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Airbnb waives Houston fees after Hurricane Harvey but ‘Floating World’ marketing email touches a nerve


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

August 29, 2017 | 4 min read

Airbnb is up a creek without a paddle after an email marketing campaign promoting a “Floating World” accomodation came across as insensitive in light of Hurricane Harvey’s onslaught of Texas.

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AirBnb offends with 'Floating Homes' promotion / Quartz

As much of Houston and the surrounding area remains submerged by unprecedented rainfall, the natural disaster has resulted in nine confirmed deaths at the time of publication.

Airbnb is one brand helping to ease the plight of the local populace, seeing as some 30,000 people are estimated to be without shelter after the disaster. The company has waived its service fee as homeowners queue to list their properties one the site to take in the homeless for free between 23 August to 1 September.

However, somewhat sullying the philanthropic gesture was a poorly-timed marketing email offering accommodation in a picturesque 'Floating World'. It landed in the inbox of members as the hurricane was ravaging coastal areas of Texas.

An Airbnb spokesperson apologised for the campaign to Quartz: “The timing of this email marketing campaign was insensitive and we apologize for that.

“We continue to keep everyone affected by Harvey and all the first responders and their families in our thoughts.”

The move leveraged some criticism on Twitter.

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