about this topic in the comments below.