Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Airbnb and Me
Airbnb had a good year, and the company wants everyone to know it. Today the site released a beautifully designed series of stats touting its progress over the last year. Listings are at 300,000, up from 120,000 at the start of 2012. The platform has served 3 million guests in 2012 alone, even as the company opened 11 new offices and launched in nine new markets.
The presentation also cites heartwarming stories like that of Jörg, a former West German guard on the Berlin Wall who took a trip and found the man who’d served as his double on the East German side. It wraps up with a triumphant declaration: “192 countries. Thousands of neighborhoods. Millions of users. One community.” The background: A photo of two people hugging.
What you won’t see amid all this glowing good feeling: Any mention of fines or legal troubles, which haven’t exactly been magicked away just yet.
After the Storm
Airbnb greatly values design, and for good reason. Fugly old Craigslist’s primacy in New York apartment rentals notwithstanding, most people don’t want to rent a room using a website that looks like a social network for serial killers.
But could it be that CEO Brian Chesky perhaps overestimates the power of design just a tad?
Hurricane Sandy drove many New Yorkers out of their homes and, given the impending Nor’easter, at the worst possible time. Something like 20,000 to 40,000 people need somewhere to stay. Hoping to help alleviate the situation: Airbnb. Thanks to a partnership with the mayor’s office, the displaced can now turn to the site for places to stay, free of charge.
The hub for the effort is this page, which greets visitors with the guilt-trip-inducing message, “It’s time to help each other.” Anyone with a place to stay, be it spare bedroom or humble couch, can list it for free.
In a statement, the company told Betabeat:
Just got an official statement from the Hotel Association of New York City regarding Airbnb and the “illegal hotels” law: “The Hotel Association of New York City is made up of legitimate hotel owners and operators who comply with the building code including all relevant fire safety and labor laws, with many of its members having rates that are not only competitive but also provide excellent value,” says Lisa Linden, a spokesperson for the association.
Airbnb just sent Betabeat a statement about the recently-implemented “illegal hotels” law that renders some of the activity on the site illegal in New York. The law is not targeted at Airbnb, a rep said, and a majority of its users are unaffected by it–but either way, the site isn’t legally responsible for the arrangements users make and the company is “working directly” with the city about how the law impacts its users.