When Airbnb's founders were first pitching their idea, one of the biggest criticisms was, according to the company's own origin story, why on earth would anyone let a total stranger stay in their home?
For the most part, the home-sharing startup's massive user base and eye-popping $25 billion valuation have satisfied that concern. But occasionally, things do go awry — in some cases, very awry. Like, unsanctioned-orgy and meth-lab-mystery awry.
Stories like these garner a lot of attention. Over the winter holidays, a spate of parties, including one thrown by a teenaged Californian posing as a middle aged midwesterner, made headlines. In these situations, Airbnb tends to play it cool, pointing to its $1 million insurance policy, also called a "Host Guarantee."
But a survey circulated by the company among a group of both hosts and guests suggests that issues of safety and trust, among other factors, are a concern for the company, and have been for some time. Among around a dozen other questions, Airbnb asked users to complete the sentence "If things go wrong, Airbnb is..." on a scale of "never there for me" and "always there for me."
Here are a couple of the other things they asked:
The survey also asked users how likely they were to recommend the site to a friend, and how frequently they book trips using Airbnb. In a statement, an Airbnb spokesperson said, "We regularly survey our community to understand how we can continue to create meaningful experiences on Airbnb."
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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