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This Airbnb Team Steps In When Horrible Things Happen

It has a 100-person safety team that spends big money to make problems go away
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2021 4:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – "Agents have had to hire body-fluid crews to clean blood off carpets, arrange for contractors to cover bullet holes in walls, and deal with hosts who discover dismembered human remains." That's a sentence in a lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek piece by Olivia Carville about agents who work for ... Airbnb. The 100-or-so agents on the company's internal safety team are stationed in cities stretching from Montreal to Singapore, and they step in to deal with the worst-of-the-worst problems: Guests who have died from carbon monoxide poisoning or been attacked by hosts. Not a whole lot is known about their cases (thanks in many instances to settlement agreements) or even the team itself, though Carville spoke with eight former team members and dozens of current and past employees, most anonymously.

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Carville explains the crux of the issue for Airbnb: It requires strangers to trust strangers, and it is "unable to disavow responsibility for ensuring its users are safe, as some tech companies might, or to provide security guards and other on-site staff, as a hotel would." Hence, the safety team, which has former military and emergency-service members in its ranks. They have a wide berth to do whatever is needed to fix the problem at hand, whether that's flying the mother of a guest who was raped from Australia to New York City or paying for funerals, vacations, or counseling for a guest's dog. The company says it's part of its commitment to do anything for its users, but Carville dives into the company's long-running desire to protect its public image, especially prior to its December 2020 IPO. (The full piece is definitely worth a read.)

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