For Airbnb, its rapidly expanding business is becoming more and more about community relations. Good community relations. With some neighborhoods reportedly filling up with properties linked to the accommodation service, the risk of noisy or badly behaved guests upsetting nearby long-term residents only increases.
Keen to get neighbors onside, as well as to show regulatory officials that it’s dealing with the matter, the company on Tuesday launched a new online service that lets residents notify it of troublesome guests at an Airbnb property.
Attempting to cover all possible scenarios when it comes to complaints, Airbnb’s new service asks peeved neighbors to first select an issue from among the following:
– noise, party, or disturbance
– common spaces (parking, trash, etc.)
– general concerns with a neighbor hosting
– personal safety of criminal activity
Then it’s simply a case of entering your name and email address, giving more details, and waiting for the company to resolve the issue. The affected resident can submit a complaint anonymously, or give Airbnb permission to pass on their details so the host can contact them directly, should they wish to do so.
Airbnb promises to “treat each case seriously” and says it’ll “give hosts and their neighbors the opportunity to resolve concerns themselves, whenever possible.”
If an issue can’t be sensibly sorted out, Airbnb assures affected neighbors that those causing the trouble “will be subject to suspension or removal from the Airbnb community.” That’s right, they’ll be booted off the service.
As the system appears to be open to abuse, with anyone able to submit a complaint without giving much in the way of personal details, Airbnb is certain to proceed cautiously with reported grievances. After all, the last thing it wants is for the new service to cause trouble between neighbors and hosts when no issue even exists.
When the new feature was announced in March, Airbnb’s Yasuyuki Tanabe said, “One of the most important issues facing the sharing economy is how the people choosing to take part in it co-exist with those that aren’t,” adding, “Our first step in this direction is to give neighbors the opportunity to comment or complain.”
Of course, there’s a good chance many affected residents won’t even have heard of Airbnb, and even if they have, they may have no idea if the place next door is part of the service. In which case, they’ll probably take the traditional route, such as dropping a note in the mailbox, knocking at the door, or putting up with it in the hope that it’ll pass. Which it probably will once the guest leaves.