Airbnb recently beefed up its customer service staff with a team of 50 investigative agents who track down guests who abuse their hosts’ generosity.
The move came after the company got tired of seeing its brand name associated with a tiny number of horror stories, in which people’s homes are trashed by unruly guests, that are not representative of most experiences. (We covered one, in which a $US2.5 million condo was trashed in Toronto, a couple of weeks ago.) Airbnb also offers hosts a $US1 million guarantee against rental disasters.
“The initial Airbnb customer service operation was humble: one guy and his cell phone. The guy, in fact, was Joe Gebbia, one of the company’s founders. Whenever a customer had a problem, they’d call the customer service line, get patched through to Gebbia’s phone, and he’d work with them to fix the problem,” a company spokesperson told us.
Now, Airbnb has hundreds of agents available via phone, chat and email, 24/7, in every time zone and in 30 different languages. Monroe Labouisse, director of customer service, told us:
At Airbnb we aspire to provide highly personal service and to be very available. … We want to give people peace of mind by being there for them when they need us. We want to be the front desk that travels with them.
Here are a few examples of above-and-beyond customer service from the company.
When an Airbnb host cancelled the cottage Shay Fan had booked for her bridesmaids on the eve her wedding, Airbnb pitched in a $US1,000 credit to help her find a new place to stay. Wedding rescued!
Jessica Dowdy tweeted that she had booked with Airbnb in Seattle to see a Pearl Jam gig, and the company sent her a T-shirt.
This user had to cancel a reservation because she needed to look after her sister, who broke her leg. So Airbnb sent the sister a bed tray and a get well card.
Kyle Matthews was going to Los Angeles to attend a fundraiser for a pediatric cancer charity. Airbnb noticed -- and made a donation to the cause.
Eric Mathiason passed a hosting milestone -- so Airbnb sent him this 'Legendary Host' trophy cup. 'Classy and hilariously embarrassing!' Mathiason said.
Airbnb noticed that this host basked her guests fresh bread -- so they sent her a bread recipe book.
Airbnb noticed that host Martina Bohn liked big fancy hats. So they sent her this hat-themed guest book.
Airbnb noticed that comic book fan Sarah Forde was on her way to an anime convention -- so they sent her a gift voucher for a local comics store.
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