Know the Airbnb Risks
By now, most people are familiar with Airbnb. I wrote about my own experience here. The fact is that it can be a great service for travelers of all types, and it’s changing the worlds of travel and hospitality entirely.
That said, when using Airbnb (or similar services), it’s important to remember that there are risks involved—risks that are not part of the traditional hotel experience. The story of a 19-year-old, told in this New York Times story, is an unfortunate example. As the Times shares, the man was allegedly trapped and assaulted by his Airbnb host in Madrid, all as Airbnb reps chose not to disclose the address to his concerned mother. Police intervention was required, they told her, but she would need to call the police herself. Without action from their end, and met by a wall of disconnecting calls and Spanish recordings when she tried the police, she was ultimately unable to help her son that night.
Of course, the overwhelming majority of Airbnb stories are positive, and often glowing, but as usual, make sure to be smart when you travel—and remember that the sharing economy comes with risks you need to be aware of.
According to the Times article: “Mr. Lopez’s family had a few suggestions for other Airbnb travelers. The guest and a family member or friend should always have the host’s address easily accessible. Make sure your phone has international service and that you know how to call the local emergency number; Mr. Lopez did not realize his phone would allow him to call and said he would have been scared to speak out loud into the phone in any event. Also, a few details on his host’s profile did not match her Facebook page. In retrospect, he wishes he had been more suspicious, even though he said that she had good reviews on Airbnb. The listing has been removed.”
This type of situation is a nightmare and I can only imagine how traumatic it’s been for both the victim and his mother. Before making any Airbnb booking, I’d also suggest getting recommendations from friends and family who have traveled to that destination before. Enable location-sharing services on your phone if you can, so people know exactly where you are. And always trust your instincts.
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