Airbnb has an "elite secret team" to hide crimes that are happening in their properties

24, 2021

Read 9 minutes

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur because of this process.

A few days ago it became known that the short-term rental platform Airbnb kept a horrific crime committed in one of its lodgings secret. However, the case is nowhere near the only or the worst that the company has faced.

Thanks to research by Bloomberg, it is now known that Airbnb has a "Elite Secret Team" that reacts immediately Hide the crimes which appear in the properties offered by the platform. His way of working includes Spending millions of dollars to compensate victims and avoid a reputational crisis .

Based in San Francisco, California, the company has had one for years special security department handled the incidents. The aim is to prevent this from being made public and to release Airbnb from any responsibility for the events.

According to the media, the company gives average $ 50 million in compensation a year to customers who have been victims of crime.

How does Airbnb's elite security team work?

In its beginnings, Airbnb founder Brian Chesky , Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk were personally commissioned to deal with the crisis. However, as the company grew, so did the number of incidents, and a decision was made to hire specialist claims handling personnel.

The Elite security department , known internally as the "black box" for its secrecy consists of about 100 agents who are distributed in different cities around the world. Many of them have completed military and rescue service training or are former members of high-ranking security forces.

The investigation shows that as soon as a criminal incident occurs in a shelter, the nearest agent (s) mobilizes to contact the victim immediately. You are responsible for Morally support those affected , as well as all facilities for their Care and comfort .

This includes accommodation in luxury hotels, assuming medical costs, paying for transport back to their hometown and providing hefty financial or monetary compensation, such as paid travel around the world.

The Crisis team is also responsible for hiring specialized teams to clean the blood on walls, carpets and furniture, or contractors to repair property damage such as bullet holes, and human remains disposal services.

According to informants who have requested anonymity, the work is very stressful because they have to balance the interests of companies, hosts and guests. Therefore, they have special rooms with a relaxed atmosphere to answer the most annoying calls. "I've had situations where I had to hang up the phone and cry," recalls a former agent. "That's all you can do."

The ex-gamers surveyed say that most of them end up suffering from some sort of indirect trauma or post-traumatic stress.

What are the agreements between Airbnb and crime victims in their properties?

The agents are authorized spend what is needed and their motto is: Make an agreement with the victim as soon as possible.

Until 2017, sources suggest that every agreement contained an agreement Nondisclosure clause This prevented the victim from talking about the case, asking for more money, or suing the company. However, pressure is enforced by movements like #MeeToo Airbnb to change these terms.

Now the agreements stipulate that both tenants and hosts must stop discussing the terms of the agreement and take legal action against the company as the deal is an admission of wrongdoing.

It also includes a Confidentiality Clause if the incident reaches the judicial authorities. That is, while they can (and should) report the crime, they should not blame or involve the platform, but rather the person who committed the crime directly.

What types of crimes have happened in Airbnb accommodations?

Eight former members of the claims control team and 45 other employees (current and previous) from Airbnb She exposed all sorts of terrifying cases to Bloomberg. The stories range from physical assault , Robberies and vandalism , to sexual assault , Rapes and the discovery of dismembered bodies .

In 2011, Airbnb saw his first major serious security crisis . A San Francisco hostess blogged about her home being ransacked and destroyed by tenants. The owner denounced that the company was not giving her any assistance and only asked her to delete the story as this could harm another round of funding. When the case went viral on social media, Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky publicly apologized and promised to compensate her A million dollars .

The stories tell of hosts throwing suitcases out of the windows, cameras hidden in rooms, and people hiding in closets or fleeing secluded huts after being attacked by hosts.

In October 2011 a Airbnb rental company in Barcelona Drunk and raped two American visitors. When the girls went to the police the next morning, the attacker threatened to upload videos of the attack on the Internet. Local authorities ransacked the apartment and found hundreds of photos reporting other attacks. The man was sentenced to 12 years in prison while the young women received financial compensation, the amount of which is still unknown.

There is also the unfortunate case of a guest found naked in bed with the host's 7-year-old daughter.

So far only one case against Airbnb has reached the US court. It's about a tenant who accuses the host of locking her in a bathroom and masturbating in front of her. His lawyer sued the company in court for failing to meet its obligation to protect its users. In the end, the victim accepted financial compensation in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

You saw it coming

Founded in 2008, Airbnb quickly established itself in the accommodation sector, but its Security guidelines have since been questioned.

One of the first investors they could reach was Chris Sacca , a Silicon Valley Venture investor who like capital in giants Instagram , Twitter and over . After the founders pitched, he gave them a warning that now sounds like premonition.

“Guys, that's super dangerous. Someone is raped or killed and their hands are stained with blood ”Sacca said bluntly and did not invest in the platform.

After that first crisis in 2011, the company created a 24-hour customer service team and formed the elite security team.

Airbnb noticed less than 0.1% their rental apartments have reported Security issues . But when you consider that every year there are more than 200 million reservations Processed via the platform, this percentage actually represents a high number of cases. Only the most serious are forwarded to the internal security team.

Many of the crimes that took place in Airbnb Rentals could have taken place elsewhere. With that in mind, the platform understands that just like nightclubs cannot stop sexual assault and hotels cannot stop human trafficking, the company cannot stop some people from using Airbnb to commit crimes.

"You are dealing with real people in real people's homes , " Tare bundle , Airbnb's Director of Global Operations said Bloomberg. “People are inherently unpredictable and, as hard as we try, sometimes really bad things happen . "

The executive adds that "We know that everything cannot be stopped" , but in the end what matters is how the company reacts to the unexpected.

"We go the extra mile to ensure that everyone concerned is served on our platform", says Bundle. "We don't really care about the branding and image components . "

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