Airbnb hosts open their homes to guests all over the world every day. Together, we’ve built a community founded on hospitality, trust, respect, and generosity.
When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, Airbnb hosts in New York opened doors and cooked meals for those left stranded. When we heard the stories, we were humbled, inspired, and challenged to build a way to scale these generous acts throughout our community and the world.
The first thing we did was to hack a way to take in displaced neighbors for free. We made some key changes to the Airbnb website to ensure hosts could share their space free of charge, and ultimately provided over 1,400 free or discounted properties during the storm.
But making those changes took more time than we would like, and it was difficult to get word of this new option to those without electricity. In an emergency every moment is precious, and natural disasters are difficult to predict. This got us thinking: how can we do more, more efficiently in the future? Emergency housing is an incredibly complex problem to solve, but our community is amazingly generous and spans across 192 countries around the world. What steps could we take right now to be prepared?
We sought out advice from experts including IDEO, San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management, and other organizations. Then our team got to work and built a tool that can be activated anywhere in the world in 30 minutes or less.
Our new Disaster Response Tool will do the following:
- 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.
The best part of Airbnb is the hosts and guests who share their spaces and their experiences with travelers from around the world. We have been amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people who are a part of our community. We hope this new tool will make it easier for all of us to help our neighbors in times of need.