On the 15th anniversary of the short-term rental company, Molly Furey hears from customers who experienced some very unusual acts of hospitality.
Hannah had to pay her host in Lyon to get her laptop back. Photo: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
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Since revolutionising the world of short-term rentals 15 years ago, Airbnb has repurposed spare rooms, saved holidays and reshaped local economies.
However, not all Airbnb experiences have been smooth sailing. As the platform celebrates its 15th anniversary, some customers have shared their stories of unusual acts of hospitality that they encountered during their stays.
One such story comes from Hannah, who booked a room in Lyon for a weekend getaway. Everything seemed fine until she realized that her laptop had gone missing. After searching the room thoroughly, Hannah confronted her host, who admitted to taking the laptop. Shockingly, the host demanded a payment in order to return the stolen item. Feeling trapped and desperate, Hannah reluctantly paid the host, but vowed never to use Airbnb again.
Another customer, John, had a rather bizarre experience during his stay in Dublin. Upon arriving at the property, he was greeted by a friendly host who seemed perfectly normal. However, as the evening progressed, John noticed strange behavior from his host. The host insisted on sitting in the living room with John, engaging in long and uncomfortable conversations. The conversations took a turn for the worse when the host started sharing personal and inappropriate details about his life. Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe, John decided to cut his stay short and find alternative accommodation.
These stories are just a glimpse into the darker side of Airbnb, where hosts abuse their position of trust and guests are left feeling violated. While the majority of Airbnb experiences are positive, it is important to acknowledge and address these issues to ensure the safety and well-being of all users.
In response to such incidents, Airbnb has implemented various measures to improve safety and security. These include enhanced identity verification, guest reviews, and a 24/7 customer support team. The company has also introduced a Host Guarantee program, which provides protection for hosts in case of damage caused by guests.
However, critics argue that these measures are not enough, and that Airbnb needs to do more to protect its users. The lack of regulation and oversight in the short-term rental industry has allowed for these incidents to occur, and it is up to Airbnb to take responsibility and address these concerns.
In recent years, there have been calls for stricter regulations on short-term rentals, particularly in cities where housing shortages and rising rents have been attributed to the growth of platforms like Airbnb. Cities such as Dublin, Barcelona, and Berlin have implemented restrictions on short-term rentals in an effort to combat these issues.
As Airbnb celebrates its 15th anniversary, it is a time to reflect on the positive impact the platform has had on the travel industry. However, it is also a time to acknowledge the challenges and shortcomings that still exist. By addressing these issues head-on, Airbnb can continue to evolve and improve, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience for all users.