Airbnb derides ‘despicable, cynical advertising’ from hotel group linking it to terror attacks

Airbnb has released a statement claiming its user privacy policy is not creating safe havens for terrorists, in response to an outrageous ad partly funded by a New York hotel group.

The ad, from the Hotel Association of New York City and a local union, accuses the rental app of enabling terrorism in a video that cuts to footage of Manchester, UK, terrorist Salman Abedi. Notably, and pointed out by Airbnb, Abedi was not living at an Airbnb at the time of attack.

The fear-mongering slot asks: “Are you at risk?” It continues to say that Airbnb will not share who is inhabiting some 40,000 listings in New York. Nonetheless across the US it provides user data across other US cities.

Airbnb responded to the accusations, branding the ad an “outrageous scare tactic by big hotels.”

Nick Shapiro, global head of trust and risk management Airbnb, sent a letter to three hotel industry CEOs, it read: “The fact is Airbnb had nothing to do with the tragic events in Manchester and we are one of the only hospitality companies that runs background checks on all US residents, both hosts and guests. Hotel CEOs have a responsibility to tell us why they don’t do the same and why they continue to fund this sort of despicable, cynical advertising.

"I am surprised to see that the hotel industry's newest ad has introduced the topics of terrorism and national security into the ongoing discussion regarding short-term rentals. Now that you have raised these issues, I am writing to both correct the record and offer to work with you to help improve the safety and security of travel.
"Your ad is misleading, plays to xenophobic fears, and is beneath the dignity of the hospitality industry. It is an affront to the victims of terrorism, and its shock and abhorrent xenophobia is only equaled by the irony of it being paid for by hotels, where, as the New York Post recently noted while covering your ad, “lots of terrorists have stayed.”
"Given that you are supporting an ad about terrorism in lodging, do your hotels have a perfect record on this?
"No company is perfect, but hotels do not run background checks on potential guests, nor do they screen guest names against regulatory, terrorist, sanctions, and other global watchlists -- steps that Airbnb takes."

The ad is reportedly to run on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in the New York area.

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John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

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