Airbnb’s Promotional Campaign Not in the Best of Taste

The city’s fourth largest city is being pummeled by one of the most destructive storms in American history. 30% of Harris County is flooded. It appears that Houstonians in a single family house need a boat as much as they do an auto to navigate. And worse of all, at least five people have now lost their lives due to this storm.

So Airbnb, trying to be flip (I guess), sent out a promotional email campaign on Monday touting “floating world” destinations.

The marketing email included headlines like, “How to spend a day – or an entire trip – without touching dry land,” and “Stay above the water: live the life aquatic with these floating homes.”

Airbnb does engage in promotional campaigns for unique accommodations, such as treehouses and geodesic domes for rent. And the floating home promo may have been done months ago, before Harvey was known as a destructive hurricane. Still, this could have been caught. When I was in TV news, we pulled airline ads whenever there was a plane crash report. This campaign should probably have been put on hold despite automation.

Still, Airbnb has waived its service fee for homeowners listing their properties on the site who will take in Houston’s homeless for free. Which is a very nice gesture.