How Airbnb Disaster Response is Paving the Way for the Vacation Rental Industry

How Airbnb Disaster Response is Paving the Way for the Vacation Rental Industry

One well-known company consistently seems to be at the forefront when it comes to assisting global calamities.


The world’s largest home-sharing company, Airbnb, has been working hard in recent years to support the afflicted communities in the wake of any devastating occurrences. They provide hosts of vacation rentals with the chance to put up their residences as a free place to stay for stranded citizens, travelers, and assistance personnel.

Airbnb Disaster Response: What is it?

The Airbnb Disaster Response Tool was created in 2012 as a result of the company’s desire to assist stranded families in finding shelter following Superstorm Sandy’s destructive impacts. The platform was previously completely unable to waive costs or providing a free listing for properties.

According to founder and CTO Nathan Blecharczyk, “making emergency lodging available at no cost to Sandy victims required the Airbnb team to fundamentally revamp its booking and payment systems to accept no-cost, fee-free listing for a specific length of time in a particular geographic area.”

Since the program’s start, Airbnb has assisted 3,100 hosts in 65 various situations donating 3,590 nights to those in need. The Airbnb brand has made helping displaced people in these challenging times so important that Kellie Bentz was appointed as the organization’s first Head of Global Disaster Response and Relief in 2015.

How the Disaster Response on Airbnb works

When a warning is issued in an impacted area, Airbnb updates the Open Homes page as soon as possible with information about the locations where lodging is most urgently needed.

The user is directed to another landing page after clicking on an impacted region, which often shows the following information:

  • A location map
  • Estimate the duration of the accommodation period
  • For whom accommodations are needed.

The button navigation on these sites makes it very simple for both hosts to sign up for their own homes and for people in need of shelter to find a place to stay.

Just in the last few months, Airbnb has assisted in finding new homes for thousands of displaced people in a variety of situations. Only in August 2017:

Around 650,000 people were forced to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma, and from September 7 to 29, hosts in some nearby areas were able to give their homes for free.

More than 30,000 people were forced to leave their homes as a result of Hurricane Harvey, which also claimed the lives of dozens of people in Texas. Due to significant damage, Airbnb hosts were able to keep their houses open from August 24 to September 26.

In Barcelona, a terrorist attack left hundreds of people injured and 16 people dead. For ten days, from August 18 to August 28, Airbnb gave hosts the option to accommodate visitors, displaced locals, and aid personnel.

How to join Airbnb Disaster Response as a vacation rental owner

  1. Create a confirmed Airbnb account first (or log in to an existing account).
  2. On the Airbnb Welcome page, they register their house (or choose from an existing listing).
  3. To assist individuals in need, they provide their lodging. Agency partners and verified account holders who wish to stay for a specific amount of time will be given access to the listing(s) for free.

Methodical approach to assisting individuals in need

The founders of Airbnb have come to understand something very crucial as their company continues to expand exponentially: they could assist even more individuals who are in need “simply by transitioning from being reactive to being proactive.” Generosity from hosts is not just for one-time emergencies and shouldn’t be.

According to statistics from the UN Refugee Agency, approximately 65 million people have been uprooted by the end of 2015. One of the motivating factors behind Airbnb’s larger Open Homes concept is this startling statistic, which translates to 24 individuals per minute.

Airbnb just introduced the program above to assist 100,000 displaced individuals in finding temporary housing over the following five years. To swiftly provide acceptable housing, Airbnb Open Homes enable aid organizations to get in touch with volunteer Airbnb hosts directly.

By doing this, you make the displaced person feel safe and secure and give them a genuine “sense of belonging” by making them feel accepted by the neighborhood.

No matter where you are, you can contribute in some small way to the neighborhood. The Airbnb Open Homes program allows any qualified host to welcome displaced individuals or refugees into their residences.


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