business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Airbnb has been having a tough time lately, suffering the potential of a strong erosion of consumer trust after Vice posted an exposé charging that the travel site was implicated in "a nationwide web of deception that appeared to span eight cities and nearly 100 property listings — an undetected scam created by some person or organization that had figured out just how easy it is to exploit Airbnb’s poorly written rules.”

And then, there was a shooting at an short-term Airbnb "mansion house" in Orinda, California, during a Halloween party that left five people dead.

So much for all publicity being good publicity.

The Washington Post reports that CEO Brian Chesky has reacted to the events by promising that "the home-renting platform would start verifying all 7 million listings, a process expected to stretch into late 2020. By Dec. 15 of next year, he wrote, a review of every home and host on Airbnb will be complete, 'with the objective of 100 percent verification'."

In an email to employees, Chesky wrote, "“We’re going to make sure that we can stand behind every single listing, every single host to make sure that every single listing is accurate. The information’s accurate, the photos are what you say they are, the addresses are accurate, they meet minimum standards, they meet basic safety protocol and the host is who they say they are."

And, he added, "I think many of us in this industry … are going from a hands-off model, where the Internet’s an immune system, to realizing that’s not really enough, that we have to take more responsibility for the stuff on our platform."

Gee. Y'think?

It is a lot more amazing to me when these companies delude themselves into thinking that they don't have responsibility for the customer experience, that somehow outsourcing gives them plausible deniability. Which is nonsense, of course.

Marketers - whether at the retailer or supplier level - need to not just accept this fact, but embrace it: You are responsible for what you sell.

Even if you're not, you are. Because customers are going to make you responsible. And it shouldn't take the killing of five people or the revelation of a scam to create this awareness.

My Eye-Opening conclusion: Good for Airbnb for taking up the challenge, even though this should've been baked in from the beginning. It - and every other marketer - need to understand that this also is an enormous opportunity.
KC's View: