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Does Airbnb think it is almighty?

The Chronicle of Josette Sicsic (Touriscopie)


Is the platform Airbnb going overboard? Underneath its image of the role-model company, looking to make everybody happy, the startup is determined to not miss out on a piece of the tourism cake. And the drawbacks are quite eminent for those who decide to use its services… Josette Sicsic offers her analysis.



We are far away from the collaborative and sharing values of its beginnings because we are now faced with a powerful company, that under its humanitarian and courteous appearances, is playing a major fool’s game. - DR: Screenshot Airbnb
We are far away from the collaborative and sharing values of its beginnings because we are now faced with a powerful company, that under its humanitarian and courteous appearances, is playing a major fool’s game. - DR: Screenshot Airbnb
Is it the youth of its managers that leads it to such greed?

Admittedly, Airbnb is a success story. Nobody will question that. But something tells us that the Californian startup is going a bit overboard.

Too focused on the media to which it floods lots of perfectly refined information, to come off as a role-model company worried about everyone’s happiness.

From the hosts to whom it states that they could “win money," to renters to whom it now offers a wide range of additional services: managing their rental, conciergerie, cleaning, insurances, and the newest one, theme-based touristic visits according to their tastes.

Indeed, an information revealed on the website TNV confirms that Airbnb is tackling San Franciso and its tourism offer, in the form of packages over several days.

Which is a great battle to the benefit of the website’s clients. But not such a great one for incoming agencies who could now be witnessing the arrival of a new, rather unfaithful, competitor!

The giant acquired the tour-operator Vamo

Does Airbnb think it is almighty?
Indeed, hosts can establish these new products that include meals and shuttle from the airport, all for a rather hefty price: 750 dollars!

And, to exempt the website from any responsibility, it is the accommodators who sign the contracts with their clients, and get paid! Enough for some to really make ends meet.

When asked about this new website, Airbnb’s managers only mention an additional experiment to the services offered to clients, that could very well have no future…Except that the giant also acquired Vamo, a tour-operator!

After corporate tourism, it is clear that the startup is well determined to not miss out on a piece of the tourism cake.

On every front, it is fighting to capture the entirety of a market on which it is standing firmly.

But, even though it is convinced of its rights and surely suffers from an almighty complex, it could not avoid a few slip-ups.

Amongst the last ones to date, we’ll mention its advertising campaign, still in San Francisco, inciting the municipality to make good use of the taxes paid by the company: improving bike lane, libraries… Airbnb’s gurus saw themselves as lecturers and advisers!

The campaign shocked so much that it had to be taken down, quickly. Because the city’s population looked down on it and protested against this intrusion in local affairs.

A powerful company playing a major fool’s game

And if we add that bad comments are starting to appear everywhere, coming from hosts that are shocked by the directive tone of the website and its coercive methods, or from users annoyed by the quasi “borderline” undertakings of the company, we see that the situation could easily flip flop.

Indeed, everybody knows that the money on a rental is kept by the startup for weeks if not months before being paid back to the accommodator. And this money, of course, does not stay inert on its account but brings in large interests.

Also, nobody denies that the exchange rates for the same rental are fixed by the startup, to its advantage and not to that of the client, etc. etc…

Meaning that we are very far away from the collaborative and sharing values of the beginnings, and rather confronted with a powerful company, that under its humanitarian and courteous appearances, is playing a major fool’s game.

One last detail: for its next conference in Paris in mid-november, Airbnb is making its participants pay for the event. Including hosts, even though it is thanks to them that the company is making a living!

Yes, too much is too much. By wanting to get too close to the sun, some have melted their wings!

To know more, sign up for Touriscopie - print and digital verison: www.touriscopie.fr

Written by Josette Sicsic (Touriscopie) translated by Joséphine Foucher the 30/10/2015
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Tags : airbnb

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