New York City's hotel industry links Airbnb to terror in harsh ad
— July 31, 2017
New York City’s hotel industry is set to deliver its harshest attack yet on Airbnb.
An ad set to begin airing Monday raises security concerns about the popular home-sharing site, and even references the recent Manchester, England, bombing.
It cites media coverage that bomber Salman Abedi used a short-term rental apartment he found through a local online real-estate agenct and had “massive packages” sent to him at that location — which was not an Airbnb unit.
“Are you at risk?” text in the ad reads.
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The ad, which has no voices, just ominous music and text, goes on to state that Airbnb has refused to provide the addresses of the 40,000 city apartments it lists on its site to law enforcement, even though it does so in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans.
The ad ends by asking, “So who’s in your building? Airbnb won’t say.”
It lists a phone number to register complaints against the company with a message to “stand up for NY’s safety and security.”
Paid for by the Hotel Association of New York City and a hotel-workers union, the roughly half-million-dollar ad buy will run for 10 days in prime morning and evening spots on major cable networks in New York City like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and during Yankees and Mets games, those involved say.
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Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels ripped the ad as “an outrageous scare tactic by big hotels who themselves have a long history of lodging people who engage in acts of terror.”
Among the examples he cited were terrorists involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and in 2015 in Paris, who stayed in hotels.
“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 U.S. residents, both hosts and guests,” Schottenfels said.
“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.”
The anti-Airbnb ad does not mentioned legislation the hotel industry is backing that would require ads on home-sharing sites to include full location details, like street name, street number, apartment number, borough, town and county of the unit being offered.
“It’s crucial that enforcement agencies have access to address information to ensure that Airbnb and other short-term rentals comply with the laws designed to protect affordable housing, and the safety of residents, guests and communities,” said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).